Why Courageous Jack Kilbride Is Not The Answer

Something For Leena

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The New Matilda published an article today titled “Why Courageous Clementine Ford Is Not The Answer”, presumably Jack Kilbride is The Answer? What is the question, anyway?

The article was… not good. I have no doubt his heart was in the right place, but I doubt whether the point of it was worth publishing. I think if Kilbride wants to call himself a feminist ally that there are plenty of us here who will help him, and welcome him, but that it is important for him to know how he can go about feminist action in the best way he can. This article is not the way Kilbride can engage best practice, and I feel the urge to explain why. It’s not saying anything new, in fact, many of my friends actually thought it was satire, that’s how tired we are of tone policing and ‘mansplaining’ articles. At…

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Why Courageous Jack Kilbride Is Not The Answer

Remembrance Sunday

Today I will be thinking of those who refused to fight and ended up in jail or even executed because they stood by their beliefs and the soldiers who staged mutinies which brought an end to fighting in 1918.

Today I will be thinking of Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, who were part of the White Rose Movement in Germany. They were executed by guillotine for distributing anti-war and anti-Nazi “propaganda” at their university.

Today I will be thinking of people like Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, who smuggled children out of the Warsaw ghetto and got them new identities with forged documents. When she was arrested, she refused to talk to the Gestapo, even after they tortured her and broke her legs, she STILL refused to talk. Just before she was to be executed, members of her group managed to bribe her executioners to let her go. She then continued resisting the Nazis, under a false identity.

Today I will be thinking of all the people who risked their lives, not because they were paid, lied to, or forced, but because they knew they had to stand up for righteousness. They considered it their moral duty to do so.

What do all these people have in common? They refused to do as they were told. They refused to conform. They were all socialists, anarchists, leftists. Do we ever come across any right-wingers, any conservatives, who do such selfless and heroic deeds for the good of others? Do we ever come across any conservatives or moderates/centrists, who resist totalitarianism? No, it’s always people who would today be branded “radicals” and “extremists”. The sorts of people who would be under constant surveillance from MI5. The sorts of people the Home Office is targeting with these new surveillance and anti-“terror” laws. These people are the true heroes, yet we hear almost nothing about them. We are rarely, if ever, are encouraged to remember those who undermined authority — no matter who that authority was — we only ever remember those who followed orders, who did as they were told.

And what I find very harrowing, in this Big Brother society of ours, is how none of these heroes would have been able to save a single life if the Nazis had the sort of technology we do today. They would have been found out immediately, if they had even dared to resist in the first place.

Remembrance Sunday

Ain’t I an Extremist?

A few days ago the head of MI5 warned that ISIS is planning “mass casualty” terrorist attacks in the UK, and that they have foiled six already in the last year. It would be interesting to hear more about these cases, especially as we know that governments, including the British, like to hire informants to entrap people who might never have previously shown any interest in harming innocent people for political reasons, or even expressed any “radical” views.

This comes while the Tories are trying to get their secret (yes, secret) Snooper’s Charter together, which will need the backing of MPs and the people of Britain, or at least for them to not resist it. Talk about a double standard! Wait a minute, isn’t that what they do in the bad countries we hear about?

This legislation is a part of the government’s fight against “extremism” — the political term which still has no clear definition and therefore can be used to criminalise more or less anyone who disagrees with what the ruling party says — because that’s what democracy is all about!

What makes the Snooper’s Charter particularly dangerous — other than the powers it can potentially give the state — is how easy it is for the police to obtain a warrant. Instead of warrants being signed off by a judge, which can offer citizens some level of protection against potential tyranny, they are signed off by ministers. The same ministers who helped draw up the legislation and the same ministers who want to stay in power. This is precisely how “justice” works in totalitarian states. Yeah, that definitely sounds like the sort of thing they do in the bad countries.

Extremists

To nicely blur the lines between terrorism (another dubious term), “extremism” and legitimately saying “fuck the system”, today the Daily Mail reports: “In an unprecedented victory for extremism, fears for the safety of Conservative members triggered the ‘depressing’ decision to abandon the Conservative event.”

No, this is not “extremism”, this is people exercising their fundamental democratic right to protest, and it being effective. If this is what the Tories and their chums, the Daily Mail, consider “extremism”, and if Jeremy Corbyn is considered an “extremist”, then we really ought to get our pitchforks from the shed.

Many people dismiss the Daily Mail for the ridiculous bullshit that it is. Yes, it is ridiculous bullshit, but dismissing it and underestimating its power is a dangerous exercise of privilege, which I will rant about another day.

Ain’t I an Extremist?

Moral Muslims Strike Again

Did anyone hear about that group of Muslim women in France, who attacked a non-Muslim woman for “moral reasons”, allegedly because she was wearing a bikini in a public park the other day? This sparked a campaign on social media, going under the guise of feminism, of women posting pictures of themselves in bikinis. Because, fuck Islam.

Well, it turns out the whole thing had nothing to do with “moral reasons” at all, and the police have confirmed this. But you know, whenever any Muslims do anything – especially if it’s to non-Muslims – it must be because they are Muslim. I imagine the dickheads who jump to such conclusions are the very same dickheads who accuse people of colour of “playing the race card”, tell people of colour “not everything’s about race” and that they “see race in everything”. That is one example of the hypocrisy and double-standard integral to racism. Naturally, it didn’t take long for this story to get the attention of the international right-wing press – “Tut, tut! those moral Muslims are at it again.”

Now let’s get some perspective on this. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it was for “moral reasons”. Getting beaten up is not exactly a nice thing, but did this fairly mild sort of beating, which barely resulted in any superficial injuries, warrant national and international news coverage, and a social media campaign? Every time a person of colour or a Muslim is attacked by racist gangs – and they do end up in hospital or even dead – does it make the news?

Notice how the Daily Mail makes a disclaimer after it's already angered its readers with the headline.
Notice how the Daily Mail makes a disclaimer after it’s already infuriated its readers with the headline.
The video doesn’t even look like a fight, perhaps a heated argument with a bit of pushing and shoving, at worst. None of the women in the video are wearing a hijab, so to many non-Muslims they wouldn’t even “look Muslim”. Yet apparently they are so dogmatic about women covering up that they attack women for wearing bikinis in public parks.
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L’Union admits it “made a mistake” with the reporting of this story, but that doesn’t make it any less racist. Either the paper jumped at the chance of writing a story on “reverse racism” involving Muslims, which they can put a pseudo-feminist spin to; or they genuinely believed the story – “write first, ask questions later!” Both are racist/Islamophobic mentalities.
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Moral Muslims Strike Again

An Open Letter to Ian Dunt

This is an open letter to Ian Dunt, editor of politics.co.uk, in response to this article on identity politics from 24/05/2015.

Dear Ian Dunt,

Having read your article on identity politics and finding it riddled with ignorance I thought I would take it upon myself to dissect it, hoping this might offer you another perspective on racial issues.

Firstly, “address the rise of identity politics”? What do you mean? Surely it’s a good thing that people are active on issues regarding gender, sexuality, ability, etc? Surely it’s a good thing people are increasingly aware of their privileges? Identity politics doesn’t “kill solidarity”, identity politics kills oppression. Is your idea of “solidarity” allowing marginalised people to continue being oppressed? Does fighting oppression “kill solidarity”? A big part of solidarity is learning how to be a good ally, which includes knowing when it’s your turn to speak.

Your idea of “solidarity” appears to be what Martin Luther King referred to as “negative peace”, something that white liberals/moderates were guilty of wanting, due to being comfortable with their position in society, as opposed to genuine equity.

You feel it is “untenable” for Bahar to remain in her position for using the tongue-in-cheek hashtag #killallwhitemen. Since feminism’s inception, feminists have been labelled “man-haters”. This is a silencing tactic, so now feminists are reclaiming it. And what if feminists did hate men? Do they have the social and political power to replace patriarchy with matriarchy? Do hashtags such as #killallmen cause two men to die in the UK every week at the hands of their female partners, or for men to walk around with the constant fear of being sexually assaulted by women on public transport every day? This is tone policing, another silencing tactic. Maybe, instead of telling victims how to respond to their oppression, we ought to actually fight that oppression?

I’ll refer you to Jessica Valenti.

You claim people on the left “inject that political argument into the word ‘racism’ so it cannot be used any other way.” Racism is inherently political. And who originally defined racism in the dictionary? Did any people of colour have a say? You claim the left (and by implication people of colour) have “politicised” the definition. To you this is a “political view”, to people of colour this is daily life. The dictionary is not objective, neutral or unbiased. Your dictionary definition of racism creates a false equivalence, which not only undermines people of colour’s lived experiences, but neglects the power dynamics which are crucial to understanding and fighting racism. You accuse the left of trying to redefine the word. May I suggest you watch Roots before commenting on the definition of racism again? I would argue that the racism in Roots is the “original” meaning of the word.

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Looks like a very sexist mug to me. That woman is obviously a misandrist.

You say the left wishes to “semantically disenfranchise those who have a different view.” When views perpetuate oppression they are not just views. This is not about whether someone prefers cats or dogs, this is about oppression people face every day. Your privilege allows you to see it as “just a view”. By making such statements you only further prove your ignorance.

We know a lot of (white) people are baffled when when they hear others say people of colour can’t be racist. Does that mean it’s people of colour’s duty to make white people understand? Decolonisation must be a conscious and continual process. Your lack of the word “white” would suggest you need to get stuck in to that process. White people have to accept that they have been conditioned to be racist (this does not mean they are bad people) if they want to get over their racism. This is by no means an easy process. You dismiss these issues as “silly semantic games”. To you they may be, but to those affected they are everyday life.

These ideas seem “silly” because they challenge the racist status quo. Of course the idea of fighting racism, racism which has been necessary for a society to function for centuries, will be ridiculed by that society. Of course it will be rejected seem “incomprehensible” by those who have to modify their attitudes and behaviours. Are you really in a position to be advising people of colour and their allies on how to fight racism?

While we’re on language, I needn’t explain why it’s a good thing it’s not so common to hear white people say they’re “going down the paki shop” anymore.

Your comments on mixed race relationships are where things really get icky:

You fail to acknowledge the power dynamics behind what you seem to consider only as “vitriol”, without examining what that vitriol is. Can you blame marginalised people for being resentful of the social and political power the privileged have over them? When privileged people lump marginalised people together it’s oppression, when marginalised people lump privileged people together it’s a survival tactic. There is a very big difference.

Many older people of colour have only recently started having positive experiences with white people, after generations of oppression. The nicest, most trustworthy white people in centuries exist today. Can you see why some families might be overprotective?

“Ethnic minority women will often have fathers who angrily tell them not to date anyone who is white.”

“Will often have fathers”? That’s very careless writing at best. Firstly, as I mentioned above, there are very understandable reasons why some people of colour are afraid of white people. The parents of an East Asian woman might be wary their daughter’s white boyfriend has “yellow fever” and/or believes the stereotype of the submissive/subservient East Asian woman. We only need to look at the popularity of mail order brides and sex tourism in East and South East Asia to see this is a very legitimate concern. I’m not saying this is right, but surely you can empathise, no? One only needs to overhear conversations about women of colour by white men in pubs or on public transport, to be aware of how they are racially fetishised in our society.

“If they’re Asian, they usually don’t like them being black either. Let’s call that what it is: racism.” 

“Usually”? Like it’s a worse problem in the Asian community than in the white community? You’re basing this on what, exactly? That sounds like quite a racist assertion to me. Yes, anti-blackness exists among all races and ethnicities – including the black community. This is a product of white supremacy. When non-black immigrants of colour settle in predominantly white countries, despite the racism they face, many are grateful for one thing: at least they’re not black! Many assimilate by internalising this racism: “When in Rome!” So please, don’t try pinning this problem on the Asian community, because its roots are in white supremacy. I am not saying it’s right, I am not saying that non-black people of colour shouldn’t be held accountable for their own anti-black racism, but I am calling out and asking that you dig a little deeper.

“Let’s call blocking white people from political meetings what it is too: racism.”

No, blocking white people and men from meetings specifically dealing with issues related to being a woman or non-binary person of colour is not racism or sexism, it’s a way of ensuring that those people have their voices heard and can talk openly with other people who will understand their issues. That is not to say that white people should not be included in any conversation about racism, but they do not need to be in all of them. This happened to be one of them.

No one’s race has “been given primacy over the content of one’s character”, but the content of their words will be largely influenced by their race, because their race will influence their life experiences. So how dare you label it a “highly capitalistic and right-wing vision of humanity”. Call it that when (almost exclusively) white people stop chanting “all lives matter” and stop trying to justify police violence on black people in clearly racist incidents. This is a common misinterpretation of Martin Luther King Jr. (almost exclusively) from white people, usually to justify a “colourblind” vision of the world.

Your lack of understanding on racial issues is patently clear when you misinterpret Yomi Adejoke’s quote. Hopefully you will realise this when you read up on anti-racism theory some more. Solidarity is not about everyone being involved in every conversation, it’s about allies knowing how to be good allies.

It appears you are more concerned with justifying your own colonial attitudes we are all conditioned to have in this country, than actually admitting to yourself that maybe you don’t understand these issues, and that you ought to examine the role you play in white supremacy and patriarchy.

Throughout your article you have proven why it was necessary for Bahar Mustafa to hold a meeting for women and non-binary people of colour only. The reason is that entitled privileged people turn up, demanding to have a say in their issues, believing they are putting forward ideas and imparting wisdom no other privileged people have before. Marginalised people are fed up having to deal with privileged people undermining their lived experiences and trying to turn them into a debate, demanding to be educated, simply because they have not educated themselves and because they lack empathy.

If you were a GCSE chemistry student, would you have any business being in a lecture for undergraduates? Inevitably you would waste a lot of time by trying to cover issues the rest of the class is well beyond. Marginalised people have already been held back enough.

We accept exclusive clubs in all other sections of society, so why is it such a big problem when women and non-binary people of colour want some space?

Throughout your article you have been speaking as though you know best, without considering that maybe you just don’t get it. This is the very same mentality that justifies colonialism. May I suggest you read Rudyard Kipling’s the White Man’s Burden? Can you not see why people of colour are wary of white people “having a say” in their issues?

May also I recommend you check out the work of Jayne Elliott – a white woman who is fully aware of her privilege and has used it not to tell people of colour how they should deal with racism, but to tell white people how to deal with their own racism. You see, Ian, that is the problem, you have been lecturing people of colour and their allies on racism, without first checking your privilege.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Randall.

An Open Letter to Ian Dunt

We Really Need to Stop Talking About People’s Monetary Value

I’ve always hated how we talk about immigration in terms of how it’s economically beneficial, literally the monetary value of immigrants. “They do jobs no one else wants to do, for a fraction of the wages” – yeah, let’s not go down that road.

When you’re on the back foot it’s hard to frame things the way they should be, but we really must stop talking about the economic value of immigrants. It’s dehumanising. Even if we are pro-immigration, we’re still using that xenophobic, colonial mentality. We’re still using UKIP mentality, but it just so happens that immigrants are a convenience for us, they serve our purposes. Yeah, sod that.

I couldn’t give a toss if immigrants “cost us” five times more than what Nigel and co. claims they do. Unfortunately a lot people don’t take you seriously unless you talk about immigration in economic terms, as opposed to “ideologically”. Seriously, how insane is that?

We Really Need to Stop Talking About People’s Monetary Value

Why, Michael? Why?

Is it just me or is anyone else haunted by Michael Jordan’s second comeback to basketball (after he had retired for the second time)? Does it ever creep into your mind and make you think “why Michael, why? Why did you do it Michael?”

Your first comeback was spectacular. Everyone was so pleased to see you and there was (rightly) a real sense of optimism in the entire basketball community. It was the resurrection, the second coming. You got the Bulls back on top again. You saved the day.

You scored the winning points, in the final few seconds of the winning game against the Jazz. You won the title for yourself and the Bulls, for a sixth time, yours and the team’s second three-peat. We all knew we were witnessing history and we all knew there was no better way of tying things up. What a way to retire. It was a real life Hollywood ending. Did you really think it could get better than that? Did you, Michael? Did you?

INGLEWOOD, CA - JUNE 12:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls goes for a dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers in game five of the 1991 NBA Finals on June 12, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Bulls won 108-101 NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1991 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA – JUNE 12: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls goes for a dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers in game five of the 1991 NBA Finals on June 12, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Bulls won 108-101.

And when you returned – at the age of 38 – when you were clearly past it – you came back to play for the Wizards. After an entire career with the Bulls, a career that was truly Hollywood, you go to for the Wizards, Michael? Really? The Wizards? Come on, mate. Had you not returned to the NBA, had you chosen a minor league, just as a hobby, it would have all been ok. It would have been no different to playing on your local street court.

You really blew it, Michael. No athlete could have ever dreamed of having a career like yours and ending it – or what we all thought was ending it – in the spectacular way we all thought you did. And then you really went and bollocksed it up.

It still haunts me to this day. It’s like a recurring dream, except it’s real and I’m awake. Every now and then it pops into my head and I get the same feeling as when I think of Guns ’N’ Roses with no Slash, Izzy or Duff, or Queen with Paul Rogers. Does anyone else ever get this, or is it just me?

Why, Michael? Why?