Britain First is a terrorist organisation

Although definitions of terrorism vary and often conflict, you’d be hard-pressed to find any that didn’t contain the notion of political violence combined with the threat of further political violence. Just before the Brexit referendum, a member of the British parliament, Jo Cox MP,  was shot and stabbed to death by a political activist. We know he was a political activist because he had been photographed campaigning with the group Britain First, and it was the name of that organisation that he shouted as he murdered her. In court he shouted slogans calling her a traitor.

Of course, there are no documents proving that Thomas Mair was a formal member of Britain First. In much the same way, there doesn’t seem to be such as thing as an Isis membership card. Both organisations seem to recruit principally via the Internet, where affiliations are notoriously fickle and rarely formalised. Mair’s proximity to the leadership of Britain First is much more remarkable than that of any number of European-grown Islamic terrorists is to the leading figures in Isis. No media outlet automatically absolves Abu-Bakr Al Baghdadi when one of his distant disciples ploughs a truck into pedestrians in Catalonia or shoots up a Parisean theatre. Much like both Isis and the EDL, Britain First is an online operation spilling onto the streets. Those who create its violently hateful propaganda are responsible when someone responds to their exhortations to murder ‘traitors’.

Yet somehow, in the furore about Trump’s retweeting of three fake videos posted by one of the group’s leaders, the terrorist angle hasn’t been mentioned. This is odd, given the irony that in supposedly making a statement against terrorism, Trump was promoting it. He won’t face any action by Twitter, as he is their number one star player. Given that Twitter more or less did the decent thing by removing and decredentialing other far-right hate preachers a couple of weeks ago, a concerted campaign to get Britain First removed from the platform might succeed, and would cause huge embarrassment to Trump – or, given that he seems immune to such emotions, his cause.

It’s also important to expose Nigel Farage’s links with BF. Although he has now denounced them as neofascists, Golding et al were very open in the past about their connections, even boasting in this video of attacking anti-UKIP protestors on his behalf. Anyone who was unfamiliar with Britain First but who still finds Farage’s shtick amusing also needs to be reminded that in the wake of the referendum he boasted that it had been won ‘without a shot being fired’. We don’t need to delve into his apparent family history in the National Front to see that his disassociation from the explicitly nazi movement is disingenuous at best. If Trump hadn’t come across Britain First before, it’s no thanks to Nigel Farage, who surely has Golding and Fransen among his email contacts, along with Robert Mercer and Julian Assange. In any game of Six Degrees of Separation starting from any figure in the international fascist movement, Farage’s name won’t take too long to crop up. His comment about the referendum was an implicit statement of allegiance with a terrorist organisation which murdered an elected MP in order to stop her campaigning to help people fleeing war. The name of that terrorist organisation is Britain First.

Leading UK journalist Tommy Robinson tipped to win Pulitzer Prize

The noted British journalist Tommy Robinson is in line for the most prestigious prize in his field, it has been reported. It is unclear which of Robinson’s many scoops drew the attention of the prizegiving committee, but it is believed that his tweets blaming ‘you know who’ for a non-existent terrorist attack and telling his followers, very few of whom ever visit London because its diverse human population scares them, to ‘stay away from Oxford Circus, some muzzies is shooting dead hundreds of us whites, its the final confrontation’, has tipped the balance in his favour. The project in question was developed in collaboration with two of his BNP mates in a Wetherspoon’s in central Luton, where Sky News was on but with the sound off. Robinson was also able to piece together the non-events by reading what some fellow racists, none of whom were anywhere near what wasn’t taking place and pretty much all of whom spend their lives sitting around smoking weed and fantasising about shooting people, had posted on social media. The fact that Robinson subsequently deleted the tweets in question is not expected to harm his chances. His celebrated undercover investigation into the online abuse of underage Muslim girls by leading figures on the British far-right may also have played a part in his being nominated.

The judges said Robinson was, like any Pulitzer nominee, being shortlisted for the accolade due to his ‘steadfast and fearless dedication to the pursuit of truth. Or, in his case, its opposite’. A spokesperson stated that the prize would both reward and encourage the sort of in-depth reportage which Robinson has pursued on the maximum 140-character platform. A spokesperson for the prospective recipient said he was ‘made up’ at the news and said that ‘Mr Pulitzer and his mates’ would be more than welcome to avail of an hour or so’s free tanning if they ever happened to be in the Luton area.

Although Robinson is best-known for his Twitter account and for getting arrested regularly, he also presents a series for the non-British-based Youtube channel Rebel TV in which he turns up late at night with his BNP mates outside the actual houses of anyone who’s upset him on Twitter. Although very, very, very, very, very few people have ever seen the programme, it has been described by someone who was paid to watch it by a comedy website as ‘a bit like Ross Kemp, but much more racist and filmed on a smartphone by someone who appears to be very drunk’.

News of the prize caps a remarkable couple of weeks for Robinson, as just last week it was announced that he would become chairperson of an arts charity, with £100,000 in grants to disburse. The organisation in question subsequently turned out to be run by a fantasist and the£100,000 transpired to be a myth, but still.

There has been some speculation that Robinson’s string of criminal convictions and the fact that he himself appears unclear on what his actual name is may jeopardise his chances. In addition it is uncertain whether the relative anonymity of the site may count against him – high-profile journalists working for actual publications are identified by a blue tick, and although he describes himself as a journalist Robinson’s account does not possess such a symbol. Neither does Robinson possess a press card, as he almost certainly doesn’t know what one is and would probably block anyone who asked him about it.

Asked whether these issues, in conjunction with the fact that Robinson is not a journalist in any way, shape or form, will mean that the notion of his winning the Pulitzer Prize could not be sensibly regarded as anything other than ridiculous, absurd and ultimately laughable, the spokesperson (who had, in any case, been made up for satirical purposes) answered ‘yes’.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail has announced that it plans to offer Tommy Robinson the role of Chief Reporter. The newspaper confirmed the news in a press release, saying that it will soon boast a ‘dream team of hate, consisting of Katie Hopkins, Robinson himself and (although negotiations with the relevant authorities are not yet entirely concluded) Anders Breivik (PBUH)’.

FURTHER UPDATE: Katie Hopkins has now been sacked from the Daily Mail. They didn’t mind her genocidal racism and outright lies, but others did and she’s cost them an absolute fortune in libel payouts. She’s now deleted hundreds of her tweets, relocated to Luton, and is applying for a job at Tommy Robinson’s tanning salon :-P.

P.S. The subscription options on Waxy-Lemon’s website are fucking hilarious. I’m tempted to sign up for the ‘Producer’s Club’ one ($250 a year). I strongly suspect that no one else has done so, and it would give me to change the tenor of his podcast somewhat. A lot less ranting about immigrants by someone who’s never been one or actually met any, a lot more music by ADF and MIA and guest spots from the likes of Warsaw Shire and Hassan Akkad. I’m sure his paid-up subscriber(s) would be delighted.

Rome: The far-right and the mafia

Fascist election candidate Luca Marsella (right) arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder with mafia clan boss Roberto Spada.

The singer Manu Chao once said of the connection between organised crime and politics:

‘The worst enemy of democracy in the 21st century is not military dictatorships, but mafia dictatorships, and military dictatorships will seem really light in comparison. It’s already happening in Russia and in Mexico, but it’s coming up everywhere, and it’s very very very very dangerous. More and more and places I go, and I have the chance to travel a lot, the mafia is in control.’

This theme feels close to home for two reasons. One is that just down the road in Ostia an apparent alliance between a mafia clan and a far-right organisation looks set to be the decisive element in a local election. The area was partly the setting for the film and subsequent Netflix series ‘Suburra‘, a slightly lurid take on the events which culminated in the Partito Democratico-controlled local council being dissolved for mafia infiltration in 2015 as part of a response to a scandal known as Mafia Capitale. Among many other eye-popping examples of corruption in and around Rome, there were revelations of mafia groups making huge amounts of money from the management of immigrant detention centres.

The far-right organisation known as Casapound is a gang of fascist street thugs. Although their name has erudite connotations (it’s a reference to the Mussolini-supporting poet Ezra Pound), their propaganda consists of the standard racist clichés dressed up in the pretentious but intellectually derisory rhetoric of all Italian fascists. They have a particular focus on ‘heroes’. A recent poster stuck up on a bridge near our flat called refugees, by contrast, cowards. As it happens, Casapound have contempt for actual heroes of Italian history, calling Second World War partisans ‘rapists‘. Nonetheless, their visibility and influence has been steadlily growing, partly because in some of the most deprived areas of the city,  such as Nuova Ostia, they have been running food banks and other essential social services, taking over from the State in the wake of the huge public spending cuts of the last decade. In run-down areas of Ostia they got 20% of the vote, and the 8% they got overall means they may well hold the balance of power after the second round of voting.

They’ve also been active around the issue of housing. Distribution of ‘case popolari’ (council houses) is a hugely sensitive issue and thus easy pickings for those whose aim is to divide the poor against each other. They have demonstrated against immigrants or Italians of foreign origin moving into apartments allocated to them. Perhaps sensing an affinity, in the elections this month one local mafia group known as Spada gave open support to Casapound; it was when the brother of the rumoured leader was asked by a journalist about these connections that things took a violent turn. Of course, Casapound spokespeople have since tried to distance themselves from organised criminals, but given that they also deny (among other things) l’Olocausto, such statements should be taken with un pizzico di sale.

The violent contempt which both the far-right and the mafia have for a free and independent media brings me to the second reason these events strike a chord with me. In 2015-2016 my wife and I lived in Mexico, where I had daily cause to marvel at the incredible bravery of reporters who, despite constant threats and regular assasinations of their colleagues, reported on atrocities and the links between the culprits and those in power. Although the far-right is not present in the same way in Mexican politics, it’s not really necessary given how extreme the mainstream parties are; nevertheless, it does have a presence in the army and may have influenced the impunity granted to members of the military in the wake of (one can safely presume) their massacre of left-wing students in Iguala.

The mafia relies upon silence, (omertà), which means that anyone investigating it is taking a huge risk. Mexico is not the only dangerous place to be a reporter. Donald Trumps’s new Best Dictator Friend in the Philippines once remarked that ‘Just because you’re a journalist, you’re not exempted from assassination’; this week, in the company of and to the apparent amusement of Trump (who rumours have linked to the mafia for decades), Duterte openly referred to journalists as ‘spies’. There have been an increasing number of reminders over the last few months that the global infrastructure of human rights was a response to the horrors of uniformed fascism: General John Kelly’s recommendation to Trump that he use a sword he’d been presented with on journalists carried many chilling and probably deliberate echoes. Truimp’s attuitude to political power is very reminiscent of that of any number of notorious Mexican political figures. As I wrote in December last year:

‘We don’t have to stretch our powers of speculation to imagine what a world run by and for Trump would look like. Basta ver what has happened over the last few years in the State of Veracruz: massive corruption and abuse of power backed up by the murder of anyone who investigates or speaks out.’

Of course, the fact of the relationship between fascists and the mafia will be no revelation to anyone who is from Italy or who follows its politics. In the decades after the fall of Mussolini’s regime, the far-right Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge, which allegedly included Silvio Berlusconi, was involved in targetted assasinations, huge financial scandals and attempts to manipulate the political situation to the advantage of far-right elites. Journalists were very often targetted for intimidation and murder. We recently went to an exhibition in Rome of photographs by the phenomenally courageous Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who documented several decades of violence in Palermo against anyone who trod on the toes of the mafia or annoyed their political servants. There are echoes of this period in the writer Roberto Saviano’s reaction to events in Ostia. He puts them in the context of the long history of the relationship between fascists and the mafia from the 1920s onwards. Few are better placed to understand what goes on behind the headlines – he has lived in hiding for the last eleven years because of his work exposing the neapolitan Camorra.

In 2011, Saviano shared the Olof Palme Prize with the Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho ‘for their tireless, selfless and often lonely work in support of their ideals and for human rights’. Such bravery made me feel guilty that after a while in Mexico I stopped reading the newspapers every day. Although La Jornada was mostly in black and white, the accounts of mass killings around the country were just as shocking as the lurid front pages of the more sensationalist publications, with their blood and gore and the neverending telenovela of El Chapo. Of course, the bogeymen identified in the press or on TV may not tell you all that much about how power operates behind the scenes.

As it happens, the poet, theatre and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in Ostia, in an apparently mafia-style killing in November 1975. Although his last film, ‘Salò, or the 120 days of Sodom‘, with its almost unwatchable scenes of human brutality, was set during the final collapsing orgy of fascist rule, it wasn’t a historical document about the barbarities of the Second World War, but rather an analogy to something deep within the Italian State. It was, in a sense, a film in which Silvio Berlusconi was a central character; tales of his underage bunga bunga orgies recalled the scenes in which venally corrupt businessmen cavorted with uniformed sadists. Last week the newly politically-revitalised Berlusconi announced the cabinet he hopes to appoint after the general elections next year, with a prominent role for the openly anti-immigrant ‘centrodestra’ figure Giorgia Meloni and the position of Minister of the Interior reserved for the up-and-coming fascist demagogue Matteo Salvini. It’s starting to feel like there could well be a Salò Part 2.

*The term ‘centre-right’ is a ubiquitous euphemism in Italian politics, and speaking of ubiquity, anyone wanting to understand why Italian society sees regular outbursts of repugnant anti-immigrant sentiment needs to take into account the fact that Meloni and Salvini are never, ever, not even for a second, off the fucking TV.

Mexrissey: A glorious celebration of colaboración intercultural

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It’s unlikely that even at the height of their fame any of The Smiths (Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke or Mike Joyce) would have expected to one day become the subjects of a Mexican tribute album. The Manchester trio became huge global stars in the mid-1980s with their songs of maudlin woe and overliterate self-pity striking a chord with misunderstood teenagers all over the world. On the surface it’s hard to see how their fey northern English sensibility might appeal to millennial Mexicans, but a portly deadpan genius by the name of Camilo Lara (together with the bandmaster Sergio Mendoza) has drawn on the threesome’s long-standing cult status in his country and amongst LA chicanos to create an album which mixes trip-hop and dub reggae with happy/sad mariachi trumpets and the swooning strings and tragic sobs of ranchera, all of which overlays the erudite gloom of the original songs to wonderful (and often hilarious) effect. Working under the name ‘Mexrissey’ (although the origin of the group’s name is obscure, the album’s title, ‘No Manchester’, is a top-class chilango pun), he has given songs such as ‘Cada día es como domingo’ and ‘El último del gang a morir’ (I’ll leave you to work out which is which) a new twist which reveals new dimensions of sound and meaning.

Unlike most tribute bands, who just present a photocopy of the original work and look of their idols, Mexrissey’s histrionic performances (there is little Mexicans enjoy more than drinking, singing and crying all at the same time) are a outright celebration not just of the music of the three Manchester troubadors, but also of the joyousness of such cultural interaction. They reveal the songs of The Smiths to make more sense once uprooted from the petty, miserable, post-colonial melancholy that originally inspired them. While the young (was he ever thus?) Nigel Farage might once have felt some affinity with the line ‘England is mine, it owes me a living’ or stomped along to the song ‘Bengali in platforms’, he and his dwindling fanbase would surely feel affronted to hear it sung with such typically Mexican melodrama. Music is, after all, all about interacción and reciprocidad. It puts me in mind of one of the very best gigs I’ve ever seen: UK-born Cuban and Bangladeshi musicians bashing and tooting up a storm together in East London several years ago. For all the despondency of their source material, Mexrissey make music in much the same spirit. The three members of The Smiths must be encantados.

In unrelated music news, former-pop-star-turned-political-commentator (and, er, novellistMorrissey has announced that his new single will be a cover version of the Bon Jovi classic ‘Sleep when I’m dead’. In a break from tradition, the sleeve photo of the single will not be a portrait of one of his idols (cover stars have, in the past, included Myra Hindley and Benito Mussolini), but an image of the singer himself. You can see an exclusive photo of the single here.)

(Btw, Anne Marie Waters isn’t, as media reports are calling her, an ‘anti-Islam activist’. She’s a pro-death camp wannabe demagogue.)

(Bbtw: actually, Morrissey and I have a lot in common: we both have immigrant parents, for one thing, and we’ve also both been immigrants ourselves in Rome. That’s where some of his far-right bedfellows – the ones he’s been spending all day in bed with, if you like – just put up some posters advertising a demonstration against the ‘immigrant invasion’. Sadly for them and for him, one of those invading immigrants (me) was on hand to rip them right down again 🙂

Thanks to my baby daughter, I’m used to handling other people’s shit. Time to find a bin, one fit for unrecyclable, undifferentiated filth.

Che pezzo di merda sei, Morrissey.)

Italy has a terrorism problem – but it’s not what you might expect

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I’ve been living in Italy now for a year, and on the whole I’ve been made to feel very welcome. No one has put pressure me to go back to my own country or suggested that I’m exploiting essential services that should be reserved for locals, even though during that time my wife and I have smuggled into the country a basically infirm member of our family, one who has no concept whatsoever of hard work, has made no apparent progress in learning the language and appears to have who does nothing but use up vital resources. If it wasn’t for the amount of panolini our baby daughter gets through, Rome’s garbage disposal crisis could be solved at a stroke.

The kind treatment afforded to my family might be considered odd, given that Italy is currently undergoing a wave of xenophobic fervour, one that (for me) recalls the deeply unpleasant events in late 1990s Ireland. Within a few months from around late 1997 onwards, as a result of tabloid campaigns aimed at the small numbers of refugee claimants then starting to arrive (sample headline from The Irish Independent: ‘Asylum scroungers fake ‘torture’!’), black people were getting screamed at in supermarkets and bus queues. Thankfully, nearly a generation later, Ireland appears to have comprehensively pushed back such attempts to turn it into a famously unwelcoming country.

In neither Ireland nor Italy have I, as an immigrant, faced similar treatment. Did I happen to mention that I’m white? Of course, most Italians would not knowingly discriminate against people on the basis of their skin colour. Like Ireland, Italy has a long history of emigration, a history of ethnic diversity going back to the Roman Empire and also a more recent one of massive internal migration. But brutal discrimination against people of apparently different backgrounds does exist, and it is coming from somewhere.

That discrimination partly manifests itself in relation to housing. In my time here there have been at least two front-page stories from my adopted city (Rome) in which locals have (apparently) refused to let people with black skin live in their midst. A few months ago an Italian-Moroccan family, one which has been based in Italy for several years, was prevented from taking up public housing assigned to them. Today, Repubblica reports on the plight of an Italian-Ethiopian family, similarly stopped from moving into their new home by a mob of angry ‘locals’ and a certain number of increasingly familiar faces egging them on.

There is a context for these events, specifically in terms of the numbers of recent arrivals. Italy and Greece are being used as corridors by the EU, much like the ones overcrowded hospitals will stick patients in when there’s no more space in the wards. As it happens, there’s lots of space in Europe for newcomers, but, with the odd noble exception, there has been a lack of political will to point that fact out. The human cost of recent waves of migration is not actually borne by Italians, but by the migrants themselves, prevented by the authorities from settling down and by other EU countries from moving on. (A very detailed and moving account of this is given in the 2015 film ‘Mediterranea’.) Many newcomers would like to reach the UK, where, owing partly to the history of the British Empire, they have personal connections and/or can speak the language, which would make it easier for them to continue their lives. The refusal of the British to accept our historical and moral responsibility is utterly shameful. However, the fact that my own country has a history of racism doesn’t mean that I can’t condemn it wherever I happen to be living now.

The conflicts increasingly taking place in Italy are not motivated by the newcomers themselves, but by political forces determined to misrepresent reality in order to provoke division so as to gain power. Racist politicians like Meloni and Salvini are never off the TV, spreading outright lies about the benefits paid to recent arrivals. The country’s leading opposition political figure, Beppe Grillo, makes common cause with the far-right, responding to criticism by claiming that ‘anti-fascism is not my concern‘. But its not those individuals who turn up wherever there’s an opportunity for aggro. Any visitor to Rome will notice the hateful posters of the openly nazi group Forza Nuova, whose thugs were behind yesterday’s racist protest in Rome. Another group which openly boasts of terrorising immigrants and their supporters occupies a substantial building in the centre of Rome. Above the entrance the name of the organisation is engraved in a pathetic pastiche of Mussolini-era iconography.  Just like their counterparts in the US, the UK and Germany, such groups hate their ‘own’ country. One of their piccolo fuhrers is even on record as calling the anti-fascist partisans of the Second World War ‘rapists’. Their objective is the same as that of Isis: to divide people using violence and the threat of violence in order to gain power. It behoves all immigrants, regardless of our status or the colour of our skin, to speak out against them just as we condemn other forms of terrorism. Italy is, in the words of Cesare Balbo, “a multiracial community composed of successive waves of immigrants”, with “one of the most mixed bloodlines, one of the most eclectic civilisations and cultures which there has ever been”. For all the absurd pretensions of Forza Nuova and Casapound, it is not and never again will be a fascist country – alle fine, è il nostro paese, non il loro.

Merkel under pressure to soften position on murder in wake of elections

Berlin: The newly-reelected German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increased pressure to revise her government’s stance on murder in the wake of the Bundestag election results. The formerly marginal AFM (Allianz für Mörder) party achieved almost 13% of the votes and will take seats in parliament for the very first time.

Mrs Merkel, who was reelected with a vastly reduced majority, will need to govern with the help of smaller parties. Germany’s second political force, the SPD, experienced a dramatic fall in its vote share and the Greens and left-wing Die Linke party were unable to match the performance of the AFM, particularly in the increasingly pro-murder east of the country.

Mainstream German political parties have maintained a solid consensus on the issue of murder throughout the post-war period. However, the success of the AFM, which believes that murder should be legal when the victims happen to have been born outside Germany and/or have different colour skin, will challenge this unanimity.

The Deputy Leader of the AFM, Beatrix von Storch, is granddaughter of the Finance Minister in the pro-murder government which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. She is a particular advocate of the murder of immigrant children, while party founder Bernd Lucke is said to be a close personal friend of the Anglo-German political figure Nigel Farage and a strong admirer of British murderers such as Dr Crippen and Fred West.

In response to the results, the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme has reported that it is now incumbent upon Mrs Merkel to respond to the concerns of AFM voters by relaxing what many see as excessively stringent regulations governing murder. It then broadcast a ten-minute interview in which someone who believes it should be legal for the government to murder people on the basis of their ethnic background was allowed to explain the reasoning behind her position.

For fuck’s sake.

21 facts that PROVE Donald Trump is NOT racist

  1. There are numerous photos in existence which show President Donald Trump in the presence of black people. Were he racist, he would have refused point-black to ever have his photo taken with any black people, punched them in the face and rapidly walked away from the camera. No racist on earth would ever think of not doing that, and it is absolutely inconceivable that Donald Trump could combine lifelong racist beliefs and behaviours with the occasional cynical photo opportunity for PR purposes. It’s also definitely the case that any black people who have been in shot whenever a photo of Donald Trump has been taken can be considered to have granted him unqualified support for anything he has ever said or done and will ever say or do. It’s like he owns them.
  2. A huge number of notable black people have expressed enduring respect for President Trump. Muhammed Ali called him ‘the greatest anti-racist activist that the world has ever seen’ on at least seventy-seven separate occasions, while Rosa Parks requested that the words ‘I would never have had the courage to sit at the front of the bus if it hadn’t been for the brave and principled leadership provided by President Donald J. Trump, truly the first black president’ be chiselled on her gravestone. Rapper Chuck D even named his first three children Donald in tribute to President Trump. (N.B. Although there is no actual evidence of any of these things being true and it may well appear that we have made all of them up on the spot, we refer you to points 3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 13, 19 and 20. below.)
  3. Barack Obama once said something negative about white people, or something.
  4. Hillary Clinton allegedly used a private email server.
  5. The notion that Donald Trump is racist is part of a witchhunt orchestrated by the Deep State. The fact that there is no evidence suggesting the existence of a ‘deep state’ (an expression imported from Turkey) is conclusive proof that the Deep State is so powerful it has covered up all signs of its existence, (c/f ‘The Usual Suspects’). The current secret leader of the Deep State just happens to be…Lebron James!!!
  6. Racism doesn’t exist. Albert Einstein called the very concept ‘a patent absurdity, a transparent Frankfurt School fabrication and an attempt to disguise the natural superiority of the white race’. (N.B. This quote has also been attributed to Anders Breivik.)
  7. Slavery existed before the so-called slave trade, etc etc etc (see stormfront.org for more background on this).
  8. Barack Obama once said something negative about white people, or something.
  9. Hillary Clinton allegedly used a private email server.
  10. There is nothing ‘racist’ about believing that human beings can and should be divided on the basis of genetic differences which determine their innate abilities and characteristics, that white people occupy the highest position in the racial hierarchy and that their resultant socio-economic and juridical superiority may at times need to be enforced by violence.
  11. Donald Trump is himself married to an illegal immigrant who barely speaks any English.
  12. Barack Obama once said something negative about white people, or something.
  13. Hillary Clinton allegedly used a private email server.
  14. There were some crimes in Chicago, or something. (I can’t remember the details, it was on Breitbart.)
  15. It is President Trump’s repeatedly stated belief that heavily-armed self-declared nazis and KKK supporters bearing burning torches and screaming about the innate superiority of white people over blacks and Jews is unproblematic, even healthy, and that those who oppose racism and fascism are terrorists who deserve to be met with extreme force. Those who connect these beliefs with his family history of KKK affiliation and a series of 1970s court cases which conclusively proved that his family business systematically discriminated against black tenants, add in the fact that he used to keep a copy of Adolf Hitler’s speeches by his bedside, and draw the conclusion that he is and always has been racist, are somehow, for reasons we prefer not to go into, missing the point.
  16. Barack Obama once said something negative about white people, or something.
  17. Hillary Clinton allegedly used a private email server.
  18. Purported recordings of President Donald Trump repeatedly using the N-word while filming The Apprentice has been hidden by the series’ producer, a confirmed Trump supporter, so no one needs to worry about that. Phew.
  19. Barack Obama once said something negative about white people, or something.
  20. Hillary Clinton allegedly used a private email server.
  21. President Donald Trump is clearly absolutely massively racist, but his supporters can’t admit this to others or themselves, so they run around in circles performing logical somersaults, making up bizarre lies on the basis of utterly implausible hearsay and humiliating themselves beyond repair.

Zac Goldsmith: “I honestly don’t see what’s offensive about the word”

 

Numerous Conservative MPs have rallied round their colleague, Anne Marie Morris, who is reported to have uttered the highly offensive phrase ‘n***** in the woodpile’ in a speech at a public event about Brexit.

The first to rush to her defence was recently reelected Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, who commented: “It’s quite simply a word I use all the time. We have an open fire in the main living room, and round the back of my mansion there’s a pile of firewood. When it’s cold, I have some of the servants fetch some wood and build a fire. It’s not an offensive term”.

When pressed as to whether he thought it was appropriate for politicians to use the other word in the phrase, commonly referred to as the N-word to avoid offence, Mr Goldsmith was nonplussed.

“I don’t even see why it’s called the N-word”, he responded. “It begins with ‘i’, for a start. It’s merely a prepo…”

At this point our reporter was obliged to clarify. When the nature of the word was explained to Mr Goldsmith, he was silent for almost two minutes. Eventually an aide (subsequently identified as his brother Ben) intervened and whispered something in his ear. Mr Goldsmith looked perplexed. A hushed conversation then took place, during which the MP seemed to grow agitated. He appeared to be seeking some sort of clarification from the aide, but further explanations only seemed to puzzle him even more. Upon moving closer to the conversation, our reporter was able to distinguish words such as ‘darkies’ and ‘coloureds’. After several minutes one of Mr Goldsmith’s butlers politely asked us to depart the premises. He explained that Mr Goldsmith was suddenly indisposed as he had been “working like a n*****” all week” and had to urgently prepare a speech for a Bring Back Slavery event at the Commonwealth Club the following Thursday.

In a subsequent email the MP for Richmond apologised for having cut short his interview. In relation to the question of his colleague’s remarks, he stressed that he saw “nothing racialist about the word ‘the'”, and said he hoped the whole issue would soon disappear, “like a n….. in a blackout”.

When asked for a response to Goldsmith’s own potentially inflammatory use of language, Prime Minister Theresa May said it would not derail her plans to appoint him Secretary of State for Race Relations in The Colonies in the upcoming reshuffle. As for Mrs Morris, she said, the prime minister herself would, in her capacity as leader of the Conservative, Unionist and Obviously Racist Party, soon be making a formal apology on the MP’s behalf to any woodpiles who “may have taken offence” at the use of the term.

Lesson plan: “You are a refugee”

Wherever you happen to teach there’s a chance that your class includes refugees and/or racists. The point of this lesson is to increase the level of understanding of the plight of the former and encourage the latter to be less so. Linguistically the lesson lends itself to concentrated practice of various conditional forms. In terms of vocabulary, the ‘text’ is quite lexically dense so I wouldn’t attempt it with anything lower than B2. As you will see, discovery and development of relevant vocabulary is written into the task as it will be repeated various times.

To set it up you will need access to a pc, ideally with an IWB/projector; it also requires that students make use of their own phones.

Procedure

1. As students to write down the name of anyone they know who had to leave their home for a prolonged period, maybe because of war, political instability or a climate catastrophe. If they don’t know anyone personally ask them to think of any famous people who fall into that category, or even any films they’ve seen which depict such a situation. Ss discuss in small groups.

2. Share ideas, obviously sensitively if anyone in the class has had such an experience. In the process elicit, board and clarify key vocabulary: refugee, seek refuge, protection, asylum; escape, flee, run away.

3. Tell ss they’re going to imagine that they’re refugees. Ask them to guess which country they might be escaping from. Tell them they’re going to face a series of dilemmas and see if they’re successful at reaching safety. Point out that the scenario is based on the real experiences of millions of people.

4. Show them this page from  the BBC website and recapitulate the scenario. Point out the vocabulary that has already come up and highlight the words ‘traffickers’ and ‘deportation’. Clarify any misunderstandings.

5. Tell then you’re first going to do the task all together. Decide on the balance of the class if ‘you’ are male or female.

6. Show them the first dilemma: Egypt or Turkey. In pairs, students discuss for about two minutes, then vote as a whole class.

7. Take them through the dilemmas, clarifying vocabulary as you go. If you like, you could highlight the 1st/2nd conditional forms on the board.

8. See how ‘you’ end up. Gather reflections on the success/failure of their route.

9. In the same pairs, ss repeat the task on their phones. Monitor in case they need help with language.

10. After a couple of attempts, gather reflections on their experiences.

Homework: Students repeat their task at home and write the story of what happened in the past simple, first person, adding details as they go to make it more real.

Extension task: in a following lesson you could the videos on the same page to practise talking about unreal scenarios using 3rd and mixed conditionals, eg. ‘If they had paid the smuggler…’, ‘If he hadn’t decided to go to Libya’, etc.

هذا هو!