In their letter to to the people of Wootton Bassett, Islam4UK write:
We begin by inviting all non-Muslims to Islam, the perfect and most beautiful way of life, a favour from Allah (God) to mankind to take him out of the darkness of worshipping his own desires to the exclusive worship, submission and obedience of Allah alone, without partners and to testify the Messengership of the final Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We urge you to embrace Islam and save yourselves and your family from the hellfire and not to believe the lies and distortions which the Western media and non-Islamic regimes would have you believe about Muslims and their true intentions. Islam means submission and the Muslim is the one who submits to the will of God in his life. Verily the Messenger Muhammad told us that whoever heard his name from the Jews and Christians and did not believe would be held accountable for that on the day of judgement.
Submission, obedience, hellfire, accountable...A nice line in threats. The march probably won't happen since everyone is against it from the Prime Minister down to the local mayor, but the threat has been made, and that changes things beyond the publicity grab of Anjem Choudary's pretty little group. Wootton Bassett becomes a symbol. Choudary has made it so.
I was thinking of Pressan Ambo in Auden and Isherwood's The Dog Beneath the Skin. Pressan Ambo was a microcosm of British rural hierarchy: what Auden and Isherwood felt they were up against. Today, Wootton Bassett is something else, but it has begun to assume a function beyond what it normally is and does. The town remains itself but it functions as an organ through which the stream of dead soldiers passes. Its people remain real people, best defined by themselves, but now, at another level, through the threats of Islam4UK, they become the people, or shall we say, an aspect of the people, of Britain. I don't think I am making this up: I suspect that is the inevitable role the town must now play, for however long or however briefly. That is the way its existence will be generally addressed, though in veiled terms, in public discourse. When people talk of Wootton Bassett they will mean more than a small Wiltshire town through which a route happens to pass.
So the question is: what is that aspect? What lines of power run through it? I will be thinking about this for a while yet. Maybe scribbling a bit too just to see where it leads.