The present issue of Race and Class magazine celebrates the sixty fifth birthday of radical anti-racist educator, cricket fan and jazz-lover Chris Searle. We at Shiraz don’t agree with all Chris’s views (particularly his willingness, in his jazz reviews, to champion the anti-semite Gilad Atzmon), but it would be churlish to make an issue of that just now. He’s a good guy and (by far) the best writer in the Morning Star.
Chris Searle: the great includer
By Institute of Race Relations
The October 2009 issue of the journal Race & Class is a festschrift dedicated to radical educationalist Chris Searle on his sixty-fifth birthday.
Englishman – A. Sivanandan
An insurrection in words: East End voices in the 1970s – Tony Harcup
Teaching tough kids: Searle and Stepney – Bob Davis
Chris Searle: Funk Brother number one – Jonathan Scott
The pitch of the world: cricket and Chris Searle – Claire Westall and Neil Lazarus
More than words: Chris Searle’s approach to critical literacy as cultural action – Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel
Earl Marshal School: towards an inclusive education – Ahmed Gurnah
Mozambique diary – Basil Davidson
A British anti-imperialist lion in the Grenada revolution – Didacus Jules
Review: Forward Groove: jazz and the real world from Louis Armstrong to Gilad Atzmon By CHRIS SEARLE reviewed by Mary Ellison
Tributes by Andy Croft, Colin Prescod, Jenny Bourne, Danny Reilly, and Gary Pulsifer
Bibliography of Chris Searle’s publications compiled by Frances Webber
I was at a union conference yesterday, and spent the evening in the bar. A conference delegate had a guitar with him and could just about manage a twelve-bar: so yours truly sang the blues. It went down very well in the bar, and got an oblique mention at the start of next day’s conference. What they didn’t know is that my blues singing is based upon Big Joe Turner from Kansas City:
This appears to be from a film, but I don’t know any more than that. However, you do get the line, “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask you for it”; modified a few years later by Ronnie Scott to “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”
Johann Hari has an essential piece on British fascism. You need to read it all but these are the main points.
There is a terror threat from white British males that is on a level with the Islamist version. The police are incredibly worried about this, they take it seriously, they know there are people in this country talking about race wars on web forums. They have caught people with explosives, often by chance. Hari: ‘The West Yorkshire Police recently launched a huge series of raids against far-right groups and found them in possession of 80 bombs – considerably more even than any jihadi group has been caught with in British history.’ White fascists are as great a threat to British civilians as Al-Qaeda.
Despite many arrests, the issue of white fascist terror doesn’t get nearly as much attention from the mainstream media as Asian Islamist terror. It’s hard to believe there is no element of bigotry in this.
There is what Hari calls a ‘perception gap’ between the conventional view of the twenty-first century BNP and its reality. The conventional view expressed by many in newspapers, on streets and at dinner parties is that the BNP is merely a fringe reaction to ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and ‘political correctness’. In reality, it is a criminal gang of supremacist ideologues.
Hari points out that many on the left have paved the way for this with their ‘understanding’ approach to Islamist terror (seeing it as a natural response to Western foreign policy and nineteenth-century imperialism). He could have added that many conservatives have mirrored this stupidity when it comes to the BNP and its supporters (seeing their racism as a natural response to immigration/political correctness/Zionists/Diversity winning Britain’s Got Talent). This sin is compounded by the conspiratorial rhetoric and outrageous lies about immigration and multiculturalism you see in the conservative tabloids and also in the writing of some respected conservative intellectuals.
The Obama administration has adopted an aggressive policy towards the increasingly deranged Fox News, with spokesperson Anita Dunn describing the channel as ‘the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party’.
If we went back a year ago to the fall of 2008, to the campaign, that was a time this country was in two wars that we had a financial collapse probably more significant than any financial collapse since the Great Depression. If you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election what you would have seen were that the biggest stories and the biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and a something called ACORN.
Guardian US correspondent Michael Tomasky explains why this was the right decision.
Fox will make a crusade out of this, in the way that McGreal describes Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly as doing. But who cares what Beck and O’Reilly say, beyond the universe of people who are already proven to care what they say? Nobody. They have their 2 or 3 million viewers. Fine. Bully for them. The other 307 million Americans are busy doing other things.
News junkies constantly overestimate cable television’s reach and influence. Always remember: If Fox were that powerful, we’d be watching President McCain calling the shots.
Exactly. Compromise with the rightwing media never works because you can never compromise enough. Nothing will ever satisfy these people.
The UK also has a reactionary media with massive delusions of relevance. If Labour had taken Obama’s attitude in ’97, imagine what a great country we could be living in today.
The Morning Star, “Britian’s only socialist daily paper”, publishes all sorts of articles by all sorts of people, not all of them connected with the Communist Party of Britain (although the Star is traditionally the mouthpiece of the CPB).
However, the following quote does seem strange and (I think) disturbing to read in an article in a ”left wing” publication:
“”Yet there is another form of historical denial particular to recently invented nations whose myth-making efforts are inextricably bound together with the process of the nation’s birth.
“Whereas older nations are by and large populated by people whose ancestral roots penetrated that land well before it took on the clear definition of a nation state, the majority of the people of an invented nation, such as the United States or Israel, have ancestry that inevitably leads elsewhere.
“National security requires that the past be erased.”
This quote, originates (so the Star tells us) from one Paul Woodward, author of the blog ‘War In Context’. But the philosphy and politics behind it have a provenance that goes back much further:
Here’s what happened on 10 July 1941 in Jedwabne, Poland:
“ Jews had been ordered by the town’s mayor, Marian Karolak, to assemble in the square. They were told to pull grass from between the cobblestones. They arrived in their hundreds with spoons and scissors. Many were whipped and beaten with clubs and farm tools. Some were ordered to pull down a statue of Lenin which had served as a reminder to Poles of the hated, former Soviet occupiers, with whom they accused their Jewish neighbours of having collaborated. The Jews were ordered to carry the statue up the dusty track to the barn, singing ‘the war is because of us, the war is for us’.
When the procession arrived at the barn, at least 300 Jewish men, women and children were pushed inside. Villagers looked on as others poured in fuel before setting it alight. Screams rang out as they were all burned alive.” Read the rest, from Robert Helm in yesterday’s Observer, here.
This is the incident that Michal Kaminski, the Tories’ new best friend in Europe, says Poles should not apologise for until “the Jewish nation apologise for what Jewish communists did in eastern Poland.”
Mr Kaminski’s views on homosexuals would appear to be equally unsavoury, prompting the long-standing Conservative (now ex-Conservative) MEP Edward McMillan-Scott to stand against him (successfully) for the position of vice president of the European Parliament. McMillan-Scott cited Kaminski’s “anti-semitic, homophobic and racist past.” William Hague and David Cameron responded by…defending Kaminski and expelling McMillan-Scott from the party.
Now Martin Bright (token leftie at the Tory Spectator magazine) reveals that Kaminski (by his own admission) used to wear the symbol of a Catholic totalitarian organisation, the Chrobry Sword. And Craig Murray, a former UK diplomat in Poland (and – OK – something of an eccentric) has made further claims about Kaminski’s anti-semitic past, viz: that in 1995 Kaminski was involved in lobbying the media against presidential candidate Alexander Kwasniewski on the grounds that his (Kwasniewski’s) grandmother was Jewish!
Of course, Mr Kaminski is not the only rather controversial member of Dave “cuddly” Cameron’s ‘European Conservatives and Reformists’ (ECR) group in the European Parliament: there’s also that nice Mr Robert Zile (like Mr Kamisnski, a guest the Manchester conference last week) of the Latvian ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ party, and enthusiastic commemorator of the heroics of the Waffen-SS.
What I don’t get is why amongst Labour politicians, only David Mliband is going onto the attack over this. And why most of the the far-left and the likes of ’Unite Against Fascism’ aren’t now going completely bonkers …
Comrade John Palmer single-handedly gives a bunch of Catholic nationalist reactionaries and thick would-be lefties a lesson in progressive politics and internationalism, in the comments boxes of “Splintered Sunrise“. Here’s a taste:
“John Palmer said,
October 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm
EdW – We can probably take this much further. I would only draw to your attention the latest attempt today by the hard right, Thatcherite Czech President, Vaclev Klaus, to wreck the Lisbon Treaty. He is insisting on a legal opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (as the UK and Poland have obtained). He obviously thinks that the Charter has more substance than some of the Irish ‘No’ campaigners.”
Palmer wouldn’t have been single-handed, but for the fact that Splintered Sunrise seems to have joined the Graun‘s ‘Comment Is Free’ moderators in banning comments from yours truly.
The anti-EU backwoodsmen do have one valid point: Blair must be stopped at all costs: you can join the Europe-wide pre-emptive protest against the very idea of Blair becoming EU President, by signing this petition.
What the bloody hell were they saying to each other?
A prize for the best suggestion.
Reading this excellent CiF article on contemporary Iranian art, I notice that much of the posted examples involve plays on the Nokia Siemens Networks communications company’s logos and marketing strategies in the classic No Logo era ‘subvertisement’ style.
Here’s why. Nokia Siemens recently opened a network in Iran. Naturally, the regime has been using this to track and target dissidents. Released prisoners claim that they’ve been incarcerated on the basis of phone and text archive. Protestors also say that the deal could have been done without this monitoring function.
This is an Iranian reporter who has just been released from prison:
I always had this impression that monitoring calls is just a rumour for threatening us from continuing our job properly, but the nightmare became real when they had my phone calls – conversations in my case.
And the most unbelievable thing for me is that Nokia sold this system to our government. It would be a reasonable excuse for Nokia if they had sold the monitoring technology to a democratic country for controlling child abuse or other uses, but selling it to the Iranian government with a very clear background of human rights violence and suppression of dissent, it’s just inexcusable for me. I’d like to tell Nokia that I’m tortured because they had sold this damn technology to our government.
Nokia Siemens is just one victim of an encouraging grassroots boycott. Iranians are boycotting various businesses connected to the regime, from state banks to products advertised on Press TV. As for Nokia itself, a Tehran mobile phone seller told the Guardian that: ‘there is half the demand for Nokia’s product these days in comparison with just one month ago, and it’s really unprecedented. People feel ashamed of having Nokia cellphones’.
I’m wondering if the same people so keen about boycotting goods made in democratic countries will invest the same amount of time and energy into campaigning for the boycott of a corporation that sells surveillance technologies to a theocratic dictatorship.
I was listening to Kenan Malik on the BBC’s Analysis discussing liberal responses to the BNP. What caught my attention especially was Chris Keates, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (about 6 minutes in and transcript here.)
Malik:- Chris Keates however wants to extend the idea of no platform to deny the BNP not just airtime but also access to much of the public sector.
Keates:- We have been pursuing changes to the teachers’ contract which would prohibit members of the BNP actually working as teachers. In fact we would like to see contractual change right across public service to prevent the BNP working in public services
Malik:- Suppose you have a teacher whose work is exemplary. who has taught white children, minority children without complaint then you find that he or she is a member of the BNP? Should they be sacked?
Keates:- Racism can be covert and silent, and teachers are in an extremely powerful position so we might say that that teacher has done everything expected of them within a code of conduct expected of teachers, but that teacher as a member of the BNP, they could quite easily in a way that is extremely difficult to detect find themselves privileging one group of pupils, giving more attention to particular groups and it can be subtle and it can be subversive.
Malik: What you are really saying is that you want to ban them not for something they might have done but for something they might believe In other words it’s not their actions you want to ban them for but their thoughts.
Covert, silent, subtle, subversive and difficult to detect. The insidious politicising and professional misconduct you never actually catch in the act and for which you can find no evidence but that must exist, somehow, given someone’s beliefs. This sounded familiar so I did a google search with the words “McCarthyism, teachers, subtle, subversive” and found this:-
When speaking around the country in 1949 and 1950, Truman’s Attorney General, J. Howard McGrath, sought to arouse the public to recognize the all-pervasive menace of Communism. He urged those who believed “in God’s law and the dignity of human personality” to take up the “modern struggle against pagan Communist philosophies that seek to enslave mankind.” Warning against the subtle subversion of students’ minds by their teachers, he emphasized the need to invite anti-Communist speakers onto the college campuses and to ensure that anti-Communist books were promoted in local bookstores.
So I suppose we can expect loyalty oaths and declarations of party affiliations for teachers before they’re allowed to enter classrooms, as well as constant surveillance of their subtle, subversive, covert, silent and difficult to detect racist behaviour towards pupils. Doesn’t Chris Keates realise how creepy she sounds, like a cross between HUAC and Stasi. And doesn’t she realise how this principle could be extended eg how Catholic teachers might be a little chilly towards the invincibly ignorant Protestant pupils, Muslim teachers convey the faintest hint that schoolkids outside of the Faith are like cattle, and atheist teachers roll their eyes ever so slightly at students with a religious bent.
Dave Osler has a piece over here about the practical difficulties of banning BNP members from teaching:-
. . any ban based on organisational affiliation would be almost impossible effectively to police. Who decides which parties and factions are blacklisted? Fringe political groupings come and go, and cliques of Hitler worshippers form and disband with clockwork regularity.
How will the rules deal with a fascist teacher who isn’t in the BNP and signs up with some newly-formed whackjob six member neo-Nazi outfit that nobody has ever heard of instead? What about cases where people sidestep the regulations by not taking out a party card, but otherwise think and act just as a BNP member would?
. . .
In short, discipline racist teachers for racist words or deeds; disciplining them for their politics alone would be a serious mistake.
I agree, but Chris Keates seems to be a natural authoritarian, like Gordon Brown, who I remember once wanted to “root hatred from people’s hearts” and thought it could be done by legislation. We are to be pure in thought as well as word and deed.