It seems Ladies and Gentlemen, Oxford has deemed that the best people to talk about free speech, are those who would abolish it. In his often superb blog, my good friend Jonny Wright has totally missed the point. Leaving aside the fact that this is a ticketed event which sold out in hours, OUSU, Unite, the Labour Club, Jsoc and the rest don't want to engage with Griffin and Irving, because there is nothing to be gained from the experience. All of these groups have remained consistent in their view that by engaging you justify. Jonny's military analogy is rather apt. However, in the battleground of ideas, Griffin and Irving are not armies, they are intellectual terrorists. And all the resources and power of rational thought, evidence and humanity cannot defeat blind, visceral hatred, anymore than tanks and jets can beat a few guerrillas with kalashnikovs. But it is not only that the exercise is futile, but what those who have argued for Griffin and Irving to come have repeatedly failed to understand. That by creating a debate you put the ideas on a level of parity. You don't teach creationism alongside evolution, you don't set Aristotle's theory of four elements against the periodic table, and you don't put those who deny one of the mostly highly documented events in world history, on par with real scholarship.
It is overwhelmingly those who have to deal with fascism that have opposed this invitation. Those who are the first to be put to the wall; jews, ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, socialists. The middle classes, who turned a blind eye in Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and Argentina, and Chile, and who know the knock on the door and "well placed boot" will not fall on them, are of course by and large content to let them come. After all,they're not the ones in danger. And now, to add insult to injury, it is the protesters who are lambasted for not arguing in the chamber. Where are all the eloquent defenders of the invitation who called for them to be "crushed in debate"? Could it be that though the Liberals were happy to stand up and lecture those of us who opposed this debacle from the beginning, when it comes to having their pictures on Redwatch they're otherwise engaged?
I'll be out there Monday night. And I pray that those inside all slap each other on the back, stoke their sense of righteousness with how principled they are, and that we awake on Tuesday to the greatest of anti-climaxes. History however, points in another direction, and I worry that in this instance, the BNP will adhere to it meticulously.