Oxford Unite Against Fascism has written to the Oxford Union calling on it to adopt a policy of never again inviting fascists to speak. The Oxford Union has previously refused to cancel speaking invitations to fascists such as Nick Griffin, Tommy Robinson and Marine Le Pen, in spite of calls from Oxfordshire anti-racist organisations, Trade Unions, academics, student, faith and community groups. It is hoped that the Oxford Union will now be more receptive to the anti-racist argument since it has admitted it is instituionally racist. The Oxford Union's admission came as it was forced to apologise for issuing racist publicity for a "Colonial comeback" cocktail that showed a slave's hands in chains as part of a debate about colonialism.
kate Douglas from Oxford Unite Against Fascism said "It is great news that the Oxford Union has acknowledged what a lot of people have thought for a long time - that it is institutionally racist and needs to do something about this. Now it has the chance to make a real difference to combatting racism by agreeing to never again invite fascists to speak in Oxford. The Oxford Union's previous invitations have been very damaging, boosting the credibiity of fascist leaders and boosting their organisations' ability to stoke up racism - particlularly Islampophobia and anti-immigrant racism. The Oxford Union has contributed to a climate where racist thugs have had the confidence to march on the streets of Oxford, actually endangering the people who live here. Fascists express the most extreme forms of racism - and for the Union to refuse to recognise this would show the Oxford Union's apology to be insincere and their commitment to anti-racism to be a sham."
Oxford City Councillor Mike Rowley said, "The repeated invitations to fascists to speak in Oxford are a symptom of the Oxford union's insitutional racism. We want to hold the Oxford Union to it's word that it will join "the pre-existing movement to address the pernicious problem of racism". We believe there is no excuse to allow any promotion of fascism given its barbaric history and the threat its ideas and organisations still pose to democracy and peaceful and tolerant societies. The legacy of fascism is that of the crushing of democracy and death camps including Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Buchenwald, where 6 million Jews were exterminated, alongside millions of political opponents, gays, Roma, and other "undesirables". We urge the Oxford Union to say "Never Again" and adopt a "no platform for fascists policy."
- Nick Griffin, then leader of the BNP, was invited in 2007 alongside convicted Holocaust denier Davd Irving.
- The Oxford Union invited Grifin again in 2013 to "guarantee a great welcome in Oxford". The invitation was rescinded
- Tommy Robinson was invited in 2013 when leader of the EDL but the invitation was withdrawn as a "mistake". He was then invited again in 2014 but was unable to attend due to his recall to prisonfor breach of bail conditions. He was invited again on his release in 2015. While no longer leading the EDL he maintains a close association with EDL members regulalrly posting his material, and Robinson continues to promote EDL videos on his website and continus to credit homself as the founder of the EDL
- Marine Le Pen spoke in 2015.
- All these invitations were protested by Unite Against Fascism with support from the Oxford community on the grounds the speakers held promintnet positions in fascist organisations, subscribed to fascist idealogy and had stoked up ranti-Semitic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant racism.
Copy of letter sent by Oxford Unite Against Fascism to Oxford Union
To Olivia Merret
President of Oxford Union
Oxford Unite Against Fascism has previously made representation to the Oxford Union to request it does not give a platform to fascist speakers on the grounds this gives them unwarranted prestige which helps them to promote racist hate and fascist ideology. The Oxford Union has ignored our requests to cancel fascist speakers including Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, alongside David Irving - both renowned Holocaust deniers; Tommy Robinson - twice, and most recently Marine Le Pen leader of the fascist Front National in France.
The EDL, BNP and Front National have spent years demonising Muslims and immigrants as part of a Europe wide campaign of the far right to such an extent that Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism have become widespread. The Oxford Union has helped this process by giving a platform to fascists who express the most extreme versions of these racisms.
We warned the Oxford Union that giving a platform to fascists would stoke up racism and bring racists on to the streets of Oxford endangering Oxford residents and undermining harmony between our multicultural communities. It therefore came as no surprise that the English Defence League called a national demonstration, bringing hundreds of racist thugs onto Oxford's streets, after the Oxford Union invited Tommy Robinson and Marine Le Pen to speak this year.
We therefore welcome the news that that the Oxford Union has now acknowledged that it is institutionally racist as a result of student groups campaigning against the racist "Colonial comeback" cocktail and associated advert for the drink showing a slave's hands in chains.
Oxford Unite Against Fascism now calls on the Oxford Union to recognise that inviting fascists to speak is also a reflection of the institutional racism that exists within the Oxford Union, and to also recognise that the main outcome of such invitations is to boost racist and fascist organisations and ideas, both within their institution and in wider society.
We note the Oxford Union has committed itself to join "the pre-existing movement to address the pernicious problem of racism" and calls on the Oxford Union to implement this statement by agreeing to not issue any further invitations to fascists to speak at the Oxford Union.
We believe there is no excuse to allow any promotion of fascism given its barbaric history and the threat its ideas and organisations still pose to democracy and a peaceful and tolerant society.
The legacy of fascism is the that of the crushing of democracy and death camps including Auschwitz, Trebilnka, and Buchenwald, where 6 million Jews were exterminated, alongside millions of political opponents, gays, Roma, and other "undesirables". We urge the Oxford Union to say "Never Again" and adopt a "no platform for fascists policy."