Racism

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Towards Constructive Politics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/05/2022 - 10:00pm in

It just isn’t true that the only problem that confronts people who are trying to learn the truth about their social system is that they haven’t talked to enough people who have less money than them, or a more marginalized racial or gender identity. That’s among the problems, but the problem is much deeper and has many more dimensions....

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Kelly & Rembert Win Pulitzer Prize

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/05/2022 - 9:01am in

Tags 

art, Racism

Erin Kelly, professor of philosophy at Tufts University, together with the late Winfred Rembert, have won the the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for biography/autobiography for their book, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South.

The book (see the previous post about it here) tells the story of Rembert, an artist, who was imprisoned and forced to work as part of a chain gang owing to his involvement in the civil rights movement in Georgia. The Pulitzer Prize announcement calls the book “a searing first-person illustrated account of an artist’s life during the 1950s and 1960s in an unreconstructed corner of the deep South—an account of abuse, endurance, imagination, and aesthetic transformation.”

The prize includes $15,000.

Rembert died in March, 2021.

(via Afton Greco)

American history as imagined in liberal political philosophy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/05/2022 - 7:59pm in

I was reading a book on migration ethics recently – I may write a review later 1 — and it reminded me how a certain picture of the normal liberal state and its place in the world figures in a lot of political philosophy. Although the normative arguments are supposedly independent of historical facts, history is to be found everywhere, but only in a highly selective version that reflects the dominance of the United States within the discipline and the prominence of prosperous white liberals as both the writers of the important texts and as the readers and gatekeepers. 2 Their assumptions about the world and the US place in it shine through and form a "common ground" that is presupposed in much of this writing.3

In this vision, all the world is America 4 — though not one that corresponds to the actual history of the US — and the rest of the world mostly consists of little proto-Americas that will or should get there in the end (thereby echoing Marx’s dictum that the more developed country shows the less developed one a picture of its own future). This imaginary, but also not-imaginary, state is a sort-of cleaned-up and aspirational version of the actual one, cleansed of embarrassing details that are mere contingencies that detract or distract from what US liberals suppose to be its real essence or telos. Crucially, it is also considered as a basically self-contained entity, where all the important relationships are ones among people on the territory.5 It is an association of free and equal persons that has simply arisen on virgin soil. Both the actual United States and other countries fall short of this model, of course, but with time and good will wrinkles and carbuncles will be removed. 6

Now nobody believes that actual United States is anywhere near where its supposed essence directs it, so proponents of the model have certainly conceded its gross and deep injustice. But I think that what they take that great and deep injustice to be and the necessary mode of its correction, is both revealing and problematic. In brief, the apparently wise and noble vision of "the Founders" is soiled by the great uncorrected "anomaly" (henceforth the Anomaly) of race and the bringing to full citizenship and equality of the United State’s black citizens. In this narrative, then, slavery, the Civil War, Lincoln, Reconstruction, the struggle for civil rights and Martin Luther King all loom large and the central political task is overcoming that legacy of civic exclusion and subordination so that all take their place as full American citizens, recognizing one another as equal members of the Republic.

Corresponding to this is a characterization of White Supremacy (though this term is rarely used explicitly) as the domination of White Americans over Black Americans, with White Supremacy conceived of as being overcome once true civic equality is realized. (On the Left there is a variation of this story in which race is an epiphenomenon of class and in which the Anomaly is overcome once black and white recognize their commonality as American workers.) 7 Anyone who consumes the liberal output of Hollywood will also recognize the narrative in innumerable movies, but Selma is a recent example. The narrative of essential purity contaminated by the Anomaly explains some of the angrily defensive reactions to the New York Times‘s 1619 Project.

Now the narrative isn’t exactly false: the struggles of black Americans for equality are of very great historical importance: those who fought and fight for civil rights were and are heroic. They really did make immense sacrifices against racism and injustice, something that is rather diminished in a narrative that has them as redeeming the essential goodness of the very polity that brutally oppressed them and in large measure continues to do so. The trouble is that the bordered national and historical frame that the narrative is set in leaves so much else out of the picture, most significantly, perhaps, three things: first, the indigenous peoples of the Americas, overwhelmed by the aggressive imperial expansion of the original white settler-colonists; second, the fact that black Americans have another commonality that is tacitly suppressed in the focus on US citizenship, namely with the African diaspora elswhere in the Americas that also results from the Atlantic slave trade; third the fact that White Supremacy was not simply directed at black Americans but also had as its antagonist — and not just in the United States — immigrant workers from China, India and other Asian countries (and more recently from Latin America).

On the first of these, the place of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the story, there is either silence or the the thought that it was all a long time ago and we can’t unpick it now (and certainly not without causing great injustice in the present). And maybe that’s right, at least to the extent that claims to resources on the part of indigenous populations have to both settle the thorny and contested question of who counts as indigenous,8 and to upset the lives that have been blamelessly built by many in the very places that indigenous people used to hold. Hence various attempts by philosophers to address the supercession of historical injustice. 9 But it is one thing to think that we cannot roll the clock back and quite another to deny the exclusionary claims of past holders of territorial and property rights while asserting very strong claims for oneself against people now characterized as non-citizens and hence as “outsiders” but who may well include descendants of past holders. Anyway, my purpose here is not even to begin to settle these questions of restitution, compensation and the like — which many people have worked on — but to note how little the issue features compared to other intrusions of historical detail into the central texts of liberal political philosophy.

The second omission, in some ways more interesting to me, is that of the black diaspora. It is interesting because of what neglect of it implicitly erases. The Anomaly is that there exists on the territory of the supposedly liberal-democratic state a group of people who have been wrongfully excluded from the civic status of equal citizenship and so the "solution" is to turn them into (or to recognize them as) regular citizens alongside other Americans. Presented like this, the Anomaly is a problem that is purely internal to the liberal democratic state and the "solution" is the re-establishment of a kind of normality that is consonant with the alleged essence of the political community. Perhaps this re-establishment also involves some kind of compensation in recognition of historical injustice, and perhaps it does not, but either way the goal is to bring it about that the hitherto excluded are brought to a position where they have a set of rights and duties towards the other members of that political community that are more extensive to those owed to "outsiders". Indeed, the primacy of these "internal" rights and duties over external ones is presupposed by the assumption that the state or nation is the privileged site of co-operation for all its inhabitants.

However, alongside the commonality that black Americans share with those who live within the state that they inhabit is another history, that of all the descendants of those forcibly brought to the Americas by Europeans, some of whom ended up in the United States, others in Brazil, elsewhere in Latin America or in the Caribbean. That the descendants of the victims of this legacy of forced kidnapping, transportation, rape and murder ought to, in the first instance, be bound by ties of civic equality to the children of their kidnappers and exploiters (and others, of course) rather than to their fellow victims who contingently ended up behind other borders, may have something to recommend it given that we live in a world of bordered national states, but it is surely an argument that deserves to be set out in the open rather than something that disappears behind a theory’s founding assumptions. Too often I have read some white American migration theorist arguing that "we", ie the set of American citizens, ought to protect poor black Americans from labour competitition from immigrants, but why are those poor black Americans part of a "we" that excludes a "they" of whom other descendants of slavery are a part? (Commonality with one’s fellow victims beyond borders is also something that bears on the indigenous case.)

The third omission is the failure to notice that the United States (like other white settler states such as Canada and Australia) has historically pursued policies of racial exclusion to preserve white supremacy that have little to do with the dominance of whites over black Americans. 10 The chief exhibit here is the Chinese Exclusion Act and related measures at the end of the 19th century and the subsequent making explicit by leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt of an approach that saw the United States as part of a group of white countries determined to preserve racial dominance against the threat of labour competition from Asia. These days, if work on migration ethics mentions these measures at all it is as another unjustified "anomaly" that disgraces the constititional liberal state which really ought not to discriminate in matters of immigration. This rather neglects the fact that such measures of racial exclusion were not unjust deviation from the state’s legitimate exercise of the right to control its borders but rather the central motive to getting immigration control started in the first place.11 Moreover, while the focus of racial anxiety has shifted its location somewhat, the central motive behind restrictionism remains the worry that the white core of America may be overwhelmed by the undesirable other: nowadays "Mexican rapists" instead of Chinese labourers and "prostitutes".

The centrality of the Anomaly in the historical imagination of liberal political philosophy and the pretence that White Supremacy would be defeated once civic equality for all, irrespective of race, is realised within the borders of a liberal constitutional state that remains free to restrict immigration obscures much from view that we ought to take seriously if we oppose both inequality and racism. First, there are consequences for the realization of civic equality within the state. Historically, the creation of a national citizenship and pressure to conform the the expectations of what a citizen is like has not worked well for indigenous people and their children. In the present, the equal status of citizens who look and sound like the people that the state is trying to keep out is often compromised as they and their families suffer the consequences of aggressive immigration enforcement.12 But in focusing on equality within the state taken as a discrete unit, as a little world unto itself, the methodological nationalist gaze simply fails to notice that White Supremacy both historically and in the present is maintained by keeping the non-white Other (Chinese labourers then, Central Americans now) on the outside. Liberals caught in an epistemic frame that is limited to citizens within borders can therefore complacently congratulate themselves on their anti-racism, because they favour equal status of all irrespective of race, while upholding in practice a system of white dominance. To my mind the lessons ought to be that we cannot easily separate questions of equality among citizens from the unequal statuses that are produced by nationality and bordering and that in doing political philosophy we cannot easily escape from the contingent unjust histories that have deposited particular people in the places where they now are.

[Many thanks to the friends who gave me feedback on drafts of this post]

  1. It was Michael Blake’s Justice, Migration and Mercy, (Oxford University Press, 2021).?

  2. As as British person I’m aware that we could tell a similar story about Britain, racism, exclusion etc as I refer to here and we could even find examples of historical amnesia and selection in the work of British political philosophers to illustrate the point (perhaps David Miller, and see for example Lorna Finlayson’s "If This Isn’t Racism, What Is? The Politics of the Philosophy of Immigration" Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):115-139 (2020)). But US institutions are so dominant within the discipline that it is American historical narratives of self-congratulation, messianism, guilt, anxiety that loom largest.?

  3. Olúfémi O. Táíwò discusses Stalnaker’s notion of common ground as presupposed in conversation in his new Elite Capture (Pluto/Haymarket, 2022). It is "a shared resource that participants in a conversation use to build and perform social interactions." "When we act in social contexts, we treat the information in the common ground as if it were true…." Elite Capture pp 40–41.?

  4. See what I did there??

  5. Most liberal political philosophy therefore resembles the approach that Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Shiller have called "methodological nationalism". See e.g. their "Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation-state building, migration and the social sciences", Global Networks 2, 4 (2002) pp. 301–34. In political philosophy, both Alex Sager and Speranta Dumitru have been prominent in challenging the assumption of methodological nationalism. See e.g Alex Sager, "Methodological Nationalism, Migration and Political Theory", Political Studies. 2016;64(1): pp. 42–59 and Speranta Dumitru, "Qu’est-ce que le nationalisme méthodologique : Essai de typologie". Raisons politiques, 54, 9-22.?

  6. The relationship between the liberal state in ideal political philosophy and actual states has, of course, long been a topic of controversy, on which see for example Charles Mills’s classic article "Ideal Theory as Ideology" (in Peggy DesAutels and Margaret Urban Walker, eds., Moral Psychology: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), pp. 163-81). On the one hand people will say that something like Rawls’s well-ordered society (as an example among others) is a purely philosophical construct to enable the discussion of abstract principles, on the other hand critics have long suggested that Rawls, Dworkin et al are merely parochial rationalizers of something like existing states. Personally, I think that claims of purity are often belied by the intrusion of actual facts into the discourse, most notably facts concerning civil rights but also, for example, Dworkin’s discussions of workfare programmes in his Sovereign Virtue. In our conversations with students, moreover, there’s often an implied "we" and a shared social and political context against which classroom argument takes place. But I also think that the "merely" of the parochial rationalization attack vastly overstates that case. Anyway, here I’m in the business of noticing which bits of reality and history intrude and which don’t, and suggesting that this might be symptomatic of something.?

  7. A proper academic article making the points of this blogpost might look through the works of, say, John Rawls, and note how often the Anomaly, Martin Luther King, Lincoln etc are mentioned compared to the lacunae outlined here and then look at later work by others in journals such as Philosophy and Public Affairs. The answer for Rawls himself is that even the Anomaly gets rather thin engagement, though one can extrapolate from his concerns with topics such as civil disobedience. Later work could include Elizabeth Anderson’s Imperative of Integration (Princeton 2010) and Tommy Shelby’s brilliant Dark Ghettos (Harvard 2016) (which both shows how much can be done to address racial injustice from within a Rawlsian paradigm but also stays firmly rooted within the boundaries of the nation state).?

  8. On which, see Nandita Sharma, Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Migrants and Natives (Duke 2020) pp. 46­–50.?

  9. The key reference here is Jeremy Waldron’s "Superseding Historical Injustice", Ethics , Oct., 1992, Vol. 103, No. 1 (Oct., 1992), pp. 4-28. For reasons why past injustices in the acquisition of territory might not necessarily impugn the justice of later holdings see Lea Ypi "A Permissive Theory of Territorial Rights" European Journal of Philosophy 22 (2):288-312 (2014).?

  10. The key text here, which will transform your thinking (guaranteed!) is Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge University Press: 2008).?

  11. As Sarah Fine has pointed out, race and discrimination are central to popular discourse on immigration but almost absent from philosophical discussion of it, despite the roots of modern immigration control in the desire to discriminate on grounds of race. See her “Immigration and Discrimination” in Fine and Ypi eds Migration in Political Theory: The Ethics of Movement and Membership (Oxford, 2016).?

  12. See, for example, the work of Amy Reed-Sandoval, such as her Socially Undocumented (Oxford, 2020).?

‘Wipe Jews Off the Face of the Earth’: Racism and Antisemitic Slurs of Viral YouTuber Exposed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 07/05/2022 - 4:52am in

A recording exclusively obtained by Byline Times exposes YouTuber and Infowars alumnus Paul Joseph Watson using racist, homophobic and antisemitic slurs

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Far-right YouTuber and former Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson said he would like Jewish people to be wiped off the face of the Earth, in an exclusive recording obtained by Byline Times.

In the recording, made during a party and shared with this newspaper by an anonymous source, 39-year-old Watson can be heard saying: “I really think you should press the button to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth.”

The recording was confirmed by three secondary sources. Byline Times contacted Watson, and his lawyers, with numerous requests for comment but received no response.

Watson uses a string of racist and homophobic epithets and claims that he is sick of “media f****t activists” sticking signs “up in my face trying to get me to join the gay f****t Palestinian cause. I don’t give a shit about Israel and Palestine. I care about white people. Not sand n****r Jew P**i f****t  c**ns”.

https://youtu.be/WVBkklYGLTc

One secondary source said that they had heard Watson make similar comments on other occasions.

The recording was also shared on social media as Byline Times was compiling this report.

Despite being part of the 'alt-right', a movement that has often repeated antisemitic conspiracies, Watson has a quote from the Jewish Voice NY on his Twitter profile and has been defended by right-wing Jewish bloggers as not being antisemitic.

Jewish Voice NY told Byline Times that it “never endorsed Paul Joseph Watson”.

The alt-right is a term used to describe a new generation of far-right and white nationalist actors who emerged online in the early 2010s. The category is loosely-defined and covers a range of right-wing political positions – from Republican Party candidates and Donald Trump followers, to online trolls and those who hold more extremist beliefs such as Holocaust denial and 'scientific racism'.

In a recent video about the French Presidential Election, Watson used the murder of a Jewish man in Paris as a rhetorical tool to attack President Emmanuel Macron, and, more broadly, France’s African migrant communities. 

However, the recording suggests he holds violently antisemitic and racist views. 

Joe Mulhall, director of research at Hope Not Hate – the UK’s leading anti-fascism and antiracism campaign group, told Byline Times that Watson "has long been a high-profile figure in the global far-right and has a long history of spreading racist and Islamophobic conspiracy theories" but that "he has always been careful to try and stay within platform moderation policies to avoid being de-platformed and to protect his income".

"That he would engage in such vile racism in private comes as no surprise but does serve as a reminder that many of those who push anti-migrant and anti-immigration politics are sometimes motivated by more extreme racism,” he added.

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Prison Planet and the Alt-Right

Otherwise known as 'Prison Planet', Paul Joseph Watson has a large social media following – including 1.9 million subscribers on YouTube, 1.2 million followers on Twitter, and more than 56,000 subscribers on Telegram. He was removed from Facebook in 2019 – an act that led to President Donald Trump tweeting in his defence. 

He came to prominence attacking the “woke mob” and SJWs – social justice warriors – as well as feminism and anti-racist movements.

One of his videos, called 'Didn’t End Racism', mocks how re-evaluating racism in popular culture and footballers taking the knee has not ended racism. Another claims that the media is institutionally racist against white people. 

In the latter, Watson said that it is “racist to stigmatise and demonise an entire group of people for the actions of a few individuals” before accusing the media of doing exactly this to white people. “I refuse to be demonised for the colour of my skin,” he added.

Watson endeavours to keep high-profile company. He has appeared on the YouTube show of Candace Owens, formerly of the US youth conservative movement Turning Point USA and wife of Conservative Party and Reform UK Party donor George Farmer. Owens faced controversy when she said that Adolf Hitler “was a national socialist. But if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine”. 

Watson has interacted with tech billionaire Elon Musk on Twitter.

Watson is also known to be a close associate of people linked to Nigel Farage: Michael Heaver, Farage’s former press aide and a former Brexit Party MEP, and Farage’s press aide Dan Jukes. Heaver shared an Instagram post of himself, Watson, Jukes and George Farmer having drinks. Byline Times is not suggesting that Owens, Farmer, Musk, Heaver, Jukes or Farage would condone Watson’s rant.

There has been some suggestion that the UK movement known as the ‘alt-lite’ has become emboldened since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

The 'alt-lite' – also known as the 'new right' – is a loosely-defined group of mostly online right-wing actors and commentators who share right-wing views. The Anti-Defamation League has described it as operating "in the orbit of the alt-right", and that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the groupings as there is significant cross-over.

That cross-over can be seen in the way that, not long after Trump’s election, Watson discussed racial IQ differences, saying that “it’s a fact” that there’s a “measurable difference in IQ” in people between the Global North and South, and that low IQ is “linked to aggression”. These are far-right talking points with a long and ignoble history.

It would also appear that Watson has become more comfortable using overtly anti-immigrant language in his content.

In a YouTube film about the 2022 French Presidential Election, he repeated conspiracy content that Paris has “no-go zones” and “lawless ghettos inhabited by untold numbers of illegal immigrants”. He supported the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s stance on “prioritising French people in France” and shared dog whistle homophobic stills of Macron embracing a black man to a soundtrack of Je T’Aime – the song by Serge Gainsbourg.

On Telegram, he shared a post praising the success of the film The Northman, saying that “people enjoy seeing races in their correct historical and mythological settings, rather than being drip-fed banal social engineering projects cooked up by a board of diversity quotas”.

Watson has also followed the far-right trend of siding with Vladimir Putin since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and repeated Russian claims that alleged war crimes in Bucha were a “false flag”. 

In a video made the day of Russia’s invasion, he quoted a tweet that ‘joked’ how Putin’s “manly recruitment ads stand no chance against Ukraine’s they/them army” – referring to gender neutral pronouns and trans rights. “Turns out NATO’s commitment to inclusion and diversity didn’t deter Putin”, he continues, before quoting a second tweet that said the West was “low on patriotism and manhood”. Again, these are common far-right talking points. 

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Like his former colleague Alex Jones, US-led conspiracist movements, and UK far-right figures such as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (known as 'Tommy Robinson'), Watson has expressed scepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine, repeatedly posting examples of people getting Coronavirus despite being full vaccinated.

A further example in which Watson appears to be shifting towards more US-centric talking points is over abortion – an issue that has traditionally been less of a focus for the UK ‘alt-lite’.

He posted content from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in which the Republican politician said that abortion “has no place in a civilised society”. Further, Watson has repeated US-style far-right conspiracy about so-called “at-birth” or “after-birth” abortions – such medical interventions do not exist.

“Paul Joseph Watson led rebranding to call hard-right authoritarian politics in the West ‘the New Right’,” said the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Michael Hayden. The centre is collaborating with Byline Times on making the recording public.

“From the recording and everything else we’ve seen since Brexit and Trump’s election — these people are just cynical racists trying to make money and gain power over other people’s lives,” he said. “The fact that Watson has been able to survive so long online is an embarrassment for YouTube and Twitter, two companies that have played such a big role in radicalising extremists.”

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Becoming Un-Disciplined

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 1:00am in

Part of what I find amazing about being a professor at this moment is watching the change that’s coming, not always from institutions, but from young people and their demands on institutions. Their demands for a different type of faculty in terms of demographics. Their demands for different types of subjects. Their demands to be connected to the communities that’s around the university. Their demands on the neoliberal university and their critique of that. ...

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‘Racial Profiling’: Black People Disproportionately Targeted by Transport for London Fixed Penalty Notices

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/04/2022 - 8:37pm in

As the Prime Minister continues to be investigated for COVID law-breaking, Dimitris Dimitriadis explores the penalties heavily issued to minority ethnic groups

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As a group of MPs is set to investigate Boris Johnson over his ‘Partygate’ lockdown transgressions, new data has led campaigners to question whether COVID rules were fairly enforced on Transport for London (TfL) services, the Byline Intelligence Team can reveal. 

For the first seven months of 2021, at which point restrictions were eased in England, TfL issued some 2,764 fixed penalty notices (FPNs), according to data obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. 

This was part of its attempt to clamp down on what it described as a “selfish minority” of passengers who did not wear a face covering without good reason. 

Of those FPNs – part of emergency legislation introduced at the start of the pandemic – over a quarter (25.5%) were issued to black people, even though only 13% of people in the capital identify as black. 

The disparity has raised concerns among campaigners. 

“Every new piece of data points to racial profiling in the enforcement of COVID regulations,” said Kevin Blowe, a coordinator for Netpol, a police monitoring group. 

This was echoed by Habib Kadiri, policy and research manager at StopWatch UK - which campaigns for fair policing, who said: “The Government was warned of the folly of trying to police their way out of the pandemic when the COVID-19 lockdown period began.”

He added that FPNs were used as “another means to profile and prosecute individuals” and questioned whether officers “were as willing to patrol the Waterloo and City line as their usual so-called hotspots, such as Seven Sisters station” – a much more diverse part of the city.

A spokesperson for TfL acknowledged that “people have valid concerns about rules being enforced fairly on the network” but said that its “enforcement approach was fair and consistent”. 

They added that the disparity was not the result of “discrimination or lack of training” on the part of enforcement officers. 

Last year, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, a cross-party group of MPs, said that FPNs are “muddled, discriminatory and unfair”, warning about the size of the penalties and the criminalisation of those who cannot afford to pay them. 

FPNs for face coverings were issued at £200 – or £100 for those paying within two weeks. But many of those who did not pay, or possibly could not afford to do so, faced prosecution and much heftier bills starting from £660 for those convicted of a first offence.

Of the 4,365 FPNs that were issued by TfL between 9 July 2020 and 16 July 2021, almost 30% (1,276) were “not paid and were subsequently prosecuted successfully”, according to an FOI response

Jun Pang, a policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, a campaign group that challenges injustice, said: “Those travelling on TfL services are likely to have been people who could not work from home, including frontline workers who we know are disproportionately likely to be people of colour.”

Pang also criticised the Government for creating expansive powers to enforce COVID rules, which were applied “inconsistently” and in “discriminatory ways”.

The problems identified by the Human Rights Joint Committee were “even more concerning when you take into account statistics that show that young people, those from certain ethnic minority backgrounds, men, and the most socially deprived are much more likely to be issued with FPNs than those from other groups,” according to its report

“This is why it is so important the imminent COVID-19 Public Inquiry examines the way restrictions were policed,” said Blowe, urging that the policing of the pandemic – currently not part of its terms of reference – be added to its remit. 

Meanwhile, dozens of Downing Street staff have been issued with FPNs – including the Prime Minister and the Chancellor – for breaches of COVID lockdown laws, after the Met Police initially said it did not typically investigate breaches of Coronavirus regulations “long after they are said to have taken place”.

Its investigations into the dozens of events held in Downing Street during the pandemic is still ongoing.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

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Male, Pale and Colonial: Russell Group Universities Dominated by Named Buildings Reflective of a Bygone Era

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/04/2022 - 8:30pm in

Max Colbert investigates the backgrounds of those commemorated on leading university campuses

The overwhelming majority of Russell Group university buildings named after prominent individuals are named after white men, with several of these individuals having links to colonialism and the slave trade, the Byline Intelligence Team has found.

On Russell Group university campuses, 87% of named buildings are named after men (86% of whom are/were white British) and just 13% are named after women (94% of whom are/were white British). In total, 87.5% of named campus buildings are named after white Brits.

An investigation also found that 43% of these named individuals held a title – such as a knighthood or a peerage – and that of these only 11.8% are women (nearly one-third of this figure comprises three female monarchs named multiple times across several institutions).

The findings come from an assessment of all named buildings across 19 of the 24 universities in the Russell Group, with the remaining five institutions failing to respond to requests for information. The figures also don’t include statues in or around the buildings, or certain rooms within buildings named after different individuals.

Black and ethnic minority students made up 21.1% of all 18-year-old applicants to Russell Group universities in 2017.

A lack of representation in academia stretches across the board, encompassing societies, curricula, faculties, and representation via memorialisation.

Recent research conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency has shown that fewer than 1% of professors at UK universities are black – just 155 professors out of 22,810.

London Metropolitan University academic Sofia Akel told iNews in February that “lack of representation is not just about the number of us in these spaces, it also means the lack of our voices, knowledge, works and histories in the curriculum itself”.

There is also a stark lack of diversity represented in postgraduate studies, with the UK Council for Graduate Education highlighting a growth rate for black and ethnic minority postgrad researchers of just 0.13% between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

Buildings with the names of philanthropic donors make up 15.7% of the named buildings featured across the campuses, although many requests for information about donations and their links to buildings were refused, so this figure is likely to be much higher.

The vast majority of buildings named after individuals have been done so in commemoration of the significant achievements they have made in their chosen fields, often contributing to areas of scientific discovery, engineering, or furthering important social causes.

Sheffield University, for example, houses the Amy Johnson Building – named after the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, who studied at the university. Oxford is home to the Anna Watts Building – in honour of Professor Watts, an expert in the study of the violent dynamic events that occur on neutron stars. Glasgow features the James McCune Smith Learning hub – named after the famous physician and prominent member of the Scottish and English 1800s abolitionist movement, and the first African American to be awarded a medical degree.

However, there are several instances of institutions commemorating people linked to the slave trade, tobacco industry, or who have similarly questionable histories. This investigation has identified a number of buildings named after people with colonial links.

Bristol University, for instance, has several buildings with links to colonialism. One is Goldney Hall – bought and named by Thomas Goldney II in the 17th Century, prior its purchase by the university. Goldney and his son were both linked to the triangular slave trade through manillas produced by their ironworks. The university – located in the city famous for the recent toppling of a statue of slave-trader Edward Colston – also features the Wills Memorial Building, named for Henry Overton Wills, of the Imperial Tobacco manufacturing company, which in 2017 also faced a petition from the student body to be renamed due to Overton’s alleged links to the slave trade.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Research led by Olivette Otele, the University’s Professor of History of Slavery and Memory of Enslavement, will inform a review of relevant university building names and the university logo to ensure they reflect the university’s vision and values. This will include consultation with staff, students and the wider public. More information on this will be shared in the coming months.”

Liverpool University similarly hosts the Leverhulme Building – named after Lord William Hesketh Lever, manufacturer of Sunlight Soap whose firm was associated with forced labour and using palm oil produced in British west African colonies. In 2020, Liverpool also agreed to change the name of a building named after William Gladstone, because of his anti-abolitionist stance and links to slave ownership.

A Liverpool University spokesperson said: “We recognise that slavery and colonialism are intrinsically linked to the history of the city of Liverpool, and that the historic wealth of families and businesses in the city – including some who will have contributed to the University – will have benefitted from this.

"The university is very conscious of this history, and we have therefore put a number of initiatives in place to educate and advance knowledge both in relation to historical and contemporary slavery – and our relationship to these as an institution.

“Furthermore, we are continuing to research the naming of our assets (including buildings, lecture theatres seminar and meeting rooms, academic posts, scholarships and bursaries).”

The Macfarlane Observatory in Glasgow University is also named after Alexander MacFarlane – a merchant slave-owner in Kingston, Jamaica, who bequeathed instruments to the institution upon his death in 1755. 

Patriarchitecture

There is a national debate underway about the figures commemorated by public institutions.

A 2021 investigation into Imperial College London’s colonial past made several recommendations to this effect, urging the university to remove from statues and buildings the names of scientists whose work advocated eugenics.

In 2020, Edinburgh renamed its David Hume Tower over the philosopher’s “comments on matters of race”. In the wake of the dramatic sinking of the Colston statue in Bristol, anti-racism campaigners also launched the crowdfunded ‘Topple The Racists’ interactive map, which features the names of other prominent colonial figures and their placements on memorials and statues across the country. 

In addition to the colonial history of many of the buildings, and their lack of representation of black and ethnic minority individuals, women, and working-class people, recent years have also seen instances of buildings being named after individuals who have given large cash donations – sparking protests from student bodies.

In Oxford, the Sackler Library is probably the most glaring instance, with the student union unanimously passing a motion to remove the name. The billionaire Sackler family, which has donated £11 million to Oxford, own Purdue Pharma – which introduced and marketed the opioid painkiller OxyContin in America, contributing to a crisis of opiate use which has claimed more than 535,000 lives since 1999.

Facing around 3,000 lawsuits, Purdue filed for bankruptcy in 2019, but not before Sackler family members took more than $10 billion from the firm. Many institutions across the country are now revisiting their association with the Sackler family as a result. 

But the Sacklers aren’t alone. Oxford itself also houses the Said Business School, named after Wafic Said – a Conservative donor who came to prominence as a ‘fixer’ who helped to facilitate the al-Yamamah arms deal between Margaret Thatcher’s administration and the Saudi Government in the 1980s: the largest arms deal in UK history at the time.

Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government is similarly of note – financed by Russian billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, who donated £75 million to the school. The deal at the time prompted Professor of Government and Public Policy Bo Rothstein to resign his position – referencing the donations made by Blavatnik to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

In the 10-year-period leading up to 2017, more than two-thirds of all millionaire philanthropic donations – £4.8 billion – went into higher eduction, with half of this figure going to Oxford and Cambridge alone. During the same period, British millionaires gave £1 billion to the arts and only £222 million to alleviating poverty. 

“Giving at scale by the super-wealthy has done little to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, helping perpetuate social inequalities rather than remedying them,” a 2021 study from the universities of Newcastle and Bath found.

While the push to address a lack of diversity in public spaces, especially places of learning, has to be multi-faceted, a good starting point is often to recognise that an issue exists, and to begin to remedy it. While women make up between 45% and 65% of intake for most Russell Group institutions, and non-white undergraduates comprise of between 20% and 40% in most instances, these figures are not reflected in the architecture of campus buildings. 

It is a form of under-representation that can often be overlooked by some, but seen as a form of damaging ‘Patriarchitecture’ by others, who believe that learning spaces should aim to better reflect the achievements of campus communities – something that, both at home and abroad, is starting to happen more and more frequently. 

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

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Lessons for the Left from Scandinavia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 6:00pm in

Progressive parties in the Nordic countries have also been wrestling with reactionary views towards immigration in recent years, documents Shafi Musaddique

Gaze towards northern Europe and you will see an alternative universe, one in which the left rules.

Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland all have social democrat-led governments – an anomaly in the decline of the European centre-left. 

All these countries appear to be the realisation of a progressive, liberal democracy based on a strong welfare state and relative economic equality. When Sweden elected Magdalena Andersson as its first female leader in November, it cemented four out of five female leaders among the Nordic nations. 

But, scratch the surface, and you will find that the Nordic left is less rooted in the liberalism of equal opportunities than the stereotypes suggest. Indeed, decades of economic liberalisation and inflammatory right-wing rhetoric has co-opted a less generous mood. 

A pervasive narrative that non-European immigrants are largely to blame for a surge in crime has seen much of the Nordic left absorb elements of right-wing nationalism. This was witnessed in violence instigated by hardline anti-immigrant groups targeting Muslims in Sweden in recent weeks – the fruition of years of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy.

Denmark has shifted the most against immigrants, shutting out non-native-born Danes from its welfare state – requiring them to work for 37 hours a week in order to receive benefits. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has openly admitted that the rules are directly aimed at women from “non-Western backgrounds” living on benefits.

Frederiksen has implemented ‘ghetto laws’ first established in 2010, that seek to break up neighbourhoods, particularly among Copenhagen’s Pakistani and Somali communities, in what Danes have called the “biggest social experiment of the century”.

Areas with higher than average jobless and crime rates, lower than average educational attainment and those with more than half of the population being first or second-generation migrants fall into the ‘ghetto’ list. More than 11,000 social homes are set to go, along with mass evictions of lower-income people, displacing them to areas where they have no prior links. 

The guidelines do not differentiate between non-Danish born residents and native Danes born to foreign parents. To put it simply, Denmark’s social cleansing policies hinge on race discrimination; high crime neighbourhoods with similar problems but occupied by mostly white Danes would not qualify as a ‘ghetto’.

Former Social Democrat Housing Minister Kaare Dybvad phased out the term ‘ghetto’ – seemingly believing that a change of labels is the way of applying a ‘tolerant’ touch when, in reality, the Danish centre-left has maintained previous right-wing policies. 

Sweden, too, appears to be copying Denmark’s playbook. Prime Minister Andersson has vowed to clamp down and deport “immigrant criminals”. It later turned out that an illegal immigrant, among the very people she has pursued with her rhetoric, had cleaned her house. 

Ideological Shape-Shifting

Britain’s left can heed the lessons of its Nordic counterparts.

According to Home Office figures, the Labour Government deported nearly 21,000 people in 2005. In 2019 to 2020, Priti Patel’s Home Office deported 13,000.

The Nordic left’s loosening grip of its identity, ideology and vision is a lesson for the British left, unable to catch the shifting of the sands. 

Working-class voters have moved towards the right at home and abroad through a growing antipathy towards immigrants and outsiders. In the Nordic countries, there are consequently more and more examples of the left pandering to this bigotry in order to win votes – sacrificing its principles in the process.

Though the UK Labour Party has condemned the Conservative Party’s reactionary policies on asylum seekers – notably its latest promise to deport certain asylum seekers to Rwanda – it has also failed to make the case for a new, tolerant and liberal settlement. Instead, Labour stands on the precipice of lurching right for short-term gain.

This is the strategy of Denmark’s ruling Social Democrats, harvesting voters from the populist Danish People’s Party. 

Nordic progressives used to win 40% or more of the vote – a share of the pie that has reduced in recent years, forcing them into coalitions with opponents, by virtue of their countries’ proportional voting systems.

Perhaps this is why ideological shape-shifting is more acceptable in these countries – the blurring of lines between political parties, involving coalitions and policy haggling – is built into their democracies.

But there have been new attempts from the left to reach a right-wing base without pandering to anti-immigration sentiments.

Sanna Marin, Finland’s popular Prime Minister, has focused on improving paternity rights by increasing parental leave for new fathers, from 2.2 months to 6.6 months. Critics argue that she must widen her appeal beyond urbanites – however, at a time when the UK Conservative Party thinks of itself as the cradle of ‘family values’, leftist policies from the Nordic countries point to an opportunity for Labour.

Meanwhile, there are those who continue to celebrate diversity in the Nordic countries – wrestling with perceptions and stereotypes of history that have cast these nations as mono-ethnic states, much like in Britain.

“A multi-ethnic Denmark is not an option to be accepted or rejected; it is existing fact of life, for better or worse, [but] integration is much less problematic than the rhetoric of politicians on the national scene would have us believe,” says Richard Jenkins in his study of paradoxical identities, Being Danish

The Swedish city of Malmo, pigeonholed by journalists who have overplayed the ‘immigrant crime’ sentiment, hosts an annual festival celebrating Turkish, Indian, Middle Eastern and Chinese food, packed with multi-ethnic locals. 

And, as the author Micheal Booth describes in his book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind The Myth Of The Scandinavian Utopia, Malmo’s diversity is a cause for celebration by all. When its migrant population is not targeted by hate, it can be – and is – “a city at peace with itself”.

Europe’s left, as in Britain, must settle on its place in a diverse, globalised world – establishing how it can appeal to socially conservative voters without sacrificing the cause of progress.

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UK abandons refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 4:12pm in

Yesterday was a terrible day for anyone seeking refuge in the United Kingdom, a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Obsessed by a small number of people arriving on its south coast from France, the UK government has signed a memorandum of association with Rwanda under which people deemed inadmissible to have their claim for asylum assessed by the UK will be transferred to Rwanda to be dealt with under the Rwandan refugee system. Boris Johnson, for whom this announcement conveniently deflects attention from a finding of criminality against him, expects that tens of thousands of people will be sent to Rwanda. One of the claims made in support of the deal is that Britain’s capacity is not unlimited, but the proposed solution is to dump people in a much smaller and poorer country.

As usual ministers are trumpeting the lie that the UK has a “proud record” of refugee protection, whereas in fact the UK takes a very small number of refugees compared to neighbouring countries such as France and Germany. The UK recently set up bespoke schemes for Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kong Chinese. Hardly any Ukrainians have arrived and many have faced formidable bureaucratic obstacles in getting a visa; Afghans cannot apply from Afghanistan and those that arrived in the evacuation following the fall of Kabul are now languishing in poor conditions in overcrowded hotels. As a performative measure to show how much he cared about Ukrainians, Johnson apppointed a new minister for refugees, whom he then neglected to inform about the deal with Rwanda.

One of the curious facts about the deal is that the legal powers to send people to Rwanda do not yet exist, since the government has yet to pass its controversial Nationality and Borders Bill, which keeps being amended in the House of Lords to remove some of its most objectionable features. [Update: the previous sentence may not be correct, according to legal twitter, since the government has already incorporated some of the necessary changes in the immigration rules, without scrutiny from MPs] Even if it does eventually pass this bill, the government faces the possibility of legal challenges under human rights legislation. Anticipating this, Johnson has already attacked “politically motivated lawyers”. (It is possible that the entire purpose of the proposal is, in fact, to stage a confrontation between the “people’s government” committed to post-Brexit border control and to portray liberals, human rights lawyers, NGOs and the like as the “enemy”.)

If the Nationality and Borders Bill does pass in the form that ministers want it to, then those seeking asylum will be divided into two categories. Those who arrived in the UK “legally” will be entitled to have their refugee claim assessed, those who come “illegally” will be deemed inadmissible and will be liable to deportation whence they came, or, if this proves impossible because the allegedly safe country through which they passed will not take them or they face persecution in their country of origin, they may be transferred to a third country. It turns out that this is to be Rwanda.

Is Rwanda a safe place to send refugees? It it a dictatorship in a country with a recent history of genocide, which practices torture, the arbitrary detention of political opponents, and the murder of opposition leaders. When Israel sent refugees to Rwanda they almost all left the country immediately to begin another long journey to seek refuge. Boris Johnson and his Home Secretary Priti Patel have made the risible claim that this agreement will break the business model of people smugglers and lead to fewer people taking dangerous journeys; the reality is that it will provide new opportunities for people smugglers to get people out of Rwanda. Truly a shameful episode.

Extremism Tsar Met Anti-Muslim Witch-Hunt Agency Advised by ‘White Genocide’ Believer

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 11:48pm in

The Government's Commission for Countering Extremism appears to be consulting academics enthralled by far-right Great Replacement theories, even as it holds closed meetings with Britain's security services

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The Government’s chief advisor on extremism met last year with a notorious anti-Muslim government agency in Austria whose brutal crackdown on ordinary Muslims is based on the discredited claims of an advocate of the far-right Great Replacement conspiracy theory.

The Great Replacement theory is part of a wider white supremacist ideology that believes white populations are becoming extinct in a genocidal process driven by high birth rates and immigration of foreign populations - it has inspired recent far-right terrorist attacks.

Robin Simcox, whose term as Interim Lead Commissioner at the UK Government’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) was recently extended in late March for the third time, met with Austria’s notorious Observatory on Political Islam as part of his bid to develop the UK's strategy on countering extremism.

But the Austrian government agency is well-known for using the label of ‘political Islam’ to justify an indiscriminate crackdown on any Muslim who might be critical of the Austrian government and the challenges of Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim Witch-Hunting

The Observatory on Political Islam was established by the Austrian Government in July 2020 to study what it calls political Islam’s “dangerous dimensions for European societies”. But in practice, it plays a lead role in advocating that normal Muslim civil society groups in Austria are a ‘trojan horse’ for a global Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to infiltrate Austrian society.

Just four months after its founding, Austrian authorities carried out Operation Luxor, a series of police raids targeting 70 Muslim households. No one affected by the raids was charged for any offence, and an Austrian court concluded that nine of them were unlawful. Meanwhile, the obsession with targeting ordinary Austrian Muslims led the authorities to miss warning signs of actual terrorism.

The following year, the Observatory published an ‘Islam Map’ identifying the locations of mosques, Islamic cultural centres and even shops across Austria. Far-right group Die Identitären circulated the map to its networks, leading to a rise in far-right attacks on Muslims. “The map published by the Austrian government equates every citizen of the Islamic faith and every person of culture who studies Islam with a potential criminal, provoking a witch-hunt,” said Imam Yahya Pallavicini, coordinator of the Council of Muslim Leaders of Europe.

“Austria might claim it is cracking down on ‘Islamists’”, observed Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid, “but the word is defined so loosely, or not at all, that any observant Muslim speaking out against anti-Muslim bigotry and criticizing the government can find themselves under surveillance, or worse.”

Far-Right Influence

A key figure advising Austria’s Observatory on Political Islam is George Washington University academic Dr Lorenzo Vidino, who Byline Times has previously exposed as an advocate of the baseless far-right Great Replacement conspiracy theory which claims white people are being replaced in the West largely by Muslim immigration. 

In 2005, when asked if Europeans were witnessing “the end of Europe” by FrontPage magazine – the far-right publication of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black extremist David Horowitz – Dr Vidino described how “Europe as we knew it 30 years ago is long gone. Demography doesn’t lie: in a couple of decades non-ethnic Europeans will represent the majority of the population in many European cities and a large percentage of them will be Muslim.” 

Vidino is also a major promoter of discredited conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of Europe and the US, which have been heavily influential in far-right circles. Vidino’s publications, for instance, have been cited by the anti-Muslim blogger “Fjordman,” whose texts Norwegian white nationalist and mass murderer Anders Breivik copied into his manifesto. Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in 2011. 

Vidino was also referenced 35 times in the Operation Luxor arrest warrants justifying the anti-Muslim police raids.

Byline Times has previously revealed the surprising dependence of various materials commissioned and published by the CCE on Vidino’s conspiracy theories, which are overwhelmingly rejected by counter-extremism scholars and practitioners. Simcox’s meeting with an Austrian agency that is actively implementing Vidino’s ideas - with demonstrably counterproductive results - raises questions about how the CCE plans to replicate such approaches in the UK. 

Robin Simcox’s meeting with the Austrian government’s Observatory on Political Islam is documented in the CCE’s new End of Year Report, 2021-2022, published in March. The report provides no further details of the meeting.

Simcox’s interest in the Observatory is unsurprising given that he previously cited Vidino himself during his tenure at the pro-Trump Heritage Foundation, in an article promoting discredited anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Byline Times previously revealed that Simcox had spoken in 2019 at the Center for Immigration Studies, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading US civil rights firm, due to its anti-Semitism and white nationalism.

Simcox’s sympathies with far-right figures raises alarm bells given his influence on the UK government’s counter-extremism strategies. The CCE’s end of year report also confirms that Simcox held high-level meetings with senior Government officials including No. 10, the Home Office, and Home Secretary Priti Patel. The report also reveals that Simcox met Britain's Security Services.

Secrecy

Byline Times repeatedly requested information on the CCE's recent key activities as described in its report, including further details of its academic advisory network and a closed CCE conference in February. A spokesperson for the CCE refused to disclose any information citing data protection laws.

However, the spokesperson's responses revealed how closely the CCE works with the UK Government, noting that members of its own academic advisory group, as well as attendees at the conference, are government employees. But the CCE refused to clarify which government departments these employees represented.

The CCE did not respond to enquiries about Simcox's meetings with the Austrian Government's Observatory on Political Islam, nor with Britain's Security Services.

The CCE's growing propensity to secrecy is a marked departure from its operations under the leadership of Sarah Khan, during which the agency openly published details of its academic advisors and conference activities. This fits into a broader pattern - Byline Times reported in February that the Home Office assessment panel deciding who the Government will appoint to succeed Simcox as Lead Commissioner includes Col. (ret) Robert Graham Cundy, a former Royal Marine and British Army Special Forces officer who played a senior role in counterinsurgency operations before going onto consult for 'overseas intelligence agencies'.

With Robin Simcox at the helm, the CCE appears to be on a trajectory of declining transparency and increasing hostility toward Muslim communities, and an apparent inability to engage with legitimate academic and journalistic scrutiny: the hallmarks of genuinely free scholarly inquiry in democratic societies. The public might be forgiven for fearing that the Government's flagship 'counter-extremism' agency is in danger of becoming become a trojan horse for far-right extremism.

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