Monday, 19 October 2015

Troubling times

The normalisation of demonisation politics in Europe and the US is a troubling thing.


Dec 2018

Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975) was a German philosopher and political theorist. Her many books and articles on topics ranging from totalitarianism to epistemology have had a lasting influence on political theory. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century.


Oct 2018


Dec 2017: Kemal Pervanic, Bosnian genocide survivor, interviewed by RightsInfo(see also the Forgiveness Project):
“In 1992, before the war started, we had people who survived the Second World War, my mother was one of them. She knew that something bad was going happen. She couldn’t say exactly how bad it was going to be, but she knew enough to warn me to leave. I didn’t have such an experience because I chose to stay. Had I known what was going to happen, I would have left. So, the warning signs were obvious for some but not for others. If you had no previous experience of such events, it is easy to ignore such warning signs”


Dec 2017: "The rise of the far-right: a warning from history"
Article in The Herald (Scotland) talks about the far-right agenda, commenting that:
"...they have a model. It starts very specifically with using anti-Muslim rhetoric as a gateway to a wider ecosystem of fascist ideology. Immigration is held up as a touchstone for declining living standards, and this comes alongside promises of control in the vein of authoritarian national sovereignty. Anti-semitism lies in the wake of all of this. Because who is it behind the scenes, the far-right asks, pulling the strings intellectually and financially? It is the 'cultural Marxists’, fascist shorthand for Jews, and - of course – the all-powerful George Soros."


Dec 2016:The most hate filled political comment BFTF has seen so far
Carl Paladino, New York co-chairman for Trumps election campaign, responded to an interviewer (see also here) asking what he would like to see happen in 2017 with :
“Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to [senior White House adviser] Valerie Jarrett, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her being a nice person and decapitated her."

and in response to a question on who he would like to see go in 2017, Paladino said :
"Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortable in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."

For bonus extra level of disturbance, Paladino is also a school board member.


Dec 2016: Trump talks about the violence of this supporters
At a "Thank You" tour event on Orlando, Florida, Trump said this to his supporters (reported by C4):
"You people were vicious, violent, screaming, 'Where's the wall? We want the wall'; screaming 'Prison, Prison, lock her up', I mean you are going crazy. I mean you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right...?"

"But now, now, it's much different. Now, you're laid back, your cool, you're mellow, right? You're basking in the glow of victory...But, but, now you're mellow and you're cool, and you're not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right?"


2014: BNP EU Eletion Leaflet
Found this (from the 2014 EU elections) while rummaging for some paperwork. Good example of how far-right parties never age well. Interesting to see how the BNP paint UKIP as pro-immigration. Wonder where all the BNP votes went to, and whether Cathy still has the same views.

BNP 2014 EU Election Leaflet - Back

BNP 2014 EU Election Leaflet -Front


Don't be a Sucker (1947)
This is a is a short film produced by the US War Department in 1947. It has anti-racist and anti-fascist themes. The movie starts by describing "Mike", a 20-something American, who is part of a small crowd listening to a street speaker blaming minoirities for American problems, for example:

"..I'm an American and some of the things I see in this country of ours make my blood boil. I see negros holding jobs that belong to me and you", adding that the country needs to be free of negros, catholics, foreigners and freemasons.

The rabble-rouser blames minorities for the counties problems

Mike is receptive to the speakers comments until freemasons are included in the list of enemies of the country (as Mike is himself a mason). A Hungarian immigrant engages Mike in conversation, pointing out that he has seen this kind of divisive talk before, in Nazi Germany. And that when the Nazi's had made the various parts of German society distrustful of each other, the Nazis then picked off those who were organised and posed a threat one by one - unions, catholics, teachers etc. He then comments that:

".. we must never let that happen to us or to our country. We must never let ourselves be divided by race or colour or religion, because in this country we all belong to minority groups, I am Hungarian, you are a mason, these are minorities. And then you belong to other minority groups too. You are a farmer, you go to the Methodist Church - your right to belong to these minorities is a precious thing.... if we allow any minority to lose their freedom by persecution or by prejudice we are threatening our own freeedom"

Youtube link :

The Hungarian immigrant explains that he has
 seen this before and it did not end well


Calls for Muslims to be "Exterminated"
On Dec9th 2016 the Facebook account of Former congressman Allen West posted a meme on FB which had an image of General "Mad Dog" Mattis and text saying "Fired by Obama to please the Muslims" and "hired by Trump to exterminate them."

Mad Dog Mattis hired by Trump to "Exterminate" Muslims

Following a media backlash the post was removed and this message from Michele Hickford was posted:

"Message to our followers: Hello everyone. This is Michele Hickford, Editor-in-Chief of Last night I posted a meme without Col. West's knowledge or consent which was inappropriate and crossed the line. I take full responsibility for this. It was wrong. I was wrong. It does not reflect Col. West's beliefs. I (Michele Hickford) personally apologize for any offense caused - and especially to Col. West. to whom I apologize for adversely affecting his reputation, principles and values."
An apology was not especially required, it seems for Muslims.

Allen B West has a history of controversial statements, including getting upset at "Coexist" bumper stickers because:

"every time I see one of those bumper stickers, I look at the person inside that is driving. Because that person represents something that would give away our country. Would give away who we are, our rights and freedoms and liberties…”
BFTF gently refers the reader to the "Don't be a sucker" item a bit higher on the post.


Nigel Farange, in a BBC Interview, 2016
"I think it's legitimate to say that it people feel they have lost control completely, and we have lost control of our borders completely as members of the European Union; and if people feel that voting doesn't change anything; then violence is the next step...I find it difficult to contemplate it happening here, but nothing's impossible."(link)

Nothing about non violent protest, nothing about organisation of pressure groups, nothing about civil disobedience. For Mr Farange, if you can't get your way, the first port of call is violence. Unbelievable. If anyone from a BME community said that that it would be a "threat".


David Cameron, 2016
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone."(link)

BFTF thought that being left alone so long as you obey the law was SPECIFICALLY how modern secular democracies worked, because otherwise the law merely sets a maximum level for personal freedom, with the ACTUAL level of personal freedom being undefined and at the whim of the state.


2015 : Two Anti-Muslim hate speech incidents on London transport
The first involved a lady who delivered a sustained volley of vitriol to a pregnant Muslim but passenger. The hate speech included repeatedly calling the victim and her friend "ISIS bitches" and also threatening to deliver a "kick in the uterus" to the innocent victim. The victim states that she asked the driver to call the Police but that the driver responded with "You can do that yourself'. This same driver tried, unsuccessfully, to resolve the situation by asking the passengers to "calm down".The perpetrator later handed herself in to Police.

The second involved a male who spend several minutes delivering a torrent of abuse, and physical threats, to a zimmer frame carrying Turkish pensioner. The driver did nothing to stop the abuse. In this case the perpetrator also later handed themselves in to Police.

BFTF asked this question of Nottingham Transport

"Following the recent instances, on London buses, of sustained torrents of hate-speech being directed at pregnant Muslim women and elderly Muslim men, I note that the bus drivers did not substantially challenge the perpetrators, nor did the bus drivers call the Police.

I do not think this is acceptable.

Can you tell me what passengers can expect from drivers on Nottingham City Transport Buses if similar instances of hate-speech happened here in our fine city.

Can you also advise where passengers can find this information on the NCT website so that they can be forearmed with knowledge of what to do if such events take place."

Update 26 Nov 15
Recently received this encouraging response from NCT :

We were shocked and saddened by the recent examples of hate speech on public transport in London.

Thankfully this type of behaviour is very rare and during my thirteen years of employment at Nottingham City Transport, I am aware of very few similar incidents on our buses. Nottingham City Transport were one of the first bus operators in the UK to install CCTV to all buses and have had 100% fleet coverage for over a decade. Since CCTV was installed and through an excellent partnership with Nottinghamshire Police and the Respect for Transport campaign, there has been a significant drop in all incidents on buses.

All of our buses have radio and text communication to a dedicated Control Room, manned 24/7. When drivers are aware of any incidents, they will contact our Control Room to request assistance from the Police and/or an Inspector on the bus. Text messages are increasingly used between drivers and the Control Room and are a discreet way to request assistance, removing the potential escalation of an incident on the bus.

Any customer who experiences or witnesses hate crime on a bus should, in the first instance, alert the driver and then report the matter to the Police. Through our partnership, we share CCTV footage and work very closely with Nottinghamshire Police to ensure the small number of people who commit crime on buses are dealt with. We are reassured, though not complacent, by the most recent independent Passenger Focus Bus Survey, where personal security on the bus scored a 93% satisfaction rating amongst Nottingham City Transport customers, the highest of any City-operator in the UK. (National average score 86%).

The Information Centre on our website advises customers what to do should there be an incident or crime on their bus and in light of these current cases, I will elevate the article to be a featured question.


Image Sources
Bus ******************************

Nov 2012 : BFTF was disturbed to find that the BNP was distributing flyers in Luton that appeared to have come straight out of 1930s Germany (and BFTF does not use that analogy lightly) - with the exception that instead of hate cariacatures of Jews, it was Muslims that the BNP were now choosing to portray as the evil menace in our midst.

BFTF wonders whether this is part of the fun of political debate and that the Muslim community should just grin and bear it, or whether this qualifies as an inciteful document and should not be allowed.

So BFTF has asked the local council and MP what (if anything) would happen if the BNP started distributing flyers like this in Nottingham.

BNP Flyer distributed in Luton in October 2012

Update : 11 Dec 12
The sympathetic Council response included the following advice should such a leaflet be distributed in Nottingham:

"...citizens, mosques and groups can individually report this as racial or religious harassment or hate crime - our community officers would support them to report it to the Police and Stop Hate UK...."
The Council also suggeested the person to ask how the Police would react to such a leaflet was the Police and Crime Commissioner, so BFTF did .

Update : 13 Dec 12
The Office of the PCC forwarded BFTF's question to the Office of the Chief Constable, as it related to an operational matter. They responded with remarkable speed, sending a pdf letter which stated that distribution of leaflets similar to that shown above would very likely fall under the offence of "distribute written material to stir up racial hatred" which is contrary to sections 19(1) and 27(3) of the Public Order Act 1986.

The letter added that if BFTF (or presuambly anyone else) became aware of leaflets similar to that above being distributed they should report the matter to their local Police station immediately.

Update : 13 Dec 12
Also received a reassuring response from the local (Labour) MP stating that:
"The BNP leaflet you forwarded from Bedfordshire was truly shocking and clearly intended to undermine community relations...After the failed prosecution of Nick Griffin in 2006 the then Labour Government passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act to strengthen existing provisions against incitement, making it a specific offence to incite religious hatred...I certainly don't believe that the Muslim community, or people from any community, should view this disgraceful and divisive literature as a normal part of the political process."


Oct 2012 : Challenging bigotry on social media
There is a famous quote from Edmund Burke that goes something like this:
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"
and this is someting that often comes to BFTF's mind when confronted by bigotry and hate speech in the news or social media.

Surprisingly, BFTF has found that when one challenges people making these kind of comments, pointing out that they are portraying grossly unfair stereotypes and that they would not like it if they were themselves protrayed in such a negative manner, they often back down very quickly, sometimes deleting their comments.

It is as though they suddenly realise the arrogance, unfairness and damaging nature of what they have written.

Indeed this happended earlier today, when a Facebooker posted a stereotypical image of a Jewish person along with the following words :

"Look at this conniving face! These fools exude arrogance and ignorance in equal proportion and theirs is asinking ship, whomsoever who boarded it would surely drown, whomsoever jumps deck is saved!"
BFTF responded with this :

"I don't think it is acceptable to post pictures that portray Jews as having bad characters. It is a grossly unfair stereotype. You would not like it if someone portrayed Muslims in similarly negative terms."
Another Facebooker backed up this comment, and within a few minutes the whole post had been deleted by the original poster.So you see - we can ALL make a difference.


Jan 2012 : Extremists and the Internet
An article in the Times back on 31st Aug 2011 by Arno Michaels, a former white power skinhead in the US, describes the mentality of such extremists (a mentality which, ironically, they share with Islamic and other extremists).

Arno explains that they had been told repeatedly that they were in a war, and that this war has been declared by the Jews against the white race over 2000 years ago. They were convinced that the "Jews" were trying to wipe out white people with a series of "mud races" such as Latinos.

Tellingly, he says that it was hard work defending this viewpoint against the evidence to the contrary that was all around him, and he would often retreat to his attic of Nazi memorabilia if he felt in any doubt. Arno explains that contact with someone who could challenge their controntational narrative "poses tremendous risk to egos built on such conflict". Yet, at the same time, all the problems and ills that plague society must be allowed to percolate through so that they can "feed an insatiable appetite for righteousness"

Perhaps most frighteningly, the horror stories they told themselves of what would happen if they were not victorious resulted in them denying themselves the compassion of sparing even children.

He points out that, back in the 80s and 90s, those in the white power movement would go to considerable efforts to maintain contact with each other, using post office boxes and calling cards, and would attract new members by causing enough havoc to get the interest of the media and also leaving lots of flyers around to give people a point of contact. But, at heart, it was still a face-to-face method of recruiting people.

Today, the internet has changed everything. It is now easy to immerse oneself in a world where one is cut-off from society yet still receiving evidence of all its defects.

You can find out more about Arno at the Forgiveness Project
And Arno's book can be found online at America's Black Holocaust Museum

See also Life After Hate

The Life After Hate Site

For the Wikipedia article on white supremacy, click here.

For a disturbingly long list of white nationalist groups, click here

Communities as gangs
A very short post, just to highlight a single paragraph in this story about the adverese reaction that a US mosque received when it decided to open its doors to host a Muslim conference. Commenting on those who reacted angrily to this move, the rector of the church made the very perceptive comment that :

"Communities too often devolve into gangs in which only those who toe the line are accepted. But true community is not about conformism; it tolerates and even celebrates divergent opinions and personalities."

Very, very true words.

Letter written to the Irish Times by Franz Frison, a holocaust survivor, following a pro freedom of speech letter by and a pro-freedom of speech column from Kevin Myers after an attempt by David Irving to talk at Trinity College Dublin (TCD):

“Sir, - Having experienced fascism in the flesh as a citizen of a Nazioccupied country, a member of the resistance and a concentration camp prisoner, I am profoundly dismayed by Kevin Myer’s reflections on the happenings at TCD on the occasion of the David Irving debate. If fascism could be defeated in debate, I assure you that it would never have happened, neither in Germany, nor in Italy, nor anywhere else. Those who recognised its threat at the time and tried to stop it were, I assume, also called “a mob”. Regrettably too many “fair-minded” people didn’t either try, or want to stop it, and, as I witnessed myself during the war, accommodated themselves when it took over.…. People who witnessed fascism at its height are dying out, but the ideology is still here, and its apologists are working hard at a comeback. Past experience should teach us that fascism must be stopped before it takes hold again of too many minds, and becomes useful once again to some powerful interests, as it happened in the thirties, or in Chile. I am one hundred percent behind the students and staff of TCD and congratulate them for showing the way."