Politics

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Nigel Farage Has a Point About Racial Segregation at New York University

Heaven help me, I can’t believe I’m actually defending something tweeted by the Fuhrage. On Saturday Zelo Street put up an article about a series of tweets by the man 2000 AD’s ‘Judge Dredd’ satirised as the anti-immigrant politician, Bilious Barrage. These revealed just how racist Farage is.

The tweets themselves were the standard right-wing stuff going around at the moment. Attacks on the BBC and the Finnish conductor for not singing ‘Rule, Britannia’ because they’re all unpatriotic, woke leftists. Asylum seekers being put up in hotels and defended by lefty activist lawyers, Brexit and the demand that we should be able to control our borders and a rant hyping his piece for the Telegraph about ‘cultural Marxism’. A phrase which has very definite anti-Semitic overtones, coming as it does from the Nazis’ idea of Kulturbolschevismus – cultural Bolshevism – and their conviction that traditional European culture was under attack from within by Commie Jews, as part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy for world domination.

I agree with Zelo Street’s general point. I think Nige is a racist, and at times his carefully crafted image of being an ordinary bloke fighting to preserve traditional British culture does slip to reveal real Fascism beneath. But in one of the tweets cited by Zelo Street, Nige does have a point.

This tweet linked to a report about New York University now building segregated student housing for Blacks only. Zelo Street followed this up with a quote from Gore Vidal about the leader of American Conservatism, William S. Buckley and his support for racial segregation: To borrow the words of Gore Vidal, Farage, like William F Buckley, would have been over at the Wallace headquarters stitching hoods.

I think this is a misreading and Farage is condemning it. And he’s right to do so.

If this is the same story I’m thinking of, then it’s been around for several months now. It started with a video that was widely shared by Conservative YouTubers of Black students at the uni making statements before the university authorities that they did not feel safe rooming with Whites, and demanding segregated accommodation reserved only for Blacks. This is segregation, even if it is coming from Blacks and is demanded for their benefit. The kids making these statements are clearly genuinely scared, but it is also an expression of anti-White prejudice. The Black students made these representations, I gather, after a series of threatening, anti-Black racist posters were put up around campus.

It isn’t hard to understand their fear, given the history of official racist violence in American culture. Jim Crow and segregations, lynchings and whatever threats these kids and their families may have suffered in their own personal histories. And there does seem a culture of pro-Black racial segregation already on some American campuses. Another video shared by right-wing YouTubers is of an angry Black woman, another student, telling White students to get out of a study area reserved for Blacks and people of colour. It’s more anti-White racism, and what the Financial Times has described as ‘liberal apartheid’. I don’t think we have that culture of liberal racist separatism in British academia here yet, but I’ve no doubt it’s coming. Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, put up a video a few weeks ago reporting that Britain’s first all-Black university has now opened. I don’t doubt that the people behind it are copying the Black American colleges and universities, which began in the 19th and early 20th century by the great founders of the Civil Rights movements to prepare Blacks for taking their rightful place as equal members of society. They appeared during segregation. We didn’t quite have this in Britain and don’t have these colleges. And at a time when academia is under pressure to give more places to Black and Asian students, and open up the profession to more women and ethnic minorities, the founding of such a university looks less anti-racist than simple anti-White racism. It’s segregation with a Black face, and no doubt a lot of verbiage about Black empowerment, diversity and inclusion.

Back to New York University, the demands for racially segregated accommodation would be angrily dismissed and the students making such demands expelled if it came from Whites. It would rightly be seen as racist, and the product of racist views that see Blacks as particularly degraded, animalistic, criminal and a threat to White culture and racial purity. You’d have mass demonstrations and protests by people proclaiming that these views have no place on campus.

But if the construction of such all-Black halls of residence are a response to White racist mischief making, then the White supremacists have won. They’ve played on Black prejudice and racial fears to destroy racial integration and reimpose a kind of apartheid.

If you look at the tweet Farage links to, there’s a piece at the bottom comparing it to the drinking fountains in Black schools during segregation with an ironic line about ‘separate but equal’. This old lie is graphically exposed in the ’80s film, Mississippi Burning, about two White FBI agents breaking up a Klan chapter after the murder of a group of civil rights activists. It’s a great film, but it was also widely criticised itself for racism by having as its heroes White FBI agents, who are shown rescuing powerless Blacks. It was also attacked on the grounds that, while based on a real incident, the FBI at the time under J. Edgar Hoover hated the Civil Rights movement. Hoover believed it was a Communist front, and did everything he could to spy on it and harass its members.

But it opens with a scene showing two children at a water fountain. One’s Black, the others White. The water fountain for Black child is dirty and stained with verdigris and mould. That for the White child is pristine clean. It’s a graphic statement that, whatever else Blacks were under segregation, they were definitely not equal.

Racism needs to be fought, no matter what colour it has or claims to be defending. And Farage, heaven help us! – is right to call it out in this tweet.

Not that it changes what Farage himself is. He’s wretched videos have been widely covered by right-wing radio host Alex Belfield, another one who claims not be racist but the ‘voice of reason’. Belfield has approvingly commented on and defended Farage turning up at hotels putting up asylum seekers. And some how I don’t think it’s an accident – do you? – that the anti-Muslim Fascist outfit Britain First rocked up at one of these hotels to protest.

Belfield claims not be racist. But he and Farage are certainly playing to a racist crowd. Go down the comments section on his videos about immigration, Black Lives Matter and so forth, and you’ll see that while some of them make perfectly reasonable comments and criticism from a mainstream anti-racist viewpoint, there are a sizable number who are bitterly racist, posting venom about immigration and ranting about the Kalergi Plan. This is another conspiracy theory that claims that there’s a secret globalist, proto-EU plan to import Blacks and other non-White immigrants in order to break up the White societies of Europe. And then there’s the related mythology of the ‘Great Replacement’, and its underlying anti-Semitism. This is all being done, according to these poisonous myths, by the Jews. It’s yet another continuation of Nazi ideology.

This is the crowd that Farage and Belfield are playing to. And it’s despicable. But Farage’s own criticism of segregated student housing at New York University is actually anti-racist. It’s just a pity that it comes from him.

Get the Big Accountancy Firms Out of My Government

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 7:09pm in

Mike yesterday put up a piece reporting and commenting on the news that the Tories have squandered £100 million on the usual ratbag assortment of management consultants and big accountancy firms. You know – the usual offenders – PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey since March. This is work that should properly be done by the civil service. They were trained and required to adhere to high standards of impartiality. Unfortunately, too many of them didn’t. I heard much of Thatcher’s and Major’s privatisations, especially of British rail, was strongly supported by one particular senior servants. But the ideal of genuine public service was there. It was why the Sidney and Beatrice Webb, civil servants themselves, had such respect for their profession that their socialist views were strongly bureaucratic. They honestly believed that enlightened servants, guided by an involved public kept informed by honest reporting and the public of official statistics, would make a better job of running the country than the current political class.

The management consultants don’t. They’re in there for their own private profit, and they’ve made one stupid, incompetent decision after another. Mike’s article mentions several which were so bad they had to be reversed almost immediately. But they still keep getting contracts.

This is another piece of corporatist corruption that began with Thatcher and Major. I remember how they’ve royally screwed up the civil service. This started with the former Anderson Consulting, who were called in to reform the Department for Health and Social Security, turning it into the Benefits Agency as a form of half-way house to privatisation. They then went on to do something similar to the Inland Revenue. All this could have changed with the election of Blair. He had the popular mandate. But after the Tories rejected one of Anderson Consulting’s little schemes, Blair fished it out of the dustbin and made it his official policy.

Mike argues that Johnson has called them in because he can’t think for himself. That’s part of it, but not all of it. There’s a piece by Tony Benn in the book ‘The Best of Benn’ where the great socialist criticises the way industry uses management consultants to make conditions in firms worse and start laying off their workers. He states that, in practice, the firms have already decided on this course of action. They’ve called in the management consultants to present their decision as the result of object research into present working conditions. I think much the same is going on here. The Tories and New Labour stand for privatisation. And this is what they’re given by the management consultants and accountancy firms. Plus, I think some of the politicians may well have staff recruited from them and in return are expecting positions on their boards after their political career ends. It’s the constantly swinging open door between politicians, senior civil servants and industry. And its corrupt.

I’ve come to despise the big accountancy firms and look on them the same way the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation are described in Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is a fictional robotics company that is so incompetent, its complaints division now covers the major landmasses of three planets in its home system. They are so bad that the Guide itself describes them as ‘A bunch of mindless jerks who will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes’.

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But I do want them out of politics and out of government. I’ve started to wish there were demonstrations against them, and the other big businesses that have wormed their way into politics through the sponsorship of the political parties, in return for which they’ve been given positions in government. I wish people were marching against PwC, Deloitte, McKinsey and the rest, parading caricatures of their chief executives and burning them in effigy. Because I think this corporatist corruption will only stop if we show that we aren’t tolerating their interference, for their own profit, in our public affairs.

Johnson’s government has spent £100 million on consultants because he can’t think for himself

Fauci Says COVID Vaccine Trials Could End Early If Results Are Overwhelming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 5:42pm in

The FDA's eagerness to launch a Covid-19 vaccine is not a way to win public trust, particularly in light of the agency's record of bad calls.

The UK’s leading think tanks believe that the least well off in our country should be paying more tax to pay the price for coronavirus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 5:32pm in

As the Guardian has noted this morning:

Tax increases will be needed across the board for Britain’s highest and lowest earners to bring down record levels of government debt amassed during the coronavirus crisis, leading economists have warned.

Sending a message to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, as he explores possible options for raising taxes at the autumn budget, experts from four of the country’s leading economic thinktanks said any significant tax changes should not be introduced until a sustainable recovery has taken hold.

I noted that this hearing was on yesterday. At one point I intended to watch, but events got in the way. But I did notice something from the notice of the hearing. This noted that the speakers were:

So we have one person from a far-right think tank that will not disclose its funding and three other speakers, all of whom have worked for the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which is a microeconomic think tank that says it does not do macroeconomics. And yet the issue that they were discussing was macroeconomics. I am not disputing that each of the three currently or formerly at the IFS might know about tax at a micro level, but macro knowledge appeared to be almost entirely absent from the transcript of the hearing, which I have read.

Perhaps the most telling evidence of that is that there was no questioning within the hearing on the scale of the so-called national debt. It is claimed to be £2 trillion, but net of quantitative easing it is not:

That data is to March 2020. The percentage data looks like this:

That data is, again, to March 2020, and we know that the top line has now risen to 100%, aided (no end) by the fall in GDP, but that the real debt figure is well below the headline figure was not discussed. Indeed, the impact of quantitative easing was not mentioned once in the hearing. This was a discussion of tax to repay debt where no one present seemed to know that tax does not have this role. Instead, we got exchanges like this between the far-right Steve Baker MP and the far-right Philip Booth from the so-called Institute for Economic Affairs:

Booth replied:

This was not challenged by the meeting. Nor was this comment from Booth:

How is coronavirus to be paid for then? By making people work until they drop, apparently.

But then, the whole discussion was deeply regressive. Gemma Telow for the Insitute of Government when asked to discuss tax increases said this:

So, the focus was on being regressive. It was a commonplace theme. All that was agreed was the deferring the increase in regressive taxes was desirable for the time being. Overall, the tone was deeply depressing, ill-informed as to the role of function of tax in the economy where Philip Booth was allowed to make wild claims without any correction being offered, and (to be blunt) very small-minded in the sense of being intensely micro, and so peripheral.

At the conclusion of the hearing each was asked by MP Harriet Baldwin to summarise their recommendations. This is what they had to say:

So what have we got? I summarise as:

  • Some sensible reform to council tax, barring Booth's suggestion;
  • Some tinkering with road fuel duties ;
  • An assault on the self-employed, who I should remind people on average earn much less than employees, with considerably less security and support from the state;
  • Significant increases in VAT;
  • No changes to corporation tax, at all;
  • An increase in income tax on the lowest paid but no mention of higher rates;
  • No wealth tax reform barring, maybe, on capital gains tax;
  • No mention of tax relief reform, generally;
  • And nothing on measures that might address climate issues.

In summary, the leading think tanks think that we need tax increases, and that the least well off in our country should be paying more tax to pay the price for coronavirus which has already been paid using quantitative easing, which does not need to be unwound. Meanwhile, capital gets an easy ride and the wealthy aren't to be impacted almost at all. It was a deeply depressing event.

You’ll be delighted to hear that Johnson is now on LinkedIn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 5:00pm in

This is either the truth inadvertently hitting home or perhaps a lovely civil servant just telling it like it is:... Read more

The future of universities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 4:26pm in

I’ve spent long enough in education (fives years as an academic and about two decades as a school and HE governor) to have an opinion on this issue. So I thought I’d share some of them.

Ed Markey Beats Back Senate Challenge From Joe Kennedy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 12:27pm in

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In one of the most widely watched Democratic primaries of the 2020 cycle, on Tuesday night 74-year-old Sen. Ed Markey cruised to victory against 39-year-old Rep. Joe Kennedy. The win represented the first time a Kennedy has ever lost an election in Massachusetts, and now with his House seat also on the ticket tonight, he’ll soon be out of elected office altogether. With 32 percent of precincts reporting, Markey had a 10-point lead with 55 percent of the vote to Kennedy’s 45 percent, and Kennedy has conceded the race. At least $29 million was spent between the two candidates for the safe blue seat.

For the last 12 months, voters and reporters have pressed Kennedy to explain why he was running in the first place, since his policy positions largely mirror Markey’s and Democrats are under great pressure to focus energy — and cash — on reclaiming the White House and Senate. His answer largely boiled to the idea that he felt he could “leverage” a Senate seat better than the incumbent, that there’s more to being in the upper chamber than bills you sponsor and the votes you cast.

While Kennedy acknowledged that he has not used his platform in the House of Representatives to bring national attention to policy issues like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ayanna Pressley, he has said he’s leveraged his time in the House by traveling across the country during the 2018 midterm cycle to help raise nearly $5 million for other Democratic candidates and flip the House. He served then as a regional Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee vice chair and stumped for candidates in at least 15 states and Washington, D.C.

But as The Intercept previously reported, this commitment to unseating Republicans represented a shift for the Massachusetts congressman, who, when he began his time in Washington, was not as keen to build Democratic power in the House. He would make a point to defend his tea party colleagues, even in the midst of the 2013 government shutdown, and after the Democrats lost more seats in the 2014 midterms, he quickly rejected the idea that he could help lead the DCCC going into 2016. “It’s an important job,” Kennedy told the Boston Globe at the time. “But it’s not something that interests me. If I do the job right, I would be finding ways to beat those guys.”

Massachusetts voters didn’t seem to buy it, and many speculated that the bid was driven by Kennedy calculating his chances of entering the Senate. Massachusetts has no shortage of strong Senate hopefuls waiting for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to find a place in a potential Biden administration. Both Pressley and state Attorney General Maura Healey are widely assumed to be interested in running in an open seat, and Kennedy’s chances against those women are much slimmer than his shot at ousting Markey appeared to be as he geared up for the run. As young as Kennedy is, it was now or never for him.

There were clear signs that Kennedy’s campaign was growing more desperate in the final month of the race. While he had spent most of his political career trying to prove that he was more than just a guy who coasted to power on his famous surname, leading up to Election Day he regularly invoked his family’s political legacy and reminded Massachusetts voters of his beloved heritage.

Markey, on the other hand, took the unusual step of doubling down on attacks against Kennedy’s family, long a sacred cow in Massachusetts politics. Throughout August, Markey contrasted the wealth and privilege of Kennedy’s upbringing with his own modest childhood. In a viral campaign video released mid-month, Markey says, “It’s time to start asking what your country can do for you” — a jab at Kennedy’s famous great-uncle, John F. Kennedy.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who came out with a late-stage endorsement of Kennedy, cited the digs against the Kennedy clan as motivating her endorsement. “I wasn’t too happy with some of the assault that I saw made on the Kennedy family,” she told the Washington Post. “Joe didn’t ask me to endorse him,” she added, “but I felt an imperative to do so.” Pelosi had donated $5,000 to Kennedy’s campaign earlier in August, and $5,000 to Markey’s campaign in 2019.

Following Pelosi’s endorsement — which was slammed by progressives who thought it was hypocritical that she backed a primary challenger in the Senate given her opposition to primary challengers in her chamber — Markey nabbed new House endorsements from House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler and House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney. Ocasio-Cortez, who co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with Markey, has also been campaigning for him all year. Kennedy’s campaign said it raised $100,000 immediately after Pelosi’s endorsement, while Markey’s campaign said it raised more than $300,000 during that same period.

Another sign that Kennedy’s campaign seemed to be flailing was the amount of energy he spent in August decrying “cyberbullying” from some of Markey’s online supporters, an unmistakable reference to the kinds of attacks Sen. Bernie Sanders received from his opponents during the 2020 presidential primary. Kennedy’s campaign accused the Markey camp of encouraging the attacks and repeatedly pressed the Senator to condemn online trolls. Kennedy also beefed up his security detail in light of what he described as increasing death threats.

Trying to tie Markey supporters to the image of hostile “Bernie Bros” may have been an attempt to try and win supporters of Warren who, while still brooding over the presidential primary and how they were treated, supported Markey this primary en masse. Polls throughout the campaign showed Markey doing best with affluent, college-educated, suburban voters, the same sort of demographic that Warren excelled with. Kennedy, by contrast, polled better among lower-income voters, rural and Black voters, and those without a college education. Sanders notably declined to endorse Markey in the primary.

With the help of an army of progressive activists, Markey transformed the narrative around his candidacy from where it stood a year ago. Last July, before Kennedy jumped into the race, a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll showed that 45 percent of likely voters in the state were undecided about supporting Markey for reelection and 14 percent said they had never heard of him. Two months later, in September 2019, another Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll found Kennedy ahead by 14 points in a Senate head-to-head, and more Massachusetts voters viewed Kennedy as the more liberal candidate and a better fighter for Democratic priorities than Markey.

Polls started to suggest the race was tightening by the spring, when a UMass-Lowell poll released in early May showed Kennedy up by just 2 points. Although another poll released around the same time showed Markey trailing by 16 points, the UMass-Lowell one was enough to allow the incumbent to start running ads framing himself as a surging underdog. By August, a flurry of new polls showed Markey in the lead, with margins of 2 points, 10 points, 8 points, and 12 points, respectively.

The decision by the millennial left, led by Sunrise Movement, to make Markey its top priority of the cycle did not come without costs, as it drained resources that could have gone into other competitive Senate primaries — including in Delaware, where Sen. Chris Coons, who is openly hostile to the party’s progressive flank, is facing a spirited challenge from the left — or into House races like Alex Morse’s challenge to Ways and Means Chair Richie Neal or that of Robbie Goldstein, who launched a viable but largely overlooked challenge against a Democrat opposed to single-payer health care. Even Ihssane Leckey, a would-be Squad member in Kennedy’s district, could have been more competitive with some national attention, but on Tuesday night she wasn’t in the top three candidates.

Choosing Markey, though, sent a message to Democratic incumbents that the new generation of activists does not consider age or length of service disqualifying credentials. This ought to have been clear given the youth support for the presidential campaigns of Sanders, yet it still seemed to mystify pundits covering the race, who marveled that young people were somehow not supporting the young person.

The post Ed Markey Beats Back Senate Challenge From Joe Kennedy appeared first on The Intercept.

Influential CalPERS Retiree Group Demands Resignation of Board President Henry Jones; Calendars Confirm Secret “Board Within Board” Abuse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 12:09pm in

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CalPERS governance has become so visibly defective that a normally loyal retiree organization has gone into revolt.

Adele’s Adoption of Black Style Is In a Long Tradition of White Anti-Racism and ‘Allyship’

One of the controversies that has now broken out in the wake of Black Lives Matter has been over the dress and hairstyle Adele adopted yesterday. She was hoping, like many folks, to attend the Notting Hill carnival. But it was cancelled due to the restrictions on large gatherings imposed by the Coronavirus. I’ve heard that they held a Virtual one online instead. Adele decided to signal her support for the carnival by posting a picture of herself in a bikini showing the Jamaican flag and with her done in a Black hairstyle. So the league of those wanting to find any excuse to be offended have accused her of ‘cultural appropriation’.

I really don’t accept this. I believe that she wore the bikini and the hairstyle as a genuine gesture of support to the Carnival and the Black culture that created it. And moreover, without people like Adele adopting Black fashions and Black music, Black culture would not have the acceptance it does among Whites and the racism Black people experience would be much, much worse.

Real Appropriation of Black Music and Culture

I am very much aware that cultural appropriation has occurred. Black people have complained for a long time that ‘the White man stole the Blues’. One of the great stars of the Big Band era, Benny Goodman, is a case in point. Goodman was a White man, but all his hits were written by Black Jazzers. One of the most notorious cases is that of ‘Tar-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’ in the 19th century. It’s credited to a White musician, but he heard it from a Black lad singing it on the streets. And cultural appropriation also doesn’t just apply to Blacks. Native Americans are also uncomfortable when Whites adopt their traditional culture, like some of the New Agers and pagans, who have adopted aspects of their religion. And I can’t say I blame them. But what Adele has done is the opposite, and goes right back to the 1920s and before when White youths began adopting Black fashion and music.

The ‘White Negroes’ of Jazz and Rock-n’Roll and Anti-Racism

One of the first in the 1920s was ‘Mezz’ Mezzrow. He was a White kid, who first immersed himself in the emerging Jazz scene. He adopted Black culture to such an extent that he has been called ‘the first White Negro’. Later on, one the ‘White Negroes’ – I’ve forgotten which one, painted himself with melanin in order to see what being Black in America was really like. I think he got an unpleasant surprise. But this didn’t stop him writing a book pleading for reconciliation between Whites and Blacks. And after Jazz faded with changes in youth culture, it’s place was taken by rock’n’roll. The books on music I’ve read state clearly that it’s a hybrid musical genre – a mixture of White Country music and Black barrel house Jazz. I’ve got a feeling that the primacy given to the guitar in rock and pop, rather than the piano or keyboard, comes from the old Blues master Howlin’ Wolf when he was performing in Chicago. Little Richard, who passed away recently, once claimed in an interview that it was thanks to him Blacks and Whites started dancing together. Before he started performing, he noticed that White the dance floors were full of Blacks tripping the light fantastic, the Whites just stood around the edges watching. ‘White spectators, we used to call ’em’, he reminisced. Then he started playing and they suddenly joined the Blacks on the floor. ‘So a decade before Dr. Luther King, we had integration’.

Nazi Hatred of the  White Adoption of Black Culture

And those Whites that did adopt Black music got real hate for it from the real racists. It comes from the old biological determinism that sees culture as the product of biology. By this standard, Whites are somehow betraying their race and degrading themselves by adopting Black music and fashion. Back in the 1980s there was a book, The Best of Signal, which published articles from the big popular Nazi mag of the Third Reich. It was published by a mainstream publisher as I think one of the very many titles on the Nazis, the Third Reich and World War II that appear every year. I found a copy in a secondhand bookshop. One of the articles in it was an explicit attack on the contemporary Jazz scene in America. It showed a groups of American youths – I can’t remember whether they were White or Black – wearing the characteristic ‘Zoot suits’ and made it very plain what the writer and the vile regime he served thought of them. When White kids in the 1950s started listening and dancing to rock’n’roll, Conservative voices accused them of taking over ‘Negro sensuality’.

And the same criticisms was still being voiced in the 1990s. That was the decade that saw the emergence of the Militia movement in the US and the gathering of various neo-Nazi outfits in the Hayden Lakes area, where they started building communes and compounds. These are real Nazis, not the casual racists who are often simply called it for their vile opinions. I think Louis Theroux went to one of them in his Weird Weekends. It was built like an armed fort or concentration camp, complete with watchtowers and barbed wire fencing. The obergruppenfuhrer Theroux interviewed proudly showed him the stack of greeting cards he’d had printed for his storm troopers to send. For most people, it would have been blasphemy, as it showed Adolf Hitler as Santa coming down a chimney bringing presents. In the interview I read, the writer tried to tackle one of these Nazis on the subject of Whites. The reply they got was that contemporary White culture had been corrupted by Black. They listened to Black music, wore Black fashions and danced like Blacks. Except he didn’t say Blacks. He said ‘N***ers’. It’s the same sentiments David Starkey got rightly panned for in 2012 or so when he was asked what was responsible for the riots. He blamed Black music. When it was pointed out to him that a fair proportion, at least, of the rioters were White, he stated that ‘they have become Black’. I don’t doubt that same White racists would condemn Adele for her choice of dress and hairstyle yesterday.

Blacks and Musical Apartheid

And these sentiments are contributing to apartheid in music. One of the complaints that has been voiced in the wake of the Black Lives Matter has been by Black musicians about the racism in their industry. I remember reading newspaper interviews 25-30 years ago by Black British musicians complaining about the musical apartheid they found when they toured America and parts of the continent, like Austria. They found there that music was strictly compartmentalised between ‘White’ and ‘Black’. One section dealt with Black performers another with Whites. I can’t remember who the Brit muso was, but she was really shocked because back here in Blighty she performed for people of all colours. But when she went to America, there was an expectation in the record company that she’d only perform for Blacks. At the same time, she and other Black musos, when they toured Austria, found their CDs and records put in the section of the music stores devoted to Black music.

I’ve also heard since then about the racism and abuse Black artists have had to face when they’ve tried performing in ‘White’ genres. A friend of mine told me a little while ago about the amount of hate the founder of the Heavy Metal band, Living Colour, got. Living Colour was an all-Black band, who wanted to produce awesome Rock. And apparently they got a lot of hate from both sides, Blacks as well as Whites, for daring to play a ‘White’ style of music. A month or so ago Radio 4 one started broadcast a piece about a Black American Country and Western performer. I can’t remember who he is, but I think he’s pretty old and has been playing it for a long, long time. And he’s suffered the same kind of abuse from the same type of people. It’s hard for me not to think that by accusing Adele of cultural appropriation, her critics are supporting the same kind of racist attitudes that would keep Whites and Blacks from appreciating and performing music outside very strict racialised boundaries.

Whites and Black Fashions and Hairstyles

As for Whites adopting Black hairstyles, I’m old enough to remember the ’70s and the big Afros that were in style then. From what I understand, they did so as part of the ‘Black is beautiful’ movement. Instead of adopting White hairstyles, Blacks in America and Britain wanted to wear their hair more naturally. And because of the influence of Black musical culture, so did many Whites. Leo Sayer had one, and when I was child I honestly thought he was Black. I don’t know if anyone from the Black community complained, but as this was also when the NF were back on the rise over here, along with organisations like the ‘Anti-Paki League’ – that’s what they called themselves – I think people had colour had worse to worry about.

I only came across the accusations of cultural appropriation for Whites adopting Black culture in the 1990s, and that was only in the American satirical comedy, Spin City. This starred Michael J. Fox in one of his last roles, as the head of the communications team for a fictional New York senator. In one episode, his Black co-workers are upset because one of the Whites has moved into a Black neighbourhood. And to fit in, he’s started wearing stereotypically Black clothes. Like turning up in an African robe. Fox’s character tries to explain that the man isn’t trying to be racist. He’s just trying to identify with the people of his new community. He also tries to explain to the man that he is, inadvertently, causing offence. The next day the guy comes in very obviously wearing a hat. Fox whips it off to reveal that the guy’s had his hair dressed in dreadlocks.

At roughly the same time that was on, I knew White people with dreads. As there still are. And the Black people I’ve known and worked with had absolutely no problem with it. They told me they had White friends, who looked good with it. Victor Lewis Smith, the satirist, TV critic and practical joke responsible for such shows as TV Bile and Inside Victor Lewis Smith, used to wear dreadlocks. Now I’ve got very mixed views about Smith. Some of his material I found funny, but in other ways he could be anything but. And he was an ex-public schoolboy, and so could be accused of cultural appropriation. But I don’t think anyone did.

Western Black Traditional Culture, Hip Hop Fashion and Ethiopian Dreadlocks

It seems to have begun with some Black Americans claiming Whites were stealing Black culture when they took over Hip Hop fashion in the 1990s. But I also remember one Black celeb scornfully pointing out that expensive trainers and the designer accessories also aren’t a traditional part of Black culture. And then a few years ago there was a video clip going round on YouTube of any angry Black female student haranging a young White lad in an American university because he had his hair in dreads. It was clipped and repeated in posts by Conservative Whites attacking the aggressively intolerant anti-racist culture in parts of American academia. And now that same attitude appears to have crossed the Atlantic.

But what was said about Hip Hop style not being part of traditional Black culture, could also be said about dreadlocks. Don’t mistake me – they are an authentic part of African Black culture. They were taken over by the Rastafarians from the hairstyle worn by Ethiopian warriors. They did so because at the time – I don’t know if they still do – they revered the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie Makonnen as the Black messiah they believed was foretold in the Bible, who would liberate western Blacks from their bondage. But it’s a hairstyle that was introduced from Africa, not one that was preserved in the traditional culture of Black slaves and their descendants. And many of the Blacks who wear it just do it because they like the style, but aren’t Rastafarians. Which, if we’re strict about the issue of cultural appropriation, raises all kinds of awkward questions. If it’s wrong for Whites to adopt Black styles, it could be argued that it’s also wrong for western Blacks, as the same dress and hairstyle properly belongs to its original African people.

Black Performers in White Makeup

And then there’s the question of how you judge Black performers, who have adopted White hairstyles and makeup. There are a number of videos, for example, where Beyonce actually looks White. She has straight hair, which appears blond rather than brown or black, and her skin has been made up to appear very pale. Certainly much paler than she appears in other videos, where she appears much darker. I am not accusing her of racism. But if people start flinging accusations of cultural appropriation around, then it could be applied to Black musos like Beyonce.

Skin Whiteners and the Damage to Black Skin

And incidentally, I am also very much aware of the harm being done to Black people by the feeling that somehow they should try to make themselves appear more ‘White’. Akala apparently discusses his book on race and racism the use of skin lighteners by many Blacks in a desperate attempt to appear Whiter. It’s nasty stuff. These chemicals work by taking off the top layers of skin. Other Black and ethnic minority writers have attacked their use. And there was a nasty incident that got into the pages of Private Eye’s ‘Funny Old World’ column. It was during a boxing match in Ghana. One of the boxers had been using these wretched potions, and as a result he lost the skin on part of his face after a particularly vicious blow from his opponent. Which provides an extreme, and very graphic argument why people shouldn’t use them. Skin has its own natural beauty, whatever shade it is.

I realise this is a long article and that some of the outrage is understandable coming after the condemnation of certain comedians for appearing in makeup as Black characters, like Bo Selecta and Lucas and Walliams in Little Britain. But Adele was not in Blackface, and she is nowhere near the Black and White Minstrels, who were subject of massive controversy in the ’70s before being axed in ’80s because they did perform the old Black minstrel songs in Blackface.

But Adele seems to be coming from a completely different direction. She’s following a century-old tradition in which the White aficionados of Black culture have shown their appreciation by adopting it. People like Mezzrow, who would now be viewed, using the jargon of intersectional feminism, as ‘allies’.

White Youth, Black Music and the anti-Racism Campaigns of the 1980s

It was people like Adele, who helped push back against the NF and BNP in the 1980s. Rock Against Racism before it collapsed thanks to a takeover attempt by the Socialist Workers Party brought Black and White youth together through a series of concerts by some of the great bands of the day. But I’ve friends, who are worried we’re losing that musical culture. I was watching the old episodes of Top of the Pops one of the cable/ satellite channels has been repeating. Yeah, I know it was cheesy and some of the bands that appeared were jokes even in their time. But some of the bands were awesome. The first pop video I ever bought was UB40. In case you’re too young, they were a reggae band with Black and White performers. I bought the video of their tour in Russia. They were one of the first western groups that were able to play when Gorby gave the country glasnost. And they rocked! The video shows the crowd dancing after their translator tells them that they can. This was the country that banned Boney M’s ‘Ra-Ra Rasputin’ as evil and subversive. There were other bands, too, who mixed White and Black performers. Quite apart from White groups like Madness, who played Ska- more Black music – and wore the characteristic suits. Yes, they took over Black music and culture, but it came from a place of affection and solidarity. The kids of my generation saw them bands like them on TV, in concert, heard them on the radio and absorbed the general anti-racist message as it was coming out.

A New Apartheid in Music?

But my friend was afraid that this is being lost because of hardened attitudes that Black and White performers should stay to certain genres within very racially defined boundaries. So racially mixed bands can’t come forward and perform. Because it’s cultural appropriation, or somehow betraying Black culture or some nonsense. Whatever it is, it’s still segregation.

Conclusion

I think before accusations of cultural appropriation are directed at people like Adele, there are some, who should do a bit of reading first. About Mezrow and the adoption of Black culture and music by alienated Whites. There are some classic studies of it. I think one of them has the title ‘White Youth and Black Culture’. They should understand why the Punks took over the Pogo – it came from the jumping style of dancing of the Masai. And at the same time they did so, they were mixing it on the streets giving the real Fascists – the NF, BNP and the rest of the scumbags the hiding they deserved.

Adele’s trying to show anti-racist solidarity. And it’s the people denouncing her for cultural appropriation who are strengthening real racism.

Because the opposite side of that coin is that the Whites, who do adopt Black culture are somehow betraying their Whiteness. And that’s always been an argument for real racism and apartheid.

 

 

Could Religious Exemptions Trump a COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate? Well, That Depends

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How far could US authorities readily go in implemeting a vaccine requirement?

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