Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

We're not racist, but...

Well, it's finally happened. The right-wing revolution starts here. Already Fleet Street and the Tory Party are preparing their kerosene-soaked crosses. Shit.

For a long time I've been struggling to reconcile these facts; that
almost everyone I meet is tolerant and easy-going,
I have no racist friends and just the one racist relative,
I've always lived in quite racially mixed areas, and
to make outrageously racist comments means dismissal from most jobs.
(Except Chairman of the BNP, but there it's part of the job discription.)
The majority of the tabloids are written by, well, frothing xenophobes, serving up a daily dose of paranoia about immigrants and asylum seekers.
I seem to be hearing more and more comments with scary undertones from people I know. (Ref Christmas, St George's Day and the whole 'who's country is it anyway?' incident)

I think I've finally found an explanation. I hang out in pretty tolerant circles and I'm from London. Sometimes we forget the rest of the country's not quite got the same views. You see, in London ethnic minorities cannot be described as "outsiders". A little further out, where people might see one non-white person a week, it's more easy for them to believe these myths about "floods". These myths have been spreading like wildfire- classic ones involve 'banned Christmas' (see previous) and 'White Britons now minority in their own country'.* And now the dam's finally broken, with New Labour, rather than making any attempts to dismiss the more lurid tabloid myths, deciding to go along with them. This makes this new mutant form of racism an accepted part of the mainstream, which means it's all downhill from here.

I've just met this new colleague who within three minutes of starting a debate on cultural diversity announced "I'm not racist, but...". And then went on a diatribe about how whites are daily discriminated against (she couldn't cite any specific examples), and asylum seekers get extremely preferential treatment. Even Supernurse did one the other day (she only buys the Daily Mail for the TV guide). Her client had said "I'd be getting this benefit if I was an asylum seeker, and instead of saying "Well, you'd probably get stuck in a hellish tower block, beaten up by xenophobic youths and then being sent back to a totalitarian country to be tortured by British-made equipment" or a truthful "probably not, no", she answered "Look, I know it's wrong, but I don't make the rules." A public-sector worker neatly perpetuating the myth.

Being the only person who's actually taken the time to speak to the asylum team, I know that you don't get given a three-bedroom house, car and mobile phone if you're an asylum seeker. But people are very keen to believe all they read. And that's because saying "Bogus Asylum Seeker" is just a code-word for "non-white". And the majority racism never totally went away, it just took on new forms.

And now the government's bought into it, totally, making this new form of racism totally acceptable. I think we can all guess where it's heading next. It's disappointing to find out that Britain's really not as left-wing as I thought, and the Labour government I voted for has just traded racial equality for a handful of votes. I think I've definitely worked out who I'm voting for next time.

We need a counter-revolution. I'm going to make a plan. But in the meantime:
  • Do not believe a word you read in any paper smaller than your pillow. It's poison and gets under your skin after a while. These are people who genuinely want to be racist again, and are trying to shape the country to their own goals.
  • Don't fire bomb the Daily Mail. I've thought about this, but they'd probably blame the foreigners.
  • Arm yourself with the facts, and whenever you hear a bit of this lazy racism, challenge it and argue the person either into the ground, or revealing their true motivation. Either way, it's not hard.

Thanks to Tony Blair, yet again we're in trouble. Damn him.

*Just so you know, the ONS counted the ethnic minority population in the last census as 7.9%. Which is probably a lot less than you thought if you've been reading the Express lately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know what really bugs me? Bloody Kilroy, calling his third-cousin-twice-removed-BNP "Veritas", like calling his poison Truth is somehow better if he does it in Latin. Perhaps if he loves Britain so much, and wants to be straight-talking, he should start by giving his party an English name so people can tell at a glance how ridiculous it is.

Let me just say to everyone at this point that there is now only one party that does not scare me with their utterings, but actually make me proud that such people speak up. The question is, why does so little of what the LibDems say get mentioned in the media? Because they don't have celebrity backing? Because they're weren't so big 4 years ago? Because they won't take donations from anyone other than members?

I don't want to be a politician, I want to be a scientist. I know very soon, my local LibDem candidate will look me up on his mailing list and ask for my help to expel Andrew Smith from his Oxford East seat. Frankly, I'd rather be worrying about our future energy supply than about the political future of our country. But what if I'm needed to hold back the weight of the massing right-wing of this country? Can any of us refuse to act, with good conscience? I just don't know any more. I'm not sure our Frustrated Writer does either. Maybe writing this helps. Or maybe somehow we're going to have to get our hands dirty. I figure those of us on the centre-left just have to shout above those on the right when we can. Don't let them get away with it. Show our numbers when we can, show that we really care about multiculturalism, and social welfare, and just plain humanity. Because as much as I know that I can't prevent global warming on my own (and believe me I'm giving my life to that one), I know that pulling back the slide to the right may be even harder.

Mr Fusion

11:24 pm

Blogger presenttense said...

I think you're right in saying some of us are just going to get our hands dirty. Whereas direct action has got a dirty name, and we can all agree firebombing the Daily Mail isn't going to get us far, I think we can all agree that Something Must Be Done.

For now, we take the fight to where it's happening; in our schools, offices and pubs. Fight prejudice wherever you see it, and there's enough of us to stand up where its needed.

I just hope it won't be.

12:15 am


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