His narrative is that he is the brave defender of the truth that the establishment don't want the Great American Public to hear. All who oppose him he portrays as being fooled by the liberal conspiracy and being taken in by Muslim fanatics wanting to claim your benefits and undermine your religion and put an end to free speech. Banning him from entering the UK or from speaking wins him recruits every bit as much as bombing Syria helps ISIS.
One of the best ways to deal with fascists and extreme racists is to take on their arguments with humour and patience and to try and get them to foam at the mouth and say something even more stupid than they already planned to. This helps turn people away from their horrible ideology and expose them for what they really are. It is a tactic that has worked very well in the past and we would do well to stick with whenever possible.
When Mosley started to form the British Union of fascists he dressed his fanatics up in brown uniforms and got them to march through some of the most deprived parts of Britain. They were met by a storm of micky-taking that made fun of their silly uniforms and undermined every effort they were making to get themselves taken seriously. This is the prime reason why they never got off the ground in the UK. They were made to look ridiculous and shown up for what they were. It proved hard to recruit followers for petty little martinets who were trying to make themselves look important and failing.
The same tactic worked very well when Nick Griffiths of the BNP appeared on BBC's question time. Before the programme there was a storm of protest criticising the BBC for giving the man air time and providing fascism with the oxygen of publicity. After the performance there was a massive drop in support for the BNP. His appearance killed off his party as an effective force. The BBC got it absolutely right. You don't beat fascism by getting rid of freedom of speech. You beat it by using that freedom better and more effectively than they do. Trying to ban their message simply makes these people sound fascinating and plays straight into their hands.
When the far right tries to organise provocative marches through areas where they think that they can whip up hate the best way of dealing with this is to reverse the intimidation. If they want to bring a crowd of outsiders into the community to intimidate one section of the locals then it makes good sense to get out a much bigger crowd of genuine locals who want to show that the community stands together against this kind of intimidation. Whenever the crowd of protestors has turned violent the fascists have tended to win dangerous numbers of people over to their argument by claiming their enemies are all extremist with no real interest in free speech. Whenever the protestors have kept their cool and faced down fascists with massed crowds of responsible people standing together against them then the fascists have gone home miserable and the local community has emerged the winner.
There are, of course, circumstances where it is not enough to simply proclaim liberal values in the face of fascism. Fascists don't remotely respect the same values as us and are quite prepared to use violence to destroy a tolerant society. You cannot reason with a storm-trooper or the driver of a panzer. You have to resort to violence and you have to fight until you win. This is, however, not a solution that emerges from strength. It is a necessary action to deal with a situation of weakness where enough people have been recruited to a fascist cause to make them very dangerous indeed. When you have to fight a fascist you have already lost an awful lot of smaller battles.
It is always better to stop fascists recruiting in the first place by doing the hard difficult work of arguing it out with people who are tempted to listen to their arguments. It isn't easy listening with patience to people that you fundamentally disagree with and coming up with facts and arguments to counteract their fears. It is much easier to simply talk to other people who already agree with you and will re-enforce your own views. But that difficult hard work of taking on uncomfortable ideas is really important.
In France last week 28% of the voters across the country voted for the Front National making it the number one party in the country. It is a party that contains open and avowed fascists and is a direct descendent of a party that defended the Vichy Nazi collaborationists. The Front National vote has been steadily increasing for over 30 years and ideas that were once too toxic to be discussed in polite society have now become mainstream.
In Britain at the last election four million people voted for UKIP. It is not a fascist organisation and has many members and voters who are perfectly reasonable human beings who can be persuaded to view things differently. Refusing to engage in debate with its members and writing them off as beyond the pale is not a way of beating them. It is a way of strengthening them.
If 4 million people are simply written off as not being worthy of consideration and are not listened to and argued with then it may not be long before there are rather more than 4 million of them. Fanatics are, of course, never easy to argue with. They live in a world where fear of difference dominates and they make assertions that are seriously flawed and will do everything they can to distort the facts and to believe what they wish to believe rather than what the evidence demonstrates.
When that becomes a description of the left rather than the right then we are in big trouble. A refusal to listen instead of a willingness to address concerns by serious argument and to share and understand experiences is rarely very attractive or persuasive. The best way of winning any argument is to show that those who disagree with you are the ones who are dogmatic and ill informed. The best way of losing is to come across as inflexible, dogmatic and shocked by the idea that anyone might think differently to you.
That is what almost 400,000 well intentioned people have just done. If you were one of them I urge you to think again. Before the desire to ban everyone who disagrees with us plays straight into the hands of our worst enemies and makes the situation much worse.