An ill thought out invitation.
Over the weekend the English Defence League invited the Reverend Jones to the UK, to speak at a conference they are organising early next year. No, not the Reverend Jim Jones, murderous leader of the Jonestown Massacre I wrote about in "The Power of Unreason", but the Florida based pastor that became a media sensation when he proposed a 'burn the Quran day' on the 11th September this year.
This is obviously all quite frustrating, and has generated a lot of media coverage, which might make one think it was a rather savvy move by the EDL. But look closer and it is a strategic mistake. The EDL, like most smallish groups with an extreme bent, try to retain some public respectability. EDL leaders frequently stress they are not anti-Islam, as mainstream media paints them out to be, but anti-Islamism and fighting only militant, extreme Islam. This is a message which has a lot of traction with a lot of people. Consequently it is why the EDL could tap into a much broader popular base than they currently have.
So inviting this buffoon is not a wise move. Any respectability the EDL has tried to create for itself will crumble. Pastor Jones clearly has very little of intellectual value to offer in terms of fighting Islamism, and is a pure, unapologetic hater of Islam in all its guises. Along with his proposed book burning, he titled his recent book 'Islam is of the Devil'. Well, you can't fault his honesty. So although the EDL scored a nice media hit, this could be a pyrrhic victory and may hurt the movement in the long-run. Although the Home Secretary is faced with a difficult decision about whether to let him in, she can take some comfort in that.