|A small Combined Ex-Forces demo in Bolton today (pic: Matthew Makhno)|
While anti-fascists from around the country were confronting the assorted far right street gangs in Bolton this afternoon, I found myself many miles away, in front of a computer. I’d rather have been there physically, but that wasn’t possible, so I offered my solidarity via Twitter. That was when a self-described “keyboard warrior” and “Angel” member of Casuals United engaged me in conversation.
I wouldn’t say it was a meeting of minds exactly, but nonetheless it was an interesting experience, and I think some of the things I said clashed with her preconceived ideas of how a “commie” should behave. At the start I was quite defensive and said somethings I probably wish I hadn’t, but by the end I was trying to find some common ground. After all, we are both – I presume – working class, and that should be enough in my book, if not in hers. As a new working class movement grows, we will have to engage with such groups in one way or another – whether by presenting a superior force or a superior argument. Though I have no great illusions in my own or anybody’s persuasive powers in conversation with people have been systematically misled their whole lives, I would still prefer it to be more of the latter.
Out of respect for her wish not to be included in a screenshot, I’ll preserve her anonymity here:
Me: #Solidarity with everyone confronting EDL and North West Infidels in Bolton today!
Her: like fuck lol
Her: Typical lefty twat haha
Her: help im being groomed
Me: You wish, I’m sure you’d relish the attention. But am I a passive homosexual or an aggressive paedophile?
Her: a keyboard biting taker id say
Me: Oh, so you believe that homosexuals should be silenced?
Her: Who you commies? Are you mad? and if you mean Muslims I live in Cornwall mate so Im hardly surrounded. #musttryharder
Me: So why are you bothered about them, if you don’t think they are a threat? I’m just trying to understand you.
|My “friend”‘s image of herself|
Her: Bothered about who?
Me: About Muslims. If there aren’t that many around you, why join an anti-Muslim group?
Me: Well that doesn’t seem to be a very clear answer. I mean I could, just as much as you. But I don’t see them as a threat to me.
Her: Why are you being “nice” to me? Are you grooming me?
Me: No, I can’t even see what you look like, so that would be a bit strange. I’m just interested in hearing what you have to say.
Me: Because normally I’ve come across people like you in demos and whatever, and there’s been a line of cops separating us.
Me: And we shout insults backwards and forwards. But we don’t learn anything from that. And I hate some of the things you hate.
At this point, my “friend” told her timeline that her boyfriend was taking her out for a meal. So that was the end of our exchange. A shame really. I quite enjoyed it.