Miliband, the Mail and antisemitism, some points arising

Robin Richardson

Image © CC-BY

Antisemitism, it has often been said, is a light sleeper. Sometimes, though, and in certain places and circumstances, it slumbers for quite a long time, and is not immediately or widely recognisable when it wakes up. For whilst dormant it was taking on new tones and colourings, was acquiring a new repertoire of signals and cues, new nods and winks, it was fashioning new dog whistles. Those who give voice to it when it wakes after a longish sleep may not be consciously aware of what they are doing, or of the effect their words, references and imagery have on others. Read more of this post

Remember, remember, this month of November

Robin Richardson is a director of the Insted consultancy, and is the editor with Julian Petley of Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media, published in 2011. 


Copyright Buster/Buddy Unesco HQ

On the evening of Monday 5 November  I returned to London from an international  conference in Paris. As the plane made its descent towards Heathrow, the city landscape beneath me was alive with the sparkle of fireworks. The conference had been at UNESCO’s headquarters and had been about addressing racisms, particularly the form of racism known as Islamophobia, in and through European and North American education systems. The fireworks across London were a sparkling reminder, anyway potentially and anyway in principle, that racisms containing a religious component have been alive and kicking in Europe for many centuries.

‘Remember, remember,’ we have said annually to children in Britain over the years, ‘the fifth of November.’ And we have added, sternly if ungrammatically, that we ‘see no reason/ why gunpowder treason/ should ever be forgot.’

We have too rarely, though, remembered to tell our children that there was a strong religious element in the mutual hostility that existed between King James on the one hand and the Gunpowder Plot ‘traitors’ on the other. And we have not remembered to refer, even obliquely, to present-day prejudices and intolerance which similarly are imbued with a religious component, for example Islamphobia. Nor have we remembered to point to the similarities and differences between Islamophobia and colour-based racisms. Read more of this post

Racist but not entirely wrong

Frederick Cowell

Image © Alkan de Beaumont Chaglar

The first reaction to Diane Abbott’s twitterati missive should be, as several commentators have already and wisely said; why are we getting so angry? The desire for mass outrage as the only appropriate response to every supposed outrage committed by a public figure is positively North Korean; whereas they prostrate themselves with grief, we are expected to coalesce our anger. Abbott’s statement was profoundly stupid but has also been taken profoundly out of context and the reason to keep talking about it is that the shadow of race over politics is lengthening. The London riots were racialised pre-emptively by the political classes, a phenomenon exacerbated by the crass remarks of David Starkey projecting a distinctly racial dimension onto the riots.

The tweet should be split in three to achieve an adequate response. Firstly ‘white people love.’ This is foolish and what Abbott should apologise for. The idea that pigmentation can involuntarily form political identity is as dangerous as it is disgusting. The crude picaninny plantation working blacks, loyal Indian servants, and placidly ferocious oriental warriors: all racist caricatures are based on politically collectivising individuals on the basis of immutable characteristics. All of her anti- Racism activism should have taught her this and for the sake of those she has fought for, and not the imaginary ruffled feathers of the unnamed offended, she should apologise. Read more of this post


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