The UK government was right to prevent three right wing activists from entering
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Three extreme right-wing activists and social media influencers were banned from entering the UK last week. They were supposed to deliver speeches in the Speakers’ Corner, in Hyde Park, London and to meet with Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League.
This ban from the British Border Force has been considered by many an “anti-far-right move” that threatens free speech.
Brittany Pettibone, an American fiction writer and alt-right commentator and her boyfriend Martin Sellner, an Austrian alt-right law student, were stopped at Luton Airport, detained for 2 days and deported. Lauren Southern, the Canadian activist and Youtuber, was held in Calais, France when she was trying to get a bus to the UK. She later responded with a YouTube video whose controversial title “Closing down free speech in the UK” gave way to a fired discussion online.
According to a spokesperson for the Home Office, "Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good." Brittany posted on Twitter the letter she received from an immigration officer, in which it was stated that her presence in the UK would pose "a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society and are likely to incite tensions between local communities in the United Kingdom."
Can this be considered political discrimination and, even worse, a threat to the freedom of speech and expression?
Well, it can.
The Speakers’ Corner was created exactly for the purpose of sharing different ideas, regardless of how much they differ from the ideas shared by the majority of the population. That is indeed what free speech is all about: peacefully expressing what we believe in without being detained, judged or punished for doing so.
It is, therefore, very easy to call this act “discriminative”.
Three apparently harmless people were denied entrance to a country merely due to their political views. However, for such powerful claims, people might need to research a bit more on the background of these three alt-wing activists. Instead of judging the discrimination towards them, why not trying to understand the reasons behind such ban?
Firstly, the alt-wing ideology, it is directly connected with concepts such as white supremacism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and, the most obvious one, neo-Nazism. Most people consider such values absurd, harmful and completely against the humankind- thankfully. But then we have the other side. Despite being a minority, they exist.
Brittany Pettibone considers herself a “white nationalist”, supported Trump in his election campaign (nothing surprising) and promoted theories such as the white genocide. Martin, her boyfriend, is the leader of the New Right movement in Austria, which advocates for white separatism and all those -isms that are too painful even to write. Lastly, Lauren Southern is the author of a book called “Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation” and was detained by the Italian Coast Guard for blocking a ship with refugees, only last year.
I supposed the adjective “harmless” does not suit them anymore. These are just a few examples of what these social media personalities have been doing, but it might be enough to back up the UK’s argument that their views are triggering.
Considering this, perhaps the UK just banned hate speech. Perhaps there is no “free speech” here and their visions are actually damaging to the country’s legislation and, most importantly, values. Perhaps it is not even about the country’s values, but values shared around the world. It’s about human rights. It’s about common sense and knowing the definition of right and wrong.
If their views weren’t so extreme, they wouldn’t be banned. But we are talking about harmful visions, ideas that shouldn’t be spread. In this case, a country should prevent people from trying to spread them. When it oppresses human rights so severely, the “free speech” line is crossed and they shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.
There is something here that I struggle to understand- these people are the ones who protest for more control and regulation in countries’ barriers. Something must be wrong. That is exactly what the UK did- it reinforced its control. So why are they protesting for less civil rights to minorities and more civil rights for them? This seems like Karma to me.
I am biased, of course. I have my own political views and they are very different from the ones these three activists defend. Everyone is entitled to have their own political opinions and the British Border Force did not arrest them for defending alt-wing policies, it just did not collaborate with them.
According to Nick Lowles, chief execute of Hope Not Hate, an anti-racism campaign, "during the last two to three years the government has taken a very strong position against hard-line neo-Nazis, extreme Holocaust deniers, banning many who've attempted to enter the UK." Now, they are paying closer attention to “softer” targets, such as these activists.
And I am glad they are doing so. I am glad that I live in a country that does not go along with violence, hate and any kind of discrimination towards any minority. Putting aside my political views and writing as a mere human being who wants my rights assured, it was well done.
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