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Nick Griffin Invitation Withdrawn
Wednesday January 25, 2012 11:31 by Cork Against Fascism
Press Release from Cork Against Fascism
As of Monday January 23rd, it has been announced that the invitation to British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, to speak at a UCC Government and Politics Society debate in February, has been withdrawn. Cork Against Fascism, a campaign group made up of students, staff and members of the public, which formed in response to the invitation to Griffin, welcomes this decision. The reasons cited for the cancellation were the potential threat to the safety and welfare of students and the general public that Griffin's invitation would entail. Was it really necessary though to first go through this whole affair so that we could arrive at this conclusion?
Griffin and his party profess and advocate views that are central tenets of fascism: they are racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-Semitic, and violent. It is not merely that we find these views personally distasteful and do not want them to be lent legitimacy: it has been observed time and again that the BNP use these sorts of public events as an opportunity to organize in an area, by seeking out the few people who agree with their views and involving them in the party. BNP spokespersons have previously said that they would be very enthusiastic at the prospect of an "Irish National Party"-style organization forming in this country.
These are the real dangers that UCC's Government and Politics society have flirted with, knowingly or not, ever since extending their invitation to Nick Griffin.
Society auditor Ben English would rather preach in his statement that the withdrawal is “not about politics”, but something “bigger than politics” - student safety. If the safety of students (or anyone else) at the prospect of a fascist organisation in this city is not a political issue, then what is it? Whose safety are we thinking of? The safety of those who would have sought to attend the Griffin debate, those who would protest, those who would police it?
Or the safety of a victim of fascist violence five or ten years down the line from now?
For many of us, our sense of safety and welfare has been infringed upon by the very prospect of this event.
The whole Griffin ordeal is entirely political. Our question should be, are we satisfied with the Government and Politics society's pragmatic cancellation, or do we want to recognise the political nature of this situation and ensure that it doesn't happen again?
The first step that the student community should take in acknowledging this threat is to adopt a No Platform for Fascists policy in the Students' Union. This is already the position of the National Union of Students in Britain and the Students’ Union of NUI Galway. Cork Against Fascism will be campaigning for the same standards from the UCC Students' Union. Student pressure can make this happen. As part of our No Platform campaign, we will be hosting renowned human rights and criminal lawyer, Imran Khan, for a visit to UCC on Wednesday Feb 8th, to discuss the recently concluded case of Stephen Lawrence - a black teenager murdered in Britain by a gang shouting racist slogans.
Furthermore, political discussion on the real risks of the extreme right and the role and responsibilities of the university in relation to this should continue. The context of the current recession makes our concerns particularly pertinent, as scapegoating becomes an easy currency for the far-right. Our political reality in Ireland is that we do not have a strong far-right or fascist movement in the country – we are fortunate in this sense. Why is it though that this threat is periodically imposed by student societies?