Do you know who David Parnham is? You should. He is a white supremacist who sent fake anthrax to the Queen, two Bishops, Theresa May when she was PM and to the Home Office. He proudly describes himself as a ‘Muslim Slayer’ and wants a ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ and to exterminate religious and racial minorities. He posted hundreds of threatening letters to parliamentarians and others between 2016 and 2018. In a letter to Dylann Roof, the American who murdered nine black people in South Carolina in 2016, Parnham confessed: ‘ The idea of killing turns me on’. He has just been jailed for 12 years. If this man was called Tahir Mohamed, say, his mug would be splashed on the front pages and TV news and be recognised forever . But white, British terrorists are never thought to be that much of a threat, that big a deal.
According to a BBC report, members of Combat 18 (C18), a neo-Nazi organisation have been suspected in numerous deaths of immigrants, non-whites and other C18 members; In 2015, Mushin Ahmed, 81, was slain by two British racists as he walked slowly to mosque in Rotherham. The Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in June 2016 by an unrepentant far right killer. In June 2017, Darren Osborne drove a van into a crowd leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park, north London, killing one and injuring nine others. He had been motivated by far-right material from Tommy Robinson’s English Defence League (EDL) Britain First Party (BF). In that same year, Jack Renshaw, member of the neo-Fascist, National Action, plotted to kill the Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a machete. Robbie Mullin, a whistleblower exposed him and now lives in mortal fear because these people have vowed to kill him. A new group calling itself Generation Identity is drawing a large number of recruits, among them two Royal Navy operators. They hate Muslims and Jews and want to ethnically cleanse Europe.
If shown photos most Britons would not recognise these terrorists or organised ideologues. Whiteness, apparently, lessens the risk they pose to society. The two killers of Lee Rigby, in contrast, are constantly ( and rightly) recalled and reviled, as is the Manchester bomber and the Islamicists who carried out heinous crimes against citizens in London. Take off the blinkers. Come out of the vapours of obliviousness.
In the UK the denial is stronger than elsewhere because the country was never occupied by Nazis and because ‘we won the war’. These historical verities have led to a mindset of grievous complacency. It can never happen in this country, our compatriots think, while it is happening under their noses.
Black and Asian Britons see and deeply fear the Neo-Nazis who are now confident enough to be seen and heard in public spaces. By cleverly hijacking the Brexit cause, they portray themselves as the new patriots. ( Honourable Brexiters should really distance themselves from these sinister populists). A contact at the Met told me: ‘ We don’t want to be accused of being pro-Remain. And so there is some holding back at a time when right wing people- including children- referred to counter-extremism programmes has risen by over 30%’
The government must become more attentive and active. We need the media too to investigate the funding of these movements and the burgeoning memberships.
Last week, a lorry driver, saw me and shouted: ‘We’re coming for you. This is a white man’s land’. When I told a mate, an Englishwoman, she tried to reassure me by saying: ‘He was just an idiot. Don’t let it get to you. This isn’t Germany’. Upset by this insouciance, I tearfully described some of what I go through- stuff I never discuss in public. None of this diminished her irritating optimism. Friends like these and other good people unwittingly are enabling extreme bigotry.
Then there the enemies within. Grooming gangs of Asian men – most British Pakistanis- are too thick and self-absorbed to see that they have become recruiting agents for the hard right. Far right supporters constantly emote about how these ‘Muslims are raping our girls’. The impact is immediate and irradicable. These wretched abusers are also turning previously tolerant white Britons into ethnic nationalists.
Mr Justice Jay, told the Neo-Nazis who plotted to kill Rosie Cooper, that their aspirations to purge this country of its ethnic minorities and its Jews, was ‘truly insidious and evil’. We now have homegrown Hitler’s ‘armies’. This peril is real, present and growing. And yes, remember Germany. This is how it all started there.
i newspaper, September 2019