From the first Red Scare in the US, terms like ‘communism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘anarchism’ have been subject to suspicion and scrutiny. Despite describing common views, they are considered subversive, chaotic and threatening, and cause others to be wary. Many of society’s role models, however, have been communists – especially those most associated with struggles against oppression, imperialism and bigotry. Forgetting this is no accident: when centrists and the right-wing express a shared sense of pride for achievements in activism, they place history under a rose-tinted lens, carefully side-stepping mention of their role in enforcing the barriers which required lifting in the first place.
by Zoe Harding
CW: article contains descriptions of the Manchester terrorist attack, racist discourse, links to images of war crimes.
The official threat level after the terror attack in Manchester is back down from Critical to Serious, and the country has started to move on. The news cycle seems to have been slightly shorter, as well; at time of writing the front page of the BBC News website is largely concerned with technical problems at British Airways and I-kid-you-not a cheese rolling competition.
I’d love to say that this particular terrorist incident didn’t incite the usual wave of hate and disgustingly inappropriate coverage that tends to follow such events, including random hate crimes, thundering headlines and political manoeuvring. I’d love to.
But The Daily Mail exists. And The Sun. And the political climate in the UK has become sufficiently toxic that even without those two, the response was nonetheless as unpleasant as any I’ve seen.
‘You are not alive to please the aesthetic of colonized eyes’
– Ijeoma Umebinyuo
An interesting thing happens when fully-assimilated BME in the West engage in politics, whilst retaining and proudly displaying their multicultural and racial identities as minorities—they become characterised as ‘radical’ and disruptive to the everyday function of society. Here are examples of how various politicking non-white figures have been portrayed:
- Prior to Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London on May 2016, Khan suffered from smear attacks by Zac Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s attacks included ‘Sadiq Khan won’t stand up for London’s Tamil community’ and ‘his party supports a wealth tax on family jewellery,’ with the latter based upon the uncomfortable, racist assumption that this taxation is a defining political issue for South Asians. Goldsmith also branded Khan as a ‘radical,’ belonging to ‘a Labour party that thinks terrorists is its friends’.
- The newly-elected first Black Muslim president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, depicted as an ISIS supporter for having been against a 2011 motion condemning ISIS, because of its apparent wording that demonises all Muslims, despite later supporting a revised version condemning ISIS and Islamophobia. She has also been criticised as anti-Semitic despite publicly declaring her stance as anti-Zionist due to Israel’s continued violation of human rights by its continued military occupation of Palestine.