racism

OUZO AND WHISKY EASE THE PAIN

My first reaction on seeing the gains made by the far right in Europe was to hope that the people of Africa and Asia will be kinder to us when we are  banging their door for help than we have been to them.

My second reaction was to think I wouldn’t blame them if they weren’t.

The usual suspects can be blamed for all this. Low turnout is one thing but the media being generally to the right and the supposed left’s inability to inspire people because they simply water down the right’s policies are more important.

The Greens seem to have completely lost their way when they are needed most. This was another major cause for concern. I can only assume it is because voters have been buying into the other parties new green propaganda.

The fact that Scotland proved to be going in a different direction was a comfort, but not that big. The SNP [the party for independence] made huge gains in Scotland, despite being midterm. It also highlights again the differences between Scotland and England, furthering the independence cause.

The Greeks also ignored the general drift right so well done to them. Make mine an Ouzo.

Berlusconi is angry in Italy because his party didn’t do as well as expected so on balance that is a good thing.

Well done also to the Swedish pirate party who, I imagine against their own expectations, will be sending someone to the parliament.

I’ll leave you with these quotes from a certain Mr Orwell. Terminologies and times have changed but the messages still stand…

“We have got to admit that if Fascism is everywhere advancing, this is largely the fault of the Socialists themselves. Partly it is due to the mistaken communist tactic of sabotaging democracy, i.e. sawing off the branch you are sitting on; but still more to the fact that Socialists have, so to speak, presented their case wrong side foremost. They have never made it sufficiently clear that the essential aims of Socialism are justice and liberty.” (The Road to Wigan Pier, p.188).

“Hitler’s after us! Let’s all grab a spanner and get together, and perhaps if we smash in enough faces they won’t smash ours. Gang up, choose your Leader. Hitler’s black and Stalin’s white. But it might as well be the other way about, because in the little chap’s mind both Hitler and Stalin are the same. Both mean spanners and smashed faces.” (Coming Up for Air p. 149).

BEEN TRAVELLING AGAIN

I just returned from being away in Italy for 6 months so will have a few stories about that to come on the website soon. I went overland there and back from Scotland too, so the first story I will put up [in about 30 minutes] is about the journey.

I have previously been to quite a few places and this old song is [almost] still true…

I've Never met A Nice South African - sung by Spitting Image

I've travelled this old world of ours from Barnsley to Peru
I've had sunshine in the arctic and a swim in Tinbuktu
I've seen unicorns in Burma and a Yetti in Nepal
And I've danced with ten foot pygmies in a Montezuma hall
I've met the King of China and a working Yorkshire miner
But I've never met a nice South African.

No he's never met a nice South African
And that's not bloody surprising man
'Cause we're a bunch of arrogant b***tards
Who hate black people

I once got served in Woolies aften less than four week's wait
I had lunch with Rowan Atkinson when he paid and wasn't late
I know a public swimming bath where they don't p1ss in the pool
I know a guy who got a job straight after leaving school
I've met a normal merman and a fairly modest German
But I've never met a nice South African.

No he's never met a nice South African
And that's not bloody surprising man
'Cause we're a bunch of talentless murderers
Who smell like baboons

I've had a close encounter of the twenty-second kind
That's when an alien spaceship disappears up your behind
I got directory enquiries after less than forty rings
I've even heard a decent song by Paul McCartney's Wings
I've seen a flying pig in a quite convincing wig
But I've never met a nice South African.

No he's never met a nice South African
And that's not bloody surprising man
'Cause we're a bunch of ignorant loudmouths
With no sense of humour - ha ha

I've met the Loch Ness monster and he looks like Fred Astaire
At the BBC in London he's the chief commissionaire
I know a place in Glasgow which is rife with daffodillies
I met a man in Katmandu who claimed to have two willies
I've had a nice pot noodle but I've never had a poodle
And I've never met a nice South African.

No he's never met a nice South African
And that's not bloody surprising man
Because we've never met one either
Except for Breyten Breytenbach and he's emigrated to Paris.

Yes he's quite a nice South African
And he's hardly ever killed anyone
And he's not smelly at all.
That's why they put him prison.

TALKING KKK-RAP

All through the story the immigrants came
The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane
From Pakistan, England and from the Ukraine
We’re all Scotland’s story and we’re all worth the same
(From ‘Scotland’s Story’ by the Proclaimers)

Some of the KKK propaganda cites Scotland as having the ‘racial purity’ that they long for. Some websites suggest that some of the founding members of the KKK were Scots who had emigrated to the US. Whether this is true or not is beside the point. You can find a few mindless, moronic bigots in any country, or any race or religion. The myth of Scotland being a ‘racially pure’ country is one I would like to explode if I can.

“The Scottish Nation is generally acknowledged to have come together between the sixth and fourteenth centuries, absorbing several races in the process of creating what certain individuals like to think of as the pure Scot. In fact, there is no such being. The early Scots were a post-Roman Gaelic-speaking people who invaded and settled the west coast, known then as Dalriada, having travelled over the sea from Ireland, and before that, it is fancifully suggested, although not as yet proven, the Middle East.”[i]

The proponents of this middle-east link point to the similarities between traditional Scottish and middle-eastern music and instrumentation as evidence. If this is true, and you claim your link to Scottish heritage, then YOU ARE AN ARAB. The possibility of a middle-east link doesn’t upset me at all, but if you are a KKK type then you should start thinking. Ha ha.

The burning cross symbol is another thing that various racist groups have tried to attribute to the Scots…

The “Fiery Cross,” as KKK groups call it, is vaguely linked to an apparently real Scottish practice immortalized by Sir Walter Scott in his 1810 poem “The Lady of the Lake.” But really, the Klan picked it up from the movies.

In Scott’s poem, a small, handheld wooden cross is carried from village to village to announce a meeting of the clans for war. The cross was fiery only at first; it was extinguished with the blood of a sacrificial animal before making the rounds as a charred object. (Most likely it was the X-shaped cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.)

Scott’s story was copied by Thomas Dixon for his bizarre 1905 novel “The Clansman,” a highly romanticized tale of the original, pre-Civil War KKK. Obsessed with the incorrect notion that the KKK had been founded by secret Scottish group, Dixon had them carrying the Fiery Cross around.[ii]

I don’t know if this is true. Maybe it was used as a way for the clans to meet for war. If it was, there is still a difference between that and a group of cowardly thugs using it to intimidate an innocent person.

In the 19th century there was another wave of Irish immigration and in the earlier part of the 20th there were many new waves of immigration from Poland (to get away from Hitler), Italy (to get away from Mussolini) and Lithuania (for all sorts of reasons). Most of the Lithuanians changed their names to make them more Scottish.

After WW2 new groups arrived from India, Pakistan, China and surrounding countries and the Caribbean. In the later part of the 20th century there have been more people coming from Africa. They are all welcome.

Apparently ‘Braveheart’ is required viewing at some of the KKK meetings. I would like to spoil the fun by pointing out that the majority of it is not true.

Now I am more of flag-burner than a flag-waver but I also see that the Scottish flag is being used by these people…

ONE of the fastest-growing white supremacist groups in the United States has hijacked the Saltire [the Scottish flag) to symbolise its struggle for a political system run by Celtic “kith and kin”.

Scottish tourists visiting Florida and the southern states on holiday have been warned that displaying Scotland’s national flag on their clothes now runs the risk of association with the extremist followers of the League of the South.

Kate Smith, who is researching nationalism at Glasgow University, said: “I think the league’s hijacking of the Saltire could cause the average American citizen to confuse our nation’s flag with right-wing extremism.”[iii]

This seems to be a parallel with what happened to the Swastika, which, before Hitler hijacked it was an Indian symbol promoting good luck.

Whilst this nation has its problems with racism just like anywhere else, some of us are trying to deal with them. One of the steps in this is to explode the myth of Scotland as a pure-white country and a haven for racists. It isn’t. We don’t want your false history, false propaganda, displaced anger and vile attitudes foisted onto us. This country is, has been and always will be a country of immigrants. We like it that way.

[i] http://www.electricscotland.com/world/english/scots.htm
[ii] http://archives.stupidquestion.net/sq111402.html
[iii] http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=525&id=1060392002

IT’S COMING

This is a fantastic piece from Chris Hedges. To prove the point of what he says in 5 minutes you could watch the documentary beneath it.

This documentary is about Patrick Henry College and is a must see. It is called ‘God’s Next Army’ and doesn’t begin until about 3 or 4 minutes into the video…

Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
By Umberto Eco

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

* * *

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.

Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages — in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.

This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.

As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.

If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.

2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.

Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.

In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.

Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.

That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.

This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.

9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.

Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.

In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.

In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view — one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

* * *

Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

Umberto Eco (c) 1995

DON’T TAKE PART

[This is in conjunction with the post directly below it]

Despite protestations of liberalism from many actors Hollywood is a pretty racist, statist, status quo and sexist kind of place. You only have to look at most of the films. There has been a lot of good work done about racism and sexism in disney films and the echo chamber effect this can have through society. The excellent documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly is but one example. Below I have posted a review of a couple of documentaries that explain some of the reasons why this goes on.

But I have another question.

Should actors be asked to explain the political content of the films they appear in and whether they agree with it or is it not their concern?

Before you continue reading please watch this excellent 9 minute piece which won a sundance award about the portrayal of ‘Arabs’ in Hollywood and on TV and see what famous faces you spot…

It bothers me. Why do supposedly liberal hollywood actors who participate in anti-racist campaigns and the like still take parts in films that are blatant historical misrepresentations and very often blatant propaganda as well? If they take a great deal of the credit for a good film, why aren’t they accused as often of racism and sexism for a bad one?

A few examples at random would include Samuel L. Jackson who appeared in Do the Right Thing but also in Rules of Engagement. Tom Cruise appears in Top Gun but also in Born on the 4th of July. Robin Williams in Dead Poets and then in the frankly racist Aladdin. Not counting people like Charlton Heston there are still plenty more examples.

Even films that ‘liberals’ would tend to like can be extremely unfair. Howard Zinn pointed out that in Mississippi Burning the FBI turned out to be the solution whereas a lot of the activists that were there at the time would tell you that they were part of the problem.  I have also seen Platoon being criticised (fairly) because the essentially sympathy of the film is for the soldiers and their ordeal (which I am not saying wasn’t real) rather than their victims.

There are various possible excuses the actors could use. None of them are particularly strong…

  1. if they don’t do these parts they won’t get other parts
  2. not the actors job (‘just following orders’ – ‘being apolitical’)
  3. the money

If none of these are the real reason(s) then there are some other possibilities…

  1. they agree with the story
  2. they haven’t really undertstood the implications of the story and they think it is harmless fun
  3. they don’t care as long as they have their face in the papers/on tv/in the movies

I think a level of responsibility should be placed on the shoulders of the people who actually play the parts. Surely actors – who by definition must have a certain understanding of a story in order to do their job – must have some awareness regarding the political ramifications of the things in which they appear.

I don’t doubt that some actors do refuse certain parts because they disagree with the content but we never hear about it.

This doesn’t only apply to white or rich american actors either. I once watched Omid Djalili on the BBCs Have I Got News For You program talking about his movie career in which he has had parts like ‘2nd Azerbaijani oil pipe attendant’ and various other groundbreaking ‘arab scumbag’ roles. Here is a suggestion – if you care about what is being represented more than you do about your career then don’t take the part.

Even better,  the actors who don’t take the parts should say boldly and publicly exactly what they thought was wrong about the movie.

Please check out Reel Bad Arabs at fanonite.org on a similar subject.

Oh,  and I made a new picture to go with the post which you can see below. Click here to see the others.

hollywoodcartoon.jpg

HERE WE GO AGAIN?

A lot of people believe that fascism is on its way to making a return. Some people believe it never really went away. Howard Zinn made the point in a lecture I listened to that at the end of WW2 Hitler was defeated, Mussolini was defeated but fascism was still there – all he had to do was look at prisons or the army.

John Pilger..

“[An] insidious tyranny is being imposed across the world…Bush has carried out the recommendations of a Messianic conspiracy theory called the “Project for a New American Century”…it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic facade: “the cavalry on a new American frontier” guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania. More than 700 American bases are now placed…at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels and encircling the Middle East and Central Asia. The powers of the president have never been greater. The judicial system has been subverted, along with civil liberties. The former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who once prepared the White House daily briefing, told me that the authors of the PNAC and those now occupying positions of executive power used to be known in Washington as “the crazies”. He said, “We should now be very worried about fascism”.

Monbiot disagrees…

“Puritanism was primarily the religion of the new commercial classes. It attracted traders, money lenders, bankers and industrialists. Calvin had given them what the old order could not: a theological justification of commerce. Capitalism, in his teachings, was not unchristian, but could be used for the glorification of God. From his doctrine of individual purification, the late Puritans forged a new theology.

At its heart was an “idealization of personal responsibility” before God. This rapidly turned into “a theory of individual rights” in which “the traditional scheme of Christian virtues was almost exactly reversed”. By the mid-17th Century, most English Puritans saw in poverty “not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion…but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.”

So why has this ideology resurfaced in 2004? Because it has to. The enrichment of the elite and impoverishment of the lower classes requires a justifying ideology if it is to be sustained. In the United States this ideology has to be a religious one. Bush’s government is forced back to the doctrines of Puritanism as an historical necessity. If we are to understand what it’s up to, we must look not to the 1930s, but to the 1630s.”

You do start to wonder when just a quick scan of the headlines in only one newspaper on a monday morning brings you these stories…

‘Racist’ Campaign Pays off in Swiss poll

Asylum-seekers are ‘left to starve’ in Britain

Anger at call for police to search more black people