Trumpist UK Thugs waving US Flags try to Apprehend London’s Muslim Mayor

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was about to begin a speech on gender equality to the leftist Fabian Society when he was interrupted by British Trumpist hooligans shouting that they intended to make a citizen’s arrest of the mayor. After a while, during which Khan leafed through some reading material, the police carted off the thugs.

They sported American flags and anti-European Union slogans, and had been enraged by Trump’s cancellation of a planned trip to London, about which Khan remarked that the US president had “gotten the message” that he is unwelcome in the UK. The brown shirts had built a gallows to show that they had an old-fashioned lynching on their minds. Among their leaders was David Russel of the fascist English Defense League. He announced that the name of the group is the Pendragons.

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The Guardian News: “Far-right group disrupts speech by Sadiq Khan”

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Last June a far-right Briton inspired in part by Trump’s hatred of Muslims rammed his van into a crowd of peaceful worshipers leaving a mosque in London.

After the Trumpist shock troops had been removed, Khan apologized for the delay, occasioned, he said, by “very stable geniuses.”

Apparently no one took the incident very seriously and it provoked a good deal of mirth. But as symbolic politics it is worth dwelling on a little bit.

The deployment of the American flag as an icon of Islamophobia (Khan is a Muslim), bigotry and fascism is extremely disturbing. It is a powerful sign of how Trumpism is rebranding the United States as a country supporting racial hierarchy and hatred for minorities and immigrants.

“Pendragon” is of course the surname of the legendary King Arthur. That sort of medieval romanticism also influenced mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 Norwegians in 2011. (He targeted Norwegian liberals on the grounds that they did not hate Muslims, a common theme in the fascist Right).

Here are some other twists. The Fabian Society where the mayor was speaking had been founded in the late 19th century by British socialists. Their ranks included George Bernard Shaw the dramatist, science fiction writer H. G. Wells, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, among many others. They had pushed for workers rights and a more just society, though most of them were from the upper crust. Although Islamophobes attempt to paint Muslims across the board as anti-feminist, that stereotype clearly is not universally true. That a London mayor of Pakistani immigrant heritage is now a guest speaker for the Fabians on women’s rights and was interrupted by the British far right is also symbolic of our current political moment.

Sadiq Khan was right to laugh the very stable geniuses off. But we should keep our eye on the phenomenon of Trumpist brownshirts. Germans used to laugh at Hitler in the 1920s, too.

12 Responses

  1. Khan’s reaction to it all is priceless. First he sits down to read the paper and then resumes his speech. As they would say, priceless. Your warning is well advised. Hitler didn’t have that much support at the polls either, but he won and stayed in power until a world war unseated him. My take on it is, the U.S.A. may have another civil war if Trump keeps up doing what he is. As a Canadian I’m not keen on that. Most of us live approx. within 150 miles of the border.

    • Despite having a more inclusive leader like Trudeau, and overall still pleasant as a nation, there definitely seems like a rise in hateful incidents, public attacks and exposed systematic bigotry in Canada.

      Like attacks on Hijab wearing Muslim women, or other brown or immigrant men mistaken as Muslims, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh (who is Sikh) being confronted by an anti-Muslim loon at a public rally, defacement of monuments on Remembrance day and anti-semitic vandalizing of Jewish places, continuation of racist demonizing and systematic discrimination of First Nation indigenous natives and other coloured Canadians, etc.

      The Trump bump definitely was felt. Can’t be complacent. I actually do believe liberal Canadians should probably be more active in staving off this hate at home, and more involved (conservatives will see it as interfering) in helping their American liberal counterparts when they can (this solidarity should be true for global liberals really).

  2. I don’t think there is incipient fascism in the UK. Surely the manner in which The Mayor, guards and police, and audience for that matter, handled the incident puts that fear to rest? There has to be room for a few people like that in a healthy society.

  3. Hitler’s NDSAP (Nazi party) never won more than 30% in the last free election but then came the Reichstagsfeuer of 1933 which set the Parlament in Berlin ablaze, whereupon H gave himself dictatorial powers, expelled Socialists/Communists from Parlament and the rest we know. If a 9-11 were to “happen” now how would T react? So support reasonable exemplary people like Khan

  4. Sadiq Khan’s comment that the interruption was caused by “what some would call very stable geniuses” summed it all up nicely.

  5. So they basically want to arrest him for being an elected official while being a brown Muslim.

    With Trump behind them, white supremacists seem to really believe it’s like open season on all their perceived enemies.

    • The same scenario is playing out in Muslim-majority Hamtramck, MI where Arab and Bangladeshi-Americans who are elected official,candidates, and voters have sustained various types of harassment by police and political activists – these have resulted in investigations and action and by the Justice Department as well as civil suits by residents sustaining discrimination.

  6. It appears the Stars & Stripes is headed towards becoming a more convenient replacement for the Swastika and the Stars & Bars as a worldwide symbol of White Supremacy. And it certainly sends out the right signal to the global capitalists: “We’re fine with infinite inequality as long as it’s the right kind of infinite inequality – like the USA’s.”

    Of course, the Nazis and Confederacy achieved this status as martyr heroes after being annihilated.

  7. They definitely seem to think they have wind in their sails, even though these characters may have needed to visit the pub first.

  8. I’m guessing that these thugs have nothing to do with the original NO2EU (which was a leftist political party which opposed the EU for anti-capitalist reasons)…

  9. As someone recently wrote, “Prof. Cole, rightly regarded as one of the most insightful, fact focused, reliable of the critics.”

    Thank you.

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