Exploring yet more ridiculous relationship propaganda in the media… Continue reading
Black and White make Grey
The writer of those tedious erotic novels was correct: there are lots of shades of grey. The number, however, I disagree with: there are not just fifty, but infinite shades of grey; a limitless pallet of sludge. There are shades that are a fraction darker than white, an imperceptible shadow on an otherwise pure hue. There are shades that seem as deep and bottomless as the blackest night, but when examined closely show the smallest glimmer of light. Scratch below the surface of any reactive philosophy and you realise that black and white, as simple and appealing as they may be, just don’t exist. There are only shades of grey.
Thinking is hard work. And I don’t mean visualising what you’re going to have for tea or imagining Lindsey Lohan’s tits and Kate Middleton’s arse at the same time; I mean real thinking. The sort of thinking that involves delving deep into your psyche, questioning your own beliefs, giving yourself a hard time about what you believe, why you believe it, why anyone else would be swayed by your argument, what makes your opinion valid. Philosophical musing can lead to considering the vastness of the universe and our own insignificance, the wonder that is nature from birth to cancer cells, our disinclination to consider the “soul” as a collection of electric impulses in the brain, despite the scientific evidence. It can lead you to places you would never have dreamed of going.
It’s emotionally draining to think so hard and acknowledge just how insignificant we and our ideals are; a lot of the time, people don’t bother to question their own life philosophies. Anyone that has, however, will know how rewarding it can be and, equally, how taxing: knowledge and understanding can be as disappointing as it can be enlightening, and once you realise something about the world or your inner consciousness you cannot unrealise it, as it were.
People generally seem happy to wade in the black and white paddling pool, rather than make their way into the murky deep end. Are they happier people? Probably – ignorance is bliss, after all. Why, then, should anyone attempt to leave the chequerboard mentality behind? Because ignorance can also lead to cruel and excessive behaviour towards others.
Baroness Thatcher, Twitter and I
Unfortunately, the people who are of the black and white persuasion also appear to apply the same logic to others. One of the things that really irritate me, when I find myself in debate, is people arguing on the “opposition” who take a point I’ve disagreed with and automatically assume that I mean the absolute reverse of what they’ve said. Recently, I was involved in a heated argument with a woman on twitter who really did not see that what she’d said in the first place was a) Inflammatory, and b) One dimensional. Of course, everyone is entitled to tweet pretty much whatever they want to; however, the woman’s original comment was excruciatingly black and white and exceptionally offensive.
“Some people begrudge the cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. Most likely the same people who smashed up London.”
Which is basically the same as saying: “None of the people who disagree with the amount of money spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral vote Tory, all non-Tories are in the lower classes and all of the lower classes are violent yobs. Ergo, the people who disagree with the funeral costs must be the same people who smashed up London.”
Flawed logic based on sweeping generalisations.
Now, if that tweet had said: “Most likely some of those people are the same people who smashed up London,” then I would have had to agree, although it seems like a bizarre correlation to me. You could also say that it is most likely that some of the people involved in the smashing up of London are also involved with UKip, or dislike Justine Bieber, or eat Subway sandwiches.
Even if I hadn’t been opposed to the sheer amount of money that is to be spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, I would have taken offence to that statement. The implication being that everyone who doesn’t vote Tory and everyone who was negatively affected, directly or indirectly, by Margaret Thatcher’s policies is the sort of person who resorts to the harmful and violent behaviour displayed in the riots in 2010. If she’d really thought about it, the woman in question could have come full circle and realised that, if what she was saying were true, she would be insinuating that Margaret Thatcher was circuitously responsible for the London riots.
Anyway, the tweeting lady, however ill informed, was entitled to say what she thought and I wouldn’t have it any other way, or this country wouldn’t be so great or free. And I was entitled to disagree with her views, not least for being one of the people she was talking about. What I’ve come to realise is that this woman has probably now stuck me in the box with the people who have engendered the current musical status of the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, which is as inequitable as being put in the box with the disillusioned youths who were involved with the riots. I have been judged harshly merely for not agreeing with the funeral costs of a woman who ruined the livelihoods and communities of many members of the working classes. I was also referred to as “hard left*” by this woman, because my disagreeing with Margaret Thatcher’s luxury funeral clearly indicated that I wasn’t a conservative and that meant that I must be totally and utterly against anything conservative ever. Which is also not true. I will probably never vote conservative, and a lot of what the conservative party does and/or says p1sses me off, but I don’t consider myself to be “hard left,” and even if I were “hard left,” that still doesn’t make the conservatives “hard right.” But then again, the boundaries of left and right change with the context in which they’re referred to. Within the moderate margins of our largest parties, I guess I would be “hard left”; yet take into account all other parties and political stances, nationally and internationally, and suddenly, our three major players seem to be just stalking around the middle ground. Which is, incidentally, most definitely where they should be if we are ever to combat terrorism.
Returning to the crux of my Margaret Thatcher tweets: I didn’t agree with all of the Baroness’ policies, and she did a lot of harm. Her funeral will cost a huge amount of money and, while I would never deny anyone a decent burial, I do not think that she was so worthy of so much of the tax payers’ cash when it is the tax payers who were affected by her leadership, and when there are people starving in the world, and when our economy is in such disarray. I’m not here solely to discuss my thoughts on Margaret Thatcher; but what I am trying to get at is that, just because I didn’t feel particularly enamoured with the woman, I don’t immediately head for the other end of the spectrum. I don’t think that she was an evil witch and I don’t think the stupid ditty, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” should be at number one in her dishonour (and not just because it is an infantile mindset that has prompted that to happen), because I understand that she was also a human being trying to do what she thought was best, as most of us are. She was a strong leader, I’ll give her that. Some of her policies were unjust, some weren’t. As a woman, she is someone to aspire to in a sense, although she was no feminist – she didn’t hire women, instead choosing to surround herself with men. She was a strong woman, but she didn’t do anything for the feminist cause. She was neither good nor evil. She was a person and, as such, far too complicated to place on a single black or white square.
Most things are too complex to label, although society does its level best to try in pretty much every regard. Case in point: it has come to light that there are not merely three classes of people in the UK anymore, but seven. I guess this shows some progress in terms of diversity, but it’s still utterly pointless; it’s still a way of marginalising the masses. All this study has shown is that our “classes” and their corresponding stereotypes are far more disparate than the government first anticipated; and instead of doing away with the class system entirely when the government made this shocking discovery, it was decided that we desperately had to add more categories.
One Word to Bind them All
At the arse end of last year, a judge, Peter Bowers, made a comment about burglars being brave for choosing their “professions.” He wasn’t saying that burglars were good people**, he wasn’t saying that burglary is something we should all partake in; he simply meant that to break into someone’s house, risking imprisonment and injury from animals or the residents of said properties, is a courageous thing to do. Some may replace the word “brave” with the word “desperate,” but nonetheless, David Cameron’s reaction was disproportionate. He immediately came out with the counterargument that burglars are cowards.
We associate courage with good things. King Arthur was brave, our lads on the front line are brave, firemen are brave, Batman is brave, Jesus was brave. All these people are connected with “good” things – they’re part of the universal belief that good will triumph over evil. So to call someone that our society considers to be bad “brave” really confused everyone. In those simplistic terms, if brave is good and burglars are bad, then for the judge to call burglars brave must mean that a) He believes burglars to be good people, and b) He is, in fact, bad himself. Boo hiss, let’s all go on a witch hunt. David Cameron either knee jerked to the antonym, or he understood the psyche of the general public enough to know that he had to react to it accordingly to avoid association with the “bad” man himself. I like to think it was the latter; much as I hope I’m never driven to vote for the conservatives, I would still like to think that the man who runs this country is intelligent enough to understand the greys and savvy enough to know how to calm the public response.
The Concept of “Good and Evil” is Fallacy
Recently, I’ve managed to get myself into some debates on religion, in particular the Muslim faith (you may have noticed). My argument, in a nutshell, is that everyone has as much right to be on this planet as everyone else, and has the right to believe what they believe. Since Pakistanis (or English, American, French &c. Muslims with Pakistani ties) are the ones under the cosh at the moment, that is who I find myself arguing on behalf of, which isn’t to say that they aren’t capable of doing it themselves, just that there never happens to be a Muslim around when you need one.
The problem here, is that, because of the black and the white misnomer, I am now to be seen as pro-Islam and, therefore, an enemy of anyone who isn’t Muslim. Except that I’m not pro-Islam at all. I’m no Islamophobe, but I don’t like any religion, really. Grappling with my feminist side to argue on behalf of a religion that oppresses its women so v.badly isn’t easy for me – far from it. My argument isn’t in favour of the religion, but in favour of the people – I have no faith, but I v.much believe in humanitarianism, and as human beings, we must accept that not everyone is the same and that this difference is perfectly sufficient so long as all are in favour of humanity; and with the application of a humanitarian philosophy, we are able to see our similarities with seemingly dissimilar people after all. Unfortunately, the Muslim faith seems to spawn some pretty extreme actions from the radical few, I get this and I get that it could put me in danger. But then again, I am equally as scared of the fascists as I am of the Islamic extremists; more so, in fact. Anyone in a disillusioned enough to position to take a concept and run with it to such an extent has to be, on some level, slightly unhinged.
A lady on twitter tweeted almost exactly the same words I have said time and again:
@Yasira Jaan: Muslims view “Islamic” terrorists the same way most Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.
The problem we have is that some people will automatically associate Muslims with terrorism, whether that’s through general ignorance or a naïve and blind belief in the propaganda that they are exposed to. These people believe that I could not possibly stick up for a group of people without entirely believing in everything they believe, which is preposterous. I would argue wholeheartedly for Catholics, for example, should someone start mouthing off about how they should all go back to Ireland, but I am not Catholic and don’t support the actions of the terrorist group, the IRA. It also doesn’t mean that I agree with Catholicism as a lifestyle, with its inability to grasp the import of pro-abortion laws, or that no sex before marriage jive, or its confessional cleansing.
Funnily enough, one of the many things that I dislike about religion is the way it perpetuates this “good and evil” nonsense. That does not mean that I dislike everyone who has a religion, or anyone who believes in black and white – it just means that I am able to recognise the fact that the black and white doesn’t exist; however dark or light a shade may be. However obvious a solution or the crux of an issue is, I can always see where the lines blur, even if it takes me a while to think about it. And I take solace in knowing that I’m not the only one. The black and white mentality is way too crude a way to view the world, and knowledge and understanding stem from acknowledging the grey roots.
A few months ago, a squash player said to me that some Muslim guys wanted to use the squash club to host a Muslim only squash team. The club refused and the Muslim guys took the matter elsewhere. On hearing this, I said, unthinkingly: “Well, you can’t do that, can you? You can’t expect people to treat you with respect and then refuse to play with people of a different faith.” The man I was talking to then said: “Well, when I asked them why they wanted a Muslim only squash team, they said that it was because squash is a social thing, a hobby that brings people together and they wouldn’t want to all go out to the pub afterwards – they’d want to go for coffee and shisha. It’s as much about the bit after the game as the game itself.” Didn’t I just feel a bit foolish?
Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White (but you can’t be a bit of both)
Another issue that arises, when only considering black and white pieces, is that people are typecast. A person does something “bad” and the bad thing immediately eradicates everything else they’ve ever been.
Harold Shipman will only ever be that bad man who killed old people; the moment he is found out, he is stripped of his lifelong achievements as a doctor; immediately, everyone forgets that his patients absolutely adored him. People start saying things like: “Oh, he seemed like such a nice man. And such a good doctor – we never knew” and they shake their heads as if all that time he was pretending to be a polite GP who was good at his job. Suddenly, he is the devil incarnate. Pure evil. But it’s not true, is it? People don’t like to think of one of the most prolific murderers as anything other than malevolent, but the fact remains that he was actually quite a nice chappy in life. Unfortunately, he also had a side to him that was disturbed enough to create in him relish at the thought of bumping off old ladies merely because he could. He was a murderer, but that’s not all he was.
A single act or belief does not define someone. And acts performed by someone of a particular faith or belief system do not define every member of that faith or belief system.
In 2001, Islamic extremists flew aeroplanes into the twin towers in New York, killing people of various faiths and ethnicities. A terrible act of inhumanity, a dreadful indifference to the sanctity of life – this I am not denying. When people discuss the 9/11 attacks, we refer to the terrorists as “bad” and the victims as “good.” We say things like: “Those poor people” when referring to the victims And, yes, I absolutely believe that nobody should ever die in such a way. But what we never consider is this: of the thousands of people who died that day, how many were paedophiles? How many had stolen something that wasn’t theirs? How many were having affairs? The people who died in the 9/11 attacks were killed unjustly, granted, but just for having been so aren’t necessarily guiltless; in fact you probably couldn’t say that about any of them. Their deaths have become all that they were to the people who didn’t know them.
The acts of the terrorists had wider implications: I’m sure that those people had interests other than blowing up “infidels,” but what they did that day created a butterfly effect. Several crazy Muslims have attacked the western world and in the minds of a lot of people in the western world, that meant that allllll Muslims would at some point want to attack. Fear sees all of us reverting to the basic instincts we try to quell because we know them to be irrational a lot of the time.
But then, it’s hard to not be swept away in the fear when the media uses emotive language (like “terrorism”) and justifies the actions of certain governing bodies. The media has a lot to answer for. Recently I came across a bestselling book on US Amazon – a non-fictional account of Pakistan. Apparently, the Americans loved it – there were five stars flying all round that review page. I checked out the same book on UK Amazon – oh dear. Bad reviews. Suspicious, I dug a little deeper and discovered that the writer of this scathing book had never actually set foot in Pakistan.
When we were at war with Germany, we considered all Germans to be the baddies and when there’s a wall of people advancing on you with heavy artillery and menace driven by a dictator, it’s probably sensible to protect yourself. But that doesn’t stop each individual, soldier of civilian, from also having other characteristics, qualities that we admire. Penelope Lively injected the German soldier in The Darkness Out There with enough individuality to invoke pity in the reader, but not in the character of the WWII survivor.
Nothing but Grey Skies
To say that I believe that a black and white mentality is bad is, in itself, black and white, is it not? Yes, it most certainly is, and if you think, having read the above, that I would ever consider something to be inherently good or bad***, then you have clearly misunderstood my key point. I believe in the greys and I find the greys enlightening. I would defend a black-and-whiter should one be subject to abuse because of their beliefs, but this does not mean that I agree with everything they’re saying. Do you see what I’m saying? I find the inability to find the middle ground, and the inability to gauge the facets of human nature restrictive and one dimensional; I also find it worrying that people could blithely attack others on the premise of good versus evil, which is why I take issue. To believe something is one thing; to act upon it, or allow yourself to be used as a pawn against others in its name is quite another. It’s easier to act on a belief than to question it, but we are, supposedly, an intelligent species. Don’t let the genus down with your inhumanity because you were too lazy to think deeply about your actions.
*bearing in mind that I absolutely hate extremism, I really don’t think I could ever be “hard” anything
** Although, I am a bit hazy on his reasoning for letting the burglar off.
*** Unless we’re talking wine. Wine = good. Lambrusco = bad. If you ask my tastebuds, that is.
Following on from my rant about the publication that considers itself to report the real news from Dewsbury, I have ended up in several subsequent arguments in the same vein. Which is fine. I want people to voice their opinions – it helps everyone to get it out of their systems and refine their views. But what I find vastly irritating, is that most of the time, the people arguing against me have no reasoning to back up their statements and any information they’re working from has been gleaned from sources exactly like The “Real” Dewsbury News, which tote nothing but anti-Islamic hate propaganda.
Recently, I found myself having debates with people, and not just on the subject of Islam, that have ended with me going: “What the fuck?!” and walking away in sheer frustration. As someone said to me recently: “Even racists should have a voice,” and I concur wholeheartedly. For one thing, voicing racist (or homophobic or misogynistic or transphobic &c.) views will “out” that person as a bigot; it will also allow people to argue on the contrary, which in rare cases may change the mind of said racist; and it poses questions that a non-racist may not have considered, which gives us further understanding of why people feel the need to needlessly hate entire races of people.
And I do want to understand; truly, I do! Most people have reasons for their opinions, and whether that opinion is based on an experience, propaganda, the media or outright fact, it is the product of rational(ish) thought, even if it does belong to someone who is ill informed. And so I don’t just disregard a racist comment – I invite the racist to offer an explanation. And do I ever get one? Do I bollocks! I ask why someone believes what they believe and I get back an entirely new bald statement along similar lines, or I get called a name and sworn at. On the odd occasion that someone has offered further insight, the information I’ve been given has been hazy. I was lucky enough to find myself embroiled in such an argument a few weeks back: what had started as a comment on Facebook about the Lib Dems and had nothing to do with international politics, was suddenly about the EDL – absolutely no reason to bring that up, but the person that did so had obviously been in possession of the irrelevance stick that day. Regardless of how this all came about, I found myself faced with the following:
“There are local councillors in Kirklees who privately support sharia law ffs. If no mainstream politicians will deal with that, then people will turn to those who will.”
To which I said that, if that was the case, then those people (who purportedly support sharia law) should be investigated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this country allows freedom of speech: speech – not actions. People are free to believe and say what they like, but they should absolutely not be allowed to fuck with our basic human rights. We have laws that are put in place for our protection and freedom. I’m not suggesting that we allow the Muslim faith to in any way overtake English culture when I say that Muslims should be treated with as much respect as anyone else. Pakistan is practically a police state because of the beliefs of its government and England does not have the same culture – should never have the same culture. In any case, I’ve spoken to people who have left Pakistan to escape its extreme laws, so I find it hard to believe that every Muslim would like to recreate a UK version of Pakistan.
I’m also not saying that there are no Muslims in the UK with extreme views – I’m certain that there are some who would happily stone every non-Muslim – but we allow Muslims to believe what they want to believe, the same way that we allow Christians to believe what they believe, and the way that we allow Jews to believe what Jews believe, and atheists to not believe what they don’t believe, and the white supremacists to believe what they believe. Again, it is one thing to believe something, but it is quite another to use that belief as an excuse to exercise violence. To think about stoning someone is v.v.different from actually stoning them. To want to beat someone up for being of a different race is v.v.different to actually doing it. We have no thought police and we never should have; so until someone acts, or threatens to act, upon an extreme belief, then no, our current politicians will not step in, because those people have done nothing wrong in terms of the law. How could a politician reasonably hound someone on the off chance that they had a bad thought or three?
But, really, where did the information come from that local MPs agree with Sharia law anyway? Damned if I know. Presumably The “Real” Dewsbury News. I’ll probably never know. And if I’d asked the question, the person on the receiving end of the question would no doubt have said something like: “It’s just a fact. Everyone knows it,” which in my book isn’t enough to condemn a whole section of our society.
Anyway – why I came here today was to dissect the screen shots from my previous post a little further. Mainly because the irrelevance of some of the comments amused me… and the hatred in some of the comments scared and saddened me.
To be honest, this isn’t an irrelevant comment. It’s not a well informed comment, but it’s one of the more intelligent responses. Personally, I think that any town would reasonably allow a road closure for an hour to celebrate a religious holiday. Until recently, I lived next to Burley, which has a massive Asian community, and have occasionally waltzed into the midst of some festivity or another.
The road that runs off mine* was closed for a secular street party recently. There was no reason for it; it was just a street party. Muslims and non-Muslims alike would have been welcome.
When I attended a Free Palestine march a while ago, the whole of Leeds city centre was closed to make way.
When the women of England take to the streets in their underwear to march for the right to be able to walk down any street dressed however they like and not be molested, the roads are closed then. The slut walk is something that not everyone understands, but we are allowed to march. That is a show of power: it’s a show of female power; not to say that we are better or plan to overtake the men, but just to make the point that we are strong, we are together, we are free, and we should be allowed as much respect as any man.
That’s not to mention the fun runs that take place all over the country and involve road closures.
And the irrelevance kicks in. What in the name of holy crap does that person’s kids have to do with this subject? I mean, really. Aside from the fact that I know full well that this person celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ not long before this post, there is absolutely no correlation between a religious festival and the fruit of this person’s loins. It’s nice that this person loves their kids… nothing to do with international politics, though. Can you imagine if David Cameron was asked to comment on a particular issue and he said: “Oh, I only care about my kids, really. Why are you doing something that isn’t my about my children?”?!
Road closures. Well, they’re annoying, I admit. They’re annoying regardless of the reason. Having researched the traditional ways in which Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, though, I have discovered that most of them, in fact, don’t celebrate it at all. But those that do mark the occasion with a procession; and, unfortunately, that means that a road was closed for a bit. Read the diversion signs if you need to drive down that particular road and get over it, is all I can say. I suspect that this person didn’t have to drive down that road, in which case it had no bearing on their life.
Show of power? I’m willing to bet that those Muslims couldn’t have given a shit what the non-Muslim community was up to on that particular day. They were celebrating a religious festival in the traditional way. And even if it was a show of power – so what? They closed a street for an hour and it affected next to nobody. Well, that showed you, didn’t it? So did all the millions of articles and photographs that came out of the march. Except that there is nothing about it anywhere (and believe me, I’ve searched). A non-event for non-Muslims – so why all the bloody fuss?
Childish and cruel.
Obviously not. As I have already said: Pakistan is practically a police state. But England allows its people to celebrate whatever they like however they like, as long as they’re breaking no law – pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddists, Clingons and all.
In addition, Christmas is not traditionally celebrated with a procession, so even if a group of Christians was allowed to march down a street in Pakistan at Christmas, that really would be a “show of power”. We celebrate Christmas by gathering our people around us and inebriating ourselves – not by marching.
No, Commenter, it’s a procession! And I’m pretty sure if non-Muslims had shown up at the procession and, in a non-threatening, amicable way, joined in, then the Muslims would have been bemused and confused (possibly initially wary and taken aback), but carried on regardless. And if not, how would this particular commenter have taken it if a Muslim had shown up to join in with carol singing at Christmas? Or if a Muslim had let him/herself in, sat down at the table and started helping him/herself to turkey? Not so well, I’d like to warrant.
And we’re steaming away with ourselves on the irrelevance front again. I mean what the fuck is this silly bitch on about? Firstly, I’m pretty unclear as to who it is that has disrespected “our troops” (I suspect the Muslims, but I really can’t speculate). Secondly, what would she like to happen to those who “disrespect our troops”? Imprisonment? Castration? Stoning? She is allowed to be disrespectful of others, but believes that nobody should be disrespectful to someone she respects.
In any case those are, again, two completely disparate issues. By troops, I presume she means the British army, and by disrespect, I presume she actually means kill. In which case – it’s a war. You can’t really arrest people for killing people who have come into their country to kill them. Do you see what I’m saying? I don’t like war, but even I understand that!
That person has clearly just stubbed their toe or stepped on an upturned plug. I sympathise deeply.
That person obviously found a great, steaming turd in their breakfast. Moving on…
Well, that was in response to me saying something about Muslims not giving a crap about non-Muslims on a holy day. Instead of giving me a decent argument, the commenter just thought it best to insult me. I presume that the commenter thought I was going to give up and cry or something. My silly little lady brain sometimes works that way… oh, wait – fuck off! No it doesn’t. If that person genuinely thinks I’m naïve, then that’s fine. But I think it naïve to make an argument with no basis, to believe that every person of any given race is exactly the same, or that every person from any given race only ever thinks about getting rid of people who aren’t of that race. Not every non-Muslim is like you, the same way that not every Muslim is like Osama Bin Laden. The dangerous few spoil it for everyone else and give them a bad name; the beardy-weirdy Islamic extremists spoil it for your average decent Muslim, and the fascist, white supremacist gits spoil it for your average, decent non-Muslim.
Was in response to my saying: “Ooh – there’s a Muslim guy on here. Ask him what it’s all about.”
The words in that paragraph that stand out like a dildo at a tea party are “alleged” and “investigated.” Innocent until proven guilty, my friend.
I’ve already answered this comment in my last post, but what I said was that where there are politics and/or religion, there is corruption. It may not be nice, but there it is.
Rarely do these things pass peacefully? Well, that’s just plain wrong. Not only did that march pass peacefully, there was absolutely no coverage of it and war was not declared on the non-Muslims.
Um… unless there’s something in the Qur’an that I’m missing (I haven’t got round to reading it yet – I’m still working my way through the Bible), I have no idea what this jerk-off is talking about. I suspect that they are pulling the most offensive remark they can think off out of thin air and applying it to the Muslim faith. In which case, the comment is null and void and utterly utterly infantile.
Also, if someone put in an application to have a street party for St. George’s Day, I’m pretty sure it would go through the same channels and wouldn’t be a problem. Like I said: there was a street party on my street recently. For no apparent reason.
The hate-mongers themselves. If The “Real” Dewsbury News believes that screen shots of what people are saying would be a bad thing, then they know full well that what they publish is there to provoke a bad reaction.
Unfortunately, the majority of the EDL sympathisers appear to be illiterate and uneducated, and the writers of The “Real” Dewsbury News are no more eloquent. So little so, in fact, that any reader is asked to refrain from correcting their English or grammar at risk of being blocked from making further comments. Not education advocates, then.
Aw – commenter sticking up for me. I’ll give that commenter their due – I really appreciated them acknowledging that the censorship was wrong and that it would royally piss me off.
That person just awoke with a raging erection following a dream in which a bestockinged Nick Griffin tickled his anus with a long, pink feather. I speculate, but that’s the most obvious scenario I can think of.
Presumably, this person is insinuating that everyone wants the Muslims to leave. As a non-Muslim, I can say that I don’t. Aside from the fact that I have Muslim friends here, there are a lot of Muslims who are English. This is their home – how could we justify sending them elsewhere?
There was no reasoning given for wanting these people to leave the country, but I wasn’t allowed to comment, so I couldn’t ask.
Um… wrong! There would have been a police presence at the Muslim procession, just as there is at other marches. The following pictures are marches and processions that go on all the time… oh wait. I typed “March Dewsbury” into Google and guess what came up… no Muslim marches, but a shit load of EDL related ones! There are a couple of other march pictures thrown in there for good measure.
– NHS supporters
– EDL member saluting a la Hitler
– UAF Anti-fascists
– UAF anti-fascists
– EDL march
– UAF anti-fascists
– EDL March
– EDL march
I am a bit baffled. This person appears to be sending a message of love (with fifteen or so kisses) praises the current coalition government and says that “we” (that is to say “us”) are the ones that have it wrong. I don’t actually know whether the “us” is in reference to the people in the conversation or “us” in general… if anyone could shed any light on this, I’d be v.grateful.
Do you know, when I look at that last two march pictures above, when I see people seething with hate like that, people who would harm me for my beliefs and my sexuality (oh yes – they don’t like me for counter-arguing, but they also have something deeper, personal and far more scary against me) I want to attach fucking bayonets and run each and every one through, I really do. But that is a childish knee jerk of mine. Then I calm myself. I think about the fact that a member of my family is, unfortunately, a BNP voter. I think about my cousins and what that person means to them. I realise (because I’m not a fucking nazi wanker) that these people are still just that… people. I calm myself down and I think rationally. I disagree with what they are doing and I have rational thought behind me (which the few of them I’ve spoken to don’t seem to have), but they are entitled, as inhabitants of this country, to voice their opinions too.
What this commenter has failed to do, is get beyond their visceral reaction and question why they feel this way. You know – like a child having a paddy.
Dude – when did they ever claim to be a religion of peace? When did any religion apart from Buddhism? I’m reading the bible cover to cover and all I’m getting from Christianity is wrath. I will read the Qur’an next. Pretty sure it doesn’t say it in there either.
Will you be able to walk with them? Yes. Will you be able to take a Union Jack? No – because the union jack is now associated with the BNP and ethnic cleansing, unfortunately (the Muslims didn’t spoil that – the BNP/NF/EDL did!). Will you be able to take a parachute banner? Um… probably. It would be like taking a “Happy Birthday” banner to Christmas Day, but ok.
Muslim people have suffered, in the past, horrific abuse from the UK. The Empire. As has the rest of the world. The UK started with the animosity, years ago. We still think we have that power. We don’t. Then Pakistani immigrants came seeking asylum – they were abused for looking different and for believing different things. The next generation of Muslims was brought up here – when they were under attack, they started to fight back. Racial aggression against non-Muslims by Muslims is not acceptable, but neither is aggression against Muslims, and people who gave them a hard time in the past could hardly have expected the Muslims to sit back and be abused.
If a non-muslim tried to march with them, it would all probably be fine, although that non-muslim would be regarded with suspicion. Would they kill you? Maybe, if they had the chance. How many of their family members have been brutally and verbally attacked by white supremacists? What would you do to them if they showed up Christmas day? You start a war, you get a fight back. I’m not saying it’s right, but what the white supremacists do is also not right.
A profession of immortality. See – these people are children. Full grown children with no cerebral development at all.
Do you know – I think I’m done.
What I want to say to these people is this: you think you are the goodies and that they are the baddies. Well, we raped that fucking country when we arrived all those years ago – we abused our position and we took what wasn’t ours. There is no such thing as a “goodie” or a “baddie.” There is no black and white; only shades of grey (I hate that bloody woman who wrote those terrible books. She’s totally spoilt that for me). Perhaps you should do some growing up and learn about the world, learn about different cultures and ethnicities before you stomp around with your indignation and hatred aimed at anyone who isn’t exactly like you. We are a teeny, tiny country in a wonderfully diverse world. The beliefs of fascists appear to be unfounded and the reasoning given is irrelevant. If someone can give me a well-rounded argument in favour of racism, I’d love to hear it.
* Park Mount in Kirkstall, Leeds. I can say this now, because I have just upped sticks and shipped myself off to greener pastures.
Incidentally, the picture associated with this blog is of an EDL march that took place in Dewsbury in June 2012. When I typed “The Real Dewsbury News” into Google, the first two links Google threw back were the twitter account and facebook page of The Real Dewsbury News… the third was the facebook page associated with the EDL. The picture used by The “Real” Dewsbury News on the article in question can be found at the bottom of this page.
NOTE: As an aside to the contributors and editors of the aforementioned publication, I could have embedded hyperlinks on the big words, since your grasp of the English language is, at best, around the Primary School level, but I just didn’t have time, so I suggest you take your time and purchase a dictionary before you read this. I also note that you are unable to understand grammar, so you just ignore the squiggly lines that sometimes accompany a word and we can cover that another day, yeah? Amusing, is it not dear readers, that these so called writers of the news cannot get to grips with their mother tongue and yet expect us to be dictated to by them on the subject of international politics?
You may be wondering why I am attacking, and rather rudely at that, such an insignificant independent organisation*. The reason is because I am absolutely fucking livid at the authors. It has taken me a week to calm down, although the break has allowed me some reflection and has given me time to resist the urge to simply blurt out something along the lines of: “Boycott The Real Dewsbury News – for it is misinformed, biased sensationalism put about by ignorant, grammatically incorrect cunts!” I wouldn’t want to make such bold, crude statements without qualifying myself and name-calling isn’t going to get us to the root of the problem, now is it? So I will not call them boorish twats and similar vulgarities, for that is mere opinion; but I will say this as fact: they censored me. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.
The other day, while blundering around facebook**, I came across what I believed to be a something posted by a friend. I was curious; it appeared that the friend was under the impression that a Muslim holy day was somehow about him. In fact, not just about him: about all of the non-Muslim community in Dewsbury. Which struck me as a rather odd point of view. Why on earth would any Muslim on a holy day give a flying fuck what a non-Muslim was up to? So I commented that Muhammad’s Birthday, for that was the holy day in question, was probably just like Christmas except that they were only closing one road in Dewsbury for a couple of hours rather than taking over every bloody shop on the high street for six weeks. I also made the point that it was unlikely the march down said road in Dewsbury was a direct threat, and was more feasibly an excuse to have a bit of a street party and enjoy whatever respite from work Muslims may be awarded for such celebrations. You know, like we (as in the friend and I) would have done a few weeks earlier with our respective families. On Christmas Eve, for example, were we quaffing beer and mumbling and grumbling in the pub about how we would show those pesky Muslim with our bucks fizz and brightly wrapped gifts? Were we bollocks! We couldn’t have given two shits about what the Muslim community was up to as long as it wasn’t about to start trying to convert us or attempting to harm us in any way. Even less dramatic than not caring: we were completely indifferent to it. And I’m willing to bet that the Muslim community was as equally apathetic about us.
My friend saw it as a march against the non-Muslims, but I could honestly see no reason for that assumption, given that the march wasn’t a march of protest, but a march of faith. He had absolutely nothing but a gut feeling to go on, which I wasn’t prepared to trust as gospel. I like my facts to be cold and steely and hard… and maybe a bit minty.
I was called naïve, which seemed a bit superfluous to the argument and gave me no further insight into why my friend (and, it seemed, quite a few others) believed that the celebration of a Muslim holy day was a direct threat to their safety. I conceded that I might be naïve and that he was entitled to that opinion (not that it had ever been expressed about me before), but then endeavoured to get the conversation back on track. I said that I could possibly be wrong of course, but that it was a bit extreme to assume that we were under attack without further information than: a road in Dewsbury will be closed for a couple of hours for a march. In addition to the march, the road was also closing for waterworks and a 10k race, but that wasn’t at all the focus; apparently fun runners and Yorkshire water are less scary than people with different beliefs.
I informed the group that I worked with some Muslims, considered them friends and was pretty sure they didn’t have any desire to do me ill. I also said that if, when the march ended, war was declared against the non-Muslims then I would most definitely reconsider my stance on the issue; but having nothing to go on other than the bare bones of the thing, I wasn’t about to make scare-mongering assumptions about something of which I knew next to nothing.
Then a brown face appeared next to a comment and I thought: “Huzzah! For we have our v.own Muslim right here to ask. Now we’re cooking with gas.” His comment was simply: “Great day :)”
Immediately, that comment was deleted.
I commented: “Um… you deleted the Asian guy’s comment. Couldn’t you just have asked him what it all means to him?”
The next time I checked back to see what the response was, my comments had gone too, and there was a warning from The “Real” Dewsbury News saying that we had to “keep it clean,” because people were going onto the site to take screen shots of our conversation. I’m still not entirely sure why screen shots would be a problem – I was having a conversation in an open forum, after all. They could screen shot away, as far as I was concerned. In fact, here you are (please note that my comments are no longer there).
Now, as you are probably aware, I swear like a sodding trooper, and if you have a problem with that, then you can sod off! But, at that moment in time, I was v.calm; I had been on my best behaviour because I hadn’t known the friend with whom I was conversing on the matter v.long, he’s one of my partner’s best friends, and I was genuinely not riled until this point. What I didn’t know until yesterday, was that the The “Real” Dewsbury News contacted this friend in a bid to keep me quite, which enraged me all over again.
I was rather taken aback by my censorship at first. I wondered briefly whether some of the longer words had confused the editors and they’d been under the impression that I was insulting them because they’d been unable to understand plain English.
Of course, this wasn’t the case. I had been excised, as in some Orwellian nightmare. Except that this was a public facebook page in the year 2013; we don’t live in a police state or a dystopian future-world where history is rewritten willy nilly and people are punished for speaking out. I was also blocked from making further comments. So, the comments ran as The “Real” Dewsbury News wanted them to – people winding each other into that mob-mentality because there was no room for mediation or debate. With no alternative way of thinking to diffuse situations like this, people can create a buttress for whatever method of ethnic culling they believe is somehow necessary. Whether you’re fighting others for a religion or a race, it’s all the same – it’s pure hatred channelled into a weak excuse to fight, and the opposition could be anyone. If you’re an angry person and you have to blame others for it, then you will – whether that censure is violent, verbal or internal – and it doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end as long as you can bally well hate them. It’s Pakistani Muslims at the minute; it might be the Chinese next decade, or the Sikhs, or whoever is being surreptitiously portrayed as the “baddie” through certain media vents and channelled into our systems by media osmosis. As in the novel, 1984, the masses are controlled by what they see on a screen – one day being told that they are at war with one country, and the next believing themselves to have always been at war with another. They love Big Brother (they have to love him) and hate Goldstein; daily screaming hatred at the image of this man whom they have never met and have been told to hate. The hatred is no less real for being subliminally implanted in their minds. But I digress; the media portrayals are just one aspect of it. Having one-sided reports and articles on your side only makes you blameless, in your eyes. But in reality it doesn’t make you blameless: it makes you blind and obtuse, and your subconscious should keep you awake at night.
Now, I had had an inkling, because I wasn’t born yesterday, that this paper may have a bias towards the white majority. It does, after all, advertise itself as the paper for the English community of Dewsbury (I believe that they specifically meant the white English community, given that we have rather a lot of English Muslims in this day and age). I had also had a hunch that what I was saying wasn’t going to be particularly popular. But, as I said: nothing I wrote was offensive; it was clean, succinct and open minded. I can’t prove it to you because I was deleted, but you can make your own mind up – I’m not the one trying to quash the opinions of others. In addition, nothing that I wrote was pro-Islam. It certainly wasn’t anti-Islam, but all I had actually asked was why the people making comments had seen fit to go into panic mode about something that would be over and done with in a couple of hours and would only affect them if they happened to be driving down that particular street at that particular time and didn’t have the brain capacity to take an alternative route.
The friend went on to say, because funnily enough he hadn’t been blocked, that he wouldn’t have asked the Muslim guy (also blocked) what the holy day meant to him because of all the corruption in the Islamic faith. Which was also a bizarre thing to say, because unless he knew something that I didn’t about the Asian guy who made the comment, then that Asian guy was just an average bloke. And unless you’re someone way up at the crooked top, you are also the victim of corrupt society. We all are. Show me organised religion and / or politics and I’ll show you corruption.
Oh, you want examples? Ok:
1. Catholic Church. The pope covered up the fact that several hundred priests had been tearing little boys’ arseholes apart. Are you going to tar everyone of the Catholic faith with that brush? Vast swathes of the Irish are Catholic, for a start, so if you applied the same logic that these troglodytes apply to Muslims, the implication would be that Ireland is populated by nonces because some sick fuck kept his gob shut instead of doing the decent thing.
2. The Media. Phone hacking.
3. Church of England. Do I even need to start? A religion that was pushed to the forefront so that some fat, horny king could divorce his older wife and fuck a younger one.
4. The Conservative Party. Sir Peter Viggers spent taxpayers’ money on a duck house not so long ago. I’ve never been a fan of the conservatives, but I’m not going to immediately spurn someone just for voting for the right wing prats. I’m pretty sure some of my friends vote conservative; we may be on disparate sides of the middle, but I love my friends all the same.
5. The Labour Party. Received a million pound donation from the Formula One driver, Bernie Eccleston, then the Labour government changed its policy to allow Formula One to continue being sponsored by tobacco producers. The money was sheepishly returned when all this was found out. I know that at least one of my friends is all about Labour, and she’s as straight up as they come. Just because she votes Labour does not make her approve of the sleaze aspect, and it certainly doesn’t make her sleazy herself.
The average person cannot be judged on the scumminess of those who represent the culture in which they live, because that average person hates the corruption as much as the people outside of that society. I’m willing to bet that your average, hard-working, decent Muslim detests the extreme beardy-weirdies giving them a bad name as much as your average, hard-working, decent non-Muslim hates the violent, extreme opinions of the intellectually repressed. Or as much as your average feminist resents the extreme opinions of a woman who calls herself a feminist merely because she hates men (which, incidentally, makes her just as bad as any woman-hating man and makes feminism look like a hate crime). Or your average, hard-working Brit who likes a drink, but abhors the pissed-up groups of hooligans that stalk the city streets at night terrorising others. And just as your average, civilised Catholic finds the acts of the IRA insufferable.
Muslims don’t kill people – extremists do. An extremist in any regard is a scary person, because an extremist believes that there is one way of life and that that way is their way and if you don’t agree, if you are not exactly like them, they will harm you whether you impinge upon their existence or not. The IRA and Al Qaeda are official terrorist groups that would, given the chance, silence everyone who doesn’t hold the same values. The BNP is a terrorist group posing as a political party (believe me: I have known some BNP voters and what they like to do for fun) and if placed in a position of power would happily go to work to create a police state.
Muslims are not just Muslims; they’re people: they are fathers and mothers and artists and comedians and fashion victims and depressives and optimists and so many other things besides. I am an atheist, but I am not just an atheist. I am working class, but I am not just working class. I am a feminist, but I am not just a feminist. Nobody is ever defined by one belief or act.
One of the Muslim girls I work with has the most amazing, dry sense of humour imaginable; she cracks me up whenever I talk to her. She is also exceptionally intelligent, quick-witted and beautiful.
One of my Muslim mates will shag anything in a skirt and has a backlog of anecdotes that could entertain you for hours. Every single time he comes back from visiting family in Pakistan, he is interrogated in the airport and worries because he has to say he’s going to Leeds… “I was like: ‘Ohhhhhh fuck: it’s where the suicide bombers were from’.” He was the one to stand up to a colleague who thrust his face into the breasts of another colleague at the Christmas party and expertly diffuse the situation without causing violence or embarrassment. He is a wicked cricketer and footballer and will do anything for anyone.
Another Muslim colleague of mine will not use his real name and goes by a western one instead. He is the laddiest lad I’ve ever met, which irritates the life out of me, but he’s only young, bless his cottons. He gets wasted, he throws himself around dance floors, he bangs on about which chicks he wants to bone, he does everything he can to fit in with western society. And yet a few months ago, on a night out in London with mates he had his head kicked in by a gang of yobs. He has had extensive corrective surgery on his face and needs to go back for more, and there was a v.strong possibility that he would lose the sight in one eye, which, thankfully, has returned. He is twenty two years old.
I have to mention, having gleaned more info this v.day, that the lad in the above scenario is actually Hindi. I did think it was odd that a guy with Indian parents would be Muslim, but since you do get a few Muslims in India, I didn’t really question it. However, I doubt the fact that he is a Hindu would stop a white supremacist from beating ten shades of shit out of him.
Here’s the rub: I am not pro-Islam. I am not in favour of any religion***. I don’t like the racism that religion breeds, or the misogyny, or the cliques, or the general bigotry and hatred. But I do not think that anyone should be persecuted for having a religion. As long as you’re doing others no harm and not foisting it on me, you can go ahead and believe in your imaginary friends and everything that pertains thereto. Knock yourself out. I won’t be bothering you about your beliefs as long as you don’t bother me with them. You can reiki the shit out of yourself, if you like, just as long as you don’t intend to hurt anyone with it. You just pop your homeopathic cure into your mouth and feel better for it, if it works for you; it doesn’t work for me, but who am I to judge? Confess every time you have a bad thought, if you must, but don’t expect judgement from me. Don’t want to eat bacon because you believe it to be dirty? All the more of the yummy pig-meat for me. I confess that I’m tremendously upset by automatic genital mutilation to male (and particularly female) children, but if you must, do not touch me or mine†.
There are, of course, cultural differences that need to be addressed. As in the case of Adil Rashid, the eighteen year old who was recently allowed a reprieve from a prison sentence because he “didn’t know it was illegal to have sex with a thirteen year old girl.” He had been taught that women had “no more worth than a lollipop dropped on the ground” in a strict Islamic school. Naturally, this gets my goat. I don’t like that it happens in other countries, but I am v.lucky to live in this country, where women are allowed their freedom and basic human rights… now. So when that sort of thing happens here, it enrages me that it was allowed to happen. I absolutely agree that Muslim parents should have the right to bring their kids up as Muslim themselves, but those kids should also be taught to conform to British basic human laws and to understand the worth that the British law places on our women (even if it is severely lacking in some regards). It is the responsibility of our school boards to ensure that our schools teach children appropriately, and it is the responsibility of Muslim parents and Imams to ensure that their children obey the rules of this country if they are to reside here. It is also the responsibility of the immigration officials to make sure that people taught abroad understand our laws and ethics before allowing them into the country. I’m not talking about us being pussies here; I’m not saying that England should be a free-for-all playground for people to use and abuse; I’m just suggesting that we conduct ourselves with decorum and compassion, like the civilised people we should all be.
Currently, the Muslim integration into British society is not without its pitfalls: the frequency of trafficking of white girls by groups of Muslim men, for example, which has recently come to light. I heard a young, English Muslim speaking on Radio 4 recently who said that the opinion amongst some of the older Muslims is that “white women are asking to be raped” where the majority of the younger Muslims don’t believe this at all. This put me in mind of our older generations who verbally persecute someone for being black or gay or female or Asian, and constantly rile the younger generations with their prejudice; like I said, Muslims are just human beings like any other when it boils down to it. To have the discriminatory opinion is intolerant; but it is one thing to believe something and quite another to act upon it. As with the issue of the equality of women: it is not yet ideal, but it is slowly improving all the time, generation upon generation. The traffickers in question should be severely punished. All human traffickers should be severely punished, and now that it has come to light, it is up to the decent members of society, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to prevent this from ever happening again by teaching children from a young age how to act accordingly.
But back to the spark that conjured my wrath. Editor of The “Real” Dewsbury News facebook page – you silence anyone who questions you wherever you can and I can only assume that your ideology would be a police state run by your most like-minded and blondest friends. But we have freedom of speech and equal rights here, and those are among the many things that make this country great. It goes hand in hand with our ability to adapt, our humanity and our multiculturalism. It’s the backward ignoramuses that slow our cerebral evolution as a society that scare me more than anything. With your childishly simplistic, black and white views on which you will allow no further comment or no room for improvement you are inciting hatred, and that makes you no better than the Islamic extremists who hate you. And dude – Dewsbury is the home of hundreds of Muslims, so to exclude their voices from your articles makes The “Real” Dewsbury News, not really real in any regard.
Do you know, I wrote a little song the other day. I feel that song coming on now, although I know it to be clichéd… ahem ahem…
Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,
Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…
… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!
Oh, I beg your pardon – that came from out of the blue.
Guys, I implore you to comment on what I’ve written. I appreciate that I may have allowed some grammatical or lexical errors to leak through, in which case please do let me know so that I can learn from, or learn of, the mistake and correct it.
Please do let me know if there is any aspect that you agree or disagree with. In the same vein as my typing skills, my opinions are not complete because I have in no way stopped growing and learning, or honing my views. I hope I never lose the ability to consider a contrary argument, appreciate it and perhaps, after careful consideration, absorb some of its elements. But be aware that simple name-calling will just mean that I ignore the comment… not delete it because I am not a total fucking moronic bell-end.
I hope that I haven’t offended anyone (who isn’t the editor, contributor or writer of The “Real” Dewsbury News) – my comments on religion should be taken with a pinch of salt††. I have no faith, but I appreciate that others do and I appreciate the importance of those beliefs to the faithful.
Did you say encore? Yes, it is a catchy tune, isn’t it? Ok then… ahem ahem…
Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,
Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…
… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!
* I may be wrong, but in the short time since being made aware of the existence of The Real Dewsbury News, I have been unable to find a hard copy of the “newspaper.” I believe it to be web-based only, although I do apologise profusely if I am mistaken. I didn’t realise just how insignificant this publication was either until I began to do some digging, but I’ve started now, so I’ll finish.
** Bloody facebook!
*** Except maybe Hindu because if you’re going to make some stories up about some magic people in the sky, they may as well have eight arms! That’s one amazingly imaginative religion. In the Hindu religion, a cow gave birth to the world. A cow! I love it! I honestly love it. I have also adored every single Hindu I’ve ever met, although I haven’t met many, I grant you. Lovely, gentle people, as far as I’m aware. I could be wrong, but I like to think not.
† Or I will rip your fucking heart out!
†† Apart from my comments about the pope, because, as Tim Minchin says: “… the fact remains that if you protect a single kiddie fucker / Then pope or prince or plumber, you’re a fucking motherfucker.” But then that is a comment on the individual, not on every catholic. In the same way that I believe Osama Bin Laden to be (to have been?) a total goddamn cock of the highest order, but don’t believe that of all Muslims.
The picture that accompanied the article in question. I’m pretty sure that’s not Dewsbury either. I actually couldn’t find any pictures at all of the march in Dewsbury in respect of Muhammad’s birthday.
On the other hand, this is another picture of an EDL march in Dewsbury…
Oh, and another. Classy…!