Hearing the news Owen Jones has been targeted by fascists again. Whilst 3 of his attackers from another incident are awaiting sentencing, fascists started a hashtag on Twitter targeting the left leaning mouthpiece, for his sexuality among other things. Homophobia is wrong, fascists are always wrong, but this has a touch of the old schadenfreude for me.
Speaking as someone who has been victimised by fascists, for various strands of my identity, with little to no support resisting them, I’m a bit low on sympathy. When we, the ‘fringe lunatics’ were targeted, it suited everyone to ignore it, as though we didn’t exist. If anything, they, Owen Jones and his ilk, probably thought we deserved it. We were just as bad as the white supremacists, the hard left, for using bad language and assuming we had a part to play when we were nobody. If they thought their popularity would save them, they were wrong.
Solidarity isn’t difficult, it shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to those who have earned it (in a broken system), it isn’t something you should monetise or stratify on the basis of existing inequalities, benefiting those with power whilst those without are pushed further under the bus. I can’t think of anything more insulting in this struggle than to see a white man being hailed as a revolutionary for his resistance to white supremacists. What about the countless people of colour who’ve had their accounts suspended on Twitter, for daring to retaliate? There were no supportive hashtags for us, no outrage.
If anything, Owen is part of the problem. There is a select group of approved spokespeople who comply with the system, even when they are (allegedly) the opposition. They went to the same schools, they speak the same privileged language and they agree to keep the dialogue between themselves . When we challenged harmful attitudes on matters such as racial identity within (allegedly) left and liberal circles, they closed ranks. They had nothing to feel ashamed about or sorry for, we were the real bullies and oppressors. If they thought their whiteness or proximity to it would save them from oppressive white supremacy, they were wrong.
6 years ago I was attacked on public transport by a racist and the packed bus sided with him. My attackers were never brought to justice and the news barely caused a ripple on social media. Around the same time fascists targeted my online spaces so that I no longer have a Twitter or Facebook account. They led a sustained campaign of abuse stretching years because they haven’t been challenged by anyone with any power. Compare the reaction to the attack on Owen Jones, how quickly justice was served, and the swell of support on Twitter, resulting in a trending hashtag. If you’d like to understand how we have a fascist government in its 3rd term, you only need to look at the way we operate as a society, how we repeatedly victimise the most vulnerable and reward those who maintain the status quo. Owen silenced me once, many years ago and continued to ignore my tweets and appeals for solidarity, because it wasn’t his problem I guess. I said then this slippery slope to iniquity was in their hands, and they could change its course, and they ignored me. I don’t feel bad about being right in this instance, sometimes people have to to see and feel it for themselves to believe it exists.
I can’t say whether Owen has the wherewithal to approach this with the deference he should have employed all those years ago, but I can say for certain it will only get worse if he doesn’t. Owen isn’t a primary target/victim, but a cautionary tale for all white people who aren’t heterosexual, in peak fitness, on the right wing; if you tolerate this, then you’re definitely next.