I was going to title this blog, what have we become but that would imply that we were once different and I don’t think we were.

I have watched 2 programs yesterday evening, one on Iraq after the invasion and the other on a racially motivated murder that took place in Texas in 1998.

My thoughts: Iraq first, the program was looking at the rebuilding of the country and the policing etc. The British military were having problems sorting out the situation in Basra because the people did not have the confidence in those who had been members of the previous police force but the British were having to use them because they were the only ones with the requisite training. It’s a sticky wicket I’ll grant you, but I would have liked the program to ask the ultimate question. WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU EXPECT? You remove all the hierarchy and bomb the infrastructure out of a place how do you expect it to look and function. Did the US and the UK think that somehow things were just going to return to normal or what? I really don’t get it. It seems clear to me that the primary objective was to free-boot into the country remove the leadership secure the oil (and notice neither of these objectives have been as chaotic as the aftermath for the people of Iraq) What happened to the people and the country after the objectives were achieved must have been foreseen, if not then one must ask serious questions regarding the competence of the military leadership. Basically my theory is the did what they wanted knowing that they’d just busk the rest, it wasn’t so important and it’s not as if the Iraqi people can make too much of a fuss about it. Well, it appears the people are making as much fuss as they can in protest.

The second program was more disturbing perhaps because of the seeming ordinariness of the people in it. It detailed the murder of a black man by 3 white racists the actual facts of the murder were very distressing, suffice to say those who may be aware of Steve Biko in South Africa will understand the MO. They had a white film crew with the white population of the town and black film crew with the black population. I have to say the black population seemed more well-adjusted than the whites, there was none of the racism black to white that one might have expected. On the white side there was a lot of the old “I don’t think they should paint him (the victim) as this saintly man, don’t get me wrong I don’t agree with how he died but he wan’t the man they are painting him out to be.” This exact arguement I came across in Eltham after the murder of Stephen Lawrence some years ago. I worked there for a bit and worked with someone who knew Lawrence vaguely and their statement was almost word for word the same. It shocked me at the time, I have become a little more sanitised to it now as I have heard it in a number of cases since. One of the white guys was plastered in white supremacy tatoos, all over his upper torso, what angered me most of all was that his wife had a number of children from another father, this guy cannot fail to pass on some of his ideals or basic sway of his beliefs to these children, young children one just a baby. It makes my blood boil that this poor baby who is born with such innocence is likely to be polluted with the racist shite and like as not due to the tacit acceptance by many in the white community in such places this lunacy would never be beaten out of him before it took hold. Now I’m not going to put everything on the shoulders of this one guy, racism is not the product of an individual’s consciousness it is the product of a failing society. This guy as it happens appeared to go through something of a conversion towards the end of the program and apart from inter-racial marriage he claimed not to ‘have a problem with other races’. How sincere this is only he and his family may ever know.
The thing that caused me concern from the black and non-racist white community was their reaction to the sentencing. People celebrating the passing of a death sentence regardless of the circumstances fills me with deep discomfort. What of the relatives of the condemned? They are naturally given the same punishment as the relatives of the victim, both parties innocent but the second party put into this punishment because the state doesn’t really know what to do with the perpetrator. I cannot sanction the state taking a life of someone when they have condemned them for the crime of taking a life it just seems ludicrously simple an arguement to counter. Furthermore a deterrent? Well correct me if I’m wrong but the US has an extremely high murder rate despite capital punishment and many other countries have less of a problem despite the lack of this ultimate solution, or should that be ‘final solution’? Sorry is that a bit too extreme?

What I see is that society appears to make no progress in trying to increase understanding between communities, between races, cultures, creeds etc. this leads to a position of mistrust and insular behaviour on all sides and purely gives strength to the extremists who either benefit from people’s lack of desire to stop them or from the ignorance leading to heightened mistrust and fevour against one side or another. Look at the BNP in this country, they would like you to think that the reason life is shit is because Johnny Foreigner has come over here and taken the jobs and the benefits that would otherwise come to you. Granted they don’t say it in such stark terms anymore but try telling me that’s not what they think. Yes there are problems on all sides, yes the asian community in this country do often seem threatening because they cocoon themselves away from what is comically known as the ‘indigenous population’. Ask yourself why this may be? How many people when going to another country for a period of time more than just a holiday will buck against the trend to get to know the ex-pat population to combat homesickness? Do the British abroad learn someone else’s language, no they are one of the worst countries for not doing this. The concession British people abroad seem to make is if you don’t understand what I have said to you in English I’LL SAY THE SAME THING LOUDER, and…….possibly……slower……ac-cen-tu-a-ting-the-words-ver-ry-pat-ron-ising-ly, obviously if you are a foreigner in your own country you are deaf or a little slow or both. I quite understand the asian people in this country forming their own communities and helping each other etc. after all the Irish/Italians and Jews tend to do much the same. It is a community thing and THAT’s why the Brits don’t understand it. The danger is that too much time insulated from other cultures promotes the same mistrust and feeling but I think the Carribean and Asian 2nd generations have actually done a good job on the whole balancing what they perceive to be their British identity with their foreign heritage. The gift they give back is difficult to measure after all how many British meals did you eat this week using british ingredients as well? Do you only ever listen to music that eminated here? Even the classical stuff? Name more than 5 British classical composers, ok you can have Handel if it makes it any easier he’s kind of naturalised! Finally how many people who claim they’re British have any idea what their actual heritage is. You say you’re British… so do you mean a Celt or a Roman in which case you’re Italian, or an Anglo-Saxon (German) or a Jute (Danish) a Viking (Scandinavian) a Norman perhaps (French at the time of 1066 but previously norse). Good old followers of St. George eh, who was St. George then? He certainly never came anywhere near England and I think he was a Turk or such like tho’ I can’t remember exactly. You want an English patron Saint, you can’t have him, we already bagged St. Patrick ho ho ho!

Original Comments:

Bob Red made this comment,
a couple of dis-jointed points for you to consider, if they make any sense. Please read the first one carefully otherwise it may make me out to be something that im not.
What angers me is the fact that ‘johnny foreigner’ came over to our country to work when we needed them the most (ie. during the war) and then when it was over, all the brits expected their jobs back. Racism and stereotypical beliefs ensued, branding foreigners, muggers and thieves, whist the vast majority of foreigners continued to do exactly what they had been doing in this country for so long:
Working hard to dispel these rumours and myths, build communities, and generally try to get along with everyone.
Until, the younger generation came on the scene. This younger generation decided that they quite liked to be thought of as muggers and criminals, because it gave them respect. They thrived upon the fact that people were afraid of them, and generally went round with a huge chip on their shoulder, citing reasons for their attitude as slavery, even when they havent got a fucking clue what those times were really like. Single handedly they have torn down everything their parents and grandparents have worked so hard over the years to uphold, and that, quite frankly, is appaling. the question is, whos fault is it? is it the younger generation for being naieve, or have we as a country let them down by being so damn selfish?
I know where of I speak, my dad was one of those ‘johnny foreigners’ who came here and worked his arse off, and had to suffer the racist taunts and abuse.

Another point, and by no means am i setting any political preference here, is this:
Which clock is more accurate? One that is stuck at 12:00 all the time, or one that is 10 minutes fast?
The answer, is the clock stuck at 12:00 as twice a day, it will be spot on.
Apply that to the political scene:
Which is more fairer to the public? a democracy, or a dictatorship?
In a democracy, no one ever gets everything they truly want, but in a dictatorship at least one person does… the one in charge.

Maybe something to think about…

comment added :: {ts ‘2004-03-21 11:22:45’} GMT+01