Sorry is the easiest word

January 27, 2009 at 8:57 pm (anonymous, anti-fascism, anti-semitism, Max Dunbar)

Interesting email from anti-fascist writer and campaigner Nick Lowles at Searchlight calling on British fascist Nick Griffin to say sorry for his lies about the Holocaust.

If you’re not aware of his views on the death camps, here is Griffin in his own words:

I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that six million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the Earth was flat … I have reached the conclusion that the ‘extermination’ tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria.

He’s your basic scum denier, even attacking David Irving ‘for admitting that some Jews may have been killed during the ‘holohoax’, accusing him of ‘back tracking on the old gas chamber lie’.’

Lowles writes that an apology is necessary.

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is based on an important theme – to stand up against hatred. And I’m writing to ask you to join me in doing just that.

Over the past few years, Nick Griffin has made a series of disgusting and degrading statements about the Holocaust. To call him to account we’ve launched a petition to demand that he retracts these horrendous statements.

Only by confronting and defeating this hate can we build a country based on humanity and justice. We must fight his lies and he must be held to account. Please join our campaign to get Griffin to publicly retract these remarks and then invite your friends to do the same.

It sounds fair enough. But we know that the BNP is trying to mainstream itself, with some success. More people are voting BNP and are willing to vote BNP than at any time since its inception.

I’ve been told that Greek society frowns on apologies, because they make you appear servile. But the apology has taken on a massive symbolic value in UK discourse. Tony Blair apologises for slavery so we can forget about human trafficking. The Vatican say sorry for burning Galileo so we can ignore its stoking of the African HIV epidemic.

Say Lowles’s petition does really well, so well in fact that Griffin is forced to make a public apology and retraction of his remarks about the Holocaust. Do you think such an apology would be remotely sincere? Would he have to apologise in front of Holocaust survivors, at a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony? Can you imagine anything more stilted and awkward?

Griffin’s apology, if it were ever made, would be worthless – both to the survivors and the dead. It would be an obscene lie: an apology for an apology. But imagine that he makes it. And then imagine, ten years down the line, good and brave anti-fascist campaigners taking to the streets against a resurgent BNP, knocking on doors and arguing with people who think that fascism is the answer to your leaky roof or an unfair housing allocation system.

These campaigners will try and remind people who the BNP really are. But then Griffin and his goons can turn around and say: ‘Look. Okay we had some crazy views in the past. The whole ‘holohoax’ stuff, that was a bit nasty, but Nick apologised. Searchlight have it on record. We have put fascism behind us and are now a mainstream democratic party.’

Do you think they will, for one second, mean it?


  1. Duncan Money said,

    This move is genuinely baffling.

    Firstly, if Griffin paid any attention to what Searchlight demands then he would have surely retired from active involvement in fascist politics years ago. Why on earth would he respect the views of the anti-fascists who sign the petition?

    Secondly, in the unlikely event he does apologise for being a Holocaust denier, not impossible he’s abandoned lots of previous political commitments, it will generate massive publicity for the BNP and their long-term plan of creating an acceptable public image.

  2. Spiritof1976 said,

    I wonder if Searchlight know that he won’t apologise? Maybe they’re doing it purely so they can say, “Look, he’s denied the holocaust and won’t even apologise for it”?

  3. John A said,

    It’s just an un/imaginative way of drawing people’s attention to the fact that Griffin IS a fascist, and I’m pleased it has done, because I have more ammunition against any BNP sympathisers now than I had before.

  4. John A said,

    (meaning particularly the Holocaust denial stuff)

  5. voltairespriest said,

    It’s a bit naff. After all, either way Searchlight don’t get a win – if Griffin doesn’t apologise then the general reaction will be “quel surprise”, and even if he does then shouting “but he didn’t mean it” sounds hollow whilst also allowing the BNP to mainstream even further.

  6. Lobby Ludd said,

    I believe that recently the BNP has been supportive of Israel – in line with its current demonisation of Muslims.

    In that context it kind of makes sense to challenge Griffin over his past (?) anti-Semitism. However, that only makes sense if you think that potential BNP voters can be ‘turned’ by revealing Griffin’s past.

    I doubt whether those voters attracted to the BNP really are bothered by changes in BNP politics.

    Perhaps getting Griffin to denounce anti-Semitism (as if) will alienate some of his (internal) party supporters.

    As it is, I believe that the BNP should be challenged and beaten on the politics it goes to the vote on, along with exposing its disgusting history. (And no, that doesn’t mean engaging them in debate.)

    That is much more difficult than shouting ‘Nazi’.

  7. voltairespriest said,

    Oh, I agree with the last two points about challenging the BNP on the politics they appeal on now. I just don’t think this tactic will work – most people won’t notice, and those who do (outside of political circles) would probably applaud him if he did apologise. What’s more, if the old Tyndallite goose-steppers left then Griffin and his smoothie ex-ITP tendency would probably be pleased. I just can’t see how the good guys win using this tactic.

  8. Wally Wibblywellies said,

    This is an excreable tactic. The essence of fascism is not anti-semitism, but rather an extra-constitutional movement that aims to crush the working class and the oppressed and will embrace whatever form of reactionary bigotry serves that end.

    Griffin is a political chameleon, renouncing one form of bigotry that really belongs to a past era and is seen as a liability, in order to fully embrace another that looks much more promising. If Griffin renounces anti-Jewish hatred in order to fully embrace anti-Muslim/Arab hatred and Israel, he is still a fascist.

    This Searchlight ‘tactic’ only underlines that Searchlight is disarmed before this new development, this new shape-shift in British fascism towards a pro-Zionist position. But a pro-Zionist fascist is still a fascist. This ‘tactic’ could well be seen by Griffin as a golden political opportunity.

  9. maxdunbar said,

    Yep. If Griffin does apologise then Searchlight will have given him and the BNP a degree of political legitimacy that they don’t deserve.

  10. Alan Laurence said,

    Errr- my guess is that Searchlight have thought of these objections and concluded its a go-er as a campaign.
    Perhaps its timed to lead up to the May elections – a useful devise to flush out Griffin.
    I also assume SL know what going on in the BNP and the trouble they are about to cause.

  11. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Or maybe this is more about keeping Searchlight in the press then it is about anti-fascism?

  12. Red Maria said,

    Well that’s all possible and the petition, which I lent my name to (hell, why not?) certainly had the feel of a professional fundraising campaign. At the end of the process you were invited to make a donation to the cause, so far, so normal. It’ll raise money and – dread phrase – raise awareness (how I hate typing that, it’s sooo Geri Halliwell) which is it’s primary objective.

    But what’s this?

    We’re being lectured oh so sanctimoniously about the wickedness of bigotry by a chap barely out of short trousers himself, who indulges in the most facile anti-Catholicism.

    It rather spoils the effect.

    Gallileo was burned by the Vatican, he reveals. Really? His wikipedia entry makes no mention of such a thing. Rather, it discloses that he “spent the last years of his life under house arrest under orders of the Roman Inquisition”. Not a pretty fate, to be sure but vastly superior to being consumed by fire.

    As if that’s not enough, in a charge reminiscent of Private Eye’s spoof headline from the Zimbabwe Times (“Final Insult: British poison Zimbabwe wells with plague”) he accuses the Vatican today of “stoking the African HIV epidemic”.


    This one passed me by but I suppose it goes like this: the Vatican has been paying money to international pharmaceutical conglomerates to prevent them from working on an HIV vaccine.

    Or this: the Vatican has armed a crack team of bio-warriors with syringes filled with the HIV virus, parachuted them into sub-Saharan Africa and ordered them to inject anyone on sight on pain of excommunication.

    Or this: the Vatican has programmed the childlike minds of African men not to use condoms who obediently follow their instructions (they’re naturally stupid, poor things, they can’t help it) and instructed them not to have sex outside marriage, in the full knowledge that this one they’ll disobey (it’s a shlong thang; Black men just can’t keep it in their pants).

    Each possibility is as plausible, as rational as the suggestion that the Vatican is stoking the HIV epidemic.

    But at least It makes a change from that other staple of secularist bullshit: the Vatican is causing Black people to have too many kids who are gonna swamp us all!

    Mind you, who was it that the National Secular Society invited to be an honorary associate two or three years ago? Baroness Shreela “encourage the poor to have fewer children” Flather.

    Still, maybe it’s just a coincidence that all these secularists have such a wierd obsession with African and working class sexuality and fertility.

  13. voltairespriest said,

    And…. nope, I’m not seeing the link with the post, RM. A good evening, was it? 😆

  14. Red Maria said,

    You’re not? Then you can’t have read it. I dealt with the substance of Max’s post in the first par. In subsequent paragraphs I critiqued his glaring anti-Catholicism, using humour and sharp observation.

    I realise this may be a provocative comment but I’ll make it nonetheless: how the fucking hell can we take seriously Max’s sanctimoniousness about bigotry when in a post about that very topic he himself engages in it?

    As I said, it spoils the effect.

    I realise that with his youth comes a fair deal of arrogance but for fuck’s sake, he’s been caught out making up history in his post., to say nothing about his deranged conspiracy theorising about HIV. Rationalism indeed.

    There’s a reason Max keeps falling flat on his face; his writing is substandard, ill-thought out bullshit. When he’s not penning atrocious reviews of books, more rambling expositions of his own claptrap ideas than examinations of the actual text itself which are then deservedly rubbished by the author, he’s revealing revealing his embarrassing ignorance of Middle Eastern politics, or announcing his failure to read classic Marxist works as though this were something to be proud of, or indulging in juvenile catcalling of religious folk even though he plainly knows a big fat zero about what they believe in, or the history of religious persecution, and that’s without even having mentioned his cringe-worthy dissing of distinguished religious journalists.

    Sorry, VP but this has to be said: at the moment, Max Dunbar’s scribblings detract from the rest of your blog. I’m not saying he won’t be worth reading indefinitely or that improvement is beyond him but right now he doesn’t cut the mustard. He’s too juvenile, too lazy, too vacuous.

    He has to lose that immature shouty-bollox prose style of his. And his brazen invention of history approaches the unforgiveable. I’ve checked the wikipedia entry for Galileo, googled this and googled that. Galileo wasn’t burned at the stake by anyone. I request that you either amend Dunbar’s sentence or add some kind of disclaimer to it. Accuracy and historical truth matter.

  15. Harry Tuttle said,

    Red Maria wrote:

    I’ve checked the wikipedia entry for Galileo, googled this and googled that. Galileo wasn’t burned at the stake by anyone.

    Max might have mistaken Galileo for Giordano Bruno.

    Each possibility is as plausible, as rational as the suggestion that the Vatican is stoking the HIV epidemic.

    I believe the Vatican’s opposition to contraception may be the source of contention.

  16. voltairespriest said,

    I critiqued his glaring anti-Catholicism, using humour and sharp observation

    “At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings”

    – Louis-Hector Berlioz


  17. David said,

    I hope Griffin does not apologise. The Jewish myth of the holocaust is one of the greatest crimes to western society. People need to be educated – The holohaux did not happen!

  18. maxdunbar said,


    Thanks for that critique.

    I am 27 you know!

  19. maxdunbar said,

    Oh and I have read Marx 🙂

  20. voltairespriest said,

    David: I would normally delete a comment like that but you’re clearly such a cunt that I’m going to leave your own words up, because in themselves they condemn you.

  21. Red Maria said,

    David: I would normally delete a comment like that but you’re clearly such a cunt that I’m going to leave your own words up, because in themselves they condemn you.

    Very sensible. Freedom of speech allows them to expose themselves and denies them the martyrs crown they so crave.


    Apropos the notion that the Vatican is stoking HIV, Harry Tuttle said:

    I believe the Vatican’s opposition to contraception may be the source of contention.

    Ahhhh, really?

    Contraception is something which prevents conception not infection. Most contraceptives don’t prevent infection; think of the pill or the diaphram.

    I believe the word you are searching for is prophylaxis. A condom is both a prophylactic and a contraceptive device. Hence, no doubt, the confusion. But as I said earlier, accuracy matters.

    The Vatican opposes the promotion of condoms because – surely you know this – she contends that that would encourage risky behaviour. And even more shockingly – and you’d have to read Humanae Vitae to grasp this point – that all people, including, would you believe it, Africans, are capable of controlling themselves. Given the success of Uganda’s ABC campaign, she may be said to have a point. Anti-Catholics who smear the Vatican for allegedly “stoking HIV” don’t. They must be aware that they are deliberately lying because they never make any attempt to argue their case rationally, still less provide supporting evidence for it by way of comparative statistics or peer-reviewed papers. Rationalism indeed. More like superstitious gobshite.

    Harry Tuttle also speculated that Max may have been thinking of Giordano Bruno. The same thought occurred to me, or perhaps Savonarola. Either way, the egregious inaccuracy about Galileo being sent to the flames by the Vatican remains, uncorrected, in Max’s blog post. Poor show.

    Still, one’s entitled to wonder out loud quite what these new-fangled secularists are up to, dragging up incidents from the distant past. Who judges an institution according to the standards of yesteryear? And it’s not as if secularism is in any moral position to cast stones at its enemies. Not only does it have its own dodgy history of repression and mass murder to contend with (baths without a plug, anyone?) there’s also the business of its longstanding links with ugly causes like eugenics and population control. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to have thrown them off – I’ll mention Baroness “encourage the poor to have fewer children” Flather once again.

    In his defence, Max says he’s but 27. I say that’s no excuse. Even while making allowances for his youth and inexperience (and I did, see para four of my post above) he’s old enough at 27 to know the importance of fact-checking. He’s also old enough to have mugged up on the sorry history of secularism on the one hand and the recent history of religious persecution on the other and to have developed some humility before the examples of the Yakunins, Ratushinskayas and Popiełuszkos, whose names have probably been completely unknown to him until this moment.

    Max also insists that he has read Marx. I’m sure he devoured the Feuerbach Theses, Communist Manifesto, all three volumes of Theories of Surplus Value and Kapital not to mention Grundrisse with great excitement but thus far he has displayed as much appreciation of them as he has for the works of Juan de Yepes, which I’m sure he’s also familiar with.

  22. voltairespriest said,

    In fairness, I can count on the fingers of one hand those people I know who have really read all three volumes of Das Kapital – and would need to halve that figure for those who enjoyed the experience. It’s hardly a page turner…

  23. KB Player said,

    “At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings”

    Good quote! Have you had to use it much?

  24. maxdunbar said,


    You keep going on about youth – the point of giving you my age was to demonstrate that I’m actually getting on.

    Also, there is a post above this one that is at least tangentially related to your off topic comments on this thread.

  25. voltairespriest said,

    KB – only on occasion!

  26. Red Maria said,

    Max, we’re all getting on. Getting older by the nanosecond is one of the characteristics of being. I read the declaration of your age as a plea in mitigation: please sir, I can’t be held responsible for the crap I write, I’m only young. But as I said earlier, your age – and you’re not that young – is no excuse. It doesn’t absolve you from the duty to fact check or argue rationally.

    Yes, I know you’ve churned out yet another one of your daringly controversial pieces above. Thank you for drawing my attention to it. What is it this time? Oh yes, religious people are soooo irrelevant that I simply have to write about them one more time. You exercised that particular bugbear of yours in this post too, managing to insert a brazen historical falsehood and a juvenile anti-Catholic lie into one sentence. I took these comments up. You called them off-topic. I say they’re in this post and therefore very much on-topic.

  27. themusicologist said,

    I really didn’t fancy entering the fray on this one but couldn’t resist it. I know I’m risking the wrath of Red Maria but….

    “still less provide supporting evidence for it by way of comparative statistics or peer-reviewed papers. Rationalism indeed. More like superstitious gobshite”.

    ever read the book “how to lie with statistics”?

    and in my experience “peer reviewed papers” are often not worth the paper they are printed on.

    ism’s come in many guises… thing that connects them is that they are nothing more than belief systems. Scientism for example is the belief that Science/Rationality has the doesn’t

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