Sunday, 24 March 2019

What if they treat white people like blacks?

Before I get started I'm going to have to put my cards on the table in order to avoid the all-too-predictable accusations that I'm some kind of rabid Brexiter, or that I'm somehow bullying David Schneider by considering the subtext of what he said.

I was one of the most viral anti-Brexit campaigners on Facebook during David Cameron's botched referendum gamble (examples 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and I've remained a staunch critic of Tory Brexit ever since. 

I'm actually a fan of David Schneider, and I've quoted him on my Facebook page too. It's just that in this instance he's said something really telling that reveals the blindness of so many liberal white progressives.

I'm sure that he wrote "I’ll be marching with EU citizens worried they’ll be treated like the Windrush generation" with honest intentions, but the subtext here is actually really quite sickening if you try to see it from a black perspective.

It's not difficult to see the undertones.
'I'm protesting against Brexit because I'm worried they'll start abusing mainly-white European citizens in the way they have been treating black British citizens for years!'
'I didn't take to the streets to protest against the Windrush scandal, but I'll invoke it now to publicise my own issue'
'I'm going to objectify the unspeakable suffering of others, not to protest against it directly, but to use it as a proxy for what I actually care about'
'I'm protesting about Brexit because thy might start treating white people like blacks!'
Where were the million+ marching when it was revealed that Theresa May's vile Hostile Environment policy had forced black Brits out of their jobs, denied them housing, and social security, and pensions, and banking services, and even urgent medical care?

Where were the enormous protests when it was revealed that scores of black Brits had been deported from their own country, with many of them actually dying in exile overseas?

There weren't any comparable protests because so many white liberal progressive types just went "oh dear" and got on with their lives because Theresa May's disgusting Windrush scandal didn't affect them personally.

The same goes for the sickening Tory mistreatment of sick and disabled people that's been condemned by the United Nations as a grave and systematic human rights violation.

After 9 years of this barbarity nobody has an excuse for not knowing about the disability denial factories, the slashed disability benefits and confiscated motability cars, the terminal cancer sufferers told to "get a job", the mentally ill people asked why they haven't committed suicide yet, the thousands who have dies within weeks of being declared "fit for work".

But just like the Windrush scandal, a million+ mainly-comfortable mainly-white, progressive "centrists" never flocked to London in to decry the despicable Tory abuse of disabled people either, because they only protest when they fear the policy is going to affect them personally.

And then we can look back to the crux of it all. The ruinous Tory austerity agenda that trashed our living standards and created the wave of public anger that drove Brexit marginally over the winning line in 2016.

Where were the million+ when the Tories were using austerity dogma, wage repression, public service cuts, local government cuts, destruction of the social security net, deliberate under-investment in housing and infrastructure to impoverish millions of people and decimate left-behind communities up and down the country?

Perhaps if more of them had lifted a finger to protest against Tory austerity dogma and its ruinous consequences between 2010 and 2016 then we wouldn't have ever ended up in this Brexit farce in the first place?

And then we look at the politicians at the march and on the podiums giving self-righteous speeches against Brexit at the march in London, and we see who they are.

There are the politicians who enabled the Windrush scandal by helping Theresa May's Hostile Environment policies through parliament (the Tories and Lib-Dems who voted in favour of it, and the Labour right-wingers like Yvette Cooper, Tom Watson, and David Lammy who all abstained on it to let it glide through parliament virtually unopposed).

They're the people who invented the disability denial factories (Labour right-wingers like Yvette Cooper) and those who actively made the disability denial factories even more vile and dehumanising (the Tories and Lib-Dems).

And they're the people who supported the ruinous austerity dogma that created Brexit in the first place (Tories), those who enabled it (Lib-Dems), those who imitated it instead of opposing it in 2015 (Labour right-wingers), and even those who continue pushing this same ruinous potential-destroying, life-wrecking, living standards-eroding ideology even now (the "Independent Group" parliamentary squatters).

Like I said at the beginning there's no way Schneider intended this Tweet to upset victims of the Windrush scandal, or to imply that the abuse these people have suffered was fine as long as it was only happening to blacks and other incomers from the colonies, but it's impossible not to see the subtext.

It's impossible not to see the way he's invoked this outrageous scandal not to criticise the scandal in itself, but to create publicity for the political issue he actually cares about.

The fact is that an awful lot of people who consider themselves to have liberal and progressive values just didn't stand up until they saw that the Tory political chaos might affect them directly through Brexit. But it's actually worse than that because they're so blind to their own indifference that they'll use the actual suffering of others as a warning that the same might eventually end up ... shock horror ... happening to "people like us".

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Mr. Magoo said...

Brilliant article.

I know Brexit is important, but where are the millions of people protesting against the genocidal war in Yemen; economic warfare (e.g. Venezuela, North Korea, Iran); with the school students against climate change; and against racism and the far-right.

Gweet said...

My parents and elder brothers (both born in Malta) - our dad was in the Fleet Air Arm - came to the UK on the Windrush (a troopship) in 1951. When the younger brother tried to get a passport in the 1980's (Thatcher's time), he was declared an 'illegal alien'. Apparently he hadn't been registered upon arrival in the UK. Neither had his elder brother (13 months older), but he applied for his passport during a Labour Government - and had no problems.
Seems like the Tory Government has a problem with the word 'Windrush' - despite it being a troopship used mainly for British servicemen.
Two ships came to the UK with British Subjects before the Windrush - one was the Almanzora, which landed in Southampton. These ships didn't make headlines because they didn't land in London, they landed in Southampton and Liverpool. Of course, after the Windrush sank in 1954, other troopships were used - I came to the UK from Malta in 1960 on the SS Devonshire, but had been born in England.

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