Tag Archives: Katharine Burbalsingh

Collaborationists: An Age Old Problem

In the wake of the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the right has become increasingly desperate in its search to find ways to resist calls for equality and social justice and, moreover, deny the existence of structural and institutional forms of oppression. These vary from smear tactics, like claiming BLM is dominated variously by “Marxists”, “communists” or “well-meaning white liberals” to deploying Black or Brown Tories to deny that they’ve faced racism. Alternatively, they will use their social class to diminish the lived experiences of those of us who have had to endure racism in our lives. Sometimes, this involves the claim that “there has always been slavery throughout history” and although this is true, the very nature of chattel slavery was distinct from other forms of slavery, which occurred for financial gain, rather than as part of the spoils of war. Western capitalist economies, like the United States, Britain and France, were founded on chattel slavery. This is the reality.

Black and brown collaboration with racists and colonisers

Slavers and colonisers have always made use of collaborators. For example, in British-ruled India, the colonisers could not have dominated the subcontinent without the help of willing collaborators. Many Indian princelings willingly offered their services to the colonisers. In colonial Algeria, Frantz Fanon, identified the Arab collaborators with the colonial rulers as the bourgeoisie, but also observed the psychological effect on the colonized people. In the United States, the right kind of black person, was used to keep black people in their lowly place in the social hierarchy. Racist US President, Woodrow Wilson, used Booker T Washington explicitly for this purpose. For his collaboration with Wilson, the nascent NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) called him “The Great Accommodator”. More recently, a Black man called H K Edgerton, collaborated with the neoconfederate movement in the United States. The neoconfederate movement is an irredentist movement that seeks to re-establish the Confederacy, while eliding the cruelty of chattel slavery and the Jim Crow laws, which emerged from the Black Codes following Reconstruction. Indeed, Jim Crow laws even existed in many Northern states that are usually seen as “liberal” by Southern conservatives.

The Civil Rights movement

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement was seen as a threat to white hegemony in the United States. Informed by Galton’s pseudo-science and buoyed by the recent Red Scare, white supremacists sought to discredit the movement by claiming that “Communists” or “Jews” were directing Black people to rise up and resist Jim Crow. This notion is predicated on the belief that people of African origin lacked the intellectual abilities for self-organization and needed the guiding hand of paternalistic Others. Indeed, this discourse often strayed into outright antisemitism.

Currently, we are witnessing something similar with BLM: that they’re “Marxists” or led by them or, alternatively, they’re being guided by “white liberals who hate their own race (sic)”. Some of the words may have changed but the sentiment behind them hasn’t. BLM is also seen by white supremacists as a threat to “Western civilization”, whatever that means.

Contemporary collaboration

In response to the demands from BLM and others, the Tory government and its outriders have deployed a number of collaborators, all of them Black or Brown, to try to deny the existence of institutional and structural racism. First, the government announced the creation of a racial equality commission, to which they appointed Munira Mirza as chair. Mirza, a member of the LM Network, has gone on record to deny the existence of systemic racism.

The government then deployed Kemi Badenoch, who admitted to hacking into Harriet Harman’s website, to deny the existence of structural racism, but particularly to attack Critical Race Theory, which, like Women’s Studies, seeks to critique the structures of power that oppress minorities and women. Badenoch’s unspoken discourse and that of her colleagues is “Question nothing. Know your place”. Fraser Nelson of The Spectator interviewed Badenoch, who claimed:

A Tory equalities agenda, she says, should be based on Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ — that people should be judged ‘on the content of their character’ and not the colour of their skin. ‘Now, it’s all about the colour of your skin. That cannot be,’ she says emphatically. ‘You can’t pick and choose the rules depending on the colour of someone’s skin. That is what the racists do.’

White supremacists and their helpers, like Badenoch, will often try to hide behind the words of Dr Martin Luther King and repurpose them to suit their objectives. Yet, when King was alive, he was labelled as a “communist” and much else besides by angry whites and Black collaborators. Do these people know that? I don’t think they do. The use of Dr King’s words to justify a deeply flawed “equalities” agenda is nothing short of intellectual dishonesty and doesn’t bear scrutiny.

Today, I found this tweet from Katharine Burbalsingh, who has been collaborating with the Tories for more than a decade.

Burbalsingh, who writes for the Daily Telegraph and Spiked Online, has offered her services to white supremacists in government and the media. Here, she not only claims that anti-racists are “the real racists”, she also quote tweets the far-right Turning Point UK site. Now, Turning Point can claim that they aren’t racist, because they count a few Black faces among their number, but such claims are empty when the group is viewed against the backdrop of its links to far-right groups in the United States. The group is also supported by hardline far-right Tories like Jacob Rees Mogg and Priti Patel, who have both used the phrase “Cultural Marxism”, which is both an antisemitic trope and a conspiracy theory. I reported on this in 2012.

Burbalsingh wilfully ignores collaborationists because it doesn’t suit her or her masters’ version of history, which posits that the British Empire was a “civilizing” institution, when in fact, it was barbaric and committed numerous atrocities across the globe, all of which were intellectually supported by a racial hierarchical framework that was justified by the social Darwinism of Francis Galton.

Government ruses

In response to the demands for equality, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson demanded that there should be a “narrative of success” to nullify concerns about structural racism. Hence, the reason why figures like Badenoch, Burbalsingh and Calvin Robinson have been deployed to make, what is in effect, a weak counter-argument. In the case of Robinson, who writes for Spiked Online and who has stood as a Conservative local council candidate, he’s teamed up with self-styled “fierce liberal” Laurence Fox, in fairly pathetic attempt to elide and diminish the lived experience of Black and Brown people by denying the continued existence of racism and calls for Britain to come to terms with its imperial past, which it continues to mythologize.

There is no evidence to support Robinson’s claim that “Britain is the most tolerant, least racist nation on earth. Anyone can live a fruitful life here and achieve success”. If we look at his first sentence, the paper for which he’s writing has a long history of attacks on people of colour and immigrants. The second sentence is an unsupported claim and a handful of “success stories” won’t change that (qv. The American Dream). There are newly-arrived immigrants and refugees who have been forced into squalid conditions in former army barracks and so-called “hotels”, and if any of them are lucky enough to gain permanent residence or even citizenship, they will find it difficult. Moreover, the conditions for people of colour and newly-arrived immigrants have become increasingly difficult since Brexit, which has further widened the space for the expression of far-right discourses on identity, nationality and immigration that were opened up by Tony Blair during the 2005 general election. Robinson, who supported Brexit, ignores this.

Robinson also accuses Black and Brown people (and the vaguely-defined “Left”), who don’t support his contentions of “division and hatred”, while ignoring the divisiveness and hatred of the likes of Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins, Tommy Robinson and a host of media commentators who are stuck in some colonial-nostalgic time loop. Robinson is clearly colour-blind when it comes to racism, which apparently, he’s never experienced, but then contradicted himself, but only to get in an attack on Prof. Kehinde Andrews on BBC1’s The Big Questions (14/02/2021). Thus, his words are at best, intellectually dishonest and smack of denial. At worst, they’re the words of the master expressed through the mouth of the slave.

Since the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol last year, there have been numerous outpourings of anger from white supremacists, who have claimed that their history is being “erased” or “cancelled”. Ironically, these are the very same people who have edited their own history, by removing the uncomfortable truths in order to present a flattering picture of a civilizing nation that spread goodness throughout the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

References

Fanon, F. (2008). Black Skin, White Masks. London: Grove Press.

Fanon, F. (2007). The Wretched Of The Earth. Grove/Atlantic, Inc..

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The Tottenham riots, the racists of Fleet Street and their friends

Babylon is burning.  Photo courtesy of The Guardian

The riots in Tottenham have not only brought many youths onto the streets, they’ve also brought Britain’s cyber-racists out in great numbers. The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail are the homes of Britain’s reactionary tendency. The Telegraph, in particular, has seen an upsurge in Islamophobic comments over the last few years. But this Islamophobia has within it a barely concealed racism. It took the recent riots to bring this to the surface.

Nile Gardiner uses his blog to smear his opponents. To be honest, it’s surprising that he didn’t blame the riots on his favourite hate-figure: Barack Obama. He tempts his readers with this

And what’s the evidence that these riots are anything at all to do with the policies of the current government? Absolutely zilch. They are merely an excuse for robbery and destruction. And if anything the Coalition has not gone far enough in reining in the deficit, and has not been forceful enough on issues like crime.

Gardiner doesn’t have his ear to the ground; he lives in Washington DC and makes frequent appearances on Fox News where he spins yarns about ‘liberals’ and disseminates his paranoid fantasies. But it’s the unmoderated comments like this one from the appropriately named “bear_of_very_little_brain”

in the eyes  of modernists blacks, queers and women can do no  wrong.
Sexism and homophobia as well as racism. Charming. Another called “cartimandua” says
Lefties are very thick. For years they have been selling us the prison yard culture of Jamaica and Trinidad and saying it is black culture. I always wonder what the middle classes and intellectuals of those places think about that.
And this from “simonlove” lauds Hitler – but with a caveat.
Loads of the older generation who even fought against Hitler will tell you that Hitler had the right idea, he just took it too far…
“danoconnor” barely conceals his meta-racism,
National Black Police Association “Oh , right !  the National African Non-British Police Association
That must be just next door to the Muslim Police Association ,
and the….Hindu
Sikh   Police Associations
Where can I find the National White Police Association ?
This one summons up the ghost of Enoch Powell. “Hacim Obmed” says,
The deep problem revealed by these riots will not dissipate but will only fester and become worse.  Accept that Enoch Powell had it right with his “Rivers of Blood”, and a dreadful mistake has been made. We in the US made the same mistake by permitting the importation of African slaves and we paid a heavy price.  My advice, send these alien populations back where they came from before it is too late. I know it is hard but this is a matter of survival. Save British culture and society while you still can. Time is short. Your children deserve to inherit the same England that your ancestors bequeathed to you.
Well, who’d have thought it – Ken Livingstone is trying to use the Tottenham riots to further his election campaign. Here he is, blaming evil Tory cuts and crowbarring three attacks on Boris Johnson into a 300-word statement. Even Thatcher gets a namecheck!
Gilly likes to tell us that he isn’t a racist or an Islamophobe but his articles tell us a different story. As I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, he encourages racists from the EDL and the BNP to comment on his blog
Katharine Burbalsingh, ever the opportunistic blogger, chips in with her ‘expert’ analysis,

What colour is Mark Duggan? Mark Duggan is the man who was shot dead by the police on Thursday in Tottenham. The Tottenham riots last night were sparked when people protested his death. This morning, I first heard of the riots on the radio, then on the television. I read articles on the internet. But oddly, no one would say what colour Mark Duggan was. No one would say the unsayable, that the rioters were, I suspect on the whole, black. Then, finally, Toby Young’s Telegraph blog post on the riots was published. Is Toby Young the only  journalist out there who will dare say that these riots are about race?

One of her commenters, the charmingly named “j-white” decries ‘multi-culturalism’

The riots and looting have once again proven that multi-racial societies are inherently unstable, and shown that the state has a policy of appeasement toward third world colonies.

I wonder what “j-white” would have made of Roman Britain? The exceptionally racist “quatzee”, who deliberately misspells the word “Muslim”, reckons himself a comedian,

Two Guardian readers walking down the street happen upon a Muzlim screaming “Allah Ackbar! death to you! how dare you insult Jizzlam! Mohammed rules!” etc. One says to the other…..
But wait, there’s more enlightened comment! This is from “michael_arch”
As opposed to the BBC being blind to the News. Loves its ethnics – The Black Broadcasting Corporation that doubles up as the voice of Islam.
There are many more examples of unmoderated racist comments in the Telegraph but the prize for the most racist remark has to go to the Daily Heil’s Mad Mel Phillips who tweeted this,
@Mel_Phillips Melanie Phillips
‘Jungle Fever’ in #tottenham. As Leroy loots Primarni, we need to loot moral high ground of multiculti brigade.
“Jungle Fever”, eh? Who says that Jews can’t be racists too? I wonder if she realizes that there were Hasidic Jews on the streets of Tottenham jeering and mocking the police? From the Guardian,

The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10.

But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham’s Hasidic Jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police.

Rather predictably, the racist hacks of Fleet Street rush to paint this as a solely ‘black’ thing. The racists that make up their readership and comment on their blogs help to stoke the flames of ethnic tension. None of them are capable of understanding how much more there is to these riots beyond seeing a ‘bunch of violent thugs on a rampage’. Every single one of the Torygraph’s bloggers deny that the cuts in public services, the lack of opportunities and long-term wage stagnation have anything to do with these riots. They bury their heads in the sand and pretend that it’s all about ‘yardies’ in hoodies who are also, oddly enough, Islamic extremists. This is what passes for analysis on the pages of Britain’s right wing press.

I’ve just heard that Theresa May is cutting short her holiday to return to Britain to make the usual noises about law and order. Oh joy.

UPDATE: 9/8/11 @0023

Just to point out that the ‘Tweet’ from Melanie Phillips comes from a spoof Twitter page. I didn’t know this at the time.

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Gove: “Won’t someone think of the children”?

The  government approach to the public sector strikes – particularly the teacher’s strike tomorrow – is quite simply, appalling. In response to the teacher’s strike, the government has resorted to the classic tactic of using emotional  blackmail and blatant misrepresentations to try and sway public opinion in their favour. All of a sudden, single parents matter when they never mattered to them before. The children – the pupils – are also being dragged into this. “Won’t someone think of them”? But these words are hollow and insincere and amount to little more than public relations gimmicks. That shouldn’t surprise us: since they came to power, the Tories have relied rather heavily on PR. I thought Blair was pretty bad for his addiction to PR but Cameron is a former PR man; he lives and breathes it.  Never before has a someone with a background in PR occupied the highest office in the land. It is a first. But his efforts to make use of PR looks a little tired and clichéd.

Teachers have gone on strike before, yet given the rhetoric coming from the mouths of the Tories, it would seem that this was the very first time that teachers have voted for industrial action. Teachers are now painted variously as “irresponsible” and “selfish” people who are more concerned with their unions than with teaching. Predictably,  right wing commentators like  the Daily Telegraph’s Hon Tobes and Katharine Burbalsingh have chimed in with their smears and dark mutterings of “leftist conspiracies”. I won’t bother to quote or link to their blogs but needless to say the blogs all attract the usual rubbish from their braindead readership about banning trade unions and how the ‘left’ is ‘destroying education’. 

Burbalsingh’s blog draws on this Torygraph article by Graham Paton et al. In it, he accuses the National Union of Teachers (NUT) of “bullying” headteachers into going on strike. The opening paragraph reads,

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has written to schools throughout England and Wales telling them they could be in breach of employment law and health and safety regulations if they keep schools open during the pensions-related dispute.

What this paragraph doesn’t tell you is that Gove, resembling a weak-kneed version of Kitchener, has suggested that parents could volunteer to keep schools open. What Gove overlooked was the fact that anyone who works in a school needs to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. Any headteacher who allows parents to act as ersatz teachers would be breaking the law. This is not about the omnipresent ‘red tape’. This is a matter of child protection. The NUT was right to warn headteachers of such issues. Indeed, just because someone is a parent, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they cannot be child-abusers as well.

Further down the article,

As tensions between ministers and union activists escalated, schools were warned against bringing in supply teachers to cover for striking teachers and told any moves to plug gaps in the timetable with permanent staff would be “very damaging” to morale.

But then who says that supply teachers aren’t and cannot be members of trade unions? It’s a terrible presumption.

The strike is only for one day but to hear Tory commentators talk, you’d think it was for a month. As someone pointed out to me the other day, no Tory had a problem with the days lost for the Royal Wedding. Indeed the Tory press has depicted the teacher’s strike as a regular occurrence. The last such strike was in 2008. This is what the Guardian said in 2010 when the NASUWT threatened to strike,

The last teachers’ strike was in April 2008, when at least 1 million children in 8,000 schools went without lessons after the NUT, which represents more than half of the profession, clashed with the government over a pay deal that it said would leave its members worse off. It was the first national teachers’ strike for 21 years.

That’s right, before 2008, teachers hadn’t voted for a national strike for 21 years!

The Sun’s tone is as you’d expect,

IT is time to make a stand.

 On Thursday, a hardcore of militant teachers will try to shut all Britain’s 23,000 state schools by striking over pensions.

 It would harm pupils and cause family childcare chaos.

The Sun says this cynical strike must not succeed.

Today we call on parents and the majority of moderate teachers to keep schools open.

 For decades, education has been in the grip of hardline teaching unions.

There’s one thing missing from this leader: an image of Winston Churchill giving the ‘V’ Sign. In typically hysterical fashion, the Scum have dubbed the strike “The Summer of Hate”. You will recall from this blog, that the word “hate” has now been conscripted to serve ideological masters. For years the US right in have used the word in the same way to claim the moral high ground. Is it childish? You bet it is.

Even Ed Miliband has said the strike is wrong. Are we still in the 1980’s? Milly Band says,

You do not win public backing for an argument about pensions by inconveniencing the public – especially not while negotiations are ongoing.

 A point has been missed by a country mile here. The government told the public sector workers what it intended to do (while labelling them parasites) and it had no time for negotiation. Only as the strike day approached did the government consider negotiation. Lest we forget, on 17 June, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander preempted negotiations between the government and the unions by announcing the coalition’s intentions for public sector pension ‘reform’.

This Tory-led government has been gunning for education since it came to power. They introduced free schools. They announced that they were going ask Niall Ferguson to rewrite the history syllabus, then it cancelled the Better Schools Programme.  “Won’t someone think of the children”? Won’t someone think of them, indeed.

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