Tag Archives: crypto-racism

Racism And The Bullying Of Diane Abbott

We’ve been here before.

I woke up this morning to discover that Diane Abbott had been taken ill and has withdrawn from the campaign. Her place has been taken by Lyn Brown. Furthermore, the recent attacks on Abbott, so close to polling day, can only have originated from the foetid mind of Lynton Crosby, whose reputation for dog-whistle racist campaigns is well known.

Few people, except those who have a blind spot for such things, can deny that the recent bullying of Diane Abbott has been not only disgraceful, but smacks of racism and sexism. The Cat has seen numerous people, many of them claiming to be Labour supporters, complaining about Abbott’s ‘competence’. When pressed to provide salient examples of her ‘incompetence’ the best answer these people can provide is “well, she had a car crash interview” and that is the sum total of their argument.

In all of her shadow roles from Public Health to the Home Office, Abbott has performed well. Yet few people when asked if she’s made mistakes in those roles, can’t answer the question, so they start flailing and splutter “I don’t like her”. Well, okay, that’s fair enough but once they’ve spluttered those words, they usually return to their original non-point of Abbott’s presumed incompetency.  Mention the word “racism” and they’ll get agitated. Why? Is it because they refuse to see it?  Of course, it is.

In the last week or so, we’ve heard May and her Tories say “Would you want Diane Abbott as Home Secretary”? Such a question is predicated on the knowledge of the Other. The idea that the Home Office will be run not only by a woman, but a black woman is too much to bear for our crypto-racists. Better to have a white woman or a white man in charge, eh? Where are the black faces in May’s cabinet?  There are none. There are a couple of Asian millionaires but no black people.

Diane Abbott has been attacked precisely because she is black and because she’s a woman. Boris Johnson is allowed to make as many gaffes as he likes and get away with it. He’s given plenty of latitude when he indulges in racism and his thuggish behaviour is regularly overlooked, even laughed off.  He’s a clown, so we’re told.

When you base your competency argument on a handful of gaffes rather than a person’s record, then you play the bully’s game. If you can’t see the obvious racism that underpins the bullying of Abbott and prefer to focus on her presumed incompetency, then you need to have a word with yourself.

 

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Da Don, his ‘truth’ and a little bit of business in Aberdeenshire

Donald Trump is a nasty piece of work. If anyone saw the film You’ve Been Trumped on BBC2 the other week, you’ll know that the billionaire property developer purchased land in Aberdeenshire with the intention of building one of his luxury resorts. The site that he purchased was identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Those that lived nearby were harassed and their homes described as “slums” by Da Don, a man who’s used to getting his own way by simply waving his wedge about. There are also serious allegations that Trump regarded Grampian Police as his private security team and has been putting them under pressure to act. Does he get away with this shit in Noo York? Probably.

Trump is a bit like a Mafia don but without the garottes, knuckledusters, violin cases and pretensions to a Sicilian heritage. He’s a plastic don. He’s got the dynasty – da family. His hair, often resembling a mutated piece of shredded wheat, attracts ridicule and bafflement the world over. He’s got the money (but is it real or just debt?) and influence. But it’s his claims to have access to a special kind of truth that has been attracting the most ridicule, especially on Twitter.

Last year, Da Don claimed to have ‘evidence’ of Barack Obama’s ‘foreign’ birth. It turned out to be another one of his attention-seeking stunts (He’d earlier claimed that he was going to run for the Republican presidential nomination but went a bit silent). This time around, it’s all about the President’s college records. Sigh. This is… how can I put this? Juvenile?

Let’s be clear about this: demands to see Obama’s birth certificate or any other document smells suspiciously, in The Cat’s view, of crypto-racism. In other words, it’s the sort of racism that does its best to deny its true nature by claiming to be something else. That can be either a concern for the ‘truth’ or an economic rationalization (see the classical liberals’ arguments about Jim Crow and segregation). Questions of one’s birth were, rather curiously, absent in the case of John McCain, who was born outside the Continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone, which was not, at that time, an incorporated territory. McCain is white, therefore his citizenship was never in question as far as the Tea Partiers and assorted conspiranoids are concerned.  On that basis, McCain should have been disqualified on the grounds that he was born outside of the United States. Even those born of US service personnel overseas are barred from running for the presidency. Is that fair? Well, not really. But those are rules.

The discourses of citizenship and national identity are often deployed by the right, nationalists especially, to question the right of those persons of a particular ethnicity or culture to live in, what they see as, ‘their’ country. Therefore such discourses almost always contain the hidden and unpleasant discourse of racism. In Trump’s case, it’s fine for Black people to be athletes and boxers, but President of the United States? Not in Trump’s world! The word that springs to mind, but which Trump did not say, is “uppity”, which is always attached to the other word. The one that begins with the letter, “N”.

But what about Trump’s authenticity? Is he what he claims to be? Listen to The Guardian’s Adam Gabbutt as he tries to obtain a copy of Trump’s passport and college records. The person who takes the call is pretty unpleasant.

If you haven’t seen You’ve Been Trumped, here’s the trailer. The film may still be on BBC iPlayer.

Trump recently announced that he would donate $5 million to charity if Obama showed him his college records. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours! Ooer, missus!  The Mambo rips into The Man with the Mystery Hair here.

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Romney, Gardiner and the Anglo-Saxon comment

The Normans: they came, they saw, they conquered and later intermarried with the locals.

When it was announced that Mitt Romney was to visit the UK, Israel and Poland, I suspected that Nile Gardiner was involved in drawing up the itinerary for the Presidential hopeful.  It has his dirty fingerprints all over it.  How can I tell? Well, if you Google “Nile Gardiner Poland”, for example, you will see that the top three links are Gardiner’s  Torygraph blogs. Now try Googling “Nile Gardiner Israel” and you will get similar results.  But the visit to Britain has not gone as well as planned and a remark made by Romney about the Olympics sparked off a bout of transatlantic mudslinging.

Yesterday,  one of Romney’s advisors used the phrase “Anglo-Saxon” when speaking to Jon Swaine of the Daily Torygraph.  swain doesn’t name the advisor but I have my suspicions. The remark caused a predictable reaction and this prompted several of the Torygraph bloggers to rally behind Romney and assert their Anglo-Saxon credentials. Some, like the Lyin’ King, have insisted that the compound  “Anglo-Saxon” is equivalent to the word “liberty”. He writes,

And where do these characteristics have their roots? In Anglo-Saxon civilisation. When a Romney aide told this newspaper that the US and Britain shared an ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’, he or she was stating the obvious. Those Lefties pretending to be upset – the Obama campaign called the remark ‘stunningly offensive’ – know perfectly well that the reference was cultural rather than racial. When the French talk of ‘les anglo-saxons’ or the Spanish of ‘los anglosajones’, they don’t mean Cerdic and Oswine and Æthelstan. They mean people who speak English and believe in small government.

I love how Hannan excuses Romney by saying, ” the reference was cultural rather than racial”. But then, he would say that. He would defend Satan, given half the chance. He also deliberately ignores the way in which the phrase is often used to claim that Obama isn’t “white” and to make the spurious point that he does not understand the mythological ‘ties that bind’ the two English-speaking countries.

The fact of the matter is that this country was invaded by the Normans in 1066. the Anglo-Saxons and the other peoples who inhabited this island were over-run and forced to accept the invaders as their conquerors and overlords. Over time, the Normans intermarried with the locals (after brutalizing them). That makes this country as much Norman as it does Anglo-Saxon.  Of course, the fact that large swathes of this country were  occupied by the Danes (Danelaw) as well as the Romans before them doesn’t seem to matter much to the racists and  crypto-racists that clutter the Internet. They declare themselves to be Anglo-Saxon, even though a simple DNA test would reveal something startlingly different.

Here’s the offending remark that was made by the ‘unnamed advisor’,

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr. Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

Ah, the shared history and the transatlantic bruderschaft. This is odd because from the American War of Independence in 1776 to the period immediately after WWII, Britain was on the US’s shit-list. In fact the US and Britain came close to going to war with one another in 1895 over a small strip of land between Venezuela and British Guyana. The US even planned to have a war with Britain as recently as 1930.

So who produced this extraordinary piece of ahistorical tosh? Like me, Gideon Rachmann of the FT has his suspicions,

Suspicion swiftly fell on Nile Gardiner, a Brit who works at the Heritage Foundation and has been named as one of Romney’s foreign-policy advisory team. Gardiner blogs for the Telegraph and has admitted speaking to the Telegraph journalist who wrote the story – but, despite strong circumstantial evidence, denied being the source of the quote.

As we know, Gardiner isn’t shy when it comes to making comments that can be construed as racist. He has plenty of previous. On this occasion he denies it but then, he would.

Rachmann also highlights a blog written by the Moonie in which he lists Barack Obama’s “Top 10 insults against Britain”.

This article from TMP is rather interesting, especially for the last paragraph.

My other reason for being interested in this is something my friend Mike Lind always had a good way of capturing — which is the way that on the American right, Brits, particularly conservative Brits, amount to something like Americans by proxy. Sure, they don’t carry US citizenship. But by possessing the ur-Anglo-Saxon-ness and the heritage thing and the stiff upper lip and some Great Books rearing they’re practically more American than we are. Sort of like the yeast that makes the bread. So a Brit like Nile Gardiner is sort of more one of us — at least in some Platonic ideal form — than the Mexican-American son of immigrants in San Diego or Los Angeles. And certainly he might get the centrality of our Anglo-Saxon heritage more than someone like Barack Obama who’s the son of a Kenyan and born in Hawaii and even spent time as a kid living in Indonesia.

But all that aside, is Nile Gardiner an American citizen?

My bold. No he isn’t but that doesn’t mean that he’s particularly au fait with what’s happening in the UK either, as I point out in this blog.

Interestingly,the American Conservative dismisses any suggestion that the US is 100%  Anglo-Saxon,

But it’s misleading to describe the folkways and political traditions that Americans inherited from Britain as “Anglo-Saxon”. For the most part, they date back no further than the 16th century, when British life was redefined by the Reformation and the beginnings of capitalism.

The Anglo-Saxons, on the other hand, were Germanic tribes who lived in Britain after about the 5th century. Although not eliminated, their language (Old English) and political institutions were transformed by the Norman conquest in 1066. Calling the early modern traditions that connected the United States and Britain in the colonial period “Anglo-Saxon” is a little like calling the calling the Pope the pontifex maximus. There’s a sense in which it’s true, but too much history separates the two eras for the comparison to be useful.

Quite.

What we have here is a very sly way of playing the race card. The suggestion is that Obama is not “Anglo-Saxon” is another way of saying he  isn’t white and therefore doesn’t understand the ‘Special Relationship’. This, of course,  isn’t true and as we all know, Obama is mixed race. But Gardiner and his chums on the Torygraph favour the One-Drop Rule. If you have a one black parent, grandparent or great-grandparent, then you are black; an Other.

Furthermore, Moonie Gardiner has been involved in an anti-Obama smear campaign since the President took office. Not a week passes by when he hasn’t written a blog that complains of Obama’s insensitivity towards this and that. The fact that Gardiner denies making the comment means nothing. It’s his modus operandi. Those are his words.

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