Monthly Archives: August 2011

H&F Council, the riots and the knee jerk call for council house evictions

The Tories have made their feelings clear about council housing. It’s a “benefit” and it’s “subsidized” or “it should only be for the poor”. In the wake of the recent riots, the Tories have all been screaming for council tenants arrested for rioting or looting to be evicted from their homes – even if the tenancy holder was not involved.

Tory-controlled Hammersmith & Fulham is no different. Following the lead of Wandsworth Council, it also declared that anyone arrested for looting could face eviction.  On its website, the Council says,

Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council has said it will seek to evict any council tenant who is proved guilty of being involved in criminal acts following the riots in London.

H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Andrew Johnson, has joined colleagues in condemning the images of destruction and looting from across the capital and vowed that any H&F tenant that is found to be involved will be ‘robustly pursued’.

But my local MP, Andy Slaughter has opposed these proposals. As far as I know he is the only member of the shadow cabinet to take this line. Writing for Shepherds Bush blog he says,

This is Government by PR and gimmickry. Poor at any time, positively dangerous at present.

Iain Duncan Smith is on the lookout for evil people who, bereft of moral values, are hiding in dark corners of society. I doubt he will find any but it is an excuse to evict families from secure homes and to deduct benefits from poor families. How punishing a household for the actions of an individual is either equitable or rational, I don’t know, but it has been repeated by politicians seeking soundbites and at a loss for real answers from Nick Clegg to Tory councillors in H&F.

Promising to evict families from council homes if a member of the family is convicted of an offence implies council tenants are more prone to criminal behaviour and that they should have a greater punishment than others committing similar crimes. Of course, the Council has no power to evict in most cases, that is a matter for the courts and this is gesture politics, but if families are evicted and on the streets how is that going to aid social cohesion?

Making people homeless and taking away their benefits will only make things worse. These people will be forced into crime. But that doesn’t matter to the Tories who only want knee-jerk solutions.  I’m only surprised that the more barmy of the Tory backbenchers didn’t call for the re-introduction of transportation to the colonies.  But there aren’t many of colonies left (they’re referred to as British Overseas Territories). I do suspect that they will call for more private prisons to be built and all of those prisons will be built by companies that donate money to the party.

The H&F Tories responded in the usual fashion on its website by claiming to be part of a consensus,

His views are at odds with most voters, including most Labour supporters, as well as several Labour councils including Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Greenwich, Manchester, Nottingham, Salford, Southwark and Waltham Forest.

Are they? How many voters have H&F Tories actually spoken to? They don’t say. Here they repeat a by now familiar lie,

His stance offers little hope for decent Council tenants who want to see neighbours from hell removed. Also what sort of position would that leave the thousands of law abiding families who are on the waiting list for a Council home while stuck in overcrowded conditions? They would see the rioters allowed get away with retaining the privilege of subsidised, secure, Council housing.

But council housing is not subsidized. Notice how they throw in the word “privilege” too. This goes with the narrative of council housing as housing for the ‘deserving’ poor.  This article appeared in the London Review of Books. It says,

Labelling council housing as ‘subsidised’ is part of a wider ideological attack in which it is being redefined as welfare housing, from which people who can afford to should be quickly moved on.

This phrase “welfare housing” first appeared in a Localis report written by H&F Council leader, Stephen Greenhalgh and chartered surveyor, John Moss. It’ s deliberately misleading and misrepresents the nature of council housing. These attacks on council housing and the people who live in such properties is nothing short of ideological. The class disgust expressed by these Tories is barely concealed and couched in the matter-of-fact language of business.

The only time council housing has been subsidized was during the Right to Buy rush when the properties were deliberately sold at discounted rates to encourage people to buy them.

Perhaps the authoritarians who run my local council would like to read this report.

But I know that they won’t; Tories hate things like facts and evidence. All you need to do is look at some of the ‘research’ done by Policy Exchange and Localis to see that what I’m saying is true.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, London, riots, Society & culture

Chile, neoliberalism and discontent

Chile is the birthplace of neoliberalism. It is the country where this damaging economic system was first imposed. In the years since the departure of Augusto Pinochet from La Moneda Palace, the ‘reforms’ that he forced onto the Chilean people remain almost completely intact. None of the successive left-ish governments had the courage or the decency to truly change things beyond the piecemeal. Granted, while Pinochet was still alive, he remained a threat and a rallying point for his followers and could call on his old friends in the military to intervene should these governments swing too far to the left. He also made himself Senator-for-life, a role that he was forced to relinquish after he’d  returned to Santiago after his house arrest in Surrey pending charges of human rights abuses in Spain.

But the chickens have come home to roost in this Freidmanite free market paradise. Three months ago, classroom boycotts by students and pupils led to mass student protests that have morphed into general protests against the right wing (some would say pale Pinochetista) government of Sebastian Piñera. A general strike was called for this week.

Today, during the second day of strikes and demonstrations, a 16 year old boy was shot dead by the police and nearly 1400 people have been arrested. Scores of people have been injured.

The Guardian says,

President Sebastian Pinera’s ministers played down the significance of the protests. Police estimated Santiago’s crowds at just 50,000 and said only 14% of government employees stayed off work.

Union leaders claimed 600,000 people joined demonstrations nationwide. Raul de la Puente, president of the government employees union, said 80% of his members joined the strike, at the cost of two days’ pay.

Pinera said the strike was unjustified, claiming Chile‘s economy was growing strong and providing more opportunities. He said he remained open to those seeking dialogue, although his administration has refused to discuss some student and union demands, arguing the real work of reform must be done in Congress.

Does any of this look familiar? It should. Lord Snooty said, when public sector workers went on strike over pensions in June, that the strikes were “unjustified”. Here’s what The Economist says,

The students want education, which in Chile relies heavily on private funding, to be turned into a non-profit, state-dominated, system. The unions want the mostly private pension system to be supplemented with more state provision. They also want changes in labour laws and an increase in business taxes to pay for more social spending. And they are demanding a new constitution. Like many of the things the protesters want changed, the constitution dates from the 1980s and the dictatorship of General Pinochet (although many of its clauses have since been amended).

Remember, this is Chile. Yet the Tory-led government want to pursue exactly the same course. People can read the riots in this country as purely criminal acts of looting and violence. In a society where conspicuous consumption is idealized and wages have stagnated and the cost of living has spiralled, those riots can be seen as economic rebellions. This is what is currently taking place in Chile.

Oddly enough, there is no mention of the protests in Chile on the Daily Telegraph website. I have checked its Chile section and there is nothing.

Piñera’s government is in denial. The Financial Times tells us that,

Rodrigo Ubilla, interior ministry undersecretary, said it had turned out to be “a big failure” with low turnout and most of the country working normally.

But Chile is not working normally. Three months of protests by university students demanding free education have exposed festering social sores.

Further down the article, Sebastian Aguilera of the Economist Intelligence Unit said,

the Pinochet-era foundations for healthcare, pensions and education “were experiments, back in the day. Some go right and some go wrong. I wouldn’t say the education system is a failure, far from it. But it certainly is not fair”.
The FT article also notes
Mr Piñera has two other problems. One is the renewed spectre of Pinochet. That was always going to be a problem – his is the first government of the right in more than half a century and although Mr Piñera himself is more to the centre-right, some in his entourage have been saying very dictatorship-era sounding things lately.

I reported in this blog how Piñera had appointed some former Chicago Boys to his cabinet.

The left-ish Concertación electoral bloc isn’t faring too well either. Like the Labour Party in opposition here, it has failed to take the lead. Indeed, it followed the post-Pinochet governance formula. Labour, under Blair, stuck to the neoliberal formula of the Thatcher and Major governments. It is in a similar moral and political bind under the leadership of Ed Miliband.

Here’s a Euronews report

Leave a comment

Filed under Chile, Economics, neoliberalism, World

The BBC. Left wing? Don’t even think about it!

If the bloggers at the Telegraph and their followers are to be believed, the BBC is a rabidly left wing broadcaster, whose sole objective is to inject their filthy Marxism into innocent minds. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. The BBC is the state broadcaster and as such it is a conservative institution. The BBC’s coverage of the recent riots being a case in point.

There are many examples of how the BBC turned the riots into a discourse about young black men and gangsta rap. Fiona Armstrong or Lady MacGregor of MacGregor, if you prefer, interviewed Darcus Howe on the BBC News Channel. In it, she appeared to suggest that Howe had participated in past riots and was condoning the looting. Howe was furious and so were many viewers.

Here’s the exchange between Lady MacGregor and Howe

The Voice expressed its outrage and called on the BBC to apologise. The Corporation has yet to do so.

Newsnight’s coverage of the riots was spectacularly bad. On the Monday, we were treated to the spectacle of a studio ‘debate’ between Michael Gove and Harriet Harman. Gove came across as petulant and bad tempered, while Harman was cool and measured. But Gavin Esler allowed Gove to shout and talk over Harman. Then Kelvin MacKenzie was invited to make a contribution and, surprise, surprise, he didn’t disappoint with his usual spiel about socialism and nanny states. Here is the studio ‘debate’ with Lyn Costello, the rapper Reveal (who was very good) and a student.

But Newsnight’s worst moment came on the Friday when Emily Maitlis allowed David Starkey to talk over the other studio guests after making the suggestion that ‘whites’ were turning ‘black’. Maitlis is a pretty lightweight anchor and should never have been given the job of hosting Newsnight.

Within days of the riots, the BBC aired a special edition of Crimewatch in which it asked the public to turn in rioters.  The Telegraph complained that the rioters were being referred to by the BBC as “protesters”. In this article it cites “political correctness”.  To be honest, I watched a great deal of the BBC’s awful coverage and I didn’t, at any point, notice the reporters or newsreaders referring to rioters as “protesters”. The BBC’s riot reportage was unequivocally conservative in its tone.

The BBC World Service, which is hated by the Tories, aired an edition of World Have Your Say in which it used the heading “Is there a problem with young black men”. It was forced to issue an apology.

There may be a few left-wingers working for the BBC but for every left-winger, there is a right-winger. The opponents of the BBC will claim that there is a “left-wing bias” when no such bias exists. Some will claim that the Question Time audience is made up of left-wingers but they suffer from selective blindness when the programme is recorded in the shire counties where the audiences are mainly composed of Tory voters.

There is a Guardian article here about the decline in standards on Newsnight.

John Simpson, in this article in the Telegraph said that BBC News has never been “left-wing”.

The Daily Mail recruited Peter Sissons to claim that the BBC is “left-wing”. The Mail has always been one of the loudest voices to call for the BBC to be abolished.

Here is a Telegraph-approved site called Biased BBC

Hannan moans about the BBC.

Delingpole moans about the BBC.

I suspect the reason why so many right wingers complain about BBC bias is because they want the BBC to tug its collective forelock in deference to them. But they wilfully overlook examples of real bias in order to advance their thesis that the BBC should be abolished.

John Pilger has written of examples of blatant right-wing bias on the BBC particularly in relation to Israel-Palestine. Remember Mark Thompson’s refusal to allow the DEC to broadcast an appeal in the wake of Operation Cast Lead?

Some people have very short memories.

1 Comment

Filed under allegations of bias, BBC, Media

Libya. Confused? So am I

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Still free.

They say that the first casualty of war is the truth. The war in Libya is no exception. Since the bombing began in February, we have been treated to all sorts of rumour, speculation and innuendo. First, we were told that the no-fly zone imposed by NATO was to prevent Gaddafi from launching air strikes against his own people. We heard the same thing in the 1990’s in the days of the Iraq no-fly zone. Civilians were killed and tanks, which can’t fly, were destroyed. Civilians have been killed in this war too. But as long as we get our hands on the oil, who cares? You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Right?

Then, some members of the SAS or SBS or whoever they were, were captured by the rebels after we had been told that there were no “British boots on the ground”. Later we were told by the MOD that there were British ‘mentors’ and ‘advisors’ in Libya. In pre-1965 Vietnam, the US stuffed the country with ‘advisors’. But they weren’t advisors at all; they were actively involved in combat operations and also helped to facilitate the coup that ousted Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963.

Then, about a month ago, were informed that top rebel general, Abdel Fatah Younis, had been assassinated. The finger of blame was immediately pointed in the direction of Daddy Gaddafi. It turned out that the general had been killed by gunmen on his ‘own side’ and that the National Transitional Council and all the rebel forces are far from united in their efforts to topple Gaddafi.

In the last couple of days, Tripoli was reported to be moments away from collapse and that rebel forces had entered the Libyan capital. Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam and Mohammed had apparently been captured with the former being in the custody of the International Criminal Court. Last night, Saif al-Islam appeared on television to urge his supporters to fight on. The two South African air force planes on the tarmac of Tripoli airport weren’t there to fly Daddy Gaddafi to Zimbabwe or Angola as the commentators had speculated. In fact, no one really knew why they were there but the ‘experts’ still offered an ill-informed expert opinion nonetheless. Daddy Gaddafi remains in charge and doesn’t look as though he’s going anywhere in a hurry. Some of the rebels who apparently entered Tripoli withdrew overnight. Why? Well, not even Chatham House knows the answer to that question.

The war is over? It doesn’t look like it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Libya, World

Looking back at the Watts Riots

I read this article in the Situationist Anthology last week. It appeared in Situationist International’s Journal No. 10 (1966). The article is about the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965. It was described in the media as a “race riot” but it was nothing of the sort. Yes, Watts is a black neighbourhood but the riots weren’t inflamed by racial tensions but by potent mix of economic, social and political deprivation as well as police brutality. In essence, riots of this kind are rebellions. It’s odd but while reading it I was struck by the similarities between Watts and Tottenham. The article is titled “The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy”. In typical SI fashion, no author is credited.

August 13-16, 1965, the blacks of Los Angeles revolted. An incident between traffic police and pedestrians developed into two days of spontaneous riots. Despite increasing reinforcements, the forces of order were unable to regain control of the streets. By the third day the blacks had armed themselves by looting accessible gun stores, enabling them to fire even on police helicopters. It took thousands of police and soldiers, including an entire infantry division supported by tanks, to confine the riot to the Watts area, and several more days of street fighting to finally bring it under control. Stores were massively plundered and many were burned. Official sources listed 32 dead (including 27 blacks), more than 800 wounded and 3000 arrests.

Reactions from all sides were most revealing: a revolutionary event, by bringing existing problems into the open, provokes its opponents into an inhabitual lucidity. Police Chief William Parker, for example, rejected all the major black organizations’ offers of mediation, correctly asserting: “These rioters don’t have any leaders.” Since the blacks no longer had any leaders, it was the moment of truth for both sides. What did one of those unemployed leaders, NAACP general secretary Roy Wilkins, have to say? He declared that the riot “should be put down with all necessary force.” And Los Angeles Cardinal McIntyre, who protested loudly, did not protest against the violence of the repression, which one might have supposed the most tactful policy at a time when the Roman Church is modernizing its image; he denounced “this premeditated revolt against the rights of one’s neighbor and against respect for law and order,” calling on Catholics to oppose the looting and “this violence without any apparent justification.” And all those who went so far as to recognize the “apparent justifications” of the rage of the Los Angeles blacks (but never the real ones), all the ideologists and “spokesmen” of the vacuous international Left, deplored the irresponsibility, the disorder, the looting (especially the fact that arms and alcohol were the first targets) and the 2000 fires with which the blacks lit up their battle and their ball. But who has defended the Los Angeles rioters in the terms they deserve?

We will. Let the economists fret over the $27 million lost, and the city planners sigh over one of their most beautiful supermarkets gone up in smoke, and McIntyre blubber over his slain deputy sheriff. Let the sociologists bemoan the absurdity and intoxication of this rebellion. The role of a revolutionary publication is not only to justify the Los Angeles insurgents, but to help elucidate their perspectives, to explain theoretically the truth for which such practical action expresses the search.

You can read the rest here.

Leave a comment

Filed under racism, riots, Society & culture

Ron Paul, right libertarians and their questionable attitudes to difference

Ron Paul, right libertarian, racist, anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist

A lot of right libertarians love to talk about freedom. They love to tell us how their ‘libertarianism’ will make us happier. “Greed is natural and greed is good” is the motto by which they live their lives. They also love to talk about how they want to abolish institutions that work to promote greater understanding and equality. The suggestion put forth by the right libertarian is that the ‘invisible hand’ of the ‘free market’ will eliminate racism. It’s not only laughable. It’s a myth. Especially when so many right libertarians harbour deep-seated prejudices.

Scratch the surface of some of these ‘libertarians’ and you’ll often find some questionable attitudes to difference underneath. Their attitudes are almost always shrouded in economic dogma and masked by cold, matter-of-fact business-speak. For example the lunch counter protests in the South were retroactively opposed on the grounds of “trespass”. They also argue that businesses should be permitted to refuse someone on the basis of skin colour.  It is for these reasons that soi-disant libertarians claimed to oppose the civil rights movement. Ron Paul, whose soubriquet is “Dr No”, has earned a reputation among right libertarians as “principled”. He is often lauded on The Telegraph’s blogs and hailed elsewhere as a true ‘libertarian’. A commenter on Hannan’s blog says,

Ron Paul seems to be ignored by the British media.   In the U.S. he also gets a raw deal. A recent CNN poll had him rated at
0%.  It turned out that they had polled just 50 people.

This reads like a lament but the commenter does not connect the lament with lived experience. Furthermore this commenter wilfully ignores Paul’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks. In 2008 CNN reported that,

A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks — including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.”

Hannan is a self-declared admirer of Paul, whom he describes as an “honest principled patriot” (see the comments).  There’s no mention of his racism and that is no surprise.  It’s much easier to elide something as inconvenient as Paul’s racism and talk movingly about his ‘honesty’. We’ll return to Hannan later.  Paul may deny it but there are still many doubts over his protestations of innocence. Is it because he doth protest too much? CNN again,

The controversial newsletters include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr. — described as a “pro-Communist philanderer.” One newsletter, from June 1992, right after the LA riots, says “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

It’s just a joke… yeah, sure it is.

In May 2011, capitolhillblue wrote,

Twice-failed Presidential wannabe Ron Paul’s racism is never far from the surface and reappeared Friday when he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he would not have voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 if he had been in Congress at the time.

News One, a black website tells us that Paul is closely associated with the extreme right-wing  John Birch Society,

Despite its nefarious history, Ron Paul has been a longtime supporter and friend of the John Birch Society, speaking as they keynote speaker at their 50th anniversary and holding  rallies with them. Like The John Birch society, Paul has become a magnet for Neo-Nazis who support him online on sites like Stormfront. Paul even has a picture with the Internets most notorious Neo-Nazis, Don Black and his son Derrek, the founders of Stormfront. Paul also famously refused to give back a donation from Don Black.

In fact, here is Paul addressing the John Birch Society in August 2009.


Outside the Beltway attempts to defend Paul and, by extension, the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Much of the piece is guilt by association. Kirchick notes Paul’s long association with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a respected libertarian think tank, and points out that other people associated with the organization are Confederate sympathizers and the like.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute is at the intellectual forefront of the neo-Confederate movement. It produces reams of  libertarian justifications for slavery, while also perpetuating the myth of the Southern states-as-victim. The Civil War, they argue had nothing to do with slavery. It was all about states rights. In other words, and in the mind of the neo-Confederate, the war was about the right for individual states to continue the practice of slavery as well as “tariffs”. In essence, the LvMI rewrites history to suit a particular ideological agenda. Their neo-Misean narrative is intended to lend intellectual gravitas to what is, actually, a Dixiecratic vision. This article is fairly typical.

Immediately following that clause in the Confederate Constitution is a clause that has no parallel in the U.S. Constitution. It affirms strong support for free trade and opposition to protectionism: “but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.”

The LvMI believes its strict economic discourse is unassailable. The suggestion is that economics is a neutral ‘science’ that speaks for itself. LvMI’s ‘scholar’ Thomas Di Lorenzo is part of the vanguard in the historical revisionism of the Confederate States of America. Here he says,

Legal scholar Gene Healy has made a powerful argument in favor of abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. When a fair vote was taken on it in 1865, in the aftermath of the War for Southern Independence, it was rejected by the Southern states and all the border states. Failing to secure the necessary three-fourths of the states, the Republican party, which controlled Congress, passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which placed the entire South under military rule

The Fourteenth Amendment is the one that contains what is known as the Citizen Clause. This  granted all persons born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of their skin colour, the right to citizenship (The Indians were mysteriously excluded). Prior to this, black people – free and slave – were not considered to be citizens. The amendment is referred to as a “Reconstruction” amendment  and was enacted partly in response to the Black Codes of the southern states, which were passed in the wake of the Thirteenth Amendment – which ended slavery –  and forbade blacks from voting and holding public office.  In this article, Di Lorenzo muddies the waters by introducing the straw man of northern racism. He splits hairs over the Constitution which is, in the mind of the neo-Confederate, an evil document that stole their freedoms away.

The Fourteenth Amendment has had precisely the effect that its nineteenth-century Republican party supporters intended it to have: it has greatly centralized power in Washington, D.C., and has subjected Americans to the kind of judicial tyranny that Thomas Jefferson warned about when he described federal judges as those who would be “constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” It’s time for all Americans to reexamine the official history of the “Civil War” and its aftermath as taught by paid government propagandists in the “public” schools for the past 135 years.

Di Lorenzo presents what appears prima facie to be a reasonable request to examine the history of the Civil War in new light but why stop there? Why not re-examine the Civil War against the backdrop of the entire history of the United States as Howard Zinn has done with The People’s History of the United States? The answer to that question is because Di Lorenzo and the LvMI have a vested interest in isolating the Civil War from the rest of US history. But notice how he uses quotation marks around the words “Civil War”.

Di Lorenzo’s main body of work orbits the dead star of Abraham Lincoln, whom he and the LvMI regards as a tyrant and a bully. Those of us who are familiar with a broader sweep of history already understand how historical figures are cosmetically-enhanced to offer a media-friendly image of flawed men and women. It happened then and is happening now.  Lincoln is not unique.  Yet Di Lorenzo labours under the illusion that he and the neo-Confederate movement are the only people to possess such knowledge.  And Jefferson Davis? Not a word about him and his poor grasp of military tactics or his slipshod presidency.  The Claremont Institute produced a review of Di Lorenzo’s The Real Lincoln in which it says,

As the title suggests, The Real Lincoln purports to go beyond the mountains of revisionist historiography to reveal Lincoln’s genuine principles and purposes. According to DiLorenzo, these had nothing to do with the perpetuation of free government and the problem of slavery: The “real” Lincoln did not care a whit about the “peculiar institution.” At the core of the “real” Lincoln’s ambition was an unqualified and unwavering commitment to mercantilism, or socialism as DiLorenzo sometimes intimates. Lincoln would stop at nothing to impose the “Whig economic system” upon America, and any opinion he voiced regarding slavery was merely instrumental in advancing this end. Lincoln’s “cause,” in the words of DiLorenzo, was “centralized government and the pursuit of empire.” According to DiLorenzo, Lincoln said this “over and over again,” although DiLorenzo does not trouble himself to produce a shred of evidence for this assertion.
If the “real” Lincoln needed to resort to war to advance his cause, he was happy to do it: “Lincoln decided that he had to wage war on the South,” because only military might would destroy “the constitutional logjam behind which the old Whig economic policy agenda had languished.” In the end, writes DiLorenzo, “[Lincoln] wanted war” and “was not about to let the Constitution stand in his way.” Lincoln was devoted to undermining the Constitution in the name of tariffs and internal improvement schemes. In its place Lincoln hoped to build a centralized mercantilist-socialist state, with himself at the helm.

Here, Di Lorenzo has written a smear job on his most critical foe, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The League of the South recently published its “Declaration of Cultural Secession” advocating a society that advances what it calls the virtues of “Celtic culture,” defined on its Web site as “the permanent things that order and sustain life: faith, family, tradition, community, and private property; loyalty, courage, and honour.” The SPLC lied about and defamed the League of the South by spreading the falsehood on its own Web site that by “Celtic culture” the League of the South means, and I quote, “white people.” Apparently the SPLC believes that only white people embrace family, tradition, community, private property, courage, etc.

Notice the wilful misrepresentation at the end of the paragraph. Di Lorenzo, who is supposed to be some sort of academic, writes in a prose style that’s reminiscent of a petulant correspondent who writes regular letters of complaint to local newspapers. Here he writes of Obama,

It only took the Obama administration a couple of weeks to prove that the national leadership of the Democratic Party is guided by totalitarian-minded socialists who seek to create an omnipotent government. The U.S. government is now controlled by people who have been dreaming of living out their utopian socialist fantasies ever since the fantasies were brought to their attention in college decades ago by their Mao/Castro/Che Guevara poster-hanging, capitalism-hating, communistic professors.

Right libertarians will often use words like “socialist” , “totalitarian” or “America-hating” to describe Obama. Some will question his birth (see the amusingly self-styled ‘Birther’ movement)  and claim that he wasn’t born in the US. It’s merely a way of transferring one’s racism over to a narrative about ‘patriotism’.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs also identifies herself as a ‘libertarian’ but her website tells us an altogether different story. Atlas Shrugs is often cited by the Islamophobes of the EDL and Stop the Islamisation of Europe. Even the mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, cited it. Geller even wrote a few apologies for Breivik’s actions. She described the summer camp on the island of Utoya as an “indoctrination center” that was full of “jihadists”. She even tried to claim that those who had attended the summer camp weren’t “pure Norwegian”. Recently, she edited her blog to remove a blatantly racist caption.

Writing for the Mellon-Scaife WorldNetDaily, she wrote of Barack Obama,

After reading Barack Obama’s speech at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP Thursday, there is no getting around it: The man is a racist. He is not a unifier, a healer, or a leader – he divides, incites, destroys. He foments animus and anger. The speech proves, yet again, that he does not (nor does he want to) represent all Americans. He is the most racist, divisive official we have ever elected to any high office, let alone the most powerful office in the world.

Did you see how she inverted the entire argument about racism by claiming that Obama is a ‘racist’? She can’t use the word she wants to use: nigger. It’s a distortion.  Like the rest of the ‘birthers’ that she associates herself with, she repeats the worn out canard that Obama is really a Muslim in Christian clothing.
Of course, no Obama speech would be complete without the advancement of Islamic supremacism. He got applause for claiming that “Muslim Americans [are] viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God.” He made no mention of public Christian prayer (which can get you fired these days).
Every single headline calls Terreblanche a “white supremacist,” alluding to his position in the waning days of the apartheid government, thirty-odd years ago. But the real story here is not that Terreblanche was a “white supremacist” — if he really was (and I know how the left loves to throw around those labels). Whether he was or not, the man was brutally murdered, and I had to go through ten newspaper accounts to find out how he was murdered. The liberal media had to dehumanize him first. And not one newspaper account speaks of Black supremacism — yet that is the really important story in South Africa today. All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche may have been a white supremacist, but he’s the dead one.
This demonstrates how Geller is disconnected from history . There is no mention of apartheid and the conditions in which South African blacks, Asians and ‘coloureds’ had to suffer. As far as Geller is concerned, all blacks are violent genocidally-inclined criminals
The genocide of Boers taking place in South Africa is never spoken of
What “genocide”? I wonder if she has ever been to South Africa. The fact-free Geller makes it up as she goes along. She clearly overlooks the Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging (AWB) and its veneration of Nazism. For a someone who is supposed to be Jewish, it’s a very odd position to take. Perhaps she’s insane?

In Britain, right libertarians also offer lip service to anti-racism. I say “lip service” because while they claim to be against racism, they will call for certain institutions to be abolished and will excuse an employer’s racism by declaring it a matter of ‘business’.

In 2009, Hannan wrote this

Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.

Was he playing to his gallery of US right libertarians? No doubt about it.

They complain that he has no mandate for the policy of tax, spend and borrow. And they’re right. Look, I supported the fellow, and I still wish him well. But to seek to close down debate with the racism card is pretty low.

Well, I hardly think anyone is “playing the racism card” and even if they are, then they may actually have a valid point.  Indeed, it’s easy for someone who isn’t black to make excuses for the tone of language used by Obama’s right wing critics.  Like many so-called libertarians, Hannan swats aside any idea that racism may be lurking behind the rhetoric used by the likes of the ‘Birthers’ for example. Incidentally, Hannan later wrote that he was “wrong” about Obama.

Now, I am not accusing Hannan of being a racist. He may be many things but I don’t think he’s necessarily a racist. However his use of the word “exotic” when describing Obama was wrong-headed. The word “exotic” is often applied without much thought and is used to describe someone of a different skin tone. My own background, for instance, is probably more mixed than Obama’s. But why has Hannan overlooked Ron Paul’s racist outbursts? Because he has the right credentials: he’s a small stater. But what Hannan fails to mention is Paul’s love of conspiracy theories. Paul has appeared on Alex Jones radio show to talk about the ‘New World Order’ and the 9/11 ‘Truth’ movement. When people speak about such things, you can’t guarantee that anti-Semitism and racism are following closely behind. The libertarian right are rather fond of conspiracy theories.

Hannan is a member of The Freedom Association, a right wing pressure group that was founded by Ross and Norris McWhirter, who had previously been involved in the Economic League, which worked to blacklist trade unionists and others whom it deemed to be subversive. The McWhirters were also associated with Lady Jane Birdwood, an eccentric right-winger who was closely associated with Britain’s fascists in the 1980’s.

The McWhirters were close personal and political friends. In the mid-1970s she joined forces with Ross McWhirter to produce the far-right magazine Majority. But it was to be a short-lived venture as the project was terminated after Ross McWhirter was killed by the IRA in 1975. Although she fought bitterly to keep the publication going, the trustees opposed such a move.

TFA’s darkest hour came when it supported the rebel English cricket tour of apartheid South Africa. In 1976, upset at the deselection of turncoat Reg Prentice,  TFA  secretly funded Julian Lewis (now Conservative MP for The New Forest) to pose as a Labour moderate in order for him to take control of the Newham North East constituency Labour Party . Prentice later  joined the Tories and became their MP for Daventry. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.

The recent riots in England have sent the right libertarians scurrying to pen articles attacking black youths, whom have been variously described as “feral”. There is an implication here that black people are genetically pre-disposed to criminality. When television historian and Tudorist, David Starkey blamed the riots on the way people spoke, he unwittingly cast himself in the role of a rather posh Alf Garnett. He deliberately inflamed the situation by quoting Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Yet, the Telegraph’s arch-libertarians were quick to defend Starkey claiming that he wasn’t “a racist” and that he was right to single out black youths because of the way they spoke and the music they listened to.  They also defended his weird thesis that “whites have become black”.

Toby Young (known as Hon Tobes on this blog) produced this apology, while hiding behind the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism.

To begin with, Starkey wasn’t talking about black culture in general, but, as he was anxious to point out, a “particular form” of black culture, i.e. “the violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture” associated with Jamaican gangs and American rap music. Had he been talking about these qualities as if they were synonymous with African-Caribbean culture per se, or condemning that culture in its totality, then he would have been guilty of racism. But he wasn’t. He was quite specifically condemning a sub-culture associated with a small minority of people of African-Caribbean heritage. (Admittedly, he could have made this clearer.) Rather than being racist, he was merely trotting out the conventional wisdom of the hour, namely, that gang culture is to blame for the riots. The Prime Minister made the same point in the House of Commons on Thursday. (I wrote a blog post on Thursday in which I pointed out the shortcomings of this analysis.)

Tobes, completely and wilfully unaware of 1950’s R&B, rock n roll and death metal rushed to the conclusion that only gangsta rap is a dangerous and corrosive musical form because it celebrates a “violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture”. Perhaps Hon Tobes would like to consider the example of Little Walter’s Boom Boom…Out Go the Lights? Then there’s Marilyn Manson, who has been banned from a number of states as well as Australia because of his image and lyrics. It’s pretty obvious that Tobes also blissfully ignorant of the swaggering misogyny of heavy metal too – the majority of which is played by white musicians.
He then went on to make an almost equally controversial observation about the Labour MP for Tottenham. “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical successful black man,” he said. “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”

Owen Jones leapt on this: “You said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white and what you meant by that is that white people equals respectable.”

But I don’t think that is what Starkey meant. Rather, he was simply reiterating the point that he wasn’t condemning African-Caribbean men per se. On the contrary, he was condemning a particular sub-culture, one that may have originated in parts of the African-Caribbean community, but which has now been taken up by some white people as well. Condemning a sub-culture that’s associated with certain people of a particular race, but is embraced by blacks and whites, may be provocative, but it isn’t racist.

But would Hon Tobes be able to identify racism without the aid of the OED? Unlikely. He adds this,

No doubt there’ll be people who take issue with this analysis.

The only problem for Tobes is that his use of the word ‘analysis’ is misleading. This is an apology and a very poor one at that.

Delingpole tried to claim that if  “Starkey is racist, then so is everyone else”. But that doesn’t let him off the hook.

The part of the programme which seems to have most got the Left’s goat is the one where David Starkey says that “the whites have become black.” But again, the cultural point he is making is indisputable. Listen to how many white kids (and Asian kids) choose to speak in black street patois; note the extent to which hip hop and grime garage and their offshoots have penetrated the white mainstream; check out how many white kids like to roll like pimps or perps with their Calvins pulled up to their midriffs and their jean waistbands sagging below their buttocks.

This is a posh, middle-class white man speaking in an RP accent. Remember, Delingpole is not only a self-styled climate change sceptic, he’s a batshit mad libertarian who rejects peer-reviewed evidence. Like others of his ilk, he clings fast to conspiracy theories. But people like Young and Delingpole can only see culture in one-dimensional terms. For them, there is a ‘black’ culture as well as a ‘white’ culture. One culture contains an aberrant popular form and the other doesn’t. It’s simple.  The cultural cross-fertilization that occurred as a result of immigration is neither here nor there. In fact, it is seen as a corrupting influence and there is no evidence to the contrary that can change their views. After all, wasn’t Grand Theft Auto accused of encouraging people to commit the crimes depicted in the game?

Right libertarians prefer to see things in black and white. The world is a complicated place that is full of complex issues. Yet, these people only want easy answers – hence their love of conspiracy theories. The racists among them lack the honesty to admit to their prejudices. For them, it’s simply a matter of individual rights and if those individual rights include the right to discriminate on the basis of skin colour then it’s simply a matter of ‘business’ and not racism.

The line here seems to be “I’m not a racist, but…”

8 Comments

Filed under History, History & Memory, Human rights, Neoliberalism, Popular music, racism, riots, Society & culture

Nabil Abdil Rashid responds to David Starkey, a historian.

Great stuff from Nabil Abdil Rashid.

Leave a comment

Filed under riots, Society & culture