Tag Archives: Racism

Dale Farm (not the yoghurt)

Tomorrow there will probably be a mass eviction of 86 traveller families at Dale Farm, Basildon, despite the opposition of bodies like Amnesty International and the UN’s expert on minority rights.
This eviction will apparently cost £18 million. Not a misprint. £209,302 plus change for every family evicted. About ten year’s wages at £20k, which is well above minimum wage. Financial crisis, my bum. There seems to plenty of spare public money for racial harassment. (Which, as far as I understand it, makes Basildon Council an international rogue council and potentially fair game for some sort of international invasion task force.)
If the historical parallels of where the new Euroracism seems to be heading aren’t clear enough, look at jewify.com. They’ve had the brilliant idea of rewriting newspaper pages and headlines by replacing words like “gypsy” and “traveller” with the word “Jew”.
Just look at the headline examples on the home page. I hope your blood runs cold.

Rumble about the Jungle

How easily does extreme right-wing discourse slip into the way the media frames the world? Answer: Very easily.

The BBC website has a report on the argument by the Refugee Council that the UK should take some responsibility to grant asylum for vulnerable residents – children -of the squatter camp at Calais.

They are talking about children. Children who are living in a squatter camp. I think that qualifies as a humanitarian issue. Surely all our media hysteria about risks to children should also apply here?

But, in the interests of “balance”, presumably, the BBC gives at least an equal space to the views of Migration Watch, who carefully seek to redefine this issue to ignore the “children” bit. After a load of unchallenged nonsense such as an assertion that 80% of people who say the word “asylum” are admitted to the UK, their spokesman says

“You have to look at the system as a whole, you can’t just say there are vulnerable children” (from the BBC)

Now, I’m already on semiotic alert by the BBC’s description of this squatter camp as

the camp known as “the jungle”

And lo, there is a sidebar with links to previous BBC articles about this camp.

SEE ALSO
UK turns down ‘jungle migrants’ 18 Sep 09 | Europe
France to close migrant ‘jungle’ 16 Sep 09 | Europe
Migrant squalor in Calais ‘jungle’ 02 Jul 09 | UK
UN to help advise Calais refugees 01 Jul 09 | UK

Was a decision taken in early July to use the “jungle” word? Hmm, does that mean that it’s full of Africans? Yes, I believe it does. Jungle is a pretty loaded word. It arrives carrying echoes of the racist ideas that supported colonialism. That’s why we now say “rainforest”.

I don’t have a problem with calling the “rainforest” the “jungle”. However, I do have serious problems with the BBC calling a refugee camp a “jungle,” given that I don’t believe that trees and parrots are over-represented in the Calais camp.

And what is MigrationWatch? Surely that must be an organisation with equal credibility to the Refugee Council, given that it’s accorded equal billing by the BBC? Well, maybe it’s just me but I rather think not.

Its website says that

We are an independent, voluntary, non political body which is concerned about the present scale of immigration into the UK.

Let’s say “concerned” is putting it mildly. The word “rabid” would probably fill the bill better. Here are the first 3 of what they call “key facts”:

Net immigration has quadrupled since 1997 to 237,000 a year.
A migrant now arrives nearly every minute.
We must build a new home every six minutes for new migrants.

They have a press page where they record their appearances in the media: (When I say “their” I am not convinced that “they” exist far beyond their spokestwat, but that may be wishful thinking)

Bear with me while I paste in their media triumphs over the past couple of years. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph are the favoured platforms – until the BBC started to see their glorious leader as a spokesman:

Migrant housing figures, Letter in The Daily Telegraph 25 July, 2009
25-Jul-2009
Turks increasingly turn to Islamic extremism: Al Qaeda’s reliance on Arabs is altering as recruits from Turkey and Turkic-speaking areas of Central Asia form a recent wave of trainees, experts (sic) say.
By Sebastian Rotella Los Angeles Times – 20-Jul-2009
At last, the truth about immigration and council house queue jumping
By Andrew Green The Daily Mail, London – 30-Jun-2009
Statisticians are right to publish and be damned By Sir Andrew Green,
The Times – 12-Feb-2009
We must create a culture of solidarity, not offer amnesties
Editorial from The Catholic Herald 28-Nov-2008
How many more people can our small island take? As population heads towards 70 million has the penny dropped for Labour? by Sir Andrew Green The Daily Mail – 19-Nov-2008
Devastating demolition of the case for mass immigration by Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, The Daily Mail – 01-Apr-2008
Immigration is making matters worst (sic) Letter by Sir Andrew Green
The Surrey Advertiser – 07-Dec-2007
Hold back the immigrant flood By Sir Andrew Green,
The Sunday Times – 04-Nov-2007
‘We must act now to cut immigrant numbers’ Commentary by Sir Andrew Green, The Daily Telegraph – 24-Oct-2007

Plus this “1 Sep 2009 … Sir Andrew Green was interviewed on the Today Programme at 8.35 this morning about the asylum seekers’ camp near Calais”

Who is Sir Andrew Green and why are his views so much more worthy of media attention than, say, mine? A Guardian profile from 2005 says his friends are unanimous that he’s not a a racist. Oh, well, that must be OK, then.

Apparently, he can’t be a racist, because he was British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia…….

The portrait that emerges from those who know Sir Andrew is of a shy, private individual, “a right old Tory, Daily Telegraph reader”, and also a “very religious” man who held regular evangelical meetings at the British embassy in Riyadh. (from the Guardian, 4 Nov 2005)

A very religious man. LOL Regular evangelical sessions.. Double LOL. Why am I not surprised that this right-wing figurehead for an ugly ideology is also an “evangelical Christian”? Indeed, “suffer the little children” may have become his new watchword, if we consider his Calais stance.

Just to show exactly how “unracist” the former ambassador is:

The row offered Sir Andrew an opportunity to renew his argument on the BBC’s Today programme, when he said: “We have no problem with immigration from Poland, which is valuable to all sides.” (from the Guardian, 4 Nov 2005)

So Eastern Europeans are OK?

But. almost all the migration to the UK that makes up the numbers that Migration Watch presents (e.g UK supposedly needs to build a house every 6 minutes for migrants) is from EC countries. This apparently doesn’t worry “Migration Watch”.

Shouldn’t they call it “Non-white Migration Watch” and have done with it, then? Clearly not, because even the BBC would then have problems presenting Sir Andrew Green’s views on its main pages, in the name of balance.

Cleopatra Was Egyptian – Shock News!

Wow, breaking news brought to us by the BBC reveals that Cleopatra was, wait for it, of african descent! It seems that the in-depth research of the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra was wrong and the queen of Egypt was not actually a white caucasian but was native to Eqgypt. Amazing claims like this needs some fantastic research. Fortunately the headline news on the BBC rewards us:

Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Pharaoh, renowned for her beauty, was part African, says a BBC team which believes it has found her sister’s tomb.

Wow. Knock me down with a feather. It gets better:

But remains of the queen’s sister Princess Arsinoe, found in Ephesus, Turkey, indicate that her mother had an “African” skeleton.
Experts have described the results as “a real sensation.”

Amazing. An African skeleton… How could Liz Taylor have got it so wrong only 45 years ago. Do we need to re-cast and re-film an entire generation of epic movies? Next you will be telling me Jesus wasn’t a tall, blue eyed, blonde haired Caucasian.

Actually, I cant keep it up. This is mind numbingly insane.

First off: Who is actually surprised that Egypt is in Africa? Seriously, anyone? This is a news item that basically says “Egyptian Queen is part African.” Is it really that quiet a news day? (no). This is the Online BBC news that ignored seven hours of riots and petrol bombs in Lurgan, Northern Ireland (despite coverage being in the newspapers). This is the online BBC news that is regularly a day behind unfolding events. It is obviously wasting too much time writing copy for the department of the BLOODY OBVIOUS.

Secondly: No one is disputing Cleopatra’s lineage coming from Alexander’s generals and being predominantly Greek. However, the idea that this remained purely Greek (Macedonian?) after the first generation is simply batshit insane. Yes there was a huge amount of inbreeding, and most royal marriages were with Greek nobles, but over 250 years without allowing locals into the bloodline is unlikely. That would have been news worthy.

Thirdly: In my limited archaological knowledge, WTF does “african bones” mean? Is this 19th century casual racism where its thought that the darkies have a different genetic makeup to us “white people?”  What on Earth is there about the bones that make them “african” rather than Egyptian or Greek? Seriously, WTF!

There has been some reluctance of late for this blog to attack the blinding madness that the BBC is pushing out, mainly because it puts us in the same camp as the Daily Wail, but this is a step too far.

The BBC has seriously lost any sense of what is, or isnt, news. This is thinly veiled advertising for a BBC program of dubious merit. Shame on the BBC and I want them to refund what ever portion of my licence fee went towards this drivel.

Have your hate

I suspect the Twat-O-Tron has been at work on the BBC’s Have Your Say (HYS) pages once more. One of todays “discussion” topics is Should immigration be cut because of the downturn? As you can imagine, this sort of thing really does bring the spiteful, uneducated, masses out of the dark, hate-filled world they normally hide in.

As always, a second-rate politician has found a topic they can grand-stand on, which appeals to the base instincts of the public:

The economic downturn will mean fewer people from outside the European Union are allowed to live and work in Britain, the UK Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has suggested.
Mr Woolas told the Times newspaper that in times of economic difficulty, racial stereotyping gets stronger so jobs should go primarily to those who live here.
He said when people were losing their jobs, immigration had become an extremely thorny issue.
Mr Woolas said the government would not allow the population to go up to 70 million.

I doubt more than a handful of people outside his constituency had heard of Mr Woolas before this, but he has achieved his goal. His “inspiring” comments have drawn quite a bit of attention to him.

Predictably, at the time of writing anyway, the weight of comments on HYS is in support of this madness. It seems that people have an arbitrary idea of what means someone is “British” enough to be here. On its own, this is bizarre enough but it seems there is a new version of logic available to these people. Each of these seem to fall into a theme.

The first is made up from people who are slightly misled:

UK Government must respond to the changing economic situation by making drastic cuts in the non EU workers coming to work and live in UK.With recession knocking on our doors resulting in job losses and increase in unemployment it will be folley to allow the immigration at the present level. Immigration must be restricted to needed skilled workers only. [By the miracle of irony, this comment was from "Mohan Lal Ramchandani, Westhoughton, United Kingdom"]

Non-EU migrant workers are, despite scare-mongering stories, few and far between in the UK. There are already regulations in place to restrict this migration to skilled workers, which is why the non-EU migrants tend to be in highly specialised professions (Doctors for example). Now, as with all things, the jobs are open to everyone – if British doctors are either unable to take the job, or unwilling to work at the market rate, then why on Odin’s Earth shouldn’t non-EU immigrants do the work?

Worryingly for non-xenophobic lunatics, the jobs lost in the recession are always certainly going to hit “British” workers before they hit migrants; the migrants are already paid peanuts. This will provide an arsenal of madness for the xenophobes and it is worrying that the Immigration Minister didn’t think before he spoke. Well done HM Government.

The next category is the weird, irrelevant, analogy:

At last. Well done for your comments hear. This country could easily be swamped by immigration. The world population is spiralling out of control.
In the Ciaro area for example, there are more than 1.5 million every year, and there is no way enough jobs can be created, despite Egypt’s economic growth.
Rubbish just piles up in the streets, alongside dead animals and roaming packs of unempoyed young men. A worrying vision for a future UK city? [Phil, Enfield]

Typo’s aside, this madness. I have been Cairo and it looked very different to that. However, even if “Phil” was 100% accurate it carries a huge so what. London is not Cairo. The differences are immense, even if UK councils have gone down the road of less and less frequent rubbish collection…

The inevitable empty rant also has its place:

I just cant express my anger at the way in which New Labour have allowed immigration to run riot over the last 11 years in only 500 words.
To announce a cap on immigration now, after the NHS and almost every other public body in the country have been saying for years that they cant cope with the current influx beggars belief, and I just dont believe that they will have the strength to stand up to the namby pamby lefties who put the needs of foreigners before those of brits.
Shut the door today [Downingstreet Mole, Leominster, United Kingdom]

Basically, this is someone who is just plain angry. They don’t really have anything to say and there is no coherent argument. They just wanted to rant about leftwingers. Well done them. Oddly, and sadly for the tabloids, most immigrant workers don’t put pressure on the NHS. People who are earning less than minimum wage aren’t really in a position to take a few days off sick. People who are here, living 30 to a house, dont make a huge dent in the NHS dentistry budget. Yes, a small percentage do use the health service but most don’t. They cant afford to.

Conspiracy theorists have to get their oar in:

please remember we live on an island, and not a very big island at that.
tony blairs government idea of a multicultral country is and was flawed from the outset forgetting history and the fact this little island is not big enough for too many people to live on safely.
the only reason the government invited so many in was to gain supportand ultimately engineer staying in power longer, ignoring indiginous minorities infavour of incoming peoples.
it has to stop now.[delminister, truro, United Kingdom]

Well, this is odd. There are quite a few which have made this claim (or a variation thereof). It strikes me as odd, because Labour’s managed to get in power while a Conservative government held the seat. So, did Labour have a secret load of migrants to vote for them or is this just nonsense? Equally weird, migrants dont get to vote… Truly, the world of HYS is bizarre.

Staying with the madness we get this:

Everyone I speak to from the UK complains about immigration.
The Government ignores what the population of the UK wants. A stop to it.
For this reason alone, regardless of any supposed economic benefits, it should be stopped.[Will de Beest, Spain]

(Spain! Ha). Basically this implies that the government shouldn’t mind about the benefits or costs of a policy, but should just do what ever the subset of the population this nutcase talks to want. Wow. Wouldn’t that lead to a Utopia.

“What are you going to say to the employer who is desperate to fill a job, but can’t find anyone suitable in the European economic area?”
Keith Best, chief executive, Immigration Advisory Service
Is this for real? – is this guy seriously suggesting that there are jobs out there that can not be filled by anyone from within the EU, let alone this country?
If that is the case then maybe the employer should take his business elsewhere.[Graham Duncan, United Kingdom]

Erm, yes. That is what Keith Best is saying, If the employer can’t find some one from the EU he takes his business elsewhere and employs from outside the EU. It is a shame that (on HYS) British-loving seems to mean the same as idiot. This is a milder version where a poor sense of history has conspired to create the idiocy:

We were once a proud nation at peace with itself and common sense lived here it was so good everyone else wanted to live here.
Our grandfathers had worked hard and sacrificed much to make this county Great but immigration reversed all that. Broke, and under shortsighted leadership we have given away more than we could afford.
Should immigration be cut YES, in all honesty it should have been stopped years ago. [Tom J-P[, Byfleet]

There isn’t really all that much I can say to that, other than no.

The comments continue to be a mix of racist, mad or just daft, although having just refreshed them I see there is some balance there now. The oddest part is that people are in favour of immigration laws (which will only affect non-EU migrants) because they want to reduce the number of EU migrants. It really is that stupid.

Worryingly (for the UK) it does show how stupid our electorate is, and how easily they can be misdirected by a slightly cunning politician. I really do think that democracy doesn’t work – most people are too thick.

Ironically, if we did institute a system where people who could barely read or write English were deported, we’d be stuck as most of them (using HYS as my non-scientific, non-representative sample) would have been born here…

Headline news

The BBC reports on a WHO report that social factors, rather than genetics, are responsible for the massive disparities in life expectancy across the world.

This is like saying that humans have been found to breathe air rather than treacle. I.e., It should be no surprise to anyone.

The WHO report webpage makes no mention of “genetics” as a possibly valid alternative explanation. Unsurpisingly. Nor does the BBC report, if you read past the headline.

So, why does genetics even get mentioned in the headline, as if there’s a legitimate debate over whether poverty or genetics is the main determinant of health and life expectancy?

Whatever the reason, the effect is that the lazy headline scanner – i.e., pretty well all of us readers – is left with a vague impression that poverty and genetics are almost equally valid explanations for global inequalities.

My today’s-imaginary-friend – the lazy headline scanner (OK, that’s usually me) – is also likely to be misled by the headline Arab warning after racist death. Hmm, doesn’t that sound – in the current climate – as if there has been a racist Arab threat? You can almost picture the people who inspired the twat-o-tron frothing at the mouth at yet another example of “political correctness gone mad” and so on.

However, this story relates to a 16-year-old language student from Qatar who was murdered in Hastings, apparently for being an Arab.

The “warning” is his uncle’s suggestion that he would advise other Arab families not to send their children to language classes in the UK. Which may not be a statistically valid conclusion about relative risk, based as it is on a sample of one, but I’m pretty confident you’d feel the same in his position.

So, no Arab actually made a racist threat. No Arabs even warned that they’d be taking vengeance for a racist death. In fact, the real story is that an Arab teenager was murdered by racists.

Not that you could guess from the headline.

It’s not that these headlines are deliberately targeted at stirring up the bigots. (The Daily Mail et al exist for that purpose and are so successful at doing it.)
But the general effect of such headlines is still misleading. They are just examples of the background noise in which mass stupidity can flourish.

Spin the News

Some more ranting time, sorry. Today must be a slow news day in the UK and obviously we are no longer interested in international news. As a result, one of the prominent news items has been a “Row over military uniforms in public [also on BBC News].” Shocking really. Not the “row” but the fact it has made headline news.

Basically, the Station Commander at RAF Wittering has banned personnel working at the base from wearing uniform in public because they have had some abuse from locals (while in uniform) in Peterborough. This has caused a bit of a row because recently the government were very keen to push forward plans to encourage service personnel to wear uniform in public (and get some free advertising for the military, I presume). That is it. That is the sum total of the news. It is borderline news for a local weekly rag, let alone pretty much every national news outlet. How in Zeus’ creation this has happened is beyond me.

Well, I have a few ideas but I will leave that for the conspiracy theorists….

Now, before I settle into a rant about how apparently stupid people are there are some salient points you might want to be aware of. First off, the military have been banned from wearing uniform in public for almost longer than I have been alive. For most of my life they were viewed as legitimate targets for Catholic Terrorists and to a great extent treated with disdain by the general public. Dislike of the military is not new. This is what the times has to say about the current situation:

The Prime Minister is to be presented this month with a report that will call for the widespread wearing of military uniforms to engender respect and appreciation for the Armed Forces. In the US service personnel wear their uniforms off-duty. This was banned in Britain in recent years because of the IRA terrorist threat.

“recent years” here means since about 1974.

Secondly, the station commander of RAF Wittering, Group Captain R L A Atherton , is female. You may see why this is important later.

Last but not least, remember what quality media outlets we have:

This is the BBC news explaining what triggered the “ban”:

The guidance was issued in January 2007 advising personnel to wear civilian clothes in certain areas for fears of abuse. It followed a verbal incident in December 2006.

No, seriously. The guidance was issued over a YEAR ago. Really. This is what passes as “news” today… To support this, this is how the Times (normally one of the few quality papers left) reported it:

Group Captain Ro Atherton, the RAF Wittering station commander, took advice from RAF Police before ordering his personnel to keep a low profile.

Hmm. I wonder is this an example of poor research, intrinsic sexist assumptions or lazy journalists – or all three? This mistake is repeated throughout the reporting on lots of different media sources, which largely goes to show that they are all lazy and copy of each other. No one cares about such trivia as “facts” any more. In fact (all puns intended), if they can’t be arsed checking something as blatant as this out (a quick visit to the RAF Wittering web page told me she was female in about 10 second), can we trust the veracity of anything else they report?

The Times Online piece has zillions of comments. Largely from the idiotic, ranting, racist fools who always seem to comment on this sort of thing. I wont make you endure each one, have a look and see what I mean. The general theme of the comments is that this “abuse” has come from immigrants and “ethnic minorities.” This is strange given that the normally racist Daily Mail had this to say:

However sources close to the police and RAF said the biggest offenders had been thugs from the local white community.

So, like every other city there are thugs who hurl abuse at people. Is this new? Did this happen 10 years ago, 100 years ago, 1000 years ago? Yes. The idiots don’t care about this though, they see this as a great chance to spout their racist BNP ideology – for example:

Those who have encouraged this cancer within our midst must be made accountable for their crimes . This might encourage future generations of those who govern to be more circumspect in the care for the ancient inheritance to which they are entrusted . For one thousand years the peoples of these islands have sacrificed life to deny those from outside who sought to subjugate them . No government or people has the right in any circumstance to forego this heritage . paul, london, uk

Sounds familiar. It is nonsense, but it carries the weight of history that the BNP love to throw around. White thugs throw abuse at the military so it must be immigrants who are to blame. What amazing logic. Sadly there is more:

The problem is that Peterborough is over-run with immigrants. They speak for their immigrant communities not Britain. When the election comes the B N P is going to be laughing. Decent people don’t want to vote B N P because of their past associations with racism and violence but there seems little choice left as the major parties are too scared of losing votes to tackle this issue head on. White middle class people are leaving the U K in droves. We are not allowed to push back to reclaim our Country from these foreigners who have ousted out the indigenous population. When are people going to take to the streets and say ‘Enough’? There are lots of Ex-pats like me who want to go home but just don’t recognise the U K anymore and don’t want to live in a country that is even more foreign to us than the countries we moved to. But – If it ever came to violence in the streets I’d go back and fight – and I bet I’m not the only one. Riley, Kiev, Ukraine

Oh Dionysus, the Irony. Still, it is nice to think that such die hard BNPers are out of the country now. God bless ‘em all…

[snip] If you don’t support our government, troops or way of life, it’s time you found yourself another country to live in. [snip] Tam o shanter, Glasgow , Scotland

Oh dear, I didn’t think the Times’ comments would manage to avoid a nugget like this. Damn democracy, if you don’t do what you are told leave the country. And I thought it was only the US that came up with this line of nonsense. Again, this poster misses the irony that he is disagreeing with a lot of the governments policy and our normal way of life…

I will stop here because it becomes depressingly similar. Almost every comment is from an idiot who says something along the lines of they are being forced to leave because there are so many migrants coming in, or how dare people have the cheek to not bow and scrape whenever a military person is in their vicinity. There are a few redeeming comments, but not enough and double sadness comes from the fact lots of the “other side” comments are equally idiots who just want to slag of the government at every chance.

For some reason, I was under the impression that people in the UK were, on the whole, sane and balanced. It seems I am massively wrong. Every day, I have listened to the radio interview a collection of retards from different cities who have no idea what they are talking about, but still feel the need to rant about immigrants, law, values etc. Today, the interviews about the RAF were so depressing I nearly crashed my car to put myself out of any misery the future must hold for our once-great nation.

Maybe it is time for me to migrate – does anyone know a nation where sanity remains? Can anyone afford to pay for my family to get there? (All donations welcome…)

White light, white heat

The BBC is running adverts for a series of programmes on white people, specifically white working-class British people. These adverts (and the programmes I will definitely not watch) might score low on my personal exponential scale of media-generated rage, when compared to the ID cards news item, but they still make me really angry.

The television adverts show a homely white male, whose face is gradually overwritten with phrases in other languages, such as Urdu, until his face becomes well nigh invisible. There’s an image on the website. Someone from the BBC was (ineptly) justifying this, on BBC Breakfast, against a reasonable complaint that it was using images designed to promote the idea that allowing non-white people to express themselves was wiping out white British people.

My problems with the way this image is used include:

  • The inherent assumption that the lumpenness of the man’s face identified him as working class. (As opposed to the shiny chiselled, buffed, botoxed – almost all white – features that normally appear in the media.)
  • The flow of images that are supposed to represent whiteness include a politician, Enoch Powell, who presented an almost-socially-acceptable face of 1970s racism. When I say “almost-socially-acceptable” face of racism, he was in fact quite rightly on the far margins even of the Conservative party. He was only regarded as “not a dangerous lunatic” by the extreme far right. Who could formerly count their supporters in tens.
  • The almost-subliminal message is that the white working class is inherently beleaguered. And racist. And stupid.

It seems that the spirit of the execrable Powell is indeed alive and well at the BBC. The web page presents the results of a poll that is supposed to show the “despair and fear among white Britons.”

IMAO, if anything has caused “despair and fear” among the white working class, it is not “immigration” – which seems to be the underlying message of this BBC nonsense – it is a combination of the following circumstances :

  • The destruction of UK manufacturing industry
  • Decades of precarious employment
  • The weakening of traditional working class institutions, such as trade unions
  • The suborning of the traditional working class political voice to the nuLabour project
  • The disintegration of the post-war welfare state
  • And plenty more. Had we but world enough and time, then I’d rant about this for weeks…… Last year, Ian Curtis’ short series The Trap managed to discuss (concisely) some of the social changes that are destroying or damaging our institutions.

Marginalising “whiteness”, my arse.

In pursuit of its dubious sensationalist ends, the BBC ran a blog post on the Whitest Place in Britain. Well, this is apparently the whitest place in Britain because it was destroyed when the British coal industry was destroyed, in the 1980s (under Tony Blair’s apparent role model, Margaret Thatcher.) Nothing took its place. So, unsurprisingly, it didn’t prove a big draw for immigrants or Britsih people of any “race”.

If you want to find out what the English white working classes think, then this area of the country is a pretty good place to start.

Well, no. It isn’t. It might be a good place to look at the social impact of shutting down the industrial capacity of a town. But that’s about it. These people aren’t marginalised because they are white. They are no more white than working people who live in more prosperous parts of the country. Indeed they are about equally as white as the great majority of the people in the House of Commons, for example.

So, discussing them as if they are badly off BECAUSE they are white is nonsense. Seriously irresponsible and dangerous nonsense.

One discoverer of double-helix turns out to be fool

Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes (which has some almost painfully funny posts, like this on Beowulf, and some generally sparkling use of language) quoted Answers in Genesis on the racist garbage reported as having come from the mouth of (Mr DNA) Watson.

What is perhaps most notable is that despite the flak from other scientists, Watson is being entirely true to his atheistic, Darwinist beliefs.

This got me frothing with righteous rage, as nothing has since – well – yesterday, probably. I am going to say this once, despite my desire to repeat it infinitely. But I ‘ll use Bold and caps. Just in case, it’s not clear.

THE CONCEPT OF RACE IS NONSENSE. THERE ARE NO “RACES”

It is science in the same way that crystal aura therapy is medicine.*

Everyone on the planet is of mixed genetic heritage.

However, the human race seems to have indeed originated in Africa, which makes us all genetically African. Which is obviously a problem for Watson, because that includes him in the allegedly less intelligent section of humankind. (Along with, oh I don’t know, 100% of the human species.)

Watson’s adherence to a completely stupid belief system (the unfounded belief that there are races and that there are better and worse ones) does not relate to his atheism. Nor even to his so-called “Darwinism” (which I will take as referring to his recognition of the evidence for evolution, as I am unaware that Darwin devised a philosophical system.)

Wingnut daily took evident delight in drawing a connection between Watson’s casual Jade-Goody-style racism and his failure to believe in God. As if they somehow reflected on atheism itself, in conceptual contrast to the rainbow-coloured-group-hug gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ. As if atheism breeds racism…..

It’s therefore worth pointing quite how recently the US religious right became anti-racists. There was virtual apartheid in the Southern States until the 1960s. And it didn’t go quietly either.

**************************************
*Unnecessary footnote to spell this out but I’m going to anyway. Just in case someone like Watson ever reads this:

Think “human race.” In this case, the word “race” means “species” – an abhorrent connotation when it’s carried over subliminally into the whole discourse of “race” to refer to … well, what? What else does “race” mean. It would have to have a definable meaning, surely, if Watson believes it can be used in “scientific” experiments to measure “intelligence” (and since when have we had valid cross-cultural measures of that?)

As a concept, “race” has a relatively short and murky history. It was developed, as an ideology, in support of the genocide of the native population of the Americas and, above all, the Atlantic Slave Trade – in order to appease the consciences of the societies that profited, by inventing categories of human beings who could be considered less than human. The idea of race was further refined through centuries of European colonial expansion.

(The Romans had slaves who were mainly Northern Europeans. They characterised all non-Romans as barbarians, i.e. not fully civilised human beings. This [seeing people you are oppressing as not really beings human] seems to go with the slavery territory. However, it wasn’t full-blown racism. Maybe you need pseudo-science to underpin that.)

From the European perspective, “race” got a pseudo-scientific gloss, in Victorian times, along with lots of other wierd pseudo-science concepts about human beings, like phrenology or Lombroso’s identification of criminals by their facial features.

Racist ideas were thus conveniently placed to support the full-blown era of European colonialism in Africa, in the later years of the 19th century. In the 1930s, as colonialism was falling apart, “race” appeared as part of the odious concept of eugenics, which, of course, found its full expression under the Nazis.

In the USA, false concepts of race were used to “justify” slavery and post-slavery Jim Crow laws until the mid-1960s.

Racism seems to have two main flavours: the monochrome (blacks/whites) version or a graduated scale (e.g. the brazilian version with seemingly dozens of distinctions between moreno and louro).

Trying to treat this hateful concept with some undeserved respect, at best it could be seen as a shorthand to describe varying collections of physical and ethnic characteristics. Hence, the Victorian English were able to conceive of the Irish as a different race, on the basis of a slightly greater statistical preponderance of red hair, a different accent, a potato-heavy diet and an adherence to the catholic religion.

The very fact that races cannot be defined outside of culture should be a clue to the purely cultural nature of the construct of race.

Racial definitions continue to manifest themselves very differently throughout the world. In the US, you are racially black if you have even one distant African ancestor. Americans who would be considered unquestionably white in Africa are considered unquestionably black in the US. Do they gain or lose IQ points according to their surroundings?

McCanns, Double Standards and Murder

Well, it seems that the media furore around the plight of poor, missing, Maddie McCann wont be dying down any day soon. As I have said in the past (more than once) the whole deal around this incident infuriates me. It must be interesting / infuriating / exciting lots of other people as well, because around 1/4 of all traffic to this blog last week was generated by people looking for comments about the McCanns being murderers. Not surprising really, given the massive amounts of media coverage.

First off, I am in complete agreement with the Archbishop of York that, for all intents and purposes Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent until proven guilty of murder in a court of law. Although he never said it, I will be charitable and assume that Dr Sentamu also included all other people charged with any form of crime – because that, basically, is what the law is supposed to uphold. What I may personally think about the McCanns is nothing more than my own opinion – unless by the will of Loki I am called up for Jury duty over their case (although if the Portuguese court calls me up for jury duty it would be bloody good evidence Loki existed…), nothing I think about them really matters.

The oddest thing I find about this whole saga, and I still find it odd even now, is how the presumption of innocence seems so strong towards Kate and Gerry McCann that people will go out of their way to show support for them. Total strangers, who can have had no contact with either of the McCann parents, stormed out of an Irish comedian’s act because he made jokes implying the McCann parents were murders. Foolish Patrick, if only he had stuck to jokes about race, war and so on – they are much more acceptable. People in countries across the world have put up posters “raising awareness” about missing Maddie (so obviously there is an assumption she is the last person on Earth who doesn’t need ten forms of ID to get on a plane…) and ordinary, poor, people have donated a fortune (over £1,000,000 so far) to support the parents in their round the world holiday awareness raising mission.

Not to be outdone, the rich and famous have joined in with this madness. Based on nothing more than Kate McCann’s hearfelt TV appearances (and the outpourings of their professional team of spokespeople…), Richard Branson has donated £100,000 to set up a defence fund to ensure they “have a fair hearing.” This nearly made me choke to death. Last Sunday, the BBC reported:

“Over the last few weeks Richard has been watching events as they have unfolded,” said his spokeswoman.

“There is a whole family involved here. When the McCanns made it known that under no circumstances would they touch the Find Madeleine fund, and discussed selling their house, Richard felt something had to be done.”

Sir Richard is a father himself and the most important thing for him is that a four-year-old girl is missing, the spokeswoman added.

“If he can help a little bit to take the burden off the family and extended family in this small way, then that’s all to the good.”

Wow. I never realised Sir Richard was in the business of funding suspected criminals in their defence – to ensure they get a fair trial. Are we to assume this is purely out of the goodness of his heart, and nothing to do with the fact the McCanns are middle class, Catholic, professional (white) people who have spent the last three months all over the TV and newspapers (often saying how innocent they are, so it must be true…)? If so, there is a long list of other people, the world over, who are at risk of not getting a fair trial because they cant afford £100,000 on legal fees… Where shall I start?

Not to be outdone, Cheshire-based millionaire Brian Kennedy has jumped squarely on the bandwagon as well. This time, saying “he felt compelled to help” the offer reads:

He said he was providing Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, Leics, with the support of his in-house lawyer and their new spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.

Wow. They have a £100,000 defence fund and a top flight lawyer as well as a brand new “family spokesman.” They are sure to get a fair trial now, aren’t they…

Even if you leave aside, again, the issue of what an innocent family need with a “spokesman” the whole deal is madness. These otherwise intelligent and shrewd business geniuses are jumping to support what is basically two people who are suspects in a disappearance – there aren’t even any formal charges yet! – so one has to ask what is going on here.

The cynic in me (and it is a strong cynic) thinks this is nothing more than publicity stunts for the two tycoons – Virgin are going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment and, be honest, who has even heard of Brian Kennedy in the past? I am sure if the McCann’s were not worldwide media personalities now (will they be on Big Brother one day or, more ironically, “I’m a celebrity get me out of here…”?) neither of these two would have given a hoot about their legal status, nor any possible “Unfairness” over a foreign court.

However, I may be wrong. It is entirely possible that these two gentlemen are so “family orientated” that any case involving a missing or dead child, where other family members are suspects, will inspire them to equal acts of generosity. If we look through the recent news we should see boundless cases of parents accused of a crime, claiming they are innocent and then millions being thrown at them to ensure a fair trial. Sadly this is not the case.

Today, the BBC has a short article on a teenage mother who has been remanded to appear before Norwich Crown Court, charged with Causing or Allowing the Death of her daughter. Assuming she pleads innocent, will we expect to see a defence fund in her name set up? Or does Richard Branson think, because she is a teenage mother being tried in the UK, she is not worthy of his support? Will she have to suffice with legal aid because she doesn’t own a house to threaten to sell to cover her costs?

In August, the BBC had a report about a teenage girl who went missing (Natasha Coombs) which led with the heart rending:

An insurance firm manager whose only child went missing nearly a week ago, has spoken of his “unimaginable pain” at her disappearance.

Despite this, there was no fund set up to raise awareness about her status, after she was found dead on the railway line there was no fund set up to help either the family or prevent further deaths – certainly no billionaires stepped in to help and eventually when the mother could take the loss no longer, there is still no public outpouring. Cruel though it may sound, the McCanns still have each other and two other children, Gary Coombs really does have nothing left.

Searching through the news to find similar cases is, sadly, all to easy. Almost daily there is a case where a child goes missing (or dies) and a family member is under suspicion. Unfortunately lots of these are in working class or ethnic minority households. While I am not going to suggest that we, as a nation, have such deep seated double standards that this impacts the perception, it is strange.

The question I would love to ask Sir Richard or Brian is what makes the McCann parents special? Why do they deserve this support when no one else does? If I could ask the public this, I would, but I think the answer would be a lot less coherent.

[tags]Double Standards, Catholic, Catholicism, Church, Murder, Kate McCann, Gerry McCann, Maddie McCann, Sir Richard Branson, Richard Branson, Brian Kennedy, Gary Coombs, Natasha Coombs, Killing, Violence, Society, Culture, Racism, Philosophy, Legal Aid, Trial, Fair Trial, Defence Fund, Patrick Kielty,Portugal, Portuguese police, Law[/tags]

Last refuge of the scoundrel

Margaret Hodge, the government’s Industry Minister, not random nutter, has been trying to snatch votes from the BNP – i.e. voters who are blatantly three courses short of a 2 course meal – by coming out with anti-immigrant nonsense.

Shoe made some cursory efforts to distinguish her call for housing to be kept for British people from the far-right ranting of the BNP by phrasing it in supposedly inclusive terms:

She said white, black and Asian British families on low incomes, who had lived in an area for several generations, could not get their own homes and all felt there was an “essential unfairness” in the system

Getting votes by adopting the policies of parties that exist only through pandering to racism by stealing their policies does nothing to challenge these parties. Her whole argument is particularly insidious because she has taken on the whole principle of “Seek power by blaming some weak and visibly different group for all social ills” and just shifted it towards blaming Eastern Europeans and “asylum seekers” – the 1930s German Jews de nos jours.

This is unlikely to fool the black and Asian families who’ve lived here for generations and have therefore probably developed a healthy fear of the whole principle. Or is the BNP also trying to attract these people now?

I suspect that would certainly alienate their core constituency, but, hey, rabid racism is nothing if not inclusive – they can happily add Eastern Europeans to their mental rolls of hate figures. It’s not very good at shrinking though, so I dont hold out much hope of the BNP welcoming their previous core enemies into the fold so they can happily gang up on the Eastern Europeans.

Social housing, especially in the South East, is so close to non-existent now that the idea that it is getting handed out freely to immigrants and asylum seekers is laughable. Is there a shred of evidence of this?

There is no easier and more shameful way to get political power than by picking out a group of people to scapegoat. The fact that Margaret Hodge – former the 70′s anti-Thatcher London council leftwinger :-) – is driven to using this strategy tells us a lot about how deep principle runs in the average politician (granted, no surprise there.) It also draws attention to the horrifying fact that the BNP are becoming a viable political force.

Yes, these people are basically morons and rogues. They are still dangerous. That must be more of an issue than whether a Barking MP (you can obviously read that with or without the capital) is so afraid that her constituents are being seduced by racism that her major response is to try and keep her seat in Parliament by adopting their policies.

Too Stupid For Words

Well, I was going to leave the Virginia Tech tragedy and not mention it again, but the sheer idiocy demonstrated by good old Debbie Schlussel can not be missed out! This blog has mentioned Ms Schlussel in the past, so I am sure you can imagine what wonderful comments she is coming out with now.

On that delightful part of the blogosphere which is her blog, Ms Schlussel was very quick off the mark with “updates” about the Virginia Tech shooting. Obviously being quick was more important than having anything but the most approximate relationship with reality. She has a post titled “Who is the ‘Asian’ Mass Murderer at Virginia Tech? UPDATE: Shooter is S. KOREAN w/Student Visa” and within it, is a seething pool of woo, nonsense and racial hatred. It is almost comical.

The sheer volume of bile and nonsense on this blog post is surprising, and makes it reasonably difficult for me to pick what bits I will repost here. Please, check out her blog (especially the comments) and see for yourself the reality. Some highlights, in time order are:

Continue reading

ID (the other one) and “Race”

Thanks to Gary McGath for the link to Cato at Liberty on the inclusion of a race question on the proposed US ID card.

Homeland Security has proposed a standard for Real ID barcodes that would include every American’s race or ethnicity in the new “not-a-national-ID” card. ..The article notes that race information on ID cards in the past has been used to facilitate genocide. This is unlikely to happen in the USA….Homeland Security and the Bush administration howl that this tyrannical measure is necessary to keep us from being blown up by terrorists; the use of race registration to “fight terrorism” gives an idea of what they’re really after. (from Mcgath’s blog)

Excellent points.

To reinforce this point, you can’t assume that genocide is unlikely anywhere. Didn’t Rosa Parks’ refusal to abide by the segregation rules on American buses occur less than 50 years ago? So apartheid was normal, in the home of the free, less than 50 years ago. (Good job, there is no racism in the US, today, then….)

So, everyone in the USA is to carry round electronic information about their “race”, blindly trusting that this will never disadvantage them? How about our quaint little old UK electronic ID cards? Don’t tell me we’re going to miss out on this great leap forward in race relations.

How are they going to classify race? As this blog is getting bored with pointing out – there is no such thing.

So are people going to make judgements on their own hair colour/skin tone/eye colour/ body shape? American black and hispanic and asian white and whatever people are black or white according to arcane cultural rules that wouldn’t apply in the same way elsewhere. Who’s going to set these rules for the cards?

Maybe they’ll do it on the religion into which they were born – so it can identify Muslims, as that seems to be the point of the exercise? Can even American governments see Muslims as a race? What about when Seamus O’Sullivan decides to convert and becomes Ali Mohammed? Or Mohammed Baddawi deides to become an atheist?

Taking an invented classification (race) and coding it into an identifying tag, for the benefit of the government, actually goes one step beyond the Third Reich, in terms of accepting pseudo-scientific racism and applying it to human populations.

I’m not saying the consequences will be the same, but the potential is so inherent in the process, it seems about as safe as giving every American the right to bear their own nuke.

Do Daily Mail readers write Guardian online comments

Bit of change of emphasis after that rather po-faced last rant. Two posts back, TW put a link to Joseph Harker’s column in the Guardian.

This was a good piece, even echoing my point that slavery was the abomination rather than the slave trade, but going on to say that the legacy of slavery still impacted on British people today, through its effect on people of Caribbean background. This is even moving towards providing a decent justification for the public apology.

However, the comments that it elicited were sometimes bizarre. It’s a serious temptation to point out some of the underlying follies, but why bother? Oh bugger, I’m going to put a few quotes in anway (didn’t you just guess that?) :-

from Haardvark: “I have never read such a pathetic piece of self-pity in my entire life. “ Hmm, even allowing for web hyperbole (the cosmos knows I’m guilty of that often enough) this person has obviously never read a newspaper. (All those confessionals from celebs who find the strain of being impossibly rich and idolised by millions too stressful and have to act like maniacs, then go into rehab, for a start. Now that’s “pathetic self-pity”. Guardian writer talking about society as a whole – it doesn’t quite qualify, does it?)

From CoeurdeLion :I am not sure where Mr Harker gets all this bile – it is difficult to pick out any hard facts from his scattergun approach to writing….. I feel that Britain today is one of the least racist societies in the world today, bettered perhaps only by countries like Brazil. If you break down success in Britain by ethnicity, you actually find blacks (particularly African) doing better even than whites in participation in higher Education, with Asians doing best. Bile? I defy anyone to find evidence of “bile” or a “scattergun approach to writing” in the pretty elegantly written and constructed Harker piece. Did they even read it, or just go off on a rant as soon as they saw a few words that sparked an emotional explosion in them? No answer needed. And Africans doing better in higher education (well, s/he doesn’t even say doing better but participating more)? As I believe I said in my last piece – people of mainly African ancestry, almost by definition, are not the descendants of people enslaved for the Atlantic slave trade. This doesn’t invalidate, or even contradict in any way, what Harker says.

It’s racism that makes people of European/African/Amerindian background seem exactly equivalent to Africans. Insofar as our identities and expectations of life are partly constructed from the cultural values and experiences of our ancestors, there are few points of similarity between the lives of Africans and people from the Caribbean. The histories of their ancestors are very very different. In fact, the main thing they have in common is basically the experience of being on the receiving end of racism.

from sandywinder: When are the whingeing blacks going to start looking to the future rather than constantly harping on about the past? Excuse me, but wasn’t it the government and the Church of England that started this apologising?

from halgeel84: The doozy Perhaps the reasons why blacks have a lower percentage of persons who perform well academically and a higher percentage of persons who commit violent crimes are related, at least partly, to genetics even though it is an unpopular and very politically incorrect explanation.? Bad science alert, even – more precisely – evil pseudoscience alert. I really can’t even start to address this nonsense.

Now, there were plenty of the posts that you would normally expect from Guardian readers, in response to this stuff. So, relax, the Guardian has not yet become the liberal face of the BNP overnight.

All the same, it’s quite instructive to see-

  • a more literate version of the Jade-Goody et al vileness.
  • a reminder that racism, even pseudoscientific racism, is always happy to raise its ugly head from licking its butt, whenever it’s given the least opportunity
  • a reminder to this blog that it’s barely possible to challenge official hypocritical nonsense, without giving aid and comfort to the enemy

On a more general level, the democratisation of discussion, that has started to become possible because of the Internet , can have undesired effects. For a start, there’s always a potential Lord of the Flies-style downside. History shows that there is probably no force more repellently inhuman than a general population that believes its self-identified tribal/cultural/ethnic group is somehow more human than another group. (Slavery, Holocaust, Ruanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, and so on.)

If you are looking for a way to stir up a mass of people to support your desire to seize power or take over a piece of land, this is blatantly the way to go. (In your faces, Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, you naive rationalists)

I am assuming that these blogistas aren’t frequent Guardian readers – too many long words, for a start, not to mention the existence of a good few other papers that wouldn’t leave them incoherent with rage, every morning. All the same, these views exist and are pretty common. Some people even believe they represent non-politically correct “common sense” are what others are too cowardly to say. I don’t believe that suppressing these views is the solution. It’s better to identify them than to cover them with a layer of pink icing and pretend they don’t exist.

What do we do about this sort of thinking is another question.

Obviously, a brief but necessary culling of people who fail a simple test of worthiness to be “human” – based on their intelligence, rationality and level of goodwill towards other people – is the first thing that springs to mind.

(Note for the hard of thinking, this is sarcasm. I am being sarcastic.. Well, use a dictionary, then. It’s a bit like irony but not as complicated.)

Remorse without retribution

There is something of a global fashion for aplogising for things you haven’t actually done yourself to people who aren’t alive to hear the apologies.

I’m all for Britain becoming aware of the bad parts of its history. All the same, most of our ancestors were peasants or the industrial poor, kicked off the land by Enclosure Acts or thrown out of craft work by emergent industrialisation orbegging in the streets or pressganged into virtual serfdom on ships, while the slave trade was going on. Are we supposed to apologise for being British? Or being white? Isn’t it pretty racist to assume that as “white” people, we are somehow responsible for what other “white” people did. I can pretty well guarantee that my ancestors weren’t profiting from the slave trade, or I’d be a lot better off now.

Racism grew as the ideology to support the inhuman treatment of the enslaved. Are we to internalise this vile belief system and think that we are somehow a different breed of human from the Africans who were captured?

There is no genetic basis for theories of race. How often does one have to keep saying this? There is more genetic variation within any given “race” than between “races.” The whole concept ignores the fact that we are all “mixed race”. Almost no people on earth have lived in isolation, without the benefits of genetic diversity, for any measurable time. The existence of a “white” race is a pernicious myth. Surely anyone with any pretence to education or intelligence knows this. If not, what are we doing in our schools?

We should certainly try to understand the nature of British racism – developed as a justification for slavery, at a given point in time, it evolved into a subtly different justification for colonialism and has continued to evolve throughout the 20th and 21st centuries to support different social forms – e.g. when the UK needed labour in the 1950s and imported lots of “colonial subjects,” it soon had to start to drop most of the racist nonsense. Racism still continues to flourish and to take new forms to reflect our different social and political situation (it’s now mainly directed at Muslims rather than Afro-Caribbeans, for instance.)

I believe that understanding the nature of racism is crucial for the future of the planet.

I also believe that apologising for things we (that is US, as living human beings) didn’t actually do is pretty hollow.

There is plenty more bad around the relations between Britain and Africa.

For example, the profits from engagement in the slave trade made England such a wealthy country that it was able to take the lead in industrialisation. The failure of England to dominate the palm oil trade – so necessary to an important phase of late Victorian industrialisation – was due to the negotiating success of African traders, who consistently got the better of the European traders as soon as they realised palm-oil was crucial – OPEC-style. this led to European colonial invasion of West Africa. Comonial rule in Africa was very shortlived but left a devastating legacy of invented states and collaborationist local elites which still impacts on African politics to this day.

If there are current resonances here, they seem to be in the realm of grabbing control of oil through warfare…… Oh, and supporting it with a belief system…….

Is there any point in apologising for all of British history? A genuine apology should surely include some attempt to make amends. Who should Britain make these amends to? The descendants of the slaves? In what form? Send money to America? Probably not a good idea.

To Africa? Surely, by definition, Africans WEREN’T enslaved. When the European powers messed up Africa, slavery was well over. But Africa could do with some assistance, beyond the adoption of its best-looking babies by female celebrities, the wearing of Red Noses and even beyond lots of people paying to see has-been rock stars.

There were no slave plantations, brutally suppressed slave revolts or Jim Crow race laws in England. These are American evils. Out of them grew a classification of humans as Black or White. This is not just patently absurd – flying in the face of the evidence of one’s eyes – it shapes our thinking in subtle ways. It is not necessarily more or less racist than the multicoloured shades of racial distinction that exist in the many other countries. It is certainly different. Most US black people would be self-evidently “white” to most Africans (outside South Afriica or Zimbawe) or North-east Brazilians. Are we so imbued with US culture that we can’t even look at our own history without seeing it through their eyes?

Here I feel that the uniquely British role in the triangle trade created historical outcomes which are quite distinct from the North and South American legacies, but that we are somehow taking the American guilt on board here and apologising for it along with our own national guilt. But, guess what, we’re not doing anything useful about it.

In fact, the UK government has made racism more or less invisible, for example, by changing the goalposts so that “anti-racism” is now “diversity,” by shutting down the Commission for Racial Equality and by mouthing siilly apologies for things that happened two centuries ago. Social equality is barely advancing. Many times more “black” kids are being excluded from school, for instance. Integration of cities like Bradford is becoming less and less likely.

Our ruling class may feel a bit better about itself for saying it’s sorry. Does this achieve anything to anyone else’s advantage? As a nation, England did a lot more to challenge global slavery, when we started to sink any ships caught trading slaves, not long after the UK ban. This actually achieved something concrete – it started to make slave trading too unprofitable to be attractive.