31st August, 2009

Youths attack police in Luton

by Sunny at 6:35 pm    

Just to be clear, I’m not in favour of this kind of gross stupidity and lawlessness. The police should lock up whoever was throwing the fire-crackers.

It seems to me that following the recent Birmingham mass-brawl, the anti-Nazis have been getting a bit ahead of themselves. Salma Yaqoob has been going on YouTube arguing why the EDL march should be banned in Luton etc. But as I’ve said before, there are also gang elements within the crowd who fought the EDL in Birmingham, and unless something is said to control them, right-whingers will use them to smear the entire anti-fascist movement.

Either Salma or the local politicians of Luton need to tell these bored kids to shut the hell up and stay at home instead of causing trouble. Otherwise they’re no better than the trouble-makers from the English Defence League.

Lesbians get equal rights with regards to birth

by Rumbold at 1:12 pm    

This seems sensible to me:

“Women in same-sex relationships can now register both their names on the birth certificate of a child conceived as a result of fertility treatment.

Female couples not in a civil partnership but receiving fertility treatment may also both be registered.”

Complaints about undermining marriage are misguided, unless you believe that lesbians would otherwise get married to men if they were denied these rights, and that this would be inherently good:

“Conservative MP Nadine Dorries told the BBC that the move undermined the traditional family model.

She said: “If we want to build a stable society, a mother and father and children works as the best model. “We should be striving towards repairing and reinforcing marriage. I think this move sends out the exact opposite message.”"

The reason why the state intervenes in marriage (by providing legal and tax incentives) is because society in general believes that a stable couple makes for better parents and citizens, and because it gives the spouse certain rights in cases of death, illness, etc. Sexual orientation is thus irrelevant. If this is the case, we should be looking to extend these benefits to as wide a range of people as possible. This could be done by allowing all adults to have a ‘civil union’ with one other person, which would grant them rights. At present there are certain groups which miss out on said rights, such as unmarried sisters who live together. Marriage would then just be a purely religious affair, and could be done by those who wanted something else on top of their civil union.

Essentially, either the state should be promoting people staying together, or not. One cannot have it both ways. I do believe that children, in general, benefit from having two parents (not least because they can share the workload). I do not believe though that their parents’ gender or sexual orientation affects how well as child is brought up.

30th August, 2009

Utterly bizarre

by Rumbold at 3:25 pm    

Peter Hitchens is in fine form today. He begins his piece by listing all the things wrong with Britain, including the fact that “Our language is invaded by foreign words and expressions.” (of course this never happened before 1939, says the man who is named after someone from the Middle East). In our doughty columnist’s mind, Britain is a third-rate power which has an immense amount wrong with it. Therefore, Mr. Hitchens asks, would Britain have been better off not entering the Second World War? Would we still be the greatest imperial power in the world?

Most self-respecting historians would be able to answer this in three words: we don’t know. Counter-factual history is largely pointless. You might be able to make broad assertions on what might have happened immediately after something, but that is about it. For example, Napoleon was heading towards Brussels before Wellington stopped him at Waterloo. We can say that it was likely that a French victory at Waterloo would have probably been followed by an attack on Brussels. Beyond that though, we have no idea. We don’t know what Napoleon himself would have done, nor the other European powers. It is therefore useless to speculate on something like that, let alone how the world would have changed decades on if a key event was altered (i.e. Britain not entering WWII). Mr. Hitchens however is undaunted by this:

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Filed under: History

Enoch Powell wasn’t racist because…

by Sunny at 2:35 am    

I have a suggestion for Islamist nutjobs. You may have noticed they suffer from a lot of negative publicity and people keep painting them as supremacists, racists etc. Assume an organisation such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, who I have no time for, don’t want people to get the impression they’re supremacists. What they should do is that rather than express opinions themselves, they should let others speak for them.
It could go something like this:

Brothas and sistaz, you may know we don’t want to turn Britain into an Islamic state. You may also be surprised to hear that we have nothing against tha Jews. No really, we don’t. What about our history you say? Ha ha! Fogeddabout. We have turned over a new leaf. Don’t laugh you there in the back!

Anyway, we don’t do that sort of rubbish. However, I have this letter from a brother who accosted me in the street the other day. The brother said that Jews control the world and the media and all the governments of the Middle East. The Arab people are being oppressed, he said! He went on further to add that we need a revolution in the Middle East and turn it into the sort of Islamic state The Prophet (pbuh) would have wanted.

Brothas and sistaz, I thought it was an interesting letter. You know, we should not ignore these sorts of opinions! We do not subscribe to them but there are people out there with these thoughts and they should be listened to!

Now why did this thought enter my head? Oh yeah, because some brothas keep saying Enoch Powell wasn’t a nasty man, he was just reading out letters handed to him by certifiable nazis. He felt incumbent to read them and implore upon his audience that they pay heed. I pity the fool who comes to me with these arguments.
[Thanks to Tom Freeman for the inspiration.]

As a side-note, I love the way Mr Eugenides compares my earlier defence of Virendra Sharma over Subash Chandra Bose as the same as defending Enoch Powell. Erm yeah. One was a high-ranking British politician who warned that black and white people mixing would lead to race war. The other was a lowly freedom fighter trying to get rid of the British Raj from India who had ruled his country for centuries and killed millions of people in the process. Obviously both are roughly in the same situation. By the same measure Churchill is a dictator who should never be spoken off highly forever.

PS: This rant by Carmen is excellent.

PPS: Normally don’t agree with Oliver Kamm but he has a brilliant put-down of Enoch Powell and Dan Hannan.

PPPS: Don’t normally agree with Peter Risdon either but…

28th August, 2009

Weekend open thread/meetup

by Rumbold at 5:17 pm    

I hope that everyone has an exciting weekend planned, or at least will be going for a nice walk. On Sunday the 6th of September, we will be having a Pickled Politics meetup in central London. If you would like to attend, please e-mail Sunny on sunny [at] pickledpolitics.com. All are welcome.

A few weeks ago I highlighted the show Kuchh Kook Hota Hai. I praised it for combining cookery, singing and dancing, a fusion sorely lacking on British TV. I must now apologise, after failing to highlight what I have realised is the most brilliant part of the show- the aftermath of the song. At this point the dancing girls have nothing to do but nod and smile, and when the chef points at the ingredients, the girls’ fingers emerge instead.

Filed under: Blog

Daily Telegraph goes for naked racism

by Sunny at 2:33 pm    

Via Anton Vowl – the Telegraph’s columnist Melanie McDonagh isn’t bothering with racist dog-whistles, it’s all about protecting middle-class whites against the unwashed ethnics from abroad.

The Office for National Statistics suggests that the increase in the population to 61.4 million is mostly attributable to an increase in the birth rate – for the first time in a decade the increase in births has overtaken net immigration as a factor. But the figures don’t suggest that Brits from all classes and communities are merrily procreating to the same extent. More than half the increase is attributable to mothers born outside the UK, and many of those mothers born here will be second generation immigrants.

Oh shit, these brown and black folks are making babies! More than the white folks! We’re all gonna be overrun by darkies in ten years time! Time to emigrate to Spain!

That’s why organisations such as the Optimum Population Trust seem so beside the point, proselytising about how we shouldn’t have more than two children. The people most likely to take their views to heart are the agonised Anglo-Saxon liberals, for whom excess fecundity is never going to be much of a problem in the first place. They don’t seem to cut much ice with the Somali mothers you see in West London.

Oh yeah, if there’s anything worse than black babies, it’s the off-spring of middle-class liberals, who are even more determined to take the UK to hell in a handcart.

In fact this kind of naked racism about black babies has become so common half the time it’s not even worth getting angry about. There is ample evidence that the off-spring of first-generation minorities (like yours truly) become quite integrated within mainstream culture in a sort of hybrid way.

And yet the people spouting this rubbish state they’re not actually being racist it’s just they want to protect their precious heritage.
As someone in the comments of that article states:

Let’s see, you lot buy foreign cars, Chinese-made electronics, holiday in Europe (or further afield), worship Hollywood, dress in designer clothes made by children in India, get Polish people to do your building work, eat foreign food, have Latvian nannies, sleep with Russian call-girls, spend your time running down your own country and then you have the cheek to moan about your cultural identity being lost…

Heh. Spot on. Welcome to modern right-wing wingnuttery – want to enjoy all the benefits of globalisation and free markets but as long as the darkies and their babies are kept out of the country.

Filed under: Race politics,The BNP
27th August, 2009

A parliamentary committee on Islamophobia?

by Rumbold at 9:28 pm    

Inayat Bunglawala, one of the grandees at the Muslim Council of Britain, has had a sensible idea:

“In 2005 a parliamentary committee against antisemitism was established to “confront and defeat antisemitism in this country and beyond”. At a time when anti-Muslim bigotry has become pervasive and is now translating into actual hate crimes, it is surely crucial that a similar committee against Islamophobia is also set up to monitor and help combat anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination.”

If it performs as well as the committee on anti-Semitism, it could turn out to be very useful. It would be able to highlight incidences of low-level Islamophobia, as well as more shocking cases. Of course it isn’t a panacea, but it would demonstrate to Muslims that the authorities are taking Islamophobia (or Muslimophobia to be more accurate) seriously.

Why it is wrong to praise Enoch Powell

by Rumbold at 2:21 pm    

After his attack on the NHS, the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan continues with his one-man quest to make the Tories look as bad as possible, by praising Enoch Powell (next week: why we shouldn’t name railway stations after victories over the French). Mr. Hannan claimed that Enoch Powell was one of his political influences because he was:

“Somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small-government Conservative.”

Mr. Hannan was not talking directly about immigration and race, and as Sunder Katwala points out, he has criticised Enoch Powell’s views on immigration in the past. Other politicians have lauded mass murderers and been excused. Yet he was still wrong to praise Enoch Powell, given the connotations surrounding him.

Any mention of Enoch Powell brings up bad memories for some, and understandably so. He was not some otherworldly academic absently quoting Virgil in a seminar. This was a deliberate message from a highly intelligent and articulate politician: that the rivers of blood would flow if Britain allowed too many non-white immigrants in. How many times have the words ‘Enoch was right’ been uttered? He felt that only white people could be British, even if in law non-whites could be born here or acquire citizenship. He was a racist who knew what he was saying and knew the effect in would have (though probably not the scale). He should not be anyone’s inspiration for understanding how to live in “an independent country”.

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Filed under: British Identity,EDL

Democracies don’t demand censorship, do they?

by Sunny at 10:54 am    

Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy magazine writes:

Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a courageous and moving op-ed entitled “Boycott Israel” by Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon, in which he reluctantly endorsed the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Gordon is a tenured lecturer and department head at Ben Gurion University, and the author of several important scholarly works, including the recent book Israel’s Occupation (2008). He is a committed Zionist who was wounded during his military service in an elite IDF paratroop unit. He is also a long-time member of the peace camp in Israel.

As one would expect, his article has provoked a firestorm of controversy. Israel’s consul-general in Los Angeles wrote a letter to the president of Ben-Gurion University, Dr. Rivka Carmi, warning that Gordon’s remarks could undermine fund-raising efforts. He suggested that the university create a Center for Zionist studies to “help dispel the lies disseminated by Gordon in the name of your university.” But instead of defending the core principle of academic freedom, President Carmi said that Gordon’s views were “destructive,” “morally reprehensible,” and an “abuse [of] the freedom of speech prevailing in Israel and at BGU.” Even more disturbingly, she went on to say that “academics who entertain such resentment toward their country are welcome to consider another professional and personal home.” A spokesman for the university added “We’re proud to have a full range of political views at the university, and I want to live in a country that protects freedom of speech, but Gordon’s remarks are beyond the pale.”

Sounds like attempts at censorship to me. Like Mr Walt I’m not a supporter of the boycott campaign, for the reasons he gives. He lists three points, of which the second one is:

Any and all criticisms of Israel’s conduct get attributed to either enduring anti-Semitism (when made by gentiles) or labeled as treason or “self-hatred” (when made by Jews).

Hmm, now where have I seen that before? But actually, any intelligent observer should be able to tell that this is common in any group that feels constantly under attack.

I don’t buy it but I can see where it arises from. Most don’t want to. So you have this case where Muslims are constantly asked to denounce religious extremists within their midst by newspapers that constantly run lies about them. And then you get the Israel / Palestine discussions where both sides feel under attack and prefer to want the opposition to denounce their extremists while playing down extremism on their side. It’s worth pointing this out continually.

(As a sidenote, I’ve not seen any firestorm of controversy over attempts to muzzle Neve Gordon. I thought people believed in free speech?)

Online activism does pay off

by Sunny at 2:36 am    

Salman Shaheen writes on The Third Estate group blog:

Last week, I reported on the case of Dana Ali, an Iraqi immigrant being held in Oakington detention centre because of an apparent Home Office mix-up in his paperwork. Tonight, Dana has been released and has been allowed to return home while his case is considered. He has not yet been granted leave to remain and the campaign continues, but increased public exposure will hopefully ensure the situation is resolved. Thank you to all the blogs and sites that carried the story and helped raise awareness of the injustice served to Dana. Sometimes we can win.

Well done that man.

Filed under: Media,Net Campaigns
26th August, 2009

Football violence: Millwall and West Ham

by Rumbold at 11:42 am    

Large-scale fighting within a stadium made an unwelcome return to English football yesterday. A number of supporters were injured as fights broke out between West Ham and Millwall fans.

Fighting between fans has never disappeared, but for the last twenty years or so there hasn’t been much fighting within stadiums (thanks to better policing, stewarding and CCTV). Is this the return of an unwelcome tradition? I doubt it. West Ham and Millwall fans (or rather some of them) are notoriously violent, and this was a derby match, which hadn’t taken place for some time. A few other clubs (Leeds, Cardiff) also have seen violence in recent years, but I suspect (and hope) yesterday’s fighting will be the exception.

Filed under: Sports

CifWatch: Idiots with too much time on their hands

by Sunny at 9:12 am    

A bunch of people with too much time on their hands have launched ‘CIF Watch‘ – dedicated to ‘monitoring and exposing anti-semitism on the Guardian’s CIF’. Exposing racism is always a good thing to do… but why not expose all kinds of racism? Why not also “expose” anti-Muslim bigotry and racism on CIF? A lot of people these days tackling racism seem to be quite selective these days in their outrage. Now why would that be?

Also, why not point out that the CIF moderators have to read through thousands of comments every day and delete any crap they find that breaks the comments policy. But oh no, the minute something nasty is posted, and isn’t deleted, it’s clearly evidence that the Guardian newspaper itself is the spawn of the devil!

As if to back up my point, one of the first blog-posts takes a shot at writer Seth Freedman. Their conclusion:

Freedman’s sanctimoniousness towards a country which took him on – only to then be kicked in the teeth by him – is unbelievable.
If he dislikes Israel so much he can always go back to London and resume his glowing City career.

Damn these Uncle Toms eh? Why aren’t they sticking to the script that their race bounds them to?
Eeeedjats

Filed under: Media,Race politics
25th August, 2009

Let’s out-smart the BNP instead

by guest at 2:42 pm    

This is a guest post by Lucy James from the Quilliam Foundation

Following the BNP’s annual event ‘Red, White and Blue’ the other weekend, what should have grabbed the headlines (and which was only mentioned in passing was the racism endemic in the event itself.

What in fact grabbed the headlines were the 19 protestors arrested largely for public order offences (4 of whom were charged), and the £500,000 policing cost at public expense. Only a few weeks ago, violence had already made the headlines.

Whilst I am by no means undermining the importance of peaceful protest as a legitimate method of getting heard (I do, in fact, attend rallies), if the right-wing extremists remain predominantly challenged by the left-wing extremists, the argument against the BNP gets distorted. In fact, it can serve to bolster the BNP’s message as did the photographs of young Asian men attacking white-protestors during the Birmingham riots. Moderates need to reclaim the upper hand by systematically challenging the BNP’s ideology rather than resorting to violence.

Since about 2006, particularly post-7/7, the BNP has consciously changed their rhetoric from being anti-Asian, -Black and -Jewish, to being ardently anti-Muslim. In a paper that I authored entitled In Defence of British Muslims: A response to BNP racist propaganda (pdf), I therefore took 10 of the key accusations directed against Islam and British Muslims by the BNP and systematically deconstructed them by highlighting their intellectual inconsistencies and factual weaknesses.

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Filed under: Race politics,The BNP

Shaadi.com

by Rumbold at 10:34 am    

Most Picklers have been on, or at least heard of, Shaadi.com. It is a matrimonial site, mainly for South Asians, though there is no bar on anyone joining. Often it is friends or relatives who register someone on the site. The site allows for a great deal of specificity, including Manglik/Kula Dosham (to do with astrology), and complexion (hence ‘wheatish’ as a descriptor).

Now Sarfraz Manzoor has examined Shaadi.com in order to look at its background, success stories, and failures:

“The search to find one’s life partner is not easy, but it is arguably harder for second-generation British Asians, burdened by their parents’ expectations but looking for more than marriage to a stranger. I was struck by how pragmatic the people I spoke to were in their ambitions. There was much talk about marriage, but little talk of romance; the notion that love was maddeningly unpredictable, that it could strike and make the most unlikely couples deliriously happy, carried little resonance. They were interested in solidity and stability, and hoped that by choosing someone similar in background and faith there was more chance of finding someone to share one’s life.”

I never knew that the website was founded by the Mittal clan. What emerges from Safroz Mazoor’s piece is mostly a tale of disappointment, albeit with a few successes. I personally think that the website is a good idea, as it must give certain people more choice then they otherwise would have, even though it is far from perfect.

(Hat-Tip: Amrit)

Filed under: Culture,South Asia
24th August, 2009

Taking offence too far

by Sunny at 11:37 pm    

Now some people have this view that if others take offence, then it should be taken seriously. Maybe… but then you also have to draw the line somewhere. And I draw the line before this guy:

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were watching TV at home when the advert for comparethemarket.com appeared on our screen. I had seen the ad before and not thought anything of it. However on this occasion, my girlfriend, who is Ukrainian, turned to me and said: “I don’t like this advert, it is very offensive to me.” I mentioned it to a friend who said his Latvian lodger also found it offensive.

The advertisement centres on the word “market” – a word that eastern Europeans/Russians pronounce “meerkat” – using talking CGI-animated meerkats. The sole point of this African animal’s appearance is, it seems, to highlight the idea that east Europeans cannot pronounce the word market properly when they speak English. It struck me how racist it was to parody what is now a significant part of the British population in this way. It also occurred to me that were the ad to use stereotypical Indian or Caribbean accents in the same way it would never be allowed on TV.

Consider the fact that there are actually programmes and commericals that mimicked Indian and Caribbean accents. The Lilt commericial was one. Goodness Gracious Me made a whole successful series out of mimicking Asian attributes.

Also, why did the guy feel like mentioning that a Meerkat was ‘African’? I think what he’s really taking offence at is that Eastern Europeans are being mimicked by African animals. Racist!!!! Well, I’m offended dammit.

Honestly, some people. [via John Band]

Filed under: Humour,Race politics

This is what BNPers get up to

by Sunny at 12:07 pm    

From the News of the World:

A 12-year-old girl there with her dad (we are protecting her identity) held a golly called Winston over the fire as Coombes “charged” him with “mugging, rape, drug dealing”.

He sneered: “Right Winston, you’re about to get cooked. Anything else to say?

“Says he ain’t a drug dealer. He thinks he’s not black. He’s charged with being black. Now get on there.”

Skinhead Hamilton chipped in: “If he jumps off he’s innocent.” Coombes went on: “He’s guilty, guilty as charged.

“Let’s get a real one – in the town we’ll find one or two. They’ll also be guilty of the heinous crimes I charged him with – may God forgive your horrible soul.” Coombes repeated the charges then added: “He may have appeared innocent to you lot but I’m sure he done lots of things wrong.”

There’s two elements to this: caricaturing black people as muggers and racists, and then of course the incite to violence ‘let’s find a real one’.

The caricaturing has almost become common practice: blacks are constantly implied as being inherently violent – Rod Liddle does it shamelessly in the Sunday Times – and Muslims as secret terrorists or sympathisers. Or that they want to turn Britain into a caliphate.

That link between caricaturing an entire group and incitement to violence is plain to see above. Once you’ve villified and dehumanised a group enough, these people start thinking they’re doing humanity a favour by attacking them. The rise of the BNP has increasingly led to the legitimacy of the view that people should do something about the ‘ethnic problem’ – hence the right of far-right extremism.

Shisha could be as dangerous as cigarettes

by Rumbold at 11:56 am    

Although this is only one study, it is interesting:

“Shisha is an Arabic water-pipe in which fruit-scented tobacco is burnt using coal, passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a hose.

The Centre for Tobacco Control Research said it was difficult to know exactly how much carbon monoxide one cigarette produced, due to the differences in smokers’ inhalations.

But measuring carbon monoxide in exhaled breath showed a normal non-smoker’s level to be three parts CO per million parts of air (ppm) (3% of blood not working properly), a light smoker to have 10-20% of blood not working properly, and a heavy smoker 30-40%.”

I suppose it will give the anti-smoking people something to do. Designing new posters, calling for film scenes with shisha to be rated 18+, and walking around the streets badgering people about their habits.

Filed under: Science
22nd August, 2009

Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics

by Sunny at 10:55 pm    

A funny little spat took place over the weekend. I signed a Compass statement for a High Pay Commission of some sort. That statement was criticised by Labour MP Tom Harris on his own blog. I then outlined my reasons for supporting the statement, making expressly economic arguments (which you can agree or disagree with) and criticised Tom Harris’ arguments. He then responded to that and I subsequently tore up his supremely stupid argument that anything that penalised the extremely wealthy would hurt Labour’s electoral prospects.

Tom Harris MP – then unable to make any economic or political arguments, thought he’d be clever and wrote this blog post saying I was hypocritical because I’d earlier signed ‘a statement of ethical blogging’. But I hadn’t, making him look even more idiotic. (Clearly Iain Dale is still smarting over the fact I called him out when he libelled Tom Watson (I posted this on Tom Harris’ blog but he didn’t let that comment through – didn’t want to offend his mate obviously).

So why am I posting all this? It’s a bit of background to the argument I want to make. On Tom Harris MP’s blog, Sunder Katwala of the Fabian society says:

On Sunny representing “Labour” views, my friend Sunny Hundal is not (for sure) and has never been (as far as I know) a member of the Labour Party. He has blogged that he intends to vote Green.
He is anti-Tory, he is somewhat sympathetic to Labour (in that he often argues about what the party should do to connect to disillusioned liberal-lefties like himself and others at Liberal Conspiracy). For that reason, some people (esp LibDems) say that LC is somehow a ‘Labour front’ but anybody who comments there in any way supportively of Labour will know this is nonsense.

But I don’t think Sunny is well placed to tell Labour MPs and members that they are not really Labour in his view, even if his argument is that he would join if other people left. This is the factionalism and in-fighting which LC is theoretically against, and ‘no factionalism except for those New Labour bastards’ falls a little way short for me.

Let me explain this properly. I see myself on the political left and therefore I’m loyal to the left and to lefties. I have stated loads of times I don’t like factionalism and in-fighting on the left. But I’m not a Labour Party tribalist and not a member of any political party. I see Labour, the Libdems and Greens as broadly progressive parties and roughly left of centre. But I’m not attracted to anyone very specifically right now enough to join them.

So while I’m not a party political tribalist, I am a leftie and proud of being one. The reason why I attack Tom Harris is because he’s not of the left. He may be within the Labour Party but that doesn’t make him left-wing. He can’t even make a political argument, let alone an economic one on why he doesn’t a High Pay Commission (and there’s plenty of valid criticisms to be made), and the only thing he can do is accuse others of ‘politics of envy’ or play these cheap shots.

And there are lots of others precedents for this. Look across the pond and there are plenty of progressives who will support the liberal wing of the Democratic party but will not come anywhere near traitors like Joe Lieberman. They will actively campaign against the right-wing elements of the Democrats (the ‘Blue Dogs’) and I’d happily approve of that strategy.

I’m not interested in supporting or defending right-wing elements within the Labour party just because of their political affiliation. This is a political war and they are on the wrong side. Once the left-wing blogosphere starts campaigning and fundraising, we should be supporting left-wing and progressive elements of Labour, Libdems and the Greens – while actively rejecting people like Harris who like adulation from the Tories.

Filed under: Party politics

Mixed-race step-families

by Rumbold at 12:21 pm    

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has a thought-provoking article on the difficulties of racial identity that some feel when in a mixed-race step-family, and the racism experienced from all sides:

“Back in 1988, my Ugandan Asian husband unexpectedly went off with a young blonde, and her blondness made the betrayal all the harder to bear. It felt as if he was rejecting our cultural and inherited DNA. Our son was only 10 and still in shock when a blue-eyed Englishman came into my own life – came, in effect, to stay. Suddenly race didn’t matter. How self-serving we humans are. I was, at the time, a race-equality warrior of the GLC sort and my comrades were unforgiving. The personal had to be the political. “How you let your boy be raised by the enemy, eh? What you teachin’ him bout his self,” asked an Afro-Caribbean activist.”…

As racial self-identification becomes more important to a child – one way of expressing feelings of loss of the “real” parent perhaps – there can be a period of self-imposed distance from the step-parent even if that relationship has been sound and nurturing.

21st August, 2009

Luton demo by English Defence League banned

by Sunny at 1:58 pm    

From Hope Not Hate:

The Home Secretary has just announced that the anti-Islam march in Luton will not be taking place. In fact, as a precautionary measure, all marches have been banned in the town for the next three months.

This is a massive victory for everyone who joined our protest yesterday. Over 14,000 letters were sent urging a ban and our voices have been heard. Thanks to everyone who sent off a letter. We have won and Luton is a safer place because of it. This is just further proof of what we can achieve when we get organised.

This is encouraging because it’s obvious these events create conditions where both sides are itching for a ruckus – the EDL and Unite Against Fascism. On Sunday, 23rd August a public meeting has been called in Birmingham to discuss all this:

We need to discuss, debate and encourage a peaceful form of activity against any Fascist elements, including encouraging young people to stay away from the City Centre as agreed by the Muslim Issues Steering Group.

As I’ve said before – the UAF and these activists need to ensure their demos are not overrun by gangs of youths looking for a fight or to beat up skinheads. From a media perspective that is highly counter-productive. Also, it looks to me like these activists are trying to build a broad coalition without actually speaking to any Sikh groups within Birmingham or even consulting on them. That betrays a very narrow focus on Muslim concerns – which will ultimately only harm any coalition looking to draw support from a wide range of people.

Releasing Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi

by Rumbold at 12:52 pm    

The Lockerbie bomber was recently freed on compassionate grounds, and allowed to return home to Libya in order to see out his final days, as he has terminal cancer. There is plenty of doubt about the validity of his conviction, but let us assume for a moment that he was guilty. Was it right to release him on compassionate grounds? I think that it was.

Prison in my view serves three purposes: to deter criminals, to rehabilitate them, and to keep certain people away from society to prevent them from doing any more damage. The question therefore is whether or not Mr. al-Megrahi’s release weakens any of these purposes. At this point rehabilitation is irrelevant, as he is nearly dead. Similarly, he poses no threat to anyone, and it is unclear why releasing him at this point would reduce the deterrent effect of prison.

So the only reason to keep him in prison is to punish him, which has always seemed pointless to me. Punishment for punishment’s sake is useless, as it is simply another form of revenge. Since it cannot undo the crime, what does it achieve? That is not to say I don’t understand the anger directed at Mr. al-Megrahi by the relatives of the victims, merely that basing policy on anger is not a good idea.

Yet this is not a clear-cut case of being compassionate towards a dying man. Would we be so keen to release a multiple rapist and child molester who was dying of cancer? What about someone who might have only served one month of a fifty-year sentence? If not, why not? Are people sympathetic towards al-Megrahi because he is dying, or because his conviction is dubious?

Filed under: Current affairs
20th August, 2009

Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism

by guest at 7:34 pm    

This is a guest post by Jobeda Ali

Last week, Jim Fitzpatrick was lambasted in the press for walking out of a segregated wedding. The interesting thing here is how the story has proliferated about a white man being rude to minorities, and somehow manages to avoid talking about the injustice he was protesting against.

Gender segregation is a tool for the institutional subjugation of women and the reduction of women to sexual distractions that society (the domain of men) must be protected from. Of course this is not a deliberate calculation when people decide to segregate an event, they would rather call it modesty or tradition, but that destructive perception of women as a threat to society is what is at the heart of segregating the genders. The practice directly and subliminally reinforces to both the women and men present that women must be kept away from men, and that reinforcement impacts on many other gender relations in society from the domestic to the political.

This is not about keeping men and women apart, but about keeping women away from men – a very important distinction because it maintains that society is the domain of men, and women are just visitors in it at the whim of men. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that segregation inherently perpetuates hierarchy.

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Filed under: Current affairs

Glen Jenvey confesses to faking terror story

by Rumbold at 3:31 pm    

Glen Jenvey, the disgraced former ‘security expert’ who lied about Muslims drawing up a hit list of prominent Jews, has now admitted what the rest of us long suspected: that he faked the offending comments himself (in a posting on Ummah.com):

“Brother i’m sorry for the Allan Sugar story plant. I’m retired now from spying on Muslims. I saw a chance to install fear back in Jews who were killing Muslims.I was wrong to use you and your site.If you need any thing to help you in any way in the name of Allah just ask.

But yes the Sun did not know who posted it.I say sorry to you from my heart. if you want show the police and get me arrested. but with the first ramadaam coming i want to clear my past sin’s before i start my fasting and pray.

I would write this on your forum but im blocked out. may Allah reward you for your good work you do.Ameen

Omar Hamza Jenvey

aka

Glen Jenvey”

Richard Bartholomew has verified that the message did come from Glen Jenvey, aka Omar Hamza Jenvey.

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