Monday, January 09, 2012

If we go by the daft definition of racism proffered by Diane Abbott's own social set, then she *is* a racist

Brief background on the Abbott story here. She is a black British Leftist politician and something of a loose cannon

Is Diane Abbott racist? By any reasoned, rational assessment, of course she isn't. There's far more to being a racist than writing the occasional clumsily worded tweet. But if we go by the definition of racism proffered by Abbott's own social and political set – particularly by the Labour Party – then she is a racist. After all, who was it who redefined racism to include speech and action that is not even consciously bigoted ("unwitting racism") and to include "any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"? Yep, it was Labour and its various cliques. Abbott has fallen victim to her own mates' ruthless relativisation of what constitutes racism.

One of the most destructive legacies of the New Labour years was the racialisation of everyday life: the way in which all of us were encouraged to see racism in every off-the-cuff remark, tense encounter in the workplace, and even playground scuffle (last year more than 20,000 under-11s in British schools were punished for "racist" or "homophobic" behaviour). By turning the hunt for racist behaviour into a new moral crusade for a chattering class that was seriously bereft of one, New Labour did not defeat the scourge of racialised thinking. Rather it did the very opposite, inviting us all to think in increasingly racialised terms and to have our Offence Antennae permanently switched to High so that we might spot anything even remotely racist. The end result was a more divided, tense and racialised society, which is a far cry from the kind of equality and peace fought for by generations of anti-racists.

Under New Labour, racism was most clearly relativised through the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It was Macpherson's report, published in 1999 and enthusiastically backed and adopted by New Labour, which introduced the idea of "unwitting racism" – the idea that one can be racist without even knowing it – and which defined as racism any incident that is deemed to be racist by the victim of it or by any other person. In short, almost anything – any dumb remark or thoughtless comment – could now be labelled a "racist incident". New Labour divorced racism from power and politics and reconceptualised it as a form of bad manners that was allegedly widespread in impolite society.

Abbott's daft tweet conforms very well to the surreal New Labourite definition of racism. She may not have intended to be racist, but so what, you can still be an "unwitting" racist. And as other people have judged her tweet to be racist, that apparently means that it is racist. The bizarre furore over Abbott's tweeting should remind us that, sadly, racial thinking has not been defeated but rather has been intensified in the post-New Labour era. Perhaps it's time to go back to having a serious definition of racism – which is after all a very serious thing. We should aspire to live in society of equals, not one in which both whites and blacks alike are continually invited to play the victim card.


ACLU Demands W. Virginia County Stop Funding Annual ‘Jesus Fest’ Event

A battle is brewing in Charleston, West Virginia, between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Harrison County Commission.

Every August, a two-day festival called Jesus Fest takes place in Clarksburg. And each year, the county provides $2,000 in funding to the initiative — support that the ACLU is claiming must end.

In a Dec. 20, 2011 letter, the state’s ACLU office asked county commissioners to stop funding the festival, as it is an initiative which promotes Christianity. In the eyes of the ACLU, this is clearly a constitutional breach. Below, find a description of Jesus Fest:
The event is a family oriented festival with a focus on creating unity in the Body of Christ, which is accomplished through an interdenominational approach utilizing ecumenical leadership and the involvement of local area churches. The event focuses on evangelism and outreach to the unsaved by means of family oriented activities and events in an atmosphere of interdenominational praise and worship and the preaching of the gospel. Reaching out to the hurting and oppressed is a biblical mandate for us as a redeemed people.

In the letter (it can be read in its entirety here), the organization charges that the funding of the festival directly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as West Virginia’s constitution. Here’s a portion of it:

The ACLU claims that it is acting on behalf of Harrison County residents who have complained and are bothered by the county’s support for the Jesus Fest. The commission has not yet made a decision regarding funding and is waiting for a recommendation from Prosector Joe Shaffer before taking any action on the matter.
Click here to find out more!

Commissioner Ron Watson says that the group is “waiting to see what kind of legal ground” it stands on in addressing the matter.

Watson also clarified some misconceptions about the monies being used. Rather than coming from taxpayer dollars, Jesus Fest is funded from video lottery and table game revenue. This money comes from the state and is, thus, distributed to the county. According to Watson, this money funds other festivals and community events as well.

“Fairs and festivals its not taxpayers money,” Watson explains.”It’s money we fund all fairs and festivals regardless of what the subject manner is. It is usually open to the public. And doing so that money does not come from property tax money. It comes from what I call devil’s money which is gambling money from video lottery and table games that the county has received.”

B.K. Vanhorn, who organizes the Jesus Fest, says that the festival gets the same privileges as other local celebrations. For instance, the commission also provides funds for the Italian Heritage Festival and the Black Heritage Festival.

Watson, like Vanhorn, doesn’t see any problem with the funding of the Jesus Fest. Another commissioner, Michael Romano, who is a member of the ACLU, is standing up against the organization’s stance on this matter as well.

The Commission has given Jesus Fest $2,000 each year for the past five years.


Wave of shootings baffle Swedish police

Baffled? They shouldn't be. It's just Muslims doing what Muslims do. Malmo is Muslim-dominated. It's probably Sunnis shooting Shias or vice versa. No mention of the M-word below, of course

A new wave of execution-style shootings in Sweden's third largest city has left police puzzled, raising concerns that Malmo has become a magnet for gang-related killings.

On Thursday dozens of police took to the streets in the southern Swedish city of 250,000 to try calm the public and to collect tips about the attacks, which come only a year after a suspected serial shooter was arrested there.

"We've never experienced anything like this before. It's exceptional that there have been so many murders in such a short period of time," police spokesman Lars-Hakan Lindholm said. "People are worried of course and want to talk about it."

In less than six weeks, five people have been shot dead in execution-style killings, prompting local police to ask for back-up from national investigators and for Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu to call on the country's justice minister to implement tougher gun laws.

Sweden's gun control laws are fairly strict. Penalties for possessing illegal arms typically involve fines or up to one year in prison, but serious breaches of the law can result in a four-year sentence.

Lindholm said that due to the fast escalating death-toll police presence has now been bumped up by about 30 extra officers in the city on weekdays and by around 40 on the weekends. Malmo is an eclectic city, where about 40 percent of its residents are first- or second-generation immigrants.

The latest murder occurred on Tuesday, when a man in his late 40's was shot dead in broad daylight on an open street near his Malmo home.

Two days earlier, a 15-year-old boy was killed in the midst of the Malmo New Year celebrations.

"They're almost like executions," Lindholm said of the killings, but noted that there are still no suspects in the slayings and police remain baffled to what the motives might be.

The killings have upset many Malmo inhabitants who, just last year, saw the end of a near seven-year shooting terror by a lone gunman that targeted immigrants.

That suspect, 39-year old Peter Mangs, is currently facing charges for allegedly killing three people and attempting to murder another 13 victims in a series of sniper-like attacks.

Police say they see few links between Mangs and the latest shootings however, having largely ruled out that they're dealing with a copycat.

Instead, they indicate the incidents could possibly be gang-related, as the victims seem to have been carefully picked out.

"There is nothing pointing to that these are random shooting acts. There have been specific targets and the targets have been hit," Superintendent Borje Sjoholm told reporters at a newsconference earlier this week. "There are some common denominators between the five murders," he added. [Like what? Sunnis shooting Shias?]

In the light of the shootings, demonstrators will stage a protest against organized crime and illegal arms in Malmo on Friday. Some 4,800 people have so far signed up for participation.


Official anti-racism: the new British nationalism?

I must say I was rather surprised by the explosion of self-congratulation when the white killers of a black guy were convicted. Blacks attack whites all the time in Britain and it gets only minor attention. Is it wrong for whites to attack blacks but not wrong for blacks to attack whites? Very strange. Perhaps you have to be a guilt-ridden Brit to understand it -- JR

Once the British state and establishment used the politics of race to boost its authority. Today, in pursuit of the same self-serving ends, they are instead engaged in a phoney moral crusade behind official anti-racism. Is that anything to celebrate?

The conviction of two men for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 has sparked a national celebration of this apparent victory over the evils of racism. Every section of the media and political elite has jostled to line up behind Lawrence’s parents and sign up to the official anti-racist consensus. As one leading press figure put it, the guilty verdict is ‘a triumph’ not only for the Lawrences but for British justice, policing, politics and the media.

For those of us who campaigned against racism in the bad old days of the 1980s, this looks like so remarkable a turnaround in attitudes that one might almost wonder if we are living not just in another century but on a different planet. Thirty years ago when I joined a group called Workers Against Racism, there was no sympathetic media coverage or mainstream political support for the Asian families being burnt out of housing estates or the black youth being routinely brutalised by the police. The national debate was all about the scourge of ‘immigrant scroungers’ and black ‘muggers’. Those who fought against racists were branded extremists, the flipside of the fascists.

Let’s be clear. This was not the ‘unwitting’ prejudice described by the Macpherson inquiry into Lawrence’s murder as the basis of ‘institutional racism’ in the UK. It was deliberate, politicised and vitriolic racism, popularised from the top down and enforced by the state as a weapon to divide the working class and consolidate white support for the authorities.

Living in Moss Side, Manchester during the 1981 riots, I remember police vans cruising the streets while riot cops beat their batons on the side and chanted ‘Niggers, niggers, niggers – out, out, out!’. A veteran comrade of mine recalls being arrested in east London around the same time while carrying some Workers Against Racism pamphlets, and being repeatedly asked by the police ‘Do you like monkeys?’ and ‘Why do you live in a monkey cage?’ (that is, his largely black council estate in Hackney). After the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham exploded in a riot sparked by police brutality in 1985, in which an officer was killed, the Metropolitan Police arrested hundreds of youths and told the white kids to cooperate because ‘we only want the blacks’. And so it went on. The incompetent police investigation into the Lawrence murder should have come as little surprise.

And the problem went far beyond police ranks. Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher is remembered for her declaration about British culture being ‘swamped’ by immigrants. But there was little more sympathy for the victims of racism among leaders of the Labour Party and trade unions. In 1982, we marched from London to Brighton to call on the TUC to take a stand against racial discrimination and violence. Our message was not well received.

Now look at the contrast with the carnival of official anti-racism around the Lawrence murder verdicts this week. What has brought these remarkable changes about? New Labour home secretary Jack Straw summed up the widespread view that, ‘if Britain has changed for the better in the intervening 19 years… that’s above all down to two extraordinary people, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s parents’. Are we really to believe that the Lawrences have magic powers to transform a nation?

What has happened over the past two decades is that Britain has undergone a major cultural shift as the old politics of nationalism and race have lost their grip on public consciousness. This would have happened whether or not Stephen Lawrence had been murdered by racists. Indeed, the fact that his killing remains the benchmark for racist violence 19 years on shows how rare such incidents have become.

But here is the thing. The truth is that the less overtly racist British society has become in recent times, the more the authorities have started preaching about the evils of racism and launching new crusades against it. What has altered most is the perception of racism. Where once it was society’s guilty secret, now there is a concerted effort to trawl for and publicise any hint of racially incorrect language or behaviour from the school playground to the football pitch. The less racism is in evidence, the more everything appears to have been racialised. Why?

Official anti-racism has become the beleaguered elites’ political weapon of choice. The old British Establishment used the traditional politics of nationalism, race and empire to assert its authority. Those days are long gone. Instead, today’s political and cultural elites have seized upon the new orthodoxy of official anti-racism to try to give them a sense of moral purpose. Official anti-racism has also become a tool both to demonise and to discipline the white working-class people whom the elites fear and loathe.

The Lawrence case has indeed played a big part in this process, though not in the way widely assumed this week. The key was not so much the murder itself, but the publication of the 1999 Macpherson report into the case, which formally rewrote the state’s doctrine on the politics of race.

Macpherson introduced two landmark changes. First, it introduced a new official definition of a race crime. A racial incident is now ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. Such a sweeping subjective definition of a race crime has inevitably confused debate and fostered the view that racism is everywhere and that ever more laws and initiatives are required to police it.

Second, Macpherson defined the problem of ‘institutional racism’ at the heart of British society, leading to the reorganisation of the police and other public institutions around this assumption. But whereas the Sixties radicals who coined the phrase were talking about the deliberate wielding of power by a racist state apparatus, Macpherson explicitly rejected any such link between institutional racism and the exercise of power. The report stated that the Metropolitan Police was not racist; the problem was more the ‘unwitting words and actions’ of individual officers acting together.

Once racism is reduced to a problem of the individual rather than the state or society, the solution becomes re-education to alter individual attitudes. This is an open invitation to the state to intervene to police people’s words, actions and even thoughts – particularly those of the white working class now seen as the source of the problem. Macpherson even proposed that the use of racist language in your own home should be made an explicit criminal offence. The report led to an explosion of race-based codes of conduct, awareness training and surveillance measures throughout British institutions.

New laws have made it possible to charge people with ‘racially aggravated’ offences, rather than just old-fashioned assault or criminal damage, and sentence them more stiffly on conviction. The law has thus extended into punishing an individual, not just for what he had done, but for what he was assumed to be thinking when he committed an offence - his supposed ‘racial motivation’. This was reflected in the sentencing of those two men for the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Redefined on this individualised basis, racism has been taken up as the cause of the moral crusade. Declaring that you are not a racist has become the bottom line that helps mark you out as one of the ‘right-thinking people’, in the words of one police chief. In an age when many of the old moral certainties have been badly eroded, distancing yourself from racist remarks and following the new etiquette is seen as one of the few ways to draw a clear line between Good and Evil.

That is why every British leader and institution is now so keen to swear their abhorrence of racism, as a pass to the moral high ground that might once have been provided by declaring their belief in God. As the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission boasted after the Lawrence verdicts, racial prejudice is now seen ‘as a secular sin that is not to be tolerated’. And the worst sinners are now deemed to be the white working classes, who must have the new catechism/etiquette of official anti-racism drummed into them at every opportunity. That is why, for example, any hint of racism around football, patronisingly seen as a modern opiate of the masses, is made such a public example of today.

It was against this background that the killing of Stephen Lawrence was belatedly singled out by the authorities as so important. It became more than a murder inquiry; not just a criminal case, but a political cause, as the Met’s deputy commissioner Cressida Dick effectively admitted this week: ‘All murder cases are absolutely dreadful, but this case for reasons you will all understand is extremely important, not just for the Metropolitan Police, but for society at large.’ It had become a way for the state to regain some moral authority around official anti-racism.

I have little sympathy for the two men jailed for the killing of Stephen Lawrence. But for some of us who campaigned against racism on the basis of a belief in freedom, equality and democracy, the wider changes the case has become a vehicle for have not been for the better.

Indeed, some of the most worrying political and legal trends evident in recent years have been promoted in the name of official anti-racism post-Lawrence. These include the rewriting of the law along subjective, arbitrary lines through the redefinition of a race crime; the spread of conformist codes of conduct that police language and thought and suppress open debate; the institutionalisation of mistrust and mutual surveillance; and the notion that people are to be judged on their private attitudes at least as much as their public actions.

In the name of ‘zero tolerance’, the codes of official anti-racism have turned intolerance of offensive views into a ‘value’, even a virtue. Indeed, such is the intolerance of those suspected of harbouring sinful thoughts today that anything can apparently be justified to get them – up to and including, as Brendan O’Neill argues on spiked today, the abolition of such an historic principle of the justice system as the law against double jeopardy. This is the modern elite’s version of the old corrupt copper’s mantra – if they’re wrong’uns, anything goes to get them.

On spiked, and even before that in LM magazine, we have argued from the start that there is no benefit for those who believe in freedom in the phoney moral crusade of official anti-racism launched around the Lawrence case. As I wrote here 10 years ago, ‘It is the new thought police, rather than the old racist ones, who are running riot through Britain today’. The exploitation of the Lawrence verdict this week confirms that official anti-racism is now every bit as authoritarian and intolerant as the state racism of old.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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