So where have I been since October last year? Well, obviously I’ve been right here in Exmouth and I’ve been quite busy; but I don’t particularly feel like telling the world at large what I’ve been up to.

I don’t usually go in for political commentary here, because usually everything that can be said has been said on the internet before I find out about it, but occasionally I read something utterly vulgar and depressing and I think it worthy of a punt.

The most obvious thing to deplore is what has upset the Daily Fascist, which is a paper that people read in order to be outraged. The protest during yesterday’s Armistice Day silence was vulgar, tasteless and calculated to be as offensive and nasty as possible, and it clearly succeeded in being all of those things. What it did for the plight of Muslims throughout the world is far more debatable, but somehow I doubt that was ever the point. The aim of the protesters was to become instant hate figures, and hopefully to provoke some violence from the police or members of the public. That this failed to happen is clearly not due to the forbearance of the Great British Public, which is predictably violently angry about the whole affair, but somehow I wish it were. I wish that everybody had commented on how childish it is to pour scorn on a solemn national ceremony in the hope of starting a fight; how laughable and pathetic it is to seek martyrdom when the people you want to kill you are paying more attention to what happened on The Apprentice last night than to you or your religion; or that someone who takes Armistice Day as a celebration of British military power has completely failed to understand the ceremony and is therefore an idiot.

Sadly, that is not how the people of Britain have responded. Some have set up hate campaigns against British Islam; others have simply called for the deportation of those who engage in these ridiculous publicity stunts, demanded their arrest and criticised the police for protecting them from the violence they intended to provoke. The people of Britain are in this respect failing to understand their enemy, and therefore failing to hurt him effectively; and I think that we could learn something about that from our grandparents.

The enemy in this case is the religious extremist. He has absolutely no sense of humour, takes himself very seriously, is utterly convinced that he is right and believes anything he does for the good of his religion as he sees it to be justified. He will do anything to be heard and cannot abide any attempt to argue with him; but what really hurts him is one of two things: either to be ridiculed or to be ignored. The religious extremist has a lot in common with the political extremist, and back in the ‘forties Britain had to deal with political extremists who had managed to take over a country and were therefore far more of a threat to us than a lot of cretinous hillbillies with stupid placards. Yet even while bombs were falling on British cities and the enemy was trying his hardest to break civilian morale, the civilian population was defying him with two very simple weapons: the ‘business as usual’ sign and the lampoon. People laughed about Hitler; they laughed about how fat Goering was, and what a skinny runt Goebbels looked; about Hitler’s ridiculous fringe, or how his moustache made him look like Charlie Chaplin. They refused to be afraid of their enemy and turned him instead into a figure of ridicule. They then proceeded to try as much as possible to live their lives normally, because that defies an enemy who wants to break public morale, but mainly because the only other thing to do was to give up completely.

In this respect, the Metropolitan Police have done exactly the right thing. They have denied the enemy the martyrdom he craves and instead given him the opportunity to state his case in such a way that nobody will ever agree with him who was not already a rabid supporter. They have given him enough rope to hang himself, but have prevented Britain from perpetrating a lynching, while the only people who have been dishonoured or sullied by yesterday’s vulgar display are those who perpetrated it. We have been protected from being dragged into the gutter of unreasoning violence that extremists of all stamps inhabit while demonstrating that we really believe in free speech, and we will not be the losers by that. We would do well to remember that the moment when British fascism ceased to be a realistic political movement was not at the Cable Street riot, but at Oswald Moseley’s most triumphant rally at Olympia, where the extremists had free rein to expose their moral bankruptcy to the full glare of public scrutiny.

If we must pay attention to the nutters, then, I would like it to be in the form of comedy. Perhaps their protest could be overdubbed with dialogue from Yes, Minister, or re-cut so that they appear to be dancing to the Birdie Song. I’d like to see the placards Photoshopped so that they say ‘Sorry about the bag; didn’t have time to shave’ or ‘Danish Bacon is great’. I want to see people laughing at the enemy, because it will hurt him; and I think he deserves to be hurt.

Advertisements