Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Belfast: what excuse now for racism?

The thugs who hounded immigrants in N.I. confirm the futility of trying to appease racism.

Disenfranchised working class? An unsympathetic government? Cheap shots at 'chavs' on TV? Threats to their jobs?

What can possibly be said now to excuse, or even better 'understand', the cowardly attack against Romanian immigrants carried out over the course of a week by a racist mob in Belfast?

The comments section of this article on the Daily Mail website is an indication of the up and coming culture of 'blaming the victim' (see pic above). And comments like this one left by an Independent reader show the depth we are plunging across Europe.

Those 115 people fled their homes after being repeatedly targeted by violent mobs singing Combat 18 slogans. Most amazing, some of the reaction has been on the lines of: "what were all those immigrants doing there anyway?", which is no different from the braindead logic of "what the hell was she doing wearing a miniskirt at 3am, no wonder she got raped - except applied to an even bigger and more sinister scale.

Click here for a better analysis of the recent wave of xenophobia.


Chris Baldwin said...

There are no doubt many lessons we can learn from this, not least that some people are just evil.

Patrick Gray said...

Chris B,
evil indeed. And those comments shown by the article even more so. That Daily Mail stuff with the green arrow pointing up -the more racist the comment the greener the arrow. Today I feel ashamed of being British and of Northern Irish ancestry.

socialist sam said...

Like, can someone explain please the meaning of "now we need a frank discussion about immigration", a cliched sentence often stemming from self-professed liberal-lefitsts?

Rabelais said...

I don't think ascribing 'evil' to people really helps. And trying to understand the formation of racist attitudes is not the same thing as apologising for them.

Belfast has a history of ugly, exclusionary politics. The recent attacks on Romanian families were carried out by working class Protestant youths. Protestant politics in Northern Ireland is ideologically predisposed to rather racist attitudes because loyalist politics is infused with notions of imperial supremacy. Some variants of republicanism can be pretty vile but republicanism at least has access to a fairly democratic and secular discourse. Not so loyalism.

Now you can berate working class Prods for being bloody 'orrible but keep in mind that we're not dealing with the old Anglo-Irish Ascendance here. Nor are we looking at a community that has any real privileges, except perhaps a God-give sense of its own supremacy, and even that must have been seriously shaken by the events of the last 40-45 years. Their 'Protestant parliament for a Protestant people' is gone; the industries that once assured them employment have closed; the Monarchy to which they swear allegiance is a soap opera; and the UK, which they see as 'home' is disintegrating. Their sense of grievance and loss is palpable.

I think Socialist Sam makes a good point when he says we hear too much about the need for a frank discussion about immigration. Immigration happens. It has always happened and we can expect people to keep moving and shifting all over the global in search of the 'good life' until we can guarantee a more equitable distribution of the Earth's wealth and resources. The real thing we need is a frank discussion about what post-industrialisation and post-imperialism means for the UK (inc. working class Ulster Prods).