Hope Not Hate: devoured by its own censorious logic
Campus censorship continues to eat itself. Nick Lowles, head of anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, took to social media today to decry the fact that NUS Black Students is pushing to have him removed from an upcoming panel on anti-racism. All because, the little pillocks claim, he is ‘Islamophobic’.
‘Never mind all the work HOPE not hate [sic] has done challenging anti-Muslim hatred’, Lowles fumed in a Facebook post. ‘It seems that some ultra-left activists believe I’m Islamophobic because I have repeatedly spoken out against grooming and dared condemn Islamist extremism.’
Lowles dubbed the move ‘lunacy’, and, on the surface, it’s hard to disagree. Alongside the attempts to No Platform anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie, the call to ban Lowles speaks to the mania of the Islamophobia industry, which has been readily taken up by so-called campus radicals. In this blinkered worldview, any criticism of Islamism is taken as an act of mini-imperialism, an expression of racial hatred.
Many have taken to Twitter to mock the move. ‘Not long now before Muslims are No Platformed by the NUS for being Islamophobic’, jibed writer Sunny Hundal. Commentator Dan Hodges was similarly unimpressed: ‘Okay, we’ve now reached peak lunacy.’ But while these bemused onlookers continue to furrow their brows, one little detail has been missed: it was Hope Not Hate that helped popularise No Platform in the first place.
Since it was founded, Hope Not Hate has maintained that the only way to oppose the British far right is to block them from speaking. Along with Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate has long supported the NUS’s No Platform policy. Though Lowles suggested in an interview a few years back that, in the internet age, No Platform was becoming ‘outdated’, he remains a staunch supporter of it in certain instances.
So the attempt to ban Lowles now isn’t really lunacy at all – rather, it’s a vindication of the most basic argument against censorship. As Thomas Paine put it more than 200 years ago: ‘He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself.’ This is a lesson that Lowles is finally learning.