immigration

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Robin Simcox’s Racist and Anti-Semitic Links

Further respect to Zelo Street for adding a few more details about Robin Simcox and his membership of some very nasty right-wing organisations. Simcox is professional smirking slime-bucket Priti Patel’s choice for head of the Commission for Countering Extremism. I put up a piece about him yesterday, based on a piece about him in the latest issue of Private Eye noting that Simcox has some views himself that many might consider extreme. Like he’s a Neocon member of the Heritage Foundation, who backs sending terrorist suspect to countries where they can be tortured and further infringement on the rule of law. But that’s not all. According to Wikipedia, the Heritage Foundation denies the reality of climate change and is funded by the American oil giant, Exxon Mobil. It also promoted the false claims of voter fraud. This was done through Hans von Spakovsky, the head of the Heritage Foundation’s Electoral Law Reform Initiative, who made such fears mainstream in the Republican Party. Von Spakovsky’s work, you won’t be surprised to hear, has been completely discredited according to Wikipedia.

The Heritage Foundation, according to the Byline Times, have on their board Rebekah Mercer and her father, Robert Mercer, who funded Breitbart News, which in turn supported Cambridge Analytica. And it was Cambridge Analytica that introduced Donald Trump to Steve Bannon, who founded Parler. But it was Simcox’s links to the racist extreme right that was more worrying to that authors of the Byline Times’ article. In 2019 Simcox spoke at a meeting of the Centre for Immigration Studies. The CIS has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. The CIS has for ten years circulated anti-Semitic and White nationalist materials, included articles written by supporters of eugenics and Holocaust deniers. According to Wikipedia, the CIS’ reports have been criticised as false or misleading and with poor methodology by experts on immigration. The Byline Times stated that in his work for the Heritage Foundation, Simcox promoted the work of several racist and anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, including a supporter of the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, which has inspired many of the extreme right-wing terror attacks in recent years. He’s also been criticised for falsely equating British Islamic organisations with the Muslim brotherhood.

Simcox therefore has links to people, whose views could be described as genuinely Nazi. But as the Street notes, the self-appointed opponents of anti-Semitism are curiously silent about all this.


So who’s making their feelings known about this appointment? “Lord” Ian Austin? “Lord” John Mann? Wes Streeting? Stephen Pollard? John Woodcock? Margaret Hodge? Daniel Finkelstein? Crickets. If only Simcox had been pals with Jeremy Corbyn.

Zelo Street: Tory Anti-Semitism Link – No Problem! (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Quite. But the above weren’t opponents of anti-Semitism per se. They were simply determined to destroy the Labour left and protect Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians. And as Tony Greenstein has shown ad nauseam, Israel has no problem collaborating with real Nazis if it will serve its interests.

Author Interview: Q and A with Dr Ian Sanjay Patel on We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/04/2021 - 8:51pm in

In this author interview, we speak to Dr Ian Sanjay Patel about his new book, We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire, which explores post-war immigration laws, the afterlives of British imperial citizenship and related attempts to reimagine and rejuvenate British imperialism after 1945. Contributing to transnational histories of decolonisation, the book also explores the interconnections between human rights, post-war migration and international diplomacy.

Author Interview with Dr Ian Sanjay Patel, author of We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire. Verso. 2021.

Q: The title of your book, We’re Here Because You Were There, draws directly from the words of Ambalavaner Sivanandan. How does his phrase open up the themes explored in your study?

Ambalavaner Sivanandan was a Sri Lankan political essayist and anti-racism campaigner based in London. He was also a gifted aphorist. His phrase ‘we are here because you were there’ captured with a simple elegance the relationship between post-war migrants (we) now settled in Britain (here) on the one hand, and the former crown colonies and other territories of the British empire (there), maintained by Europeans in imperial service (you), on the other.

I use Sivanandan’s aphorism in an expansive way, since my book moves beyond a single relationship between imperial heartland and colony, or home and abroad. Rather, I show that the history of migration and the British empire involved multiple places, groups of people and migrations that interacted in an often overlapping series. Once post-war migration is placed in its various settler-colonial and intra-imperial contexts, you realise that here means more than one destination, there means more than one former home and that you refers as much to previous generations of British white settlers resident outside the British Isles as to a perceived Anglo-Saxon community ‘native’ to Britain.

I am also at pains to describe the various legal statuses of post-war migrants to Britain, who were either British citizens (citizens ‘of the United Kingdom and Colonies’) or Commonwealth citizens, both of which groups had unrestricted rights of entry and residence in Britain between 1948 and 1962. (Things become more complicated after this period.) Legally speaking, Sivanandan’s aphorism might have been re-written as ‘we are here under the provisions of British nationality law passed by British lawmakers’ – far more unwieldy and not half as sonorous, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Q: What are some of the key myths that your book challenges when it comes to post-war immigration, Britain’s transition to becoming a post-imperial power and the perceived ‘end of empire’?

Any book on post-war Britain with ‘end of empire’ or ‘after empire’ in its title ought to acknowledge the ambivalences contained within such designations. Although Britain’s formal empire was all but over by the mid-1960s, there was never a final ‘end of empire’ moment in Britain, either at the constitutional level or within the imagination of British political classes. (The announced military retrenchment ‘east of Suez’ in 1968 is sometimes used to mark the final end of empire; I dispute this in the book.)

As paradoxical as it might sound, the transfer of sovereign power to former colonies was not perceived as the final end of British imperialism, but simply its latest, evolved iteration in the form of the Commonwealth of Nations. Today, the Commonwealth might hardly seem a formidable vehicle for British imperialism, but its function between 1945 and 1973 was to kick the question of the end of empire into the long grass, as it absorbed the sources of and arguments for British imperial power, both real and imagined, in the post-war decades.

At the level of British nationality and citizenship, decolonisation did not begin in Britain until 1981 and the British Nationality Act of that year. In other words, British nationality and citizenship remained imperial throughout the age of decolonisation and until 1981. The 1948 British Nationality Act created a single, non-national citizenship around the territories of the British Isles and the crown colonies. Once you let go of the intuition that British citizenship must have become national rather than imperial in the 1960s, in line with the end of formal empire, you can begin to understand the paradoxes of post-war Britain. After 1945 Britain was indeed ending formal empire – but not at the level of nationality and citizenship, and not in order to create a post-imperial identity or constitution, but rather to redirect existing and new imperial structures around the Commonwealth. Of course, as it turned out, by the early 1970s even the most quixotic believers in an imperial Commonwealth had to acknowledge it to be more a diplomatic damp squib than a vaunting world-political bloc under British auspices.

The British Commonwealth of Nations (Art.IWM PST 15786). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/32881.

Q: Your book stresses the need to move away from seeing post-war immigration as a domestic issue to understanding these diverse international dimensions. What do we gain when we move outwards and encompass international perspectives?

I can well understand why a person’s intuition would be that the story of post-war migration and Britain is confined to the British Isles – after all, a large part of the story is indeed about the circumstances and experiences by which various constituencies of people arrived in Britain itself from former or existing parts of the British empire. But a good deal of the story takes place off-site, overseas, within the memory and practices of colonial governance, and, later, amid the regional and national politics of a new world of postcolonial states.

For example, most accounts of post-war immigration begin with the 1905 Aliens Act passed by the imperial parliament in London. But immigration as we know it today begins somewhat earlier in the white-settler colonies – in today’s Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. Immigration laws were devised by Anglo-Saxon settlers to protect their colonies from ‘Asiatics’ (Chinese, Japanese, Indians). In other words, migration and immigration laws were occurring intra-imperially, as white emigration from Britain flourished, as indentured labourers were moved from India to the so-called sugar colonies after the abolition of slavery, and Indian immigrants were encouraged to settle in the British East Africa Protectorate. Later, the postcolonial politics of East Africa and South Asia, and Britain’s bilateral relationships with certain key states (among them India and Kenya), would often dictate the exact terms of migration to Britain and immigration policies in the late 1960s. Indeed, one of the more important revelations of the book is the great significance – previously overlooked – of British-Indian relations to post-war migration in the 1960s and early 1970s. These included many diplomatic attempts by British officials to foist British citizens and British Protected Persons – in particular, these were South Asians in East Africa – on to Indira Gandhi’s government for permanent settlement in India. Britain tried – sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding – to exploit India’s complicated relationship after 1947 with so-called overseas Indians, despite the fact that the overseas Indians in question were often British citizens.

Q: You describe the 1948 Nationality Act as a ‘momentous event’. Why is this such a landmark moment for understanding the history of post-war immigration in the UK? Was its significance fully understood at the time?

The 1948 British Nationality Act was momentous because it gave rights of entry and residence in Britain to millions of non-white people around the world, on the basis of their connection to existing crown colonies or independent Commonwealth states. Awareness among British lawmakers at the time of the scale of future non-white migration to Britain appears to have been not far from nil. The true motivations behind the 1948 Act were squarely imperial – namely, retaining and rearticulating the scheme of British subjecthood for the post-war world, and keeping a soon-to-be-republican India in the Commonwealth. The afterlives of the 1948 Act were manifold as the age of decolonisation continued and, yet, successive British governments refused to dismantle the imperial structures of British nationality, instead passing immigration laws as so many bandages on nativist wounds as the imperial heartland became home to more and more non-white migrants.

Screenshot of title of British Nationality Act, 1948, available under Open Government Licence v3.0, available at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/11-12/56/resources.

Q: As a history of post-war immigration, your book also traces state racism in Britain, showing how the UK government introduced racially discriminatory laws that sought to reclassify non-white British citizens as ‘immigrants’. How did non-white immigration come to be constructed as a ‘problem’ in the post-war era and what were some of the consequences for non-white British citizens? 

It’s important to understand that a particular kind of hostility after 1945 was reserved for ‘coloured immigrants’, as the term went both among British officials and policymakers and within the national press. The hostility in the 1950s was social, political and administrative – and violent; consider here the 1958 so-called race riots – but in the 1960s and early 1970s this hostility transposed itself into the key immigration laws of the post-war decades. In particular, the 1971 Immigration Act represented a tiering of British citizenship (citizenship of the UK and Colonies) and Commonwealth citizenship along racial lines.

The extent to which British governments were racist in their adoption of post-war immigration laws has occasioned much debate among scholars. The decision to call British citizens (citizens of the UK and Colonies) and Commonwealth citizens ‘immigrants’ – both in the titles affixed to immigration laws and in political discourse more generally – was a rather hulking device by which to fudge any discussion of citizenship rights. Technically, the 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act and the 1971 Immigration Act are examples of indirect racial discrimination. Yet the effects of the 1968 Act on certain individuals were later found to be an example of racial discrimination and degrading treatment by the European Court of Human Rights in 1973. Most grievously, large numbers of South Asian British citizens resident in Kenya found themselves stateless in reality after the 1968 Act came into effect, despite still being described as British citizens in law. The British attorney general had, however, reassured parliament that because the 1968 Act offered a small number of entry-vouchers to the South Asian British citizens resident in Kenya, it could not be seen as an outright block to their entry, and neither was their citizenship itself being stripped of them.

In the minds of British political elites, non-white immigration was a ‘problem’ that was both abstract and concrete, domestic and international, political and personal, and about both the past and the future. The most prominent claim was that ‘coloured immigration’ led to forms of ‘social unrest’ and social-institutional overstretch in Britain. But no less formative was an associative realm within the minds of British officials in which non-white migrants conjured and embodied the destiny of the empire, the international challenges to Britain’s imperial record and the terms of decolonisation, the stymied imperial ambitions of the Commonwealth and Britain’s embattled place within the international public sphere, and an internal struggle between British imperial idealism and post-war British nativism. Ever implicated in world politics, the racial imagination of British officials and politicians was also interacting with real and perceived forms of transnational black solidarity during the 1960s.

Q: Your book relates how the racially discriminatory nature of British immigration laws attracted widespread international outrage. Did particular voices or institutions lead this international condemnation and how did British officials and politicians navigate the impact on Britain’s reputation on the world stage?

One of my main concerns in the book is to show the ways in which Britain after 1945 was a contender in the making of the post-war world, and that post-war migration was deeply implicated in the vagaries of Britain’s role in world politics after 1945. Decolonisation was not so much a turn inwards to domestic affairs as an adaptation to shifting international realities, norms and values – not least at the level of self-determination, anti-colonialism and racial equality. British political elites’ cultivated self-image was irretrievably damaged by international criticism at the UN General Assembly, in the various diplomatic fora of the Commonwealth, by diplomatic encounters within bilateral relationships and by human rights organisations and bodies such as the International Commission of Jurists and the European Court of Human Rights. This criticism sometimes levelled itself against Britain’s supposedly unique relationship to the rule of law, especially where immigration laws and decolonisation diverged from legal standards. Britain presented itself as an embattled, small island with a crucial ‘world role’ forced to deploy sovereign power in the face of immigration and other forms of crisis. By the late 1960s, Britain’s reputational power, especially at the United Nations, was closer to bankruptcy than apogee.

In other words, post-war British liberal imperialism accommodated the end of direct imperial rule, not as the end of empire, but as the realisation of a particular vision of empire based on constitutional tutelage and constitutional equality within the Commonwealth. Certain British politicians, officials and diplomats used the Commonwealth to reimagine British imperialism for the post-war era and move it towards various kinds of structural power. The Commonwealth was presented as ‘multi-racial’ and thus an answer to the United Nations, yet it was also, and more importantly, a grand constitutional and political receptacle of ‘Anglocentricity’ in world politics – the last vestige of previous imperial dreams of a British-led world government.

Q: Part Three of the book focuses on South Asian migration in the post-war period, particularly the 1968 Kenyan South Asian crisis and the 1972 Ugandan South Asian crisis. How revealing are British governments’ different approaches to these situations at the time?

These often overlooked episodes are deeply revealing ones for post-war Britain, and not simply because two of the great offices of state are currently held by children of East African South Asians (Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel). The South Asians in Kenya facing majoritarian policies in the late 1960s were overwhelmingly British citizens. They held an identical citizenship to Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson himself and an unrestricted legal right of entry to Britain. But such was the resistance to more ‘coloured immigrants’, Wilson’s government passed the 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act to block their entry, knowing full well it would leave Kenyan South Asian British citizens with ‘the husk of citizenship’, as the home secretary put it in a key Cabinet meeting. This was the first time that an immigration law had been levelled at British citizens per se, and showed the face of British sovereign power at the level of membership, borders and Britishness.

When South Asians in Uganda – a mixture of British citizens, British Protected Persons and Ugandan citizens – were expelled by Ugandan President Idi Amin in 1972, Edward Heath’s Conservative government in the UK balked at reacting in such a way that might be seen to mirror Amin’s act of denationalisation. Instead, Ugandan South Asians with British nationality were carefully cultivated as ‘refugees’, notwithstanding the fact that this was more in spirit than in law. I argue that Britain was here adapting to shifting international values, seeing more international leverage in humanitarian emergency than in the rhetoric of domestic immigration crisis. The new framework was effective in this instance, and many third states offered to settle Ugandan South Asians, including those who were British nationals.

During this same period, and unbeknownst both to the British public and the United Nations, both Wilson’s and Heath’s governments were responsible for the forcible displacement of Chagossians – longstanding inhabitants of the Chagos archipelago – during the preparation of the British Indian Ocean Territory (created in 1965) for US military purposes in the context of the Cold War. Indeed, the forgotten episodes of the end of empire are too numerous to discuss here.

Q: To explore such forgotten and overlooked episodes, what archives did you draw on for your research, and did you face any difficulties in accessing documents and materials?

I drew most heavily on archival material, declassified around the year 2000, from the Commonwealth Office, the Foreign Office and (after 1968) the merged FCO, as well as from the correspondence of those in British diplomatic service. I also draw on a range of other materials – parliamentary records, newspapers and various legal, political and intellectual texts – from a host of countries, particularly in East Africa and South Asia.

There are indeed a range of difficulties in making choices about which documents, materials and archives to use and to seek – and confronting what is and what is not available – not least because each of these is a methodological choice, and relates to one’s ideas about state and society, the domestic and the international, the official and the non-official, time and space, epistemology and evidence, ways of knowing and seeing, knowledge and the politics of knowledge, all amid a myriad of lived realities.

The most intellectually honest metaphor I can think of for the experience of writing a book, or perhaps a first book, is building a plane. I don’t mean this to sound grand or pioneering, but rather improbable and elaborate. You carefully consider your materials, your method of construction, the design of the whole as a dynamic form and the sustainability of its propulsion. Above all, you hope that it might get off the ground when you’re done. When you’re in the middle of the process, the knowledge that you’ll end up airborne is as much about faith as about craft, and in the end no amount of polishing will substitute for the care you took underneath the cladding.

Q: You bring together the lived experiences of non-white British and Commonwealth citizens; of British officials and politicians; and of those associated with new postcolonial states emerging from imperial rule. Did navigating these three sets of experiences pose any challenges when it came to writing the book?

I was keenly aware of the division of labour between these three sets of lived experiences. In a sense, I was trying to control for the fact that as a transdisciplinary writer, I was moving between the legal, the political and the social; as well as between the domestic, international and transnational; and between those who were at the helm of law and sovereign power and those who were not. This sounds very abstract, and in some ways one needs to think conceptually when attempting a global history. I was also interested, conceptually speaking,  in demarcating the different kinds of power that the British state attempted to marshal in the post-war period – namely, imperial power, reputational power, structural power and sovereign power. Various British officials, diplomats and politicians overestimated Britain’s remaining imperial and reputational power in the 1960s, yet the sovereign power to determine immigration laws remained with the British state.

But in another sense the various constituencies within the book – at the level of migration and also at the level of state officialdom – were all implicated within the sociology of empire and, later, the sociology of decolonisation. It makes little sense to treat these constituencies as somehow sealed off from one another. Conceptually, too, some of the distinctions I refer to above often make more sense in the abstract than they do within their proper historical texture. South Asians resident in East Africa were African in various ways as much as they were deemed Indian, Pakistani or British in other ways. Equally, the diplomats and politicians active during the age of decolonisation from various countries often knew each other, had studied at the same institutions or had travelled or lived between imperial destinations during the age of empire. The book’s cast of characters is very diverse, including the Indian diplomat, Apa Pant, the political economist, Susan Strange, the sometime adviser on colonial administration, Margery Perham, and the theatre director and migrant from East Africa, Jatinder Verma.

Q: You point out in the book that this history is not widely known. How important is it to recognise the transnational history of post-war migration as ‘not peripheral to post-war British history, but one of its central dimensions’, as you write?

The history of post-war migration in Britain is simply a proxy for and core dimension of an international history of post-war Britain, or perhaps more simply a history of post-war Britain. It is often surprising to me how little understanding there is about the Commonwealth – particularly its imperial and constitutional significance – as well as the actual trajectory of decolonisation, alongside real and imagined forms of post-war British imperialism. Equally, there is little popular understanding of Britain’s settler-colonial history and white emigration, particularly after 1945, and the ways in which these histories directly related to British constitutional structures. The circumstances of post-war migration were dictated by Britain’s self-understanding as an imperial Commonwealth during the first, crucial, post-war decades. The post-war settlement itself, and its upheaval in the 1970s, needs to be conceived within this construction of Britain more generally.

Q: You show that ‘Britain’s transition to a post-imperial age has been subject to endless deferrals’, in part due to a widespread refusal to truly examine – and break – the relationship between immigration, British identity and the imperial past. Do you think that contemporary Britain has the capacity to look ‘within’ and fully reckon with the history explored in your book?

That is a very deep question, one that is implicated in the philosophy of history. History suggests that the most intransigent of things finally change. Britain – if one can refer to state and society in the singular – will be moved into new relationships by the world around it, perhaps more by fait accompli than by choice. Yet one of the strange things that seems to occur when Britain looks ‘within’, as you say, is that as much of its history gets renewed and reimagined in continuity as much as other impressions are finally let go. Historical reckoning is often as disturbing as it is clarifying, not least because some of the imbalances at stake persist. As a social process, historical reckoning is more complex than it might first appear. We are perhaps all of us the less or the more deceived. To speak more plainly, I would suggest that better public education on the history of migration and empire – and empire after 1945 – would be a great place to start. My greatest hope is that the book contributes to this educational redress.

Note: This interview gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. The interview was conducted by Dr Rosemary Deller, Managing Editor of the LSE Review of Books blog.

 


Sleaz Lucid since 2018. Pho James is long gone but Thủy Hương is...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/04/2021 - 8:33am in

Sleaz Lucid since 2018. Pho James is long gone but Thủy Hương is first class. Out the back in the Inner West’s “Little Saigon”. Many Vietnamese refugees settled in the area post-1975. Marrickville.
         

Tories Now Want to Set Up Privately Run ‘Secure Schools’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/04/2021 - 2:55am in

This is really alarming, considering the appalling record of the outsourcing giants running the privatised prisons. Mike put up a piece yesterday suggesting a possible reason for Gavin Williamson’s absurd statement that pupils’ behaviour had got worse during the lockdown and absence from school. Mike and myself both noted that there was zero evidence for this. In fact a friend of mine, who is a school governor, believed the children at her school were actually better behaved. And it seems this friend isn’t alone. Mike put up a series of quotes from people in education saying very clearly that children’s behaviour hadn’t deteriorated. One of them even said it had improved. Williamson’s statement is thus pure nonsense.

But there is a possible explanation for it in the Tories’ proposed change to the school system, which in fact is a further expansion of the prison-industrial complex. He wants to introduce privately run ‘secure schools’. This sounds to many concerned educationalists like the return of the Young Offenders Institutions. One of those, who oppose this plan, is Zahra Bei, who fears that they will be a ‘fast track to prison’. The Tories have said that they won’t be ‘prisons with education’, but I really don’t put much faith in that considering the Tories appalling record of lying as easily as most people breathe. Private companies have so far been excluded from running such schools, but the government wants to reform this legislation so that they can do so under the guise of charities. This seems to me to be already a scandalous disaster in waiting, considering the mess companies like G4S, Serco and the rest of them have made of running adult prisons and migrant detention centres. It was only a few years ago that conditions in privately run prisons were so appalling that the prisoners were rioting. Private Eye has also run any number of stories in its ‘Footnotes’ or ‘In The Back Column’ about the tragic deaths of young people put in adult prisons, either by their own hand or murdered by their fellow inmates. The Tory plan to start building privately run prison schools seems to me to threaten the further deaths of vulnerable young people. And this is quite apart from the horrors of their predecessors, as depicted in films like Scum.

But I can see more children being unjustly sentenced to these places as the government and the companies running them want to turn a profit and give a nice, fat dividend to the shareholders. The ‘capped crusader’ Michael Moore gave an example of such a glaring miscarriage of justice in his documentary Capitalism – A Love Story. This was the case of a teenage American girl, who was sentenced to a spell in prison. The girl had committed a trivial offence. I can’t remember what it was – it may have been simply bunking off school or underage drinking. It certainly wasn’t anything more serious. It was the kind of crime which over here would be have been punished with a small fine or so many hours community service. Or simply being grounded by her parents and having her playstation taken away for the duration. But no, the beak decided that she was such a dangerous delinquent, that only a spell in the slammer would deter her from a life of crime. Well, actually, not quite. The real reason was that the judge was on the payroll of the private company running the prison. Their profits depend on people being put in them. Hence the incentive for the esteemed lawman to put a teenage girl behind bars.

And I’m afraid the same will happen here. Williamson’s comments about the bad behaviour of all those children coming back to school seems set to prime public opinion for it. The Tories are past masters at exploiting the public’s fear of rising crime, especially by the young. Children haven’t become worse behaved because of the lockdown. In fact, Mike’s probably right when he says that they may even have become more self-disciplined because of it. But Williamson needs people to believe that children’s behaviour has got worse, so that he then has a pretext for locking them up in his new, shiny, privately run educational prisons.

When they run the risk of really getting set on a career as a crime and a lifetime in prison, or brutalised by the staff employed by private companies running the schools or the other inmates, with the dreadful prospect that some will either commit suicide or be killed by the others. Bei has said that the majority of people put in these wretched schools will be young, Black, poor and disabled. That’s a certainty, given that the prison population is generally composed of the poor and those from ethnic minorities. The number of female prisoners in the UK is comparatively small – 4,000 women compared to 80,000 or so men. But women in prison can be particularly vulnerable, especially as the majority of them aren’t violent. It’s been claimed that many of the women currently banged up are for crimes like failure to pay their TV license. But I can imagine a number of girls getting sentenced to these schools as part of Williamson’s campaign to stamp out the entirely imaginary tide of school-age crime he wants us to think is coming.

Colonial Ties, Not Oppression, Is the Best Reason for Granting Asylum

This has been irritating me for some time now, and so I’m going to try to get it off my chest. A month or so ago I went to a Virtual meeting, organised by the left wing of the Labour party, on why socialists should be anti-war. It was part of the Arise Festival of ideas, and featured a variety of speakers all concerned with the real possibility that the war-mongering of Tony Blair, George W. Bush and so on would return. They made the point that all the interventions in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere were motivated purely by western geopolitical interests. Western nations and their multinationals had initiated them solely to plunder and dominate these nations and their industries and resources. One of the speakers was the Muslim head of the Stop War Coalition, who stated that many people from ethnic minorities had supported the Labour party because historically Labour had backed independence for their countries of origin. And obviously the Labour party was risking their support by betraying them through supporting these wars. After the failure of these wars – the continued occupation of Afghanistan, the chaos in Iraq and Libya – the calls for further military interventions had died down. But now these wars were being rehabilitated, and there is a real danger that the military-industrial complex will start demanding further invasions and occupations.

I absolutely agree totally with these points. Greg Palast’s book Armed Madhouse shows exactly how the Iraq invasion had absolutely nothing to do with liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, but was all about stealing their oil reserves and state industries. The invasion of Afghanistan has precious little to do with combatting al-Qaeda, and far more to do with the construction of an oil pipeline that would benefit western oil interests at the expense of Russia and its allies. And the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy in Libya was also about the removal of an obstacle to western neo-colonial domination. These wars have brought nothing but chaos and death to these countries. The welfare states of Iraq and Libya have been decimated, and the freedoms women enjoyed to pursue careers outside the home have been severely curtailed our removed. Both of these countries were relatively secular, but have since been plunged into sectarian violence.

Despite this, one of the speakers annoyed me. This was the head of the Black Liberation Association or whatever Black Lives Matter now calls itself. She was a young a woman with quite a thick African accent. It wasn’t quite what she said, but the tone in which she said it. This was one of angry, indignant and entitled demand, rather than calm, persuasive argument. She explained that the Black Liberation Association campaigned for the rights and self-government of all nations in the global south and their freedom from neo-colonial economic restrictions and domination. She attacked the ‘fortress Europe’ ideology intended to keep non-White immigrants out, especially the withdrawal of the Italian naval patrols in the Med. This had resulted in more migrant deaths as unseaworthy boats sank without their crews and passengers being rescued. This is all stuff the left has campaigned against for a long time. I remember learning in ‘A’ Level geography in school that Britain and Europe had erected tariff barriers to prevent their former colonies competing with them in the production of manufactured goods. This meant that the economies of the African nations, for example, were restricted to agriculture and mining. As for the withdrawal of the Italian navy and coastguard, and the consequent deaths of migrants, this was very much an issue a few years ago and I do remember signing internet petitions against it. But there was one argument she made regarding the issue of the granting of asylum that was weak and seriously annoyed me. She stated that we had to accept migrants because we had oppressed them under colonialism.

This actually doesn’t work as an argument for two reasons. I’m not disputing that we did oppress at least some of the indigenous peoples of our former colonies. The colour bar in White Rhodesia was notorious, and Black Africans in other countries, like Malawi, were treated as second class citizens quite apart from the horrific, genocidal atrocities committed against the Mao-Mao rebellion. The first problem with the argument from colonial oppression is that it raises the question why any self-respecting person from the Commonwealth would ever want to come to Britain, if we’re so racist and oppressive.

The other problem is that the British Empire is now, for the most part, a thing of the past. Former colonies across the globe formed nationalist movements and achieved their independence. They were supposed to benefit from the end of British rule. In some cases they have. But to return to Africa, since independence the continent has been dominated by a series of brutal dictators, who massacred and looted their people. There is an appalling level of corruption to the point where the FT said that many of them were kleptocracies, which were only called countries by the courtesy of the west. Western colonialism is responsible for many of the Developing World’s problems, but not all. I’ve heard from a couple of Brits, who have lived and worked in former colonies, that they have been asked by local people why we left. These were older people, but it shows that the end of British rule was not as beneficial as the nationalists claimed, and that some indigenous people continued to believe that things had been better under the Empire. But the culpability of the leaders of many developing nations for their brutal dictatorships and the poverty they helped to inflict on their people wasn’t mentioned by this angry young woman. And that’s a problem, because the counterargument to her is that the British Empire has vanished, and with the handover to indigenous rule British responsibility for these nations’ affairs ended. It is up to these countries to solve their problems, and we should be under no obligation to take in people fleeing oppression in these countries.

For me, a far better approach would be to stress old colonial ties and obligations with these nations. Part of the ideology of colonialism was that Britain held these countries in trust, and that these nations would only remain under British rule until they developed the ability to manage themselves. It was hypocritical, and I think there’s a quote from Lord Lugard, one of the architects of British rule in Africa, about how the British had only a few decades to despoil the country. Nevertheless, it was there, as was Kipling’s metaphor of the ‘White Man’s Burden’, in which Britain was to teach these nations proper self-government and civilisation. It’s patronising, because it assumes the superiority of western civilisation, but nevertheless it is one of paternal responsibility and guidance. And some British politicians and imperialists took this ideology very seriously. I was told by a friend of mine that before Enoch Powell became an avowed and implacable opponent of non-White immigration with his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, he sincerely believed that Britain did have an obligation to its subject peoples. He worked for a number of organisations set up to help non-White immigrants to Britain from her colonies.

It therefore seems to me that supporters of non-White migrants and asylum seekers would be far better arguing that they should be granted asylum because of old colonial ties and kinship in the Commonwealth and continuing paternal obligations, rather than allowed in as some kind of reparation for the oppression of the colonial past.

The first argument offers reconciliation and common links. The other only angry division between oppressed and oppressor.

Book note: Emily Kenway, The Truth About Modern Slavery

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 2:36am in

I spend yesterday reading Emily Kenway’s excellent The Truth About Modern Slavery (Pluto Press, 2021). Kenway, a former advisor to the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner has her sights set on one of the most pernicious moral panics of recent years, espoused by right-wing politicians and “radical feminists” alike and used to legitimize a range of policy interventions, but particularly the hardening of borders, increased surveillance and, in relation to the sex industry, the “Nordic model”. Kenway’s argument is that the “modern slavery” industry, leveraging a parallel with actual slavery that is unjustified, promotes a focus on practices of coercion and exploitation that are represented as exceptional and abusive and as contaminating a system of labour and employment that is otherwise well-functioning. It leads to a discourse that emphasises the rescuing of victims from the evil gangs that exploit them and obscures the fact that the everyday operations of capitalism and the nation state generate the the conditions under which people make choices, often freely and rationally, to accept pretty horrible conditions, because those conditions are, for them, the best ones on offer. The book is very much focused on the UK, but readers elsewhere will certainly find parallels in their own countries.

Kenway is very good on the way in which the very same politician who have made “modern slavery” into a crusade have also been the ones who have increased the precarity that marginalized workers and irregular migrants experience. At the same time as May was issuing declarations on the subject, she was pioneering, as UK Home Secretary, the Hostile Environment that made it far more difficulty for migrants to get employment in the regular economy. Kenway highlights the ambigious status that workers at the sharp end of this discourse have: victims, if they are found dead in a trailer or “rescued” from a brothel; perpetrators and immigration offenders if they emerge from a trailer alive. The book is very up to date, but since its publication Priti Patel, the UK’s new Home Secretary, introducing a yet more restrictive immigration regime has complained that “illegals” are “abusing” the modern slavery protections in order to remain in the UK. So it goes.

Another strong point in the book is an examination of the way in which horror statistics are manufactured to fuel moral panic. How many trafficked women are there in the UK, for example? An academic study starting with 71 definite cases in 1998, moved through extrapolation to an upper bound of 1420, but by 2007 the now-disgraced MP Denis Macshane was confidently telling the House of Commons that there were 25,000 sex slave. Something must be done.

Kenway exposes the limitations of voluntary reporting of abusive practices by companies checking their supply chains (often difficult to impossible to achieve) and of suggestions that consumers can change practices by ethical shopping. If often turns out that plantations and factories with ethical certification have more abuse going on that those without. Rather, she argues for states tackling abuse through properly funded inspectorates and application of labour law. At present, even in countries such as the UK, sweatshops can thrive because the same policians who are banging on about modern slavery are starving factory inspectors of resources! Trade unions also provide a necessary defence against exploitation. And safe, legal migration pathways coupled with better wages and conditions in origin countries would both provide workers with better options and deny the unscrupulous the opportunities to take advantage of them. UBI gets a mention too, though not uncritically. “Modern slavery” is represented as contaminating something that is basically OK: the reality is that people face horrible choices and practices that are common in the mainstream of the economy (hello Amazon, Uber, Sports Direct) are cranked to an extreme for the most vulnerable. Recommended.

The Children at the Border and the Question of Immigration  

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/04/2021 - 6:55am in

Many of these migrants are coming from Central America and Mexico, the former region devastated by the U.S. support for rightwing governments in civil wars of the 1980s and early 1990s, and the latter still suffering from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Read more ›

The post The Children at the Border and the Question of Immigration   appeared first on New Politics.

Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Carry the Carrot and Stick in Central America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/04/2021 - 3:10am in

WASHINGTON — The White House announced recently that Vice President Kamala Harris would take charge of the Biden administration’s “efforts to deter migration to the southwestern border by working to improve conditions in Central America.” The effort would oversee an infusion of billions of dollars into the “ravaged economies” of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), comprising the nations of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

According to the Pew Research Center, immigration to the United States between 2007 and 2015 from these three countries outpaced all others, growing by 25%. More recent data provided by the UN Refugee Agency shows how the pandemic has exacerbated the endemic problems of violence and extortion that motivate the emigrants’ departure, causing over half a million people from the region to migrate in 2020.

The Missing Migrants Project, which tracks incidents involving migrants on their way to an international destination, reveals how dangerous such journeys can be – in particular for those who attempt the 2,000-mile excursion through Mexico towards the U.S. – with 65% of the 4,000 deaths recorded from 2014 until 2020 occurring along this migration corridor alone.

The brutality of this humanitarian catastrophe is underscored by the recent massacre of 19 Guatemalan migrants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in January by cartel-linked, U.S.-trained state police special forces called Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (GOPES). Early reports had pointed to drug cartel assassins looking to sabotage a competing cartel’s migrant smuggling business, but evidence increasingly mounted against the GOPES and 12 of its officers were formally charged with the heinous crime two weeks later.

News of Harris’s selection came one day after a delegation led by Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, arrived in the Mexican capital to engage in high-level talks between the governments to address the “root causes” of the ongoing immigration crisis at the border. The axiom seems to be an agreed-upon phrase that will be used as part of any public-facing discourse of this multilateral initiative, but it is unclear how far down into those actual roots any of the governments involved will be willing to dig.

 

The politics of the matter

Leading on one of the most polarizing and complicated issues in American politics is already being billed as Kamala Harris’s ‘signature’ issue. It comes on the heels of intense media scrutiny over the actions of the Biden administration, which has been accused of hypocrisy after it restored migrant detention facilities to “pre-pandemic” capacity, relying on its press secretary and establishment media to distinguish its approach from the previous administration’s family separation policy.

Despite their arguments, photos released by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) of a crammed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention center in his state, the day before the bilateral meeting was scheduled to take place in Mexico, reveal that conditions have changed little for migrants.

Migrant Children

Photo | Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar via AP

Migrant Children

Photo | Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar via AP

CBP released its own photos and video in response to Cuellar, accompanied by a statement assuring the public that it is doing the best it can to “transfer unaccompanied minors to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

As the golden goose egg of American politics, immigration will give Harris an opportunity to carve out a strong national profile and, with her background as California’s top cop, she is perfectly positioned to reap the political benefits sure to come her way as she parries predictable blows from the opposition, like Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s characterization of her as “the worst possible choice” for the assignment.

Attacks from a three-term Republican governor who signed Trump’s patch of border wall will help Harris to gloss over her troubling history as a state prosecutor and questionable track record as a member of Congress, which go right to the heart of those “root causes” she has now been tapped to address in relation to the crisis at the border.

 

Progressive deception

Among the litany of horrors hiding in the broad definition of the migrant crisis are issues like child labor, sex trafficking, kidnapping, organ trafficking, and the so-called war on drugs, which is often part and parcel of these crimes and goes hand in hand with the carceral state where Harris made her career.

During her tenure as attorney general for the state of California, Harris presented herself as a “progressive prosecutor.” Nevertheless, her record left a lot to be desired in terms of any actual progressive results and she has been roundly criticized for controversial stances on the death penalty and her staunch defense of California’s notoriously racist and trigger-happy police forces.

One of the California AG’s most high-profile cases centered on the issue of sex trafficking when she “zealously” prosecuted Backpage.com, forcing the online publication to shut down as part of her office’s ostensible campaign to prioritize the fight against human trafficking. The actual consequences of the state’s victory had the opposite effect of its purported goal, further pushing the sex trade underground and opening sex workers to greater risks of abuse and exposure to criminal networks, according to critics.

As a member of the Senate, Harris once again played a key role in the issue, this time at a national level with the passage of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which were signed together into law as the FOSTA/SESTA by Donald Trump in 2018. The legislation has come under fire from sex workers and LGBTQ advocacy groups for worsening conditions for victims of sex trafficking by removing “safe” venues for sex workers to sell their services.

According to Nina Luo of Decrim NY:

[The law] targets, arrests, and incarcerates clients of sex workers; as well as drivers, landlords, family members, partners, who provide services and care to sex workers; and sex workers collaborating to keep each other safe [and] puts people who trade sex at increased risk of violence, economic instability, and labor exploitation.”

Significantly, Harris’s participation was geared exclusively towards working with Big Tech and their concerns over how the bills would affect their business. In fact, Harris ­– along with Bernie Sanders – refrained from sponsoring the bills until these matters were settled to the satisfaction of Google, Facebook, and others represented by the Internet Association, which testified on their behalf in the Senate regarding the legislation.

 

Immigrant Song

Beyond Harris’s familial ties to Silicon Valley through her brother-in-law, who is Uber’s chief legal counsel, California’s former top cop has displayed an abiding interest in technology applied to government, which is especially concerning given her law enforcement background and the job she has now been tasked with in regards to the dispossessed of Central and North America.

In 2015, Harris launched a “first-of-its-kind” smart criminal justice platform called OpenJustice, which she touted as a way for the state to measure “effectiveness in the criminal justice system with data and metrics.” The platform’s publicly available dashboard features statewide data on arrest rates, death in custody, and arrest-related deaths, as well as law enforcement officers killed or assaulted. A year later, Harris expanded the system with URSUS – a use-of-force data reporting and collecting mechanism developed by social entrepreneurship non-profit organization Bayes Impact in conjunction with the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Crime Information and Analysis.

OpenJustice partnered with the White House to create multiple versions of the software that other states could implement. The “OpenJustice team” focuses on different parts of the criminal justice system, develops “roadmaps” for juveniles, and conducts “deep data dive[s]” into the “school-to-prison pipeline,” according to Justin Elrich who was Harris’s special assistant attorney general on tech policy matters and is currently head of trust & safety policy at Americans for TikTok. Another OpenJustice project, taken on by Stanford and Facebook engineers, revolved around “understanding of what goes on in jails and state prisons, as well as ending the vicious cycle of recidivism.”

Last year, Harris’s successor at the California attorney general’s office, Xavier Becerra, unveiled the newest OpenJustice dashboard before leaving to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the lead agency that provides housing for undocumented children coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. Add the former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Mayorkas — who Harris swore in on February 2 as the seventh Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and direct boss of CBP — and the stage is set for a massive tech overhaul of the migrant crisis.

 

Bread and circus and data

By the time Becerra had filed the one-hundredth lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump, the political circus was already drawing to a close. California had been the butt of Trump’s jokes since the early days of the campaign, and his crude insults against Mexicans and promises to build a wall that the neighbors would pay for made what was once the northernmost part of Mexico a natural ally of the “resistance” that ended up carrying Biden into office.

At the end of March 2019, only about 50 lawsuits had been filed by the California DOJ, but the tarp was still up and Trump was in the middle of the John Bolton epoch of his administration, which featured a number of very loud saber-rattling incidents targeting multiple Latin American nations. The world was living through the “migrant caravans,” the height of the Juan Guaidó quasi-regime-change efforts in Venezuela, and the short-lived “troika of tyranny” – a derisive moniker coined by Bolton to lump together all the “evil socialism” of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Nicolas Maduro’s government that failed to catch on.

That month, the President would announce the discontinuation of aid to the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in an ostensibly punitive move designed to teach the countries a lesson about keeping their unruly border-crashing citizens home. About $500 million in financial assistance was paused while Mike Pompeo’s state department developed “a list of criteria that governments of the three countries have to meet in order for U.S. assistance to resume.

The spectacle hid the reality. While some funds were cut, most were repurposed to serve the interests of the U.S. national security state in those countries. Approximately 58% of the revamped 2019 Central American aid budget was allocated to a program developed jointly by the Obama and Bush administrations called the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), which funds equipment, training, and technical assistance for the military and police in those regions.

Numerous companies were involved in CARSI. Israel’s Cellebrite, profiled by MintPress in a previous article, received $782,000 to furnish the Honduran police with its proprietary UFED mobile data extraction technology. IBM, Pen-Link, CellXion, and JSI Telecom are just a few of the many private sector security technology firms that have been benefiting from America’s vast transnational law enforcement client-state apparatus.

Immigration biometric

A migrant and her daughter have their biometric data taken at a Homeland Security holding facility in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021. Dario Lopez-Mill | AP

Most significantly, no aid was cut to federal programs working with NTCA countries to establish “information exchange mechanisms in the fight against human trafficking and other crimes,” most of which are conducted through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) International Operations Division, such as a program called Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP), first created in 2011.

The Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program Authorization Act of 2018 was passed despite strong objections from the ACLU and other civil rights advocacy groups decrying the lack of privacy protections and allows ICE agents to provide biometric training and equipment in countries around the world. In addition, the data collected is shared with U.S. biometric databases like HART, developed by Northrop Grumman for DHS and intended to become the “largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States.”

According to Privacy International, a DHS presentation of HART in 2017 projected it would be able to “scoop up” 180 million “new biometric transactions per year by 2022.” The staggering figure won’t come from NTCA countries alone: BITMAP has already been deployed to more than 14 countries, with “near-term plans to expand” to others.

 

Show and tell

Harris has now been given the green light by the White House to “pump billions of dollars” into the economies of the Northern Triangle countries in order to “address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.” Considering that human trafficking is a $150 billion-a-year industry and the concomitant drug war waged by the government Harris represents produces many multiples of that, it would take a rather serious investment to pull those “root causes” from the ground.

The language dovetails with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s own exhortations calling for Washington to “spur development” in Central America in order to address the “root causes behind migratory flows in the region” — as posited in a statement by Mexico’s foreign ministry issued after the first leg of the talks, which were supposed to continue in Guatemala but were postponed thanks to a volcanic eruption.

Formal deployments by the Mexican military in the state of Chiapas and the ostensible closure of the border with Guatemala to “stop the spread” of Covid-19 show that Mexico is on board with the Biden party line. But, for now, the crisis at the U.S. border remains a political priority and hundreds of Central American migrants continue to cross daily into Mexico through deliberately unguarded portions of the border.

Any actual halt to the unfettered passage of refugees on their way north would also put a halt to the political ambitions of Kamala Harris, who is poised to make immigration the highest yielding asset in her burgeoning “portfolio,” which will be modeled on Biden’s own path to the Oval Office when he took the lead on these same issues during his time as Barack Obama’s VP.

According to La Jornada reporting from the ground in Chiapas, established transportation channels over land and water continue to funnel migrants through the Lacandon jungle as they make their way north to their intended destination.

“Look,” Harris told CBS, “we are addressing it. We’re dealing with it. But it’s going to take some time.”

Feature photo | MintPress News | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Carry the Carrot and Stick in Central America appeared first on MintPress News.

The Bigot Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 10:58am in

Republicans are outraged – outraged! – at the surge of migrants at the southern border. The...

Cartoon: Border blather

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 10:50pm in

At some point recently, an idea emerged from the fetid bowels of right-wing media that there was suddenly a "border crisis" and that it's all Biden's fault. If you look at the actual data, however, the recent rise in border apprehensions began under Trump, well before Biden took office, and the numbers are not terribly out of line with past cycles. These three handy Reuters charts put everything into perspective (the first panel of this cartoon is based on the "total apprehensions" chart).

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