Springingtiger's Blog


Racism, Resentment and Terror

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I was having a discussion about racism, as one does. Later I was reflecting on racism and my experience of it and relating it to the discussions going on now over the Chilcot Report. A number of apologists for Tony Blair and New Labour refuse to accept that the Iraqi insurgency and the rise of Daesh can in any way be blamed on the war that was launched against Iraq by Tony Blair and George W Bush with the approval of New Labour MPs like Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle. The counter argument is that the invasion of Iraq brought about Daesh as a reaction to invasion.

To describe racism as ‘Prejudice plus power’ is a gross over simplification. However there is a power dynamic in racism that fosters resentment and retaliation. When a more powerful race imposes its will on a less powerful by force it fosters resentment. Racism is not necessarily about skin colour although that is often a factor but occurs when any race considers another as inferior and abuses, exploits, and belittles it accordingly. Obvious examples are the English imposition of a system derived from Norman feudalism on the clan structures of Ireland and later Scotland and the assault on their language and cultures. The treating of black Africans as domestic animals rather than human beings is an even more obvious example. That these attitudes persist may be seen in the current protests in the United States, closer to home even the Prime Minister accepts that black people are unfairly treated by the justice system. The new Foreign Secretary published a poem about the Scots which includes lines like,

Battening off us with false bonhomie;

Polluting our stock, undermining our economy.”

Effectively saying that Scots are parasites and genetically inferior. The poem ends with an obvious reference to Hitler’s final solution,

I would go further. The nation

Deserves not merely isolation

But comprehensive extermination.

We must not flinch from a solution.”

Of course when directed at the Scots no one in England bothers about its racism and they ignore the obvious link between racism and anti Semitism because it’s Boris and he’s a buffoon, what a wag, eh? That the underlying foundation of the Conservative General Election campaign was basically the oft repeated claim that ‘If you vote Labour England will be run by Scots because Labour will be in thrall to the SNP.’ demonstrates that the Tories were able to rely on an underlying current of racism to win votes. It was a strategy that rebounded on David Cameron as his opponents in the EU Referendum used promises of cutting immigration to manipulate that racist vote and take the UK out of the EU. But what has any of this got to do with Chilcot?

When I was a child, wherever someone was born they were assumed to be of the same race as their father. My father was Irish, something of which I am proud. However it did make me the target of abuse at school. There is a myth that Irish people have violent tempers so my contemporaries in my English Prep school used to torment me and physically abuse me until I lost my temper at which point they colluded to ensure that I was the one to be blamed for the ensuing melee and any breakages. My property was vandalised and stolen. Were it not for the deliberate goading to see my ‘Irish temper’ I might have just passed it off as bullying, but I am satisfied it was racism. I was not alone, one Asian boy was invariably addressed as ‘Cowshit’ rather than by his own (not entirely dissimilar name) and a Jewish boy was forced to eat pork sausages.

If I could be left with an abiding dislike and mistrust of the English, how much more reason do the Iraqis have to resent the invasion of their country and the killing of their people, many of them civilians. If the western powers insist on bombing other countries they will provoke resentment which can be turned into a will to revenge by those it suits to do so. However well meaning and principled a military action or drone strike may be, it only takes the death of an innocent to breed resentment. However much we may protest that we act in the interests of world peace, when we invade another country we are effectively inviting them to defend themselves. When Britain was threatened by the Nazis, civilians took up arms in the Home Guard to defend their country. When France was invaded by the Nazis hundreds of civilians took up arms to resist them. We should not be surprised when Iraqis, or Afghanis do the same. Worse, because it was an invasion by western forces, whatever the invasion’s objective it made it possible for the unscrupulous to portray it as an attack on Islam. When conflict moves from geography to ideology it ceases to have geographical boundaries. When a conflict spills over from its assigned combatants and makes of civilians ‘collateral damage’ every target becomes a legitimate one and those without sufficient ordinance to pursue a campaign on the battlefield look for easier, softer targets.

Whatever those who voted for war in Iraq may claim. Whether they were misled or no. It is too late for excuses. A simple review of the past two millenia should have told them that violence begets violence, they should have challenged the lies they were peddled, they should have pursued alternative means until they were exhausted. When they took the ‘War on Terror’ to the enemy they brought that terror into our homes and wheter they like it or not, they are to blame.

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