Far right bingo card: Sharia law

Have you ever heard of Mosaic law? It’s horrendous. It contains 637 different rules and penalties from death by stoning if you collect fuel on the Sabbath to stoning rape victims for not resisting enough. It supports slavery, including sexual slavery and lets men cast off their wives with nothing but the clothes they stand up in if they’re not sufficiently ‘pleasing’ to him. It’s truly barbaric. It even includes a method for aborting babies if the father suspects he’s been cuckolded and woe betide you if your shirt is made of more than a single type of fabric.

That’s the law that all Christians and Jews are supposed to follow. As Jesus said “Not a single jot or tittle of the law may be removed until the Son of Man comes again in glory”. So unless you think the rapture has already happened…

Of course, very few people know what this God-breathed law contains because it’s not relevant in the modern world but there’s many a Christian, especially far right Christian who would advocate for it because having adopted the identity of Christian they think they should. They’ll quite happily ‘seethe a kid ion its mother’s milk’ should the occasion ever call for it and they would never even think of sacrificing their own first-born child to God on a middle-Eastern mountain top. If you doubt any of this have a look at Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy and then read Christ’s endorsement of the law in Matthew 5:17-19. I promise you, it’ll make your hair curl! It’s a damn site worse than Sharia.

Fortunately, very few people truly follow either.

Just as most Christians cherry pick the good bits from Mosaic law and ignore the nonsense about fabric and picking up sticks, so most Muslims live their lives without once attempting to chop off someone’s hand or throw gay men off rooftops. You should see what Christians are supposed to do to them, by the way.

There are barbaric passages in all three Abrahamic holy books (Torah, Bible and Koran) and there are extremists who would advocate for them all but they’re not the majority. Occasional surveys asking Muslims if they like Shariah law make no distinction between the positive laws (opposing usury for example or providing charity) and the barbaric parts, just as Christians who advocate Mosaic law tend not to want to burn adulterers alive.

Stop claiming all modern Muslims want to live by 7th century rules unless you also want to claim that all Christians want to abide by 1st century travesties too.

Far right fools show their ignorance at every turn – even of the religion they themselves, purport to practise!

Far right bingo card: Islam isn’t a race

British Islamophobes love to point out that since Islam isn’t a race, they can’t be accused of racism when they persecute Muslims.

Congratulations – you’ve stated the obvious. Well done!

However… it’s not quite as simple as that.

The United Nations has defined anti-Islamic sentiment as racism in the same way that it defines anti-Jewish feelings as racism. Both are different forms of anti-Semitism and both are viewed technically as racism in international law.

So yes – you’ve stated the obvious in one sense but missed the point in another.

Then there’s the dog-whistle code used by many European racists, including British racists to equate Muslim with ‘brown people’. They can’t legally criticize black or brown people on the grounds of colour so they use religious adherence and criticise religious practices instead. Quite inconsistently, as it happens.

For example, depending upon their particular prejudices they might criticise Muslim Halal but have no opinion on Jewish Kosher.

They’ll complain about Muslim Hijabs but not Christian head coverings found in Christian cultures across the world – including among European Nuns.

They’ll criticize Sharia councils but ignore Jewish Beth-Din or Christian Fundamentalist ‘courts’ which perform exactly the same function and have just as little weight in public law.

And what does all this amount to? Oh yes – religious discrimination which, by the way is also illegal.

You see it’s OK to criticise ideas, including religious ideas, but people have rights. When you start to persecute the people you’re breaking the law – whether you personally define it as racism or not. You’re also displaying your own mean-spirited, small-minded stupidity for all to see. Now why on earth would you want to show your arse like that?

Far right bingo card: Britain’s a Christian country

I’m a British citizen. I’m also an atheist. I used to be a Christian but I changed my mind in 1993 and have never been tempted to return to Christianity or indeed any religion whatsoever. Does that mean I’m no longer British?

Let’s just think this through, shall we?

I was a Christian because I was brought up to be a Christian. It wasn’t my idea – my parents chose my religion and the Church of England claimed me as a member of their congregation long before I had a chance to think it through for myself. I was a Christian because of somebody else’s choice: Because of somebody else’s rules.

That’s what it means to claim that Britain is a Christian country. Other people used to be Christian and they decided in advance that the rest of us would be Christian too. Some people accepted that label and even fewer accepted the lifestyle and beliefs associated with it but the vast majority did not.

I do not know a single right-winger, let alone far-right winger who follows the religion based upon Jesus Christ. Not a single right-winger that I’ve ever met demonstrates compassion for the poor or concern for those who are disadvantaged. I’ve never come across a single racist who understands empathy or would follow the instructions of the Nazarene to sell all that they own and give the money to the poor.

So far as I can see, those who claim this is a Christian country do so only to justify their hatred of those who follow other beliefs. They show no understanding nor consideration for Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus or anyone else. Theirs is a Christianity of convenience behind which they conceal their hatred and mean-spirited, even murderous stupidity.

As it happens, I do know some perfectly nice, reasonable, charitable and compassionate Christians but none of them are far right. Actually none of them are even just ‘right wing’ in its moderate sense. They may vote tory occasionally but not because they agree with tory policies so much as because they don’t really take an interest in politics and don’t quite understand what conservative ideology is. But I don’t know a single Racist, fascist, neoliberal or neoNazi who has any legitimate claim on the writings of the New Testament.

I’ve come across neo-Nazis who want to machine gun desperate refugees from the whilte cliffs of Dover. I’ve debated with Fascists who want to deny trade to Muslims, thus destroying their livelihoods and forcing them out of UK. I’ve argued with far right thugs who think it’s appropriate to assault hijabi women on the streets or even to throw petrol bombs at shops owned by brown people but I’ve never met a single one of them who knows how to forgive or to turn the other cheek.

So let’s give the far right their way. Let’s give them their entire argument right now.

Let’s say that this really is a Christian country.

And then we can watch them all take their anti-Christian barbarity somewhere else.

If Britain is a Christian country then there’s no room for you here. Off you go – make some space for the real Christians to house more refugees.

Far right bingo card: A different species

This isn’t just ironic, it’s a wonderful illustration of the complete and utter misunderstanding these racists have of the process of natural selection they claim to rely upon. The basic confusion appears to be based in old testament assumptions where the term ‘kind’ is used instead of the more modern ‘species’ (Genesis 7) and where slavery actively is supported along with the purchase and/or capture, absolute ownership and slavery (including sexual slavery) of those who are ‘different’ (Exodus 21). Exodus and Deuteronomy define such enslaved foreigners as ‘property’ or ‘money’ and permit passing them on as chattels to future generations as part of a patriarch’s estate.

These early passages were used as justification for the slave trade which caused so much death, hardship and misery. They were also used to support Plato’s ‘ladder’ of human superiority with black women at the bottom and white, European men at the top. Such primitive notions have no basis in fact and indeed modern scientific consensus clearly shows just how ridiculous these notions actually are.

Modern biology defines speciation in several ways, the strongest and most generally agreed upon is based upon the viability of offspring. To put it another way, if two rabbits can produce offspring that themselves are capable of producing further offspring then they belong to the same species. If their offspring are incapable of producing offspring with earlier generations of rabbits then they would no longer be rabbits. We see this speciation event in modern ring species. For example Salamanders living around the rim of Death valley can all breed with their immediate neighbours, right the way around the rim but those living at the extremes cannot interbreed. Over the immense distance of the valley’s rim selection pressures and remoteness have led to the development of two different, non-interbreeding species of Salamander. This is a process of speciation observed in geographical terms rather than temporal.

No modern human population is unable to produce viable offspring with any other modern human population. Racists understand this very well. That’s why they’re so bothered about miscegenation (racial inter-breeding). What they don’t understand is speciation.

They don’t appear to understand basic humanity either but that’s another story.

UNESCO international Day of solidarity with the Palestinian people

UNESCO, the ‘United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’ has observed November 29th as the International day of solidarity with the Palestinian people since 1978. There’s a good reason for that. This is the date when, in 1947 the partition plan (Resolution 181) was passed. The plan was to partition Palestine and in so doing create both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.

By 1979 it had become clear that Palestinian people have not been able to secure basic rights as a nation state ever since. Ongoing occupation and annexing of land by Israeli settlers has robbed many Palestinians of their homes and forced them to flee to makeshift and yet cruelly permanent camps.

Some remain there for decades. Some have lived their entire lives in the camps, robbed off their land by Israeli ‘settlers’, beaten and abused by the Israeli occupation forces and treated as though human rights just didn’t apply.

So today, on UNESCO’S International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People I, like many others will be watching to see what our British politicians have to say to mark the occasion.
Both our main political parties claim to oppose oppression and the mistreatment of entire populations. How will they acknowledge this day of solidarity in the face of what has been described an ongoing land grab of monumental proportions in direct contravention of resolution 181? The land claimed by Israeli settlers, often with the aid of Israeli military forces goes far beyond the borders drawn up in the original partition. You can download the original document here.

Will our illustrious leaders comment upon the absolute disregard for the rights of those denied both sovereignty and statehood?

And if they, our elected representatives on the world stage do not, I think we must all ask ourselves one very important question…

Why not?

Far right bingo card: 14 words

David Lane is an American white supremacist. It was Lane who wrote the 14 words, a mantra of white supremacists across the world. The 14 words are…

“We must secure the existence of our people

and a future for white children”

Or…

“Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman

must not perish from the earth.”

Lane himself was a member of the American domestic terrorist organisation known as ‘The order’. Prior to this he had been state organizer for both the Ku Klux Klan and the ‘Aryan nations’ groups. His contribution to white supremacy eventually earned him a 20 year sentence for racketeering, 20 more years for conspiracy and a whopping 150 years for driving the getaway car following the murder of Jewish radio personality, Alan Berg.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t manage to complete his 190 year sentence and died in prison in 2007 at the age of 68. Some might argue that the world is a better place for his passing although the damage he has done to the human psyche continues. Unfortunately, his reach extends well beyond the grave.

The problem with the 14 words in either version is that they’re based upon a flawed premise. The existence of white people only needs to be secured if it’s under threat – which it demonstrably is not. Neither is the beauty of white women at risk – unless you consider the mere presence on the earth of other races a threat.

We covered the basic misogyny of these tropes about white women in an earlier bingo card. What business is it of David Lane’s or anyone else’s who a Caucasian woman chooses to spend the night with? Who is he to suggest that mixed race children are less beautiful or worthy than Caucasians? The fact is that David Lane was a vicious, vacuous bigot with an unfortunate and ironic gift for communicating the emptiness that resided in him. His 14 words harken after a battle for domination that is already lost against an imagined ideological enemy that doesn’t really exist in a war that ended over 75 years ago.                                                                           

A conversation with God

I’m not exactly religious. Actually I’ve been an atheist for just over half my life but I found myself wondering just what this God bloke might have to say about allowing so much evil into the world. What would it be like to ask Him? Would He actually explain Himself? I wonder…

Me: Our Father, who art in Heaven

God: You called?

Me: Why do you allow so much hatred into the world?

God: It’s good for humans to have something to believe in – a just cause to keep them occupied.

Me: Are you saying that things like racism, religious hatred and oppressing vulnerable people are just causes?

God: Not at all, my son. Opposing hatred is the just cause I was thinking of.

Me: I see. So what about Christians who hate because they’re defending a Christian land? Haters like Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage?

God: Hmmm. Good question. Hang on a tic – I’ll ask my lad, Jesus.

Me: Twiddles thumbs expectantly for a bit

God: He said He never knew them. Never even heard of them in fact. They don’t come to visit on Sundays and He’s pretty sure that they don’t know too much about Him either.

ME: So they’re not really Christians? Is that what you’re saying?

God: Only God knows who is true and who is not.

Me: But you are God.

God: Yes but I’m not telling you!

Me: Well, what can you tell me?

God: I can tell you that Haters often hang on to religion’s shirt tails. They think it gives them an air of respectability but in reality it just shows them up as hypocrites.

Me: Is that what Allah thinks about all those Muslim terrorists? Will you ask Him for me?

God: Don’t need to. I’m Allah. Allah is the Arabic word for God.

Me: But Middle Eastern Christians don’t call you Allah.

God: They bloody do!

Me: Did you swear then, God?

God: Just a little bit. Anyway – it’s in the Bible.

Me: So what about Muslim terrorists?

God: Islamist terrorists are no more Muslim than Anders Breivik is Christian.

Me: That’s good to hear but how can I be sure?

God: Easy. Go and visit your Muslim neighbours. Get to know them. You’ll see that they want peace just as much as you do.

Me: What if they try to kill me?

God: There are 1.7 billion Muslims on the planet right now. If they all wanted you dead I don’t think there’s be any doubt about it, do you? You’ll be fine. Trust me. I’m God.

Far right bingo card: All Muslims are child rapists

It’s become a familiar trope of the far right over the last decade to claim that all Muslims are rapists – child rapists at that. Paedophiles. This is because of the grooming gang scandals in places like Rotherham, Derby, Greater Manchester and Oxford. Presented as they were with genuine, actual scandals that really did happen the country’s racists and neo-Nazis lost no time in distorting the facts even further to fit their vile, discriminatory agenda.

So what exactly are those facts? Well…

It’s true that in these and other towns across UK gangs of men conspired together to groom and abuse vulnerable girls, many of whom were below the age of consent and almost all of whom were plied with drugs or alcohol, raped whilst unable to consent, either through intoxication or youth and intimidated into silence before being trafficked around and repeatedly hired out for non-consensual, even forced sex with older men. Several were beaten and threatened with death or serious injury and many continue to suffer psychologically as a result of their traumatic experiences. This is a matter of public record.

It’s also true that the majority of men involved in these grooming gangs were Asian, Muslim and predominantly of Pakistani origin.

It’s also true that the authorities showed remarkable reluctance to confront the issue and there are many sworn affidavits testifying to the fact that girls were either not-believed or even blamed for having ‘asked for it’, as though an under-age girl can ever ‘ask for it’ in any meaningful way. Sex with a minor is, after all, statutory rape whatever her particular, immature judgement might be. Children are children and they need to be protected, often especially from themselves and always from adult sexual predators.

So there we are, those are the facts and they’re particularly sordid facts, to boot.

As a result, far right flag-shagging rabble-rousers from Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson to Paul Golding and Nigel Farage jumped on their discriminatory band-waggons and descended on the towns, especially Rotherham where the scandal first broke, denouncing all Muslims which they tended to define as brown people and non-white taxi drivers and generally using the scandals to whip up religious hatred.

They characterised Muslim citizens as vermin much as the Nazis had characterised the Jews. They denounced anyone who objected as paedophile sympathisers or even as paedophiles themselves.

Lots of people were taken in by this scam, not least because of the abhorrent nature of the crimes concerned and the characterisation of the victims as white, Christian girls which boosted their fantasy agenda of racial and religious warfare. But let’s take a closer look, shall we?

I’m not about to defend the actions of these predominantly but not exclusively Asian men. The crimes were and will always be repugnant and it is right that they are serving long prison sentences as a consequence. And this is equally true regardless of religion or of skin colour. There were a number of white Christians among the gangs and they’re no less guilty for that. All of those who participated in the grooming and abuse of these young women and girls are equally culpable. And there’s the rub.

All the perpetrators are deserving of punishment. But their families and neighbours are not. Just as not all white Christians are paedophiles, neither are all brown Muslims. There is an issue with some sections of the Pakistani community, a problem which the British Pakistani community is well aware of and is actively seeking to eradicate. This isn’t unlike the problem that exists with some sections of the white Christian community in North America where girls as young as 8 or 9 are still formally and informally ‘married’ to older men.

In both cases the practice is cultural, rather than religious. Yet we wouldn’t accuse every resident of Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains of paedophilia any more than we should blame every Muslim of Pakistani origin. Pakistan is a huge country and cultural practices vary enormously across the regions.

Crime is committed by criminals and every demographic has them. I’m not going to get into extensive whataboutery here but it’s worth thinking just a little about the hard work going on in the mosques to eradicate child sexual exploitation and contrasting that with the letter sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to every Roman Catholic diocese worldwide ordering clergy to cover up child abuse within its ranks, to move offending priests to other parishes where they would be free to abuse more children and to refuse to cooperate with local police. A few short years later cardinal Ratzinger became Pope benedict XVI.

The Church of England and the Methodist churches have each had their own paedophilia scandals but nobody complains that all Anglicans, all Roman Catholics or all Methodists are paedophiles. Why is that then?

I think it’s because it’s obvious. I also think it’s because British people have no cultural reason to discriminate against members of our own, traditional religions. Actually we have no reason to discriminate against other religions either except that certain flag-shagging fuckwits see it as a useful peg to hang their racism on. And there’s the rub.

There’s nothing especially unique about Islam when it comes to child sexual abuse. All the major religions have issues with that. In fact, you might argue that Islam is doing more than most to eradicate it. It’s only of interest to these ‘crusaders’ of child protection when it’s brown people doing the abusing though so Islam gets it.

If the likes of Robinson, Farage, Hopkins and Golding really wanted to eradicate child sexual exploitation they’d begin with the Roman Catholics but that’s hardly their aim. It’s brown people they dislike. Abused children can go hang, for all they care.

Far right bingo card: Our jobs, benefits and women

They’re taking our jobs/benefits/women

Jobs

Okay, let’s begin with a few home truths, shall we?

First of all, they’re not ‘your’ jobs. It’s a global market. If Bexit has taught anything at all over the last few years it’s that. People with the appropriate skills come to this country, just as everyone in the land has wanted (especially the 52%). So unless you’re a trained doctor you really can’t complain that ‘your’ job is being done by that well-respected and highly trained man or woman from another country. It’s not your job, it’s the employer’s job and the employer gives it to the candidate best suited for the aims of the business or organisation.

It may be that this decision is made cynically to save money by paying below minimum standards but if that’s the case then the way to combat it is to join together with the immigrants in a trade union and press for fairness and parity. You won’t solve the problem by turning against your exploited brothers and sisters. They’re not the ones paying low wages – they’re just people, like you trying to make ends meet.

Benefits

Benefits, eh? I thought it was jobs. That does seem a tad contradictory, especially since most immigrants actually contribute more to the government coffers than they take out. The majority come here to build a better life. Many were gainfully employed until the bombs we sold fell from the sky on to their homes and workplaces. That’s what drove them away – British made weaponry. Weaponry we profited from and continue to profit from.

So no – most immigrants into UK, be they refugee or not, come here to build a better life for themselves by working hard to earn enough to fulfil their responsibilities to their families either here or abroad. Funnily enough it’s what many British emmigrants do only we don’t call them immigrants – we call them ex-pats and nobody seems to complain about them taking jobs or benefits in the Costa del sol. It’s interesting to note just how many Brits have chosen to retire in Spain, Italy or Southern France where they contribute nothing to the local economy but take full advantage of the local healthcare facilities. That’s also part of the global outlook this country appears to be adopting, or do you think that should just be one-way?

Women

What do you mean, ‘Our women’?

When did you gain the right to dictate to women of any race, creed or colour who they should fall in love with? Since when do British women need to gain your consent to have the right to have children?

Get over yourself, you misogynistic piece of shit!

We must not lose our way

I’m pretty active on Twitter. Just check out @stuartsorensen and if you’re a fellow Tweeter do, please follow and say hello.

There’s a very strong and growing socialist presence on the platform,  not least because of the weekly #SocialistSunday hashtag which has been instrumental in helping us to find and support each other during these dark days of neoliberalism and far-right division. Check it out – it’s a great resource.

But every silver lining has a cloud and this one is no exception. I noticed a popular tweet today. A tweet with lots of reach across the platform, all the more impressively so because the author is a relative newcomer with very few followers.

The tweet calls for solidarity and mutual assistance between socialists. Nothing wrong with that, you might say except that it risks falling into a subtle trap that can only further divide working people along increasingly entrenched lines of right and left. Let me illustrate my point with an anecdote.

A few years ago I was working as a community psychiatric nurse in South Yorkshire. One of my community patients was a young man with extreme far right, Islamophobic and racist views (and a history of very significant violence to boot). Trust me, you really wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of this bloke.

As it happened this young man had multiple social and psychiatric problems and was experiencing some considerable difficulties in accessing the community services he needed.  Consequently I invested an awful lot of time, doggedly liaising with other professionals and talking through his mental health difficulties with him to try and get him some sort of a route back into a fulfilling way of life again.

One day I visited him at home to learn that he’d googled my name and found my blog. It happens sometimes. What he found there appalled him. I’m a lefty, after all. I’m what he thought of as ‘the enemy’. He’d had no idea about my politics. In fact, I’d been so non-committal on the subject that he’d actually assumed I agreed with him. Even rabid lefties like me understand the need to leave our politics at the door where work is concerned.

This young man had one, simple question…

Why?

He’d made no secret of his politics. He even had mail order toilet roll with verses from the Qu’Ran printed on every sheet and some very obvious pamphlets lying around at home.

Why had I worked so hard to help him – a neoNazi and unapologetic racist? He’d never have lifted a finger to help me if the shoe was on the other foot.

I resisted the temptation to reply that his small-mindedness was one reason why the shoe wasn’t actually on the other foot in the first place. Instead, in addition to discussing my professional duty of care, I briefly outlined the difference between the left wing working class and the right wing working class…

The left wing works for the benefit of all who need it.

The right wing works only for the benefit of those with whom they agree.

To my surprise he acknowledged that this was correct, without protestation or denial. He freely admitted that the left was far more inclusive and compassionate than the right and that this easily explained the difference in our attitudes. Below is a clip from a documentary about the 1936 Battle of Cable Street which illustrates this point far more effectively than I just did.

So far as the left is concerned the needs of the whole community matter. At least – so far as the left wing that I’ve always believed in is concerned. I’m a socialist precisely because I think the whole community is important. Even those very few people I’ve ‘disowned’ have been rejected only because they sought to ostracise others due to colour, nationality or religion. That seems to me to be a form of natural justice from which they just might learn something important.

So whilst I applaud the idea of developing a means to help those in need I worry that by limiting it to a form of socialist ‘mutual aid’ we may be starting down a route that ends with us losing one of the most important aspects of what it means to be a socialist. I put this article out here not to criticise or in any way to attempt to undermine the efforts of my fellow lefty. I think the intention is brilliant and I’ll certainly be participating in what aid I can give but I’d like to ask that, whilst we can and should make it clear that it’s a socialist initiative we really oughtn’t to limit our assistance only to those with whom we agree…

That’s what they do on the dark side.

I’m English and no traitor?

I love the England I was born into. I’ve lived here all my life and lived and/or worked in every county in England and Scotland. I know my country and its people well.

And I’m sick and tired of people who want to destroy this great culture claiming that I’m the traitor.