I didn't think I could get any more outraged than I already was over the recent abuse of Tommy Robinson by the British deep state. Arrested during a live Facebook broadcast from outside Leeds Crown Court, he was rushed through a travesty of a trial, then shipped to a prison before the day was over, only to be released – after nearly three months of cruel and unusual punishment – when the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales finally declared the whole process thoroughly illegitimate.
Clearly, there were people high up in the system who were out to get him. To put the country's most outspoken critic of Islam in a hoosegow where he'd be surrounded by Muslims and, with any luck, would end up being found dead in his cell of unknown causes.
As I say, I didn't think I could be more outraged. But then I caught up with Tommy's autobiography, Enemy of the State,which was first published in 1988 and which I read in a 2015 revised edition. By turns riveting, frustrating, and inspiring, it tells the story of an ordinary working-class lad – a good soul and solid friend, if a bit of a mischief-maker – who gradually came to understand that his country faced an existential threat from an enemy within, and, driven by a conscience of remarkable magnitude, became an activist.
What was it, exactly, that drove Tommy to activism? Well, to begin with, his hometown, Luton, where he still lives, was a place where he had friends, white and black and brown, from a wide range of backgrounds – but where one tight-knit group, namely Muslims, seemed to hold all the cards, standing apart from (and above) all the others, refusing to blend in, treating the kafir with arrogance and contempt.
While professing to be exceedingly devout – and demanding, for this reason, that special allowances be made to accommodate their religious practices and prohibitions – the Muslim community leaders ran drug and prostitution rings, raped non-Muslim girls as casually as if they were consuming a kebab, and expertly manipulated pusillanimous government authorities who were not only terrified to arrest them for even the most bloodcurdling infraction but who were, on the contrary, eager to throw money at them, with a smile and a bow, in response to their “piss-and-moan stories about deprivation and prejudice.”
This, then, was the environment in which Tommy grew up. Then came 9/11. It horrified him. On the first anniversary of 9/11, while the terrorist organization Al Muhajiroun was holding a conference in London to celebrate the hijackers, posters were put up all over Luton glorifying the so-called “Magnificent 19.” The authorities did nothing about any of this. He was appalled. Two years later, a group of Luton Muslims stated in a national media interview that they looked forward to a 9/11 in Britain; their leader, Sayful Islam, made it clear that he “wanted to see our children assassinated, executed.” The cops didn't even call them in for questioning.
As Tommy writes, “here was the great British public, sitting around listening to it, giving him [Sayful Islam] a public platform and doing nothing about it.” What set Tommy apart from the rest of the British public was one thing: “I had to do something.” But what? What to do? After the 2004 massacre of schoolchildren in the Russian town of Beslan, which also had a profound impact on him, he looked around. As far as he could see, “the only people talking about it, getting angry, were the BNP” – the British National Party. He joined – but quit soon after, when they turned out to be racists who wouldn't let a couple of his best friends, who were black, join up.
The British media still use his fifteen minutes of BNP membership against him. They're only indicting themselves. If Tommy (or anyone) had knocked at the door of the BBC instead of the BNP, asking to do some real investigative journalism about the likes of Sayful Islam, he'd have been shown the door. They were too busy giving softball interviews to – and thus helping to legitimize – people like Sayful. Best for social harmony and all that, you know.
Anyway, then came what would prove a fateful day. At a homecoming parade for a Luton battalion that had fought in Afghanistan, a large cohort of Muslims led by Sayful Islam were not only allowed to protest – they were accorded special protection by the police, who escorted them, as if they were some royal delegation, to a spot “where they were perfectly positioned to shout their abuse at the soldiers.” What should have been a proud, patriotic event, in short, was hijacked, turned into an opportunity for a display of hatred toward the UK – and a chilling assertion of burgeoning, malevolent power.
Long story short, that incident led Tommy and some friends to form the English Defence League (EDL).
They weren't violent. They weren't “far right,” despite the claims of a thousand headlines. At the time, Tommy didn't even know what “right” or “left” meant, in terms of politics. He was a total political naïf, who scarcely ever watched the TV news or read a daily paper. So green was he that he gave his first major national interview to the Guardian, not realizing that it was a hard-core propaganda organ of the British left and therefore disinclined, to put it mildly, to give a chap like him a fair shake. Tommy brought along three of his mates, all black, to the meeting with the Guardian reporter – and when the article came out, it described him as a racist and dropped his black friends down the memory hole.
This kept happening. It's still happening.
Tommy knew he had fans. But for a long time there, few of them dared speak up publicly. “When I was interviewed in ITV's Daybreak,” he recalls, “people followed me outside to shake my hand and encourage me to carry on with what we were doing. But would they ever admit to doing that, to voicing their support? Never.” Such expressions of solidarity, he writes, are “heartening to an extent I suppose, but one of these days all of those people are going to have to make a decision about exactly how much they care, how much support they're willing to give in public.”
Tommy's book is awash in such dispiriting accounts of cowardice. Cowardly citizens willing only to whisper friendly words. Cowardly lawyers, eager to represent child-killers but not Tommy Robinson. Cowardly cops who – while repeatedly harrassing Tommy, trumping up charges against him, and digging through his life in search of excuses to arrest him – leave the vilest of Muslim malefactors alone because they “don't want to provoke a commotion with 'the community.'”
Then there's the execrable Theresa May herself. While she was Home Secretary, Tommy managed to bluff his way into a sit-down. “I showed her a video of a white girl getting beaten up by a Muslim gang,” he recalls, “but she wouldn't look at it. And so I kept rewinding it and replaying. She eventually looked because she could see I wasn't stopping, but all she would say was, 'I can't comment.' I told her, 'No, but you would comment if it was a white gang attacking a woman in a burkha.'”
It was during one of his many unjustly imposed and unduly harsh stretches in prison that Tommy, after being handed a Koran by Muslim missionaries, finally read the thing. Suddenly “Islamic prejudices didn't seem so prejudiced at all.” Why? Because “[m]ost of what I'd heard second and third hand was right there in black and white, absolute encouragement – no, a divine instruction – to act atrociously towards the rest of the world. Obey Allah or burn in hell forever.” Not only was reading the Koran eye-opening; so was discovering that – as it turned out – many of his Muslim fellow prisoners, many of them converts and all of them constantly feigning piety, didn't have a clue what was really in their holy book.
In his closing pages, Tommy praises Douglas Murray for being the only non-prole Brit who tells the truth about Islam (“It makes a world of difference....Lads like me march and we're thugs. Middle class tweedies march and the nation is speaking”), eviscerates his local MP (a “useless waste of Parliamentary space” who, after having been “front and centre” at a local “Celebrate Muhammed” event, proved, when confronted by Tommy, not to know a single blessed thing about Islam's prophet), and delivers a warning: people in Britain “are sleepwalking our way towards a Muslim takeover of the country.” Truer words were never spoken.
So ends Tommy's autobiography. But his life story is far from over. This year it began its second act, in quite spectacular fashion. During the weeks since his illegitimate arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration, the rulers of his country have put him through perhaps even worse hell than they ever did before. Not a single member of the House of Commons spoke up for him. Nor, unless I missed something, did any major British celebrity or aristocrat come to his defense. Even leading British critics of Islam toed the line.
But tens of thousands of British subjects filled the streets to champion his cause. People around the world found out about him online and expressed their support. He has become one of the most internationally renowned and respected of living Britons. Millions realize that he, more than any other individual, may well represent the best hope for Britain's survival.
Which raises the question: will the British authorities dare to treat him now as they have before? When he was arrested back in May, they still viewed him as a lowlife whom they could, with complete impunity, treat as cruelly and unfairly as they wished. Can they still do that now, when the world's eyes are on Tommy – and on them?
That's one question. Another is whether Tommy's heroic example can be translated into real change. A large proportion of Brits know he's right. But to what degree do they share his conscience, his character, and his courage? How many of them have heard, or will soon hear – and heed – a voice inside telling them that they, too, have to do something?
The future of Britain depends on the answer to that question.
Bruce Bawer is the author of “While Europe Slept,” “Surrender,” and "The Victims' Revolution." His novel "The Alhambra" has just been published.