Another shocking bit of news emerges from Europe today, this time from our special relationship partners in the UK. Parliament is expected to complete plans to officially ban and criminalize the fascist, neo-Nazi group National Action by the end of this week. The move comes in response to a broad outcry against the organization’s social media accounts which have expressed support for the recent murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in addition to other examples of offensive speech. (The Independent)
A British neo-Nazi group is expected to be labelled a terror organisation and banned in a landmark first for the UK.
An order proscribing fascist group National Action is due to be laid before Parliament on Monday. It will be the first time membership of a far-right group has been outlawed in the UK.
The self-styled “nationalist youth movement” has praised and glorified Thomas Mair, the white supremacist who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in what a court described as a terrorism offence, and employs anti-Semitic language lifted direct from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
Keep in mind that we’re not just talking about “banning” the group in terms of not receiving official recognition or endorsement. This will make it a criminal offense to be associated with National Action or even to be seen as “drumming up support” for it.
MPs and Peers, however, are reportedly expected to have approved the order banning the group by the end of the week.
Anyone joining or drumming up support for proscribed organisations faces criminal prosecution. Groups can also have their assets frozen.
No matter how liberal your personal preferences may run, this should leave you feeling alarmed. To be very clear here, National Action is engaging in some absolutely despicable displays which should be widely condemned by anyone with any semblance of decency. Displaying Nazi paraphernalia, calling for racial “purification” and lionizing someone who murders an elected official because of their positions is horrible behavior. But it also represents something else… free speech.
As a reminder for our friends across the pond, we have Nazis here in the United States too. The difference is, we let them have their own political party and even run in elections. Yes, they are abhorrent and widely rejected by virtually the entire nation, but we protect their right to free speech right along with the KKK, the Earth Liberation Front, the communists and all the other radicals from the Left and Right who wish to participate in the ongoing public debates. And even though we’ve had our own Nazis here for pretty much as long as there have been Nazis, we’ve somehow managed to avoid invading Canada or locking up all the special snowflakes in forced labor camps.
That’s both the challenge and the beauty of free speech. You have to protect the most unpopular speech first. It’s easy to be tolerant toward those saying things which most people find pleasing. But when you begin criminalizing activism and speech for unpopular (or even horrific) points of view, the line inevitably begins to creep back toward more controversial, but still frequently accepted speech. And it’s only a short step from there to public, government enforced book burning.
This is yet another part of a disturbing trend we’re seeing across Europe right now. Sure, National Action was an easy target to silence without too many people getting upset over it. Nobody wants to support a bunch of Nazis, but in largely socialist leaning Europe where will it end? As long as everyone was willing to go along with the socialist agenda it was all good times and “free speech.” But when the peasants began to revolt, suppression of speech was one of the first tools to come out of the bag. A court in the Netherlands convicted one of their own members of Parliament for “hate speech” this week. We’ve seen what lies at the end of this particular road before and it’s not pretty.
National Action is worthy of widespread public condemnation. But now you’re going to make it a criminal act to repeat their slogans or support them. In doing so, Great Britain takes a step toward becoming precisely that which they claim to be fighting against.