Labour: Guilty by association?

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Is it racist for someone to say, “Chinese people are bad”?

Obviously, yes of course that is racist.

Not only is it completely prejudiced to believe that based only on their outer appearance and culture, it’s also completely illogical to hate all of the one billion people that happen to live in China and the millions more around the world.

My dictionary defines racism like this:

Racism

noun

  • the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. theories of racism.
  • prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior: a programme to combat racism.

Your dictionary likely says something very similar, clearly therefore a hatred of the Chinese would be an example of racism.

Is it racist for someone to say, “The Chinese Government is bad”?

By the way, there are technically two Chinese governments: We’ve got the big communist (at least in name) government of mainland China and we’ve got the smaller democratic (at least in name) government in Taiwan.

Unfortunately the UN and most governments around the world do not recognise the Taiwanese Republic and so it enjoys a similar international diplomatic standing as Derbyshire or Narnia.

Though the island nation is protected by the might of the US military, Uncle Sam does not officially recognised them… Anyways, this is a whole other issue, let’s assume we’re talking about the big commie one.

So, is it racists to say, “The Chinese government is bad”?

Of course not.

This is how Amnesty International opens up on the Chinese government’s human rights record:

“A series of new laws with a national security focus were drafted or enacted that presented grave dangers to human rights. The government launched a massive nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers. Other activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to harassment and intimidation. Five women’s rights activists were detained for planning to mark International Women’s Day with a campaign against sexual harassment. Authorities stepped up their controls over the internet, mass media and academia. Televised “confessions” of critics detained for investigation multiplied. Freedom of religion continued to be systematically stifled. The government continued its campaign to demolish churches and take down Christian crosses in Zhejiang province. In the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the regional government enacted new regulations to more tightly control religious affairs and ban all unauthorized religious practice. The government maintained extensive controls over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. The UN Committee against Torture regretted that previous recommendations had not been implemented.”

If you’re interested, this is how Amnesty International opens up on Taiwan’s human rights record:

“Freedom of peaceful assembly continued to be curtailed. Executions were carried out and death sentences imposed.”

Criticising a government, particularly one with a human rights record such as the Communist Party of China, is not the same as dehumanising people based on their race.

Similarly when someone says Cameron’s government is made up of a bunch of odious wankers, it might be crude, but it’s certainly not racist.

And so I’ll cut to the chase.

The UK media is busying themselves covering anti-semitism within the Labour Party after Guido Fawks, a conservative / fairly right-wing blog, dug up several old social media posts by a Labour MP which it said were racist.

On the 5th of August 2014, Naz Shah posted this picture:

Image skanked from here

Image skanked from here

Though it is a bit crass and stupid for someone running for parliament to post, I personally don’t find it, as Guido Fawks claims it does, ‘highly inflammatory’ and nor does it appear to argue ‘in favour of the [Nazi’s] chilling “transportation” policy’ to me. I think it’s an attempt to satire Israeli government policy which kind of works, but obviously there is a very fine line between comedy and race. 

The post doesn’t seem to discriminate against or denigrate jewish people based on their race, instead the main point seems to be that the US should stop funding the Israeli government.

Is it anti-semitic? I don’t think so, but then again I’m not jewish or Israeli and maybe I would find it offensive if I were.

Anyways, she apologised and was suspended yesterday.

However the shit throwing didn’t stop there.

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour London Mayor, appeared on BBC Radio London this morning to defend Naz Shah.

When the jurno then asked him if he thought it was anti-semitic for Shah to advocated for the mass relocation of jews to the US, he replied that the reaction to her social media posts had been completely over the top.

He added:

“Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

He then went on to point out that the British media rarely reports on the huge difference in death tolls between the two sides. But, it was the previous point which seems to have pissed everybody off and accuse him of anti-semitism.

Livingstone has now also been suspended from Labour for bringing the party into disrepute.

I’ve no idea if his comment about Hitler is historically accurate or not; I’m not an historian. However if you listen to the interview, I think it’s clear he is not, as some have branded him, a nazi apologist.

The problem here seems to be that if you criticise Israeli government policy, especially if you’re in the public eye, then you are racist.

It is an utterly moronic fallacy to conflate racism with political criticism. Where were the cries of racism when the Chinese authorities were crushing the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong two years ago?

If you can’t criticise the Israeli government, then you can’t criticise the Chinese, North Korean, Saudi Arabian, even the UK or the USA over their human rights abuses.

Here’s Amnesty International on the Israeli government’s human rights record in the Palestinian territories:

“In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces committed unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detained thousands of Palestinians who protested against or otherwise opposed Israel’s continuing military occupation, holding hundreds in administrative detention. Torture and other ill-treatment remained rife and were committed with impunity. The authorities continued to promote illegal settlements in the West Bank, and severely restricted Palestinians’ freedom of movement, further tightening restrictions amid an escalation of violence from October, which included attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians and apparent extrajudicial executions by Israeli forces. Israeli settlers in the West Bank attacked Palestinians and their property with virtual impunity. The Gaza Strip remained under an Israeli military blockade that imposed collective punishment on its inhabitants. The authorities continued to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank and inside Israel, particularly in Bedouin villages in the Negev/Naqab region, forcibly evicting their residents. They also detained and deported thousands of African asylum-seekers, and imprisoned Israeli conscientious objectors.”

And for good measure, here it is on the Palestinian government’s record:

“The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Hamas de facto administration in the Gaza Strip both restricted freedom of expression, including by arresting and detaining critics and political opponents. They also restricted the right to peaceful assembly and used excessive force to disperse some protests. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common in both Gaza and the West Bank. Unfair trials of civilians before military courts continued in Gaza; detainees were held without charge or trial in the West Bank. Women and girls faced discrimination and violence; some were victims of so-called “honour” killings by male relatives. Courts in both Gaza and the West Bank imposed death sentences; no executions were reported. Neither the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank nor the Hamas authorities in Gaza took steps to investigate and ensure accountability for war crimes and other serious abuses, including summary killings, committed during the 2014 conflict with Israel and previous conflicts.”

This is not the first time the Labour party has been accused of harbouring anti-semites since Jeremy Corbyn was elected to it leadership by a landslide last year.

Why the rightwing press is suddenly worried about racism when they so relentlessly bash migrants and refugees for nothing other than being migrants and refugees is a bit of a mystery. Surely they wouldn’t be engaged in a smear campaign against Corbyn just in time for the local elections would they?

No one should have to condemn or apologise for the racist comments made by others or have them superimposed onto themselves by the media.

The fact that racism is a disgusting ideology is as obvious as British weather is shit. Yet pretty much every time a terrorist attack is carried out in Europe or North America (no one gives a shit if one happens in Africa, Asia, South America or the Middle East), the papers complain that a prominent Muslim didn’t condemn it. It’s as if they are guilty by association.

I have no doubt that there are racist and anti-semitic memebers in the Labour party, just as I have no doubt that the Tories, the Lib Dems, of course UKIP, and probably even the Greens have them also.

There are cunts everywhere! But where are the papers digging for racists in other parties?

Owen Jones’ video here brilliantly highlights the smear tactics used by the Tories to conflate extremist views with Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Kahn.

Anyways, the absolutely best response to any of this has come from the Jewish Socialists’ Group in a statement the released today. And whether you identify as a socialist or not, and whatever you think of Corbyn and his leadership this article raises great points:

“Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.

Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy out of bounds.

Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.

A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.

The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:

  • The Conservative Party
  • Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources
  • Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community
  • Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.

We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.”

We can expect most of the media to attack the Labour party during this “crisis” but have any of the “serious” or Leftie publications (here’s looking at you the Guardian and BBC) brought up these points and asked the right questions?

From what I’ve read, no they have not.

Header image skanked from here

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