Walking away from extremism is hard, as anyone who has done it will tell you, but that journey is crucial and with support from Exit Hate, it’s great to be able to walk away and start again but to reduce the number of people involved, we need alternatives to extremism.
This is important for two main reasons, one we need to show how genuine patriotism is inclusive and based on Place NOT Race and two we need to fill the void for people who walk away from hate, so what alternatives are there?
Firstly, we need to reclaim Patriotism from the extremists, because genuine Patriotism as has been said is based on place not race, it Is inclusive and welcomes all who love the nation and wish to create a better country for all.
The flags extreme right-wing extremists wrap themselves up in are not theirs, they are all of ours, regardless of colour or religion. They represent all those who have fought to defend our nation and the freedoms we all hold dear.
From the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, to the servicemen and women who protect us today, all have joined to protect us and our way of life and our armed forces represent us all, from all walks of life.
If we think back to 1939, real patriots stood up to extreme right-wing racism, they did not stand against us and today, just like then real patriots need to stand up and reclaim those flags, as they represent all who gave irrespective of colour, religion, or gender. If we don’t then we are disrespecting all those who gave and stood up against fascism, so let's embrace patriotism and celebrate things like St George’s Day, as St George is the patron of many places including – England, Syria, Ethiopia, and Palestine, to name just a few.
Here we can come together, talk about our love of our nations, and unite because this is what extremists fear the most, so let’s come together and reduce the divide and the influence extremists have in our communities.
Other occasions we should mark include the Battle of Britain and of course Remembrance Day, both of which are inclusive and allow us to show our respects.
But what about if people feel uncomfortable with Patriotism because of the damage the extreme right-wing has done, to showing love for the nation. Well, there is an alternative that is inclusive and can still offer an alternative which is based on history, allows people to celebrate tradition and gives people a sense of belonging and identity and this is localism.
Localism offers people a chance to celebrate local traditions, promote heritage and be fully inclusive as promoting local identity is again based on Place NOT Race and it doesn’t matter where you were born, but where you call home that matters and this can be based on your village, town, city or even county, what you hold dear is entirely up to you, but building a locally focused identity is a great way of promoting and building an inclusive community where all of us can have a shared identity and belonging, as this can be based on where we live and what we hold dear.
Good for the community and local business localism provides us with an inclusive vehicle which allows us to share a common love of our local area, where we can come together, support each other and still protect heritage and culture, but in a positive way, where we pass these things onto future generations, regardless of who they are and what they look like.
From celebrating existing historical events to promoting local identity, this unity can build buffers against hate and extremism, bringing people together and this can be done in many ways from local village fetes to larger county celebrations, there is a lot we can do and build positive alternatives to extremism.
Over the coming months, we will be looking at alternatives to extremism and ways we can bring people together.
If you have an idea, would like to voice your opinion or would like to write an article yourself, then please get in touch with us at – firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you.