Saturday, 14 March 2009

Stop Children, What's That Sound

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away


It's time we...

But we won't, will we.

In a few weeks, the headlines have changed from 'Cameron Calls For Enquiry On Iraq War' to 'Hundreds Turn Out To Cheer Soldiers'. The images of devastated cities already reclaimed by the wilderness have given way those of to immaculately-outfitted battalions surrounded by Concerned Citizens. The St George flag is, of course, very much in evidence. Suddenly everyone's 'British' again.
The battle lines have been drawn in the sand; the positions have been staked out. You either belong to 'them' or to 'us'; mostly their 'them-ness' is predicated on the colour of their skin. Our 'us-ness' is bound up in the simple red cross on a white background. Nationalism, in sophisticated terms: tribalism in real, human ones. And it doesn't matter a damn that a triumvirate of the top university institutions have reported that young British Muslims are more likely to be tomorrow's human rights barristers or educational advocates or overseas advisors or politicians; that very few are radicalised or prepared to imagine committing terrorist acts. Once that battle line is crossed, 'they', the 'Other', will be hurt indiscriminately.
The government's been preparing for a 'summer of rage'. It took quite a while to get it into Joe Public's head that he's expected to run riot in the coming months. When he failed to respond to subtle teasers - riot squads being trained up in readiness for an event which so far was mythic - other incentives had to be offered up. Refusing to allow in Geert Wilders. British Jobs For British Workers. And now, Support Our Troops. No matter that the war is illegal; no matter that the troops are being used as cannon fodder in the ultimate colonialist money-making enterprise. They're fighting against people who are Not Like Us. 
Protectionism takes many forms. It's not just about monetary protection; it's a knee-jerk response to perceived outrages against an established culture. It doesn't matter whether someone who's Asian is British-born or not, whether they consider themselves British born or not, whether they're in the Armed Forces or protesting against them. They're just "different" and their "differences" are being escalated to a dangerous extent.
The familiarity of 'they dress different, eat funny, keep themselves to themselves, aren't very friendly, are they?, all about religion innit' surely cannot have passed people by entirely. From 1933 onwards such terms were used to deliberately drive a cultural wedge through the centre of German society: a society that at heart had always not-quite-trusted Judaism for lacking that fundamental je-ne-sais-quoi, that ethos that made a German a German and everyone else an outsider. 
I fear that we are too late: I fear that soon, twelve years of repression and hundreds of years of tribal malice will boil over and the 'Other' will be lying dead in the street, another victim of cultural animosity; that the 'Other' will be rounded up for its own good, that every 'Other' will made into a monster which must be erased from history - beginning, perhaps, with Pakistan and ending with Iran. And thirty years from now, people might feel shame for their actions, put up monuments, collect together pitiful survivor narratives, write books about it and teach a degree about it: about how it must never happen again. Until the next time.

9 comments:

  1. Sarajevo on Thames? We were on the side of the Muslims in the Bosnia conflict - even shipped in Mujahideen to help out. The whole feckin world is tribal - might as well rail against the universe.

    BTW - I feel the urge to practice a little boundary maintenance on behalf of my tribe - when did the cross of St George become a symbol of Britishness?

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  2. Did you see my Hemingway quote? Related, I think.

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  3. Perfect quote, Oldrightie: and absolutely true...
    Creating a domestic conflict on the heels of a foreign conflict through inflating racial stereotypes - whilst still appearing to be very 'tolerant' (and often using the word 'tolerant': one of the NSDAPs favourites, actually) is a prerequisite to internal war in which the victor is the greatest number. In our case, all Asians have become Muslims: they've lost any sense of origin, the possibility that they may have different religious backgrounds, gender and creed and history and education and beliefs and anything that makes them human: now, they've part of an amorphous mass of Otherness.
    Otherness, the common enemy, often depicted in terms of 'darkness', is a prerequisite for left-wing statist domination the likes of which this country has never experienced; and has the potential cause a hell of a lot of unnecessary deaths.
    I know that we are tribal: I would never seek to deny it. But I don't think it is particularly laudable of the unscrupulous to exaggerate the worst parts of our natures - individually and collectively - for their own gain. We may have that part of nature on which nurture will never stick, but we possess reason too, reason and rationality that can overcome our will-to-savagery. I fear that a terrible ferocity may be unleashed indiscriminately against Asians in this country, a ferocity which will be all the more terrible because it's been bottled up for the past 12 years and people have been doing their hating on the inside. I do not want to see the human race so diminished that it descends into viciousness and brutality and wrecks indiscriminately; I abominate violence, and simply do not want to see anyone die as a result of nationalist sympathies being stirred up in a frenzy to fulfill others' agendas.

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  4. I'm with scunnert on this; its strange how internationalist some people are.
    And yet parochial at the same time.

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  5. Internationalist? In what sense?

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  6. My attempt at posting on this disappeared..hey ho.

    Another great post Mara.

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  7. Perhaps not the best phrase I could have used, Mara.(Hibs v Hearts, then Scotland v Ireland; drink taken)
    The flag of Saint George doesn't represent Britain, your assumption that it does was the parochial crack.
    Forgive me, I'm a wee bit merry, and should not be posting.
    G'night.

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  8. I can't share your view that somehow this is all a deliberate ploy... is that what you're saying? Maybe I have missed the point of your post... but to compare the situation of Muslims in Britain with that of Jews in Nazi Germany looks to me to be over-dramatising a complex problem. For one thing, the "otherness" of Muslims here IS of genuine concern. For another, we are still quite some way away from having a totalitarian, nationalist State.

    Homecoming parades have long been a fact of life - protests by fundamentalists opposed to the war on religious/tribal grounds are not. It's no more unusual or suspicious to highlight them than it is to report of the firebombing of police by (presumably) Catholics following the arrests tonight of a 'leading Republican' in connection with the murders in NI.

    Nor can I see evidence that all Asians are being lumped together as Muslims. Is there anything to support your assertion that "In our case, all Asians have become Muslims: they've lost any sense of origin, the possibility that they may have different religious backgrounds, gender and creed and history and education and beliefs and anything that makes them human: now, they've part of an amorphous mass of Otherness."? Hindus and Sikhs seem, mostly, to be fairly well tolerated to get on with their lives.

    The rise in militant Islamism is a fact - worldwide. (Channel 4's Dispatches has a feature on its terrible effects in Pakistan this coming Monday, I believe). The threat of danger from within this country, albeit from a minority of fanatics, is real. And we know that there are significant percentages of Muslims who support practices that are inimical to the British way of life - despite the undoubted thirst for education of many.

    Personally, I think we have gone more than far enough in accepting and legitimising behaviour that's based on a crackpot set of beliefs. There may, indeed, be riots with racial overtones in the not too distant future - they won't be the first during harsh economic times. They may even arise from the sense of grievance within the indigenous population. And one way to minimise this would be for mainstream Parties to start to address the problems caused by mass immigration - something that's been foisted upon a largely unwilling electorate by those in power who 'knew better'.

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  9. Totalitarianism doesn't happen overnight; it takes several years in the making. And for it to be effective you have to create a sense of 'national identity' - something we've been on the cusp of losing for years not because of mass immigration in se, because new immigrants, being disorientated and shell-shocked, tend to do exactly what they're told by officials in order to gain residency. I believe the loss of said identity had been precipitated predominantly by two factors: homogenizing of popular culture, particularly in absorbing that of the US into every permutation of mass media/music, and a governmental green light for a 'free-for-all' for immigrants of all and every hue in which aspects of true 'Britishness' have been erased as part of a grand socialist project. Now the 'Britain' NuLab tried to kill is being resuscitated on the basis of a) the war which, in times of economic crisis, is suddenly seen as laudable; b) the otherness of some which is being capitulated as the Otherness of all; c) divisions based on religious/secular grounds where the former is represented as otherworldly, unintelligent and irrational and the latter as the only conceivable mode of existence. What seems like a deliberate ploy to me is that, as you say, the government has been legitimising Islamic practises and derograting Christian and Jewish ones. I am not sure if that is part of the socialist experiment - elevate Islam to the status formerly enjoyed by the state religion and then do away with the lot of them, or elevate Islam because it doesn't want to be seen as 'discriminatory' despite the fact it is at war.
    I do think that there is a deliberate drive to hammer a wedge between Asians and Brits, yes. The Sun carried two blaring stories yesterday: troops' homecoming and outrage against the BBC for interviewing Binyam Mohammed, twisting his story in a very interesting way so that it appeared that his claims were entirely groundless. (But that - and he - are a different subject entirely.) I also think there's a drive to escalate tensions between communities at home and abroad - that Crusader mentality - despite the fact that MI5, for example, said that hostilities have been magnified by the incursions into Iraq and perpetuation of torture at Abu Gharib/Guantanamo. (And I am hard-pressed to recall where the term 'Asian' instead of 'Muslim' was used: the former, of course, is a geographical region and the latter has none, which makes it essentially more 'Other'.)
    The mainstream parties have demonstrated time and again that they are fundamentally useless when it comes to protesting anything, except for enquiries into their expenses. They care nothing for us, the 'little people'; to them, we're merely a statistic, a line on a bar graph indicating which way voting trends are going, a dot on a screen to be surveilled. If they gave a damn about us, they would never allow an infinitesimal fraction of the invidious laws and statutory instruments detrimental to our personhood through Parliament. It seems that the majority of those elevated to office these days are concerned primarily with winning a popularity contest, and then staying in power; never ruling rightly or justly. They have made the mess, we have had to lie in it: and that is why populist anti-Other sentiment, a Mob mentality, is all the more deadly.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison