“Fascist” is, like so many words in this debate, open to elastic interpretation. When no-platform policies were first instituted by the NUS back in 1974, they were aimed specifically at the far right in the shape of the National Front, and their sympathisers. Such parties were known to incite racism and violence.
The journalist and author David Aaronovitch was a student at the time and later president of the National Union of Students. “The idea was that fascism appeals to an ur-instinct so you can’t afford to debate it,” he says. “If you debate it, you make it respectable.”
Although he supported the policy at the time, he noticed that from early on there were activists who sought to expand the definition and the categories of people “fascism” would include. Nowadays no-platform policies have given up focusing only on the far right. Many of the people who have found it…
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