We’re exploited for our intolerance and fears

We live in a society where far too many of our political representatives seem to all but promote intolerance and fear. Those two words are often at the heart of what, usually in more deliberately vague language, is being peddled and promoted. Of course, much of our press is on the same regressive agenda. They work with politicians to exploit intolerance and fear which they then manipulate to enable messages to be sold to folk who, to put it bluntly, are being played.

Politicians know that most of us can be tribal in outlook and tribalism is the big brother of intolerance and fear. If you can gauge what sections of the voters are intolerant about and then feed those voters fears which magnify such intolerances then you can lead them by the nose into voting for things that they feel will ‘deal with’ what they fear and can’t tolerate.

Of course, virtually no one will admit to being a racist these days as it’s deemed to be socially unacceptable but that does not mean there are fewer racists about; they’re still there but don’t like being labelled racists. However, you’ll often hear them say ‘I’m not a racist but’ and that ‘but’ often means that in reality, they are a racist. So the fears of racists are there to be exploited by dog-whistle political comments seemingly made to us all but actually aimed at the racists who get the message. Words like immigrants, refugees, illegal immigrants etc. are used in contexts that blame such people for our ills and try to make us think they are from a DIFFERENT tribe, they ARE a threat, they are using scarce resources which OUR OWN poor should be accessing etc. etc.

Think which tribes you are a part of – religion, football team, your colour, the language you speak, straight or gay, the town you live in, the party you vote for, the paper you read, the clubs organisations and societies you’re a member of. Most of us are members of quite a few ‘tribes’ and we can view those who are members of different tribes as ‘not one of us’, or we can exhibit intolerance towards them, indeed we can even fear/hate them. It’s those doubts, worries and fears which unscrupulous politicians are openly exploiting together with a press/media friendly to such agendas.

If you’re being told that ‘we are losing our Britishness’, ‘our way of life is under threat’, that ‘outsiders are taking our jobs’ then our first reaction should be why are we being told that and what’s the agenda of politician or media outlet sending me such messages. But those producing the messages know that the vast majority of the time we don’t act logically, we simply hear messages which seemingly fit with our own often ill-informed perspective and they comfort us because they agree with what we’ve been thinking.

Of course, the less educated and more insular someone may be the more they can be open to being exploited by the unscrupulous. That’s why we need our up and coming generations to be well educated, with open minds rather than them carrying the prejudices and intolerance of previous generations of their families like a weight on their shoulders. I’m firmly of the view that we don’t hate as a matter of course we do it because it’s taught behaviour. Tribalism, prejudice and intolerance are simply the irrational fears of previous generations (anti-Semitism comes to mind) which are passed down as a right of passage. They close down young minds, they create fear where none needs to exist and they lead to racism and manipulation by media and politicians.

If you’ve ever said in front of a child ‘I don’t like the French, Italians, Irish etc.’ what are you trying to do? You’re probably hoping that child will come to hold the same view when logically they’ve no reason to hold that view. Or how about ‘I hate supporters of X football club’, again you’re hoping the child will think likewise; you’re trying to close down a mind because you don’t want them to come to a different view to your own. So what if you keep saying migrants, illegal immigrants? Yes, you’ve guessed it you’ve done it because you think such people are a threat and you want the next generation to think that too. Future generations will be open to being exploited by unscrupulous media and politicians if we don’t open up children’s minds so that they welcome their views being challenged and want to get to the truth rather than what passed for the truth from someone banking on them still carrying their family prejudices on their back.

We can be free of intolerance and fear and the exploitation that comes with it but only if we open our minds up and stop closing the minds of children down.

Labour’s dilemma – Class based V Progressive Politics

Labour is trying to pull back into its fold the right wing white working class voters who voted Tory at the last General Election. This despite the fact that these voters can often hold views which would embarrass a truly progressive party – This is summed up by Jim Hancock who says this in one of his recent blog pieces (Hancock’s Half Page):-

‘Sir Keir’s statement that “we love our country” was really important. For Labour to have any hope of regaining its northern strength, it must recognise the deep patriotism of the working class.’

To me that deep patriotism sadly often proclaims itself as racism, anti-Semitism, pro-Brexit, anti-gay, anti-Muslim etc. etc.

At the same time Labour’s also looking to bring on board real progressives who certainly reject the views outlined above but who, like the working class backers, became disillusioned with the party in recent years mainly due to the party’s fence sitting over Brexit and its anti-Semitism problems.

And thereby hangs Labour’s dilemma; trying to appeal to progressives and regressives at the same time. Under Tony Blair they achieved it although more I think by ignoring their white working class supporters (whom I’m sure must have been a huge embarrassment to Blair, whilst he still needed their votes) than by currying favour with them.

Starmer, who certainly does not have Blair’s charismatic qualities, therefore has a huge task on his hands. And if you add into that heady mix the fact that Labour has been almost wiped out in Scotland the task gets all the more difficult with Labour, like the Lib Dems, being a unionist party when the Scots are moving further towards independence.

My point in writing this posting is that Labour needs the Lib Dems to be successful just as much as Lib Dems need Labour to be successful. They’ve tried going toe to toe and it gave the Tories a free hand so they’ve got to do just the opposite and find a way not to fight each other in those seats where doing so simply hands seats to the Tories.

Yes I know that in many policy areas the Libs will continue be to the left of and more progressive then Labour. That’s just been highlighted by the Libs backing UBI & Labour rejecting it. And of course Labour traditionally has wanted to fight the Libs probably more than the Tories because they’re another left wing sect they want out of their way. However, unless the two parties want a re-run of the terrible campaigns which Corbyn and Swinson delivered in December 2019 then they’re going to have to find a way to live with each other as Blair and Ashdown did.

And yes I know it’s our appalling electoral system that creates this need to co-operate between two very different parties but without that co-operation then you know what the probable outcome could well be – yes that’s right another Tory Government!

But Labour’s USP has always been that they are not the Tories and maybe not being the Tories is all that’s needed now? If so it explains why Labour’s all but a policy vacuum; they stand for nothing much at all but they’re not Tories.

Should I carry the burden of being a racist because previous generations of my family were racists?

I’ve posted before about my Dad and Grandmother, on his side of the family, being openly antisemitic and how I put a stop to racism in my generation. I’m also proud of the fact that our daughter Jen will have nothing what so ever to do with racism either.

But the other day my mate Phil said to me, in relation to the BLM campaign and a debate we were having about it, that he feared that some folks could end up being blamed for the ‘sins of their fathers’. Not surprisingly having had racism present in my own family it made me wonder whether I carried their racism with me. The thought horrified me.

Of course some things do get passed down from generation to generation in many families such as – support for a football team, support for a political party, belief in a religion. Indeed, there’s often an expectation that such family habits are carried on and older generations will take their youngsters to see the football team they want their children to support. They’ll take their children to partake in ‘their’ particular religion and even send them to a school which which promotes the parental religious beliefs. And yes politics too. I once heard an elderly lady say to me that she was going to vote Lib Dem for the first time in her life but she could not afford for her family to know that! I did not ask if the family was Tory or Labour but it certainly made me think.

So if we can pass on sporting team support, religion and politics what else is being passed on? Sadly, I suspect that racism can often be such a hand me down and that’s why our education system should be set up in such a way to challenge generational racism.

Surely we want young people to be free thinking individuals who are happy to challenge long held family views on many things. That’s why I oppose religious schools as my view is that having a religion, or indeed not having one, is a decision for the individual not one to be directed by family expectations.

I rejected my Dad’s religion (CofE), politics (Conservative) and racism but I bought into his love of cricket and support for the same 2 football teams. You’ll notice I only made reference to my Dad there as Mum and I shared what I think are similar political views. I rarely had any political discussions with her but I’m pretty sure she was a Chapel Liberal at heart whereas I’m a Social Liberal without any religion.

The football slogan ‘No room for Racism’ is very apt but for it to really mean anything young people need to have the confidence to reject it when it’s present in their own families.

Tribalism leads to Racism

Tribalism is deeply set in our lives and the more insular our lives have been and the less alternative cultural experiences we have been involved in the greater the danger we see our tribe as being right about everything and other tribes as being wrong, or even a threat.

But what’s tribalism like in Britain in 2020? A community, a football team, a religion, a political party? Well all of those and more. Just think of the casual everyday remarks Liverpool and Manchester people for example make about each other with the aim of demonstrating one is superior/less worthy than the other. On one level this is often harmless yet it is a product of underlying tribalism.

Problems arise when perceived cultural differences are raised in an irrational way as can be seen from the unfortunate history of football supporters fighting in the streets just because they back differing football teams; again this is tribalism and it can lead to hatred.

Religions have fought for centuries and countless deaths have flowed from religious tribalism despite the vast majority of religions saying they espouse peace! But it’s nothing but tribalism.

Tribalism at it’s most basic is ‘what my tribe does is right what your tribe does is wrong’ or ‘what your tribe thinks I fear, what my tribe thinks comforts me’. Of course tribal leaders need to keep their disciples on side and loyal so they invent and distort stories about other tribes which disgust or frighten their own followers making them want to defend their territory from ‘the others’, ‘the outsiders’, ‘the enemy’……

Racism sadly flows directly from tribalism – Antisemitism, Islamophobia etc. But what really helps tribalism stay ingrained in our fractured society and feeds irrational racism is when people look or sound different to those in ‘our tribe’. The colour of skin and the language spoken can and is seen as a threat to other cultures, even the food eaten can be rejected because it belongs to that of other cultures, tribes etc…..

Political tribalism can be rough and political parties can change their beliefs quite considerably but the devoted followers/members will often back those changes even if they condemned them when they had been favoured by another political tribe! They will gladly slag off a previous policy of their own party as though it had never been supported at all even if it was one they actually campaigned for.

A good way of keep your tribe on side is to tell them they are being done down. What’s more the allegation does not even have to be true in any way at all; all you need is for your tribal loyalists to want to believe it and to enthusiastically pass it on as being true. So if I’m a racist who wants white folk to think they are being swamped by immigrants with different coloured skin and/or who speak a different language I start with two distinct advantages. Firstly, the ‘others’ look different and they sound different. My tribe are already wary but if I then say something like – the government gives more benefits/money to the other folks whilst taking it out of the taxes you’ve paid throughout your working life – I’m hoping to get my tribe angry and I will probably succeed.

You see my tribe won’t check out what I’ve said because they are loyal to their leaders and what their leaders say must be true. And even if they did their social media friends will usually be of similar beliefs and will be passing on the same fake news/lies/misinformation – If Joe or Jane believes it then it must be true. But, I’ve also conditioned my loyalists to both expect such messages and to want to hear them!

But what are my own tribal instincts? How about where I was born? Surely I must be loyal to that Nottinghamshire mining town and maybe I should have a key ring with ‘I Love Kirkby In Ashfield’ on it and a union flag too to announce my nationalism. I don’t but you can buy them for any town quite easily. Yes I’m interested in the place of my birth but why on earth would I want to be loyal to it, whatever ‘it’ is? How about the football club I support or the cricket team I back? Yes they are both from the same part of my once East Midlands world but I’d never fight for them in the street after a skinful just because I’m a part of their tribe. And yes as a football supporter I probably fall for the near universal dislike (amongst other supporters) of Manchester United and I admit to having a similar dislike of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. BUT I know these childlike likes and dislikes are nothing more than that. Yes I’ll be over the moon if the Stags win (that’s a rare thing) and crying in my beer when they lose, which is regularly. I’ll even wear football or cricket shirts to show the tribes I belong too but I don’t take my tribalism too seriously.

Tribalism > Prejudice > Racism they are all linked by ignorance and fear & they are exploited by those wanting to divide and rule our society

Liverpool – What’s going on? – Our society is really sick when people get treated like this

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its web site – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shocking-horrible-ways-people-treat-15778909

Is it me or have we become more selfish and intolerant in recent times? And why do some people feel the need to make fun of, intimidate and even attack those who look or speak differently to themselves? What fuels all this fear and loathing?

When I was at school in Maghull and there was a large epileptic colony in the Town I recall some youngsters making fun of the epileptics, some of whom had physical disabilities as well. As I grew up I realised it was fear of those who were different that caused the unfortunate reaction. To see an epileptic have an attack in the street can be disturbing if you don’t understand what is happening, so I guess fear of what happened was concealed by childlike mocking.

Then around the age of 17 I started to work with the epileptic residents at the Maghull Homes and I got to know some wonderful people and understand the challenges they faced every day. I guess I became a more rounded person through that experience.

What strikes me is that young people need to interact with people who are different by race, colour, sexual orientation, disability etc. etc. from an early age so that it becomes normal for them to accept such differences and to make friends with ‘different’ people.

But probably the biggest issue is that prejudices and fears of those who are different get passed down through family generations. I have said before in my postings that there was antisemitism in my family for reasons I have never understood but it stopped being passed down as I would not accept it.

Hate and fear is taught, young people don’t have to carry their parent’s prejudices with them.

Liverpool – Austrian students attacked – The shameful march towards racism of Brexit Britain

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gang-30-teen-yobs-attacked-14772049

The Liverpool Echo has the appalling story on its web site – see link above

It’s as though the day after the EU referendum the forces of racism felt that they had been given the green light to treat anyone who is not British and white as undesirables. I’ve read numerous pieces since then where increased racism has been linked to the Brexit vote and I fear that there really is a link.

What on earth was going on here? The attack was allegedly by 15 year old girls! It’s utterly appalling and brings shame on Merseyside which has long been a place to welcome visitors from far and wide. And remember children are not born racist, it is conditioned into them by those around them. In other words they have been taught to be intolerant appalling racists.