EU

We need to talk about the commentariat

I write this not for the Brexit ate my braahn baby crowd but for those of us who are willing to admit harsh truths in order to effect change. To know what it is we must do for the future we learn about the past and study trends so we can be better prepared for what’s coming. You don’t need an academic record in order to observe how the world is affected by narratives however, especially if you are burdened by unspoken rules placing you at various intersections of oppression, you experience them through social inequality. Speaking for myself I have been a keen observer of all things social and have been since I studied sociology at high school. It informs my interactions with the world. I never anticipated the backlash though, I had expected some resistance but not on the scale I received and not from the people I thought I could trust, the Guardian types keen on saving us all from ourselves.

When you learned about the Holocaust did you stop to wonder as I did, how so many were organised and in such a short period of time, carted off to their deaths without so much as a whimper from their white German neighbours? Did you marvel at the breathtaking ignorance of the allies who were allegedly unaware of the camps until it was almost over anyway? Perhaps now you know, given the ways in which truths are erased in our supposedly post truth world, and how narratives are framed, by those who claim to know better, those publications considered ‘leftie’ or socialist in some respects are squarely to blame, along with the perhaps deliberately embellished version of war we were taught on the national curriculum where Britain saved the world, and the Jews.

It could be true that some of us have a monumental chip on our shoulder, that we make excuses for our inadequacies or we might just be telling the truth. Recently the Guardian featured a story regarding the inhumane treatment a Dutch woman had received following Brexit when she applied for a British passport and was subsequently turned down because she had failed to include her original passport because *reasons*. There was outrage on social media not least because this mother of two was going to be ejected from the country minus her children, who did have British citizenship. How cruel the system was under Brexit, how devastatingly inhumane. Except this is the system and has been for as long as I can remember through my work with women who have no recourse to public funds. You won’t hear about them even if people like me blog about it. Where’s your outrage for women like Meena* and her toddler? She came over on a spousal visa from Pakistan and only just fell short of the then 2 year rule which stipulated residency in the country for at least two years under the supervision of a sponsor, in this case her husband, before she could make an application for indefinite leave to remain giving her full access to British benefits. He was violent. One day she made the decision to leave, because it was no longer safe enough, the violence was escalating and she feared for their lives. She’d endured his violent episodes but there was a limit. I’m only explaining this because she knew she had nowhere to go and so had suffered many months of abuse before she made the final break, potentially being faced with homelessness but that threshold had been crossed. Homelessness was preferable to certain death. Think about the hell she endured all on her own, without a clue. In fact she was one of the lucky ones and had a kind and thoughtful doctor, one who’d spotted the signs and knew of a culturally sensitive refuge that had a single room set aside for women with no recourse.

Subsidies for these women who, almost every time, fall through the net and get disappeared by the state or their abusive partners are practically non existent. There has never been adequate representation or provision for these women. When Meena traveled the two hours to the home office every time they said ‘jump’, baby in tow, she came back a sad shadow of her usual chatty self. I saw the state chip away at this personality, this woman who had every right to exist free from harm and to be supported in her darkest moments but instead she was yanked around like cattle to the slaughter. I can’t forget the way she cried as she prepared for the final hearing and was advised by her solicitor to bring all her valuables with her, if the home office denied her extenuating circumstances (despite the reams of evidence) she would be remanded immediately and sent to a detention centre. When we pleaded for the baby’s sake the home office, along with social services and even our own legal advisors said the state was obliged to provide for the little one and take her into care but Meena would still have to go. I was a temp and I left before her case was closed but I think about her even now and where she might be. When I read about privileged white women bemoaning airport queues, I think about Meena, and all the others the Guardian overlooked through indifference and probably racism, until Brexit provided the sacrificial king upon which to pin all of our woes.

Even more recently the Guardian published a lament from one Lindy West who left Twitter because it serves best the trolls, bots and dictators. I hear she wrote about the Nazism that Twitter is now famous for and also about all the ways she personally was sick of it and to be fair, this wasn’t regular trolling but a sustained campaign of abuse, harassment and stalking. I feel for her, absolutely, but I’m also a little pissed off. Anyone who knows what I and many other woc have been forced to endure the past few years will tell you the gigantic role journalists had in directing that abuse, harassment and stalking our way. When we protested the Guardian and New Statesmen ghouls for their hot takes on our lives they said we were bullying them and they as white middle class people with all the top jobs were being oppressed by us. What effect do you think that had on wider society? At a time when the far right mobilised in the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby these allegedly leftie papers were saying women of colour, queer people, trans people were bullying them and making false allegations of racism that were just unacceptable, oh, and intersectionality was just an elitist buzzword whilst poc had sinister undertones. You want to talk fake news?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

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This guy is an editor for the Guardian. When we called out the racism his girlfriend, who works for the New Statesman, was subjecting various people to, in her actions if not so much her words, this is how he responded.

His girlfriend later went on to ask:

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It is the middle class liberals and lefties citing Brexit as the root of all evil who have enabled the rise of fascism. Virtually every last one of them is white, plus a few tokens on hand to massage their egos. They did know, we tried to tell them a million times. They didn’t just do as they were told, they were the ones doing the telling. These are the facts we must remember.

It doesn’t matter what we think, as grandchildren of immigrants, and legitimate citizens of rainy fascist island, where our lives are scrutinised and twisted beyond our recognition. We are not permitted to defend ourselves or to react from a place of fear and vulnerability. When we react to these privileged white people’s assessments of our lives they double down instead of listening to us because they cannot believe we would have the audacity to talk back. We are bizarrely hostile, not understandably so. We should ask nicely, with our heads bowed and exult upon our colonial masters how special and superior they are, if we are to be given a voice, otherwise we simply do not exist.

 

READ NEXT: Part Two – Comments on the Commentariat

How to prevent genocide

Whether or not you believed survivors of pre Brexit British Values one thing is for certain, most people have witnessed now the consequences of state propaganda and wilful apathy towards people who are not like us. Being a seat of power in the enlightened west doesn’t protect us from the greedy man and his pursuit for coercive power and control, it merely delays the inevitable. It makes it easier even. For years the British press and various personalities on Twitter have denied the persecution of British minorities with the excuse that debate is a pillar of any civilised society, conveniently excluding said minorities from sharing their experiences. To make matters worse they depicted a scenario where they were being bullied and oppressed by minorities for protesting the ways in which they were being misrepresented (the free speech demonstration attended by Namazie and Tatchell springs to mind). This is called propaganda. It is a tactic used by powerful aggressors to incite divisions in order to take the spotlight off their inhumane behaviour. Most Britons happily fell for it.

Then Brexit happened and Polish people were targeted. Foreign white NHS staff were threatened with lists. An Irish woman was told she needed to provide additional identification because she was a foreign national, her fear and outrage both palpable and oddly familiar. It’s impossible for me not to feel just a smidgen of bitterness towards these people. Who will speak up for you now they have come for you, when you didn’t speak up for all the others? Marmite has had more support in this one day than Britain’s minorities have had since the Tories seized power. This misanthropy will come back 10 fold on the citizens of rainy fascist island. We’re seeing the first shockwaves from our devalued currency; Unilever has withdrawn its products from Tesco’s shelves because the latter refused to increase prices. What kind of evil corporate entity rushes to capitalise on the misfortunes of the poorest in society? Capitalism is murder, by default, it squeezes the life out of those at the bottom, starves them to death.

Perhaps now you will look to this model without sneering. The 8 stages of genocide are laid out to remind us we have been here before, but there are strategies to prevent or halt this jaunt down fascism street. Still, I will break it down so there is no confusion.

CLASSIFICATION – Categorising Asian people, all of them, as pakis and therefore Muslims has enabled violence against British Asians ranging in colour from beige to dark brown, whether Muslim, Sikh or Hindu and non believers like myself. Islamophobia, openly encouraged on public platforms from national treasures like Richard Dawkins, David Starkey, Katie Hopkins etc should have been widely condemned by their peers when they said it was not racist to criticise Islam. The west has conflated the people of the Asian subcontinent with Islam > Arabs > Taliban > Al Qaeda > Terrorism, they have racialised a belief system as they did with Jewish people pre Holocaust, who were as varied in their origins. The media could have played a part in informing society of the differences in people, that the actions of one do not reflect millions of others and should have condemned the practice of collective punishment instead of surreptitiously fanning the flames.

SYMBOLISATION – The west has long held a grudge against the visible differences we have with each other. Their stance is not only that they disapprove of other cultures but that other cultures must bow to superior western values on most things. The burqa is considered the ultimate symbol of oppression to enlightened westerners who never thought to question BBC narratives. This item of clothing is now a beacon to racists everywhere who cannot appreciate the irony of beating on women they believe need saving. To the women who choose to wear it it has become a two finger salute to those who would seek to control them. Bottom line, we must always condemn the practice of controlling the rights of women to freely express their beliefs. The rights of women to wear whatever the hell they want – no exceptions. That some feminists from the middle class white arena object to the clothes other women wear is a sign that maybe their feminism isn’t inclusive at all and maybe isn’t even feminism at all but white supremacy.

Immigrants fare no better in a system that seeks to control how we view people. At the beginning of this year, asylum seeking residents in the North East of England feared they were being marked out for easy identification when G4S, notorious contractors noted for their human rights abuses, painted their doors red which had already led to abuse from local communities. Actions such as these must come as a shock to all, contractors must lose their contracts for engaging in this dangerous activity. We have the power to hold them legally responsible, we can ban hate symbols and speech if they lead to criminal activity, as it has many times before.

DEHUMANISATION – People have a natural aversion to the taking of life, it’s all a bit close to home UNLESS you dehumanise targets so they do not trigger the instinct to protect. If you label them vermin, parasites they become easier to dispose of. These processes take years. Katie Hopkins should be legally held to account for the ways in which she has dehumanised people fleeing wars we created. People like Trump need to be held accountable by the international community, not allowed a platform from which to spew his hateful diatribe, never mind stand for president.

If you do not condemn hate at every juncture, if you think it has nothing to do with you, you’re wrong, we’re all connected. Denying one person, one group their humanity has a knock on effect throughout society, especially if done in the public eye. Precedents are set. It is better to suffocate narratives which dehumanise even one, we’re simply not evolved enough to hold it there.

The British government must be held to account for the ways in which it herds non nationals like cattle and tortures them, including pregnant women, at centres like Yarlswood. The UN must do a better job of fulfilling its original purpose, that is to implement human systems and incarcerate those who seek to degrade humanity. Prevention rather than cure was the intention and yet we are still waiting.

Broadcasters have a responsibility here too. Stop pushing far right narratives, BBC. Stop glorifying empire and supporting Nigel Farage. Similarly print journalists have their part in subtly reinforcing their desire for white supremacy, language that only refers to the white working class and asks for a Farage of The Left must be highlighted and ridiculed, if not criminalised. 21st century fascists have amended their behaviour so you cannot instantly mark them out as a racist/fascist. The commentariat may not use racial slurs but they do a brilliant job of gatekeeping and subliminal propaganda, or microaggressions.

ORGANISATION – Hate groups like Britain First must be proscribed. With the state hesitant to do this they encouraged it to propagate and proliferate. This way when the far right attacks, the British government can pretend it is innocent of any atrocities. Jo Cox, a serving MP was murdered in broad daylight by someone espousing Britain First ideology during his frenzied attack. In the months that have followed we have learnt of her inclusivity and her heart. She was targeted for these, because she believed our shared humanity unites us.

The far right have been organising and mobilising since the death of Lee Rigby when the state and media propaganda painted a situation that called for drastic action. Yougov polls excluded British poc, the PM called on Cobra, it was framed as an unprecedented attack even though it was the second of its kind in his lifetime. Our numbers were abysmally low for the counter demonstrations against hate marches the far right imposed on our towns and cities, the length and breadth of Britain, even when we begged and pleaded with those who do have the power to change things to make their support known.

The cops, media, politicians and far right have a symbiotic relationship. If even one of these were to properly stand against hate the whole hellish system would collapse.
It should concern us all that our failed state is such a prolific supplier of arms to war torn nations. Where is the UN and its arms embargo of nations engaging in genocide? Must we experience the genocide first in order to qualify?

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POLARISATION – Anyone who promotes this idea of ‘us’ and ‘them’, people like Katie Hopkins and those who state they merely wish to take care of British workers first are choosing to exploit the idea that it is not racist to put white people first. In a poll I conducted this past week, 25% of people answered no when asked if Britain was racist. Despite the murders, propaganda, the significant increases in attacks following media lies a large number of Brits believe Britain is not racist. They’re just defending their loot, even if it means considering other human beings as less worthy of resources (that were stolen from them most likely). This earth is not just for white people, it belongs to us all. There is no us and them, only the greedy bastards accustomed to evading responsibility for their own murderous actions, happy to let you die for them.

PREPARATION – At the recent Tory party conference in Birmingham the PM reinforced the usual racism but home secretary Amber Rudd took it one step further. In a move that would suddenly jolt slumbering Brits into action, she called for companies to draw up lists of their foreign workers. Non British LSE academics were informed by government representatives their input was no longer required. Suddenly the majority of people could no longer ignore the cow bells heralding in fascism, not when their French, German, Spanish etc workers lives were under threat of expulsion. This, my dears, has been the harsh reality for Britain’s Asian population since 9/11. Our lives have been scrutinised, we exist only at their behest, and the world has largely allowed it. My gran, rest her soul, came to this country in the 60s and she never let go of the fear they would get rid of us once we’d served our purpose. This inhumanity has been extended to Europeans and no one likes it, nor should they. Such a blatant attack on those we don’t usually target is a worrying sign the establishment don’t give a shit.

“At this stage a genocide emergency must be declared”.

Whilst methods differ and we cannot always be sure who they’re coming for next, we cannot deny the British government has allowed for its own citizens to be picked off by the state because they no longer qualify for additional support. People are dying from starvation in Great Britain, 1000s have perished when their mental, physical needs were denied. If we are to judge a country on the way it treats the most vulnerable, international condemnation should rain hard on this fascist island.

EXTERMINATION – If we’ve reach this stage, I’m not sure there’s anything else I can add other than fuck you, Britain and fuck you, world. In the words of my favourite communist sister “I hope the exit is  joyful quick and I hope never to return.”

DENIAL – The thing about fascists is they’re ultimately cowards, strong as a mob, weak and pathetic on their own. They never admit to their involvement even if they were the sole judge jury and executioner. Many would rather die at their own hand than ever be captured by the opposition and held to account. These stages of genocide are not static, there isn’t only one way this can go. Sometimes genocide is quick and over before you even know it began, other times it is a long and arduous process, frustrating because of the way denial plays a huge part. People will use slurs then say those slurs are not racist and the majority will go with that. It is the majority that call outcomes, the fence sitters, the anti intellectuals who are happy to take your word because you share certain identifiers. It is the intelligentsia who control the majority, through their newspapers and radio slots, prime time news on the telly. Ours are mostly bigoted white supremacists and it’s their fault we are discussing genocide in this day and age. They are neoliberals who cannot distinguish between far right thugs and antifa or empathise with the women and children they bomb in Syria. They must take back all their words and publicly condemn this government, not hold it up as feminist or revolutionary in any way.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention this model has been revised. It now includes 2 further stages; DISCRIMINATION and PERSECUTION. No doubt amended to accurately reflect 21st century methods of fascism. I particularly commend the author’s stance on the words ‘counter terrorism’.