How to be Racist

It seems near on impossible to flick through any social media site without finding continued references to racism.  The common factor between the vast majority of such posts is that are almost all completely, and absolutely wrong.  It is striking that a word that used to have such potency has been overused and obfuscated to the point that it has been rendered meaningless.

The simplest and clearest definition of racism is thus:

prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Please note the last word in that definition.  […] based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.  In recent times we have had the scandal of Boris and the Burka where former foreign minister and London Mayor, Boris Johnson suggested that women that wear the burka look like letter boxes.  I have seen countless accusations that these remarks are racist.  First and foremost it is worth considering that Islam is a religion and not a race.  Thus we have a more accurate term that at a push, if you wish to reason that there is a heinous motive behind the comment, may well fit better.

dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.

For islamophobia to be accurate it is necessary to demonstrate that Boris Johnson has a dislike of Muslims which is not implausible.

Similarly there have been countless accusations of racism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  These claims fall down for the very same reason.  Judaism is a religion and not a race, despite what Halachic Law states.  Accepting the noxious idea that dipping your head in water changes your ethnicity would be the equivalent of acknowledging Jihadi as a race.

One of the biggest of the antisemitic rows within the Labour Party is the adoption of IHRA guidelines that most civilised countries have adopted to define what antisemitism is.  One of the key issues is that Labour have removed a line that warns against ‘claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’.  antisemitism is defined in the dictionary as:

hostility to or prejudice against Jews.

This is where lines begin to blur.  Stating that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour does not make any sense as simply the idea alone does not express any form of superiority, Judaism isn’t a race, Israeli is a nationality and the statement is just plain stupid.  However, it is absolutely antisemitic as it demonstrates clear hostility towards the notion of a Jewish state.

The common thread between islamophobia and antisemitism is a single word – prejudice:

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

The truth is that not only that the vast majority of opinions we encounter online and in real life are blatantly prejudicial.  In the Boris example the snippets from his article that have been shared online are from an article entitled ‘Denmark has got it wrong.  Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that’s still no reason to ban it’.  Thus the quotes that are being banded about in the press demonstrate dislike but it is hard to argue prejudice, nonetheless, it is a clear example of islamophobia.  The notion that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour demonstrates a blatant hostility and subsequently can be defined as antisemitic.  The fact is that arguing that either of the aforementioned examples are racist is unequivocally, unquestionably, inarguably, absolute bollocks.

Funnily enough there is a word that comfortably describes people who falsely accuse others of racism without throughly considering the meaning of their words, whose actions, indignation, and feigned offense, is actually driven by their own ignorance as opposed to actual fact.  It is a word more closely associated with racists, homophobes, extremists, the pious, the holy, and the damn right vile.

bigot
ˈbɪɡət/
noun
a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions.

The Fascist Demonstrations in Warsaw

I was recently invited back to appear on Level Talk with John Harrison to talk about the fascist demonstrations in Warsaw.  As someone who lived through ‘International Stay at Home Day’ in Warsaw, and who personally experienced abuse from fascists in Warsaw, I found it impossible to refuse.

Enjoy

You can listen right here

Listen to my Radio Debut

As promised(1 day early) here is a link to my appearance on Level Talk with John Harrison, discussing all things Poland, just click on the picture below….

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Radio Gaga

Last weekend I was invited to appear on a radio show entitled ‘Level Talk with John Harrison’ to talk about recent events in Poland.  As a rule I largely avoid public appearances in any shape or form, however, felt compelled to accept this invitation.

Recent events in Poland are gravely worrying.  In the last week Amnesty International have published a report on the illegal arrest, assault, surveillance and monitoring of anti-government protestors.  Human Rights Watch have published a 37 page report on the ‘rule of law and human rights under attack in Poland’.  Each week that passes only emboldens the government to stretch the limits of the law further and further.

At this point every single person that loves or has a reason to love Poland has to ask themselves two simple questions.  If not you then who?  If not now then when?  That’s why I decided to accept the invitation.  If nobody is interested in what is happening in Poland it is down to us to start the conversation and make it loud enough so we cannot be ignored.

This afternoon I recorded the show with John Harrison, and a charming bubbly lawyer who will one day be the next Mrs Jagger.  It will be released on Friday evening.  Check back here then for the details.

‘Adversity is a call to action, and your freedom lies in taking the first step.  Don’t worry about the entire staircase, just take one step, and then tomorrow take another.’

– Kriss Carr

The Most Desperate of Pleas For Help

On Thursday evening a fiftysomething year old man set himself on fire in the centre of Warsaw in a desperate attempt to draw attention to the fact that #Poland is heading towards dictatorship.  Before he did it, he set aside a number of copies of a manifesto of sorts, explaining why.  I have no words, so I will leave you with his….

Transalation by Maggie Sienkiewicz
1. I am protesting against this government restricting civil freedom.
2: I am protesting against those who govern and break the rules of democracy. In particular against them destroying (in practice) the Constitutional Tribunal and the system of independent Courts.
3: I am protesting against the government that is breaking the law, in particular the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. I am protesting against those who are responsible (i.e. The President) and want to take any steps to change the current Constitution – without abiding by it in the first place.
4: I am protesting against a method of governing that means the people who hold the highest position in government only execute commands coming from an unidentified Centre belonging to the PIS party. Those people do not bear any consequences of their actions. I am protesting against the style of work in the Sejm (Polish Parliament) which means bills are rushed through, with no discussion, no consultation, very often in the middle of the night which then have to be redone, almost straight away.
5: I am protesting against the marginalization of Poland on the international arena and against making a mockery of our country.
6: I am protesting against those ruining nature, especially those who should be protecting it (i.e.: the cutting down of Białowieża Forrest and other valuable natural reserves, the
favoritism of the hunters lobby, promoting coal based energy).
7: I am protesting against the division of society, the reinforcing and deepening of those divisions. In particular I am protesting against the building of the ‘religion of the Smoleńsk tragedy’ and dividing people on its basis. I am protesting against the screenings of hate, which we see during the monthly Smoleńsk commemorations in Warsaw. I am protesting against the hate speech and xenophobia, which this government has pushed into public debate.
8: I am protesting against the filling of all positions with their (PiS) people who are largely un-qualified to do what they are chosen to do.
9: I am protesting agains the belittling, throwing mud at and destroying of such authorities as Lech Wałęsa or the former presidents of the Constitutional Tribunal.
10: I am protesting against the centralisation of power and changing laws which concern territorial self-governments and non-governmental organizations just so they fulfill the needs of those who rule the governing party.
11: I am protesting against the hostile attitude to immigrants, against the discrimination of minorities, women, homosexuals (and other LGBT), Muslims and others.
12: I am protesting against the absolute incapacitation of public television and almost all of the public radio, making them into propaganda tubes of those in power. And especially against the destruction of the public radio station Trójka (3) that I have listened to since I was young.
13: I am protesting against the use of the Special Forces, Police and Public Prosecutors Office for their own (political or personal) gain.
14: I am protesting against the thoughtless, un-consulted, unprepared reform of the education system.
15: I am protesting against the ignoring of the mass needs of the healthcare system.

I could have mentioned more points with which I am protesting against this government but I wanted to concentrate on those which are the most important ones, which are detrimental to the existence and functioning of the whole state and society.

I do not address any calls to the current authorities, because I think that it would not achieve anything. Many people wiser and better known than me, as well as many Polish and European institutions have already called this government to various actions, and invariably these calls were ignored and the caller was only pelted with mud. I will probably be pelted with mud too but at least I will be in good company.

On the other hand, I would like the President of PiS and the entire PiS nomenclature to acknowledge that my death directly condemns them and that they have my blood on their hands.

I appeal to all Poles who decide who governs in Poland to oppose what the current power is doing and this is why I protest. And do not be fooled by the fact that from time to time the activities of the authorities quieten down and that there is the appearance of normality (as recently). In a few days or weeks, they will again continue their offensive, they will break the law again. They will never step back and they will not give back what they once obtained.

It’s a pretty old-fashioned saying, but it’s very fitting here: Who if not us ? Who – if not the citizens, can clean up our country? If not now when? Every moment of delay causes the situation in the country to become more and more difficult and it will be increasingly difficult to fix everything.

First of all, I urge the PIS supporters to wake up – even if you like the PiS postulates, take into account that not every way of their implementation is acceptable. Implement your ideas within the democratic rule of law, not the way you do today.

Those who do not support PiS, because the policy is indifferent to them or have other preferences I call for action – it is not enough to wait to see what time will bring, not enough to express dissatisfaction in your circle of friends, you need to act. There are a lot of forms and possibilities to do so.

Remember, however, that the PiS electorate are our mothers, brothers, neighbours, friends and colleagues. It is not about fighting a war with them (that is what PiS wants) or “converting them” (because it is naive) but to make their views comply with the laws and principles of democracy. It maybe enough if you change the leadership of the party.

Me, an ordinary man like you, I call you all – do not wait any longer! We need to change this power as soon as possible before it can completely destroys our country, before it completely deprives us of freedom. And I love freedom above all.
That’s why I decided to do this self-inflammation and I hope my death will shake the conscience of many people, that society will wake up and that you will not wait until the politicians do something – because they will not!

Wake up! It’s not too late yet!

If Europe doesn’t act, Poland will sleepwalk its way to dictatorship.  Please share this post, email it to your local MP’s, to your Euro MP’s, to your governments, to the European Parliament, to the EU, to your ambassadors, to the UN, and to anybody you can think of that can possibly help.  If we do not act not #Poland will once again disappear from the map and its people will be enslaved once again.

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