Far Right Racism and Gang Abuse

By Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale.

Three years ago we posted an article about gang abuse of young women in Oxford. This article is of national relevance now, because the fascist and hard racist right is making hay with campaigns against Asian and Muslim abusers. Two weeks ago 15,000 people marched in central London calling for freedom for Tommy Robinson. There were 500 anti-racist counter-marchers. Things are getting serious.

Tommy Robinson was sentenced to thirteen months in jail for contempt of court. Twice, once in Kent and once in Yorkshire, he had broadcast footage on social media of men accused of gang abuse of young women going into court. His intent was to target those men, influence the juries, and to stoke up racial hatred on sexual grounds. He also wanted to get himself sent to prison as a martyr for the white race. This would enable him to build a campaign and restore his tarnished position as the leader of the hard racist right in Britain. He succeeded.

The march in London was large, angry, confident, and fought with the police. Geert Wilders, the Dutch fascist MP, spoke at the rally. Steve Bannon sent a message of support. The organising of the Football Lads Alliance in Britain is matched by the new Hooligans against Salafism group in Germany. At a more mainstream level, the public and demonstrative persecution of immigrants is mounting in Italy, Australia, the United States and Hungary.

It is a matter of urgency to build a response on the streets of Britain to future mobilisations of this sort. In doing so, we should be aware it is not just Robinson who is campaigning around sexual abuse from the right. Fascist websites are full of it, and Robinson has pinpointed that the tactic works for them like nothing else.

But there is a weakness in the response of most anti-racists to the protests around Robinson. They say nothing about the gang abuse he is targeting. They are silent, we think, because they don’t know what to say. This leaves the field open for people to assume that what he is saying is right.

We do know what to say. The post below is about gang abuse of young women by seven men in Oxford. In microcosm, the story contains all the elements seen since around the country. Our argument has two strands. One is that many different kinds of sexual abuse have been covered up by senior managers and the criminal justice system around the UK.  Under enormous pressure, the authorities have moved to prosecute some men, but almost all of them have been entertainers or actors. None of the managers who covered up their abuse have been prosecuted, or even disciplined. Dead politicians have been exposed, but not living ones. The national inquiry into historical abuse seems to be turning into a sick joke. The Metoo movement, which has done so much in the United States, has achieved very little in Britain. The sexual exploitation of young women by gangs of Asian men in several cities has to be put into this context. Those men are not foreign, or of  a different culture. They are doing what so many other British men have done.

The second strand of our argument is that when abuse is revealed, it is always because ordinary people have organised collectively from below to force the authorities to stop covering up. Continue reading

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Vote Thursday

medThis was posted just before the UK referendum on leaving the European Union.

Jonathan Neale: Please vote against borders on Thursday.

I was born in New York just after the Second World War, and now I live in Britain.  I was six years old when my family first went to India. We lived in Ludhiana, a small industrial city in Punjab. Six years before India and Pakistan had been partitioned. Hindus and Sikhs had killed Muslims, and Muslims had killed Hindus and Sikhs, until three quarters of a million were dead. One evening my father’s best friend, Mister Dillon, played caroms with me and told me that his family had sheltered a Muslim under their house to save his life. I understood he was telling me that there were good people in the world.

When I grew up, I understood that no one else in Punjab had ever told me a story like that, and that was part of what Mister Dillon was telling me too. But so many of our older neighbours told me that I must see Lahore, in Pakistan, once before I died. They could never go back.

Forty-six years later I was on a train from Delhi to Gorakhpur, a poor city in the north of UP. Several people in second class told me there was a man on the train from Pakistan. He had got a visa, and he was travelling to a village near the end of the line, where he had lived as a child. He was first man any of us had met who could return. Someone took me to see him. I looked at him, and I began to cry, and he cried, and the whole train carriage cried. We all thought maybe the border was opening. We were wrong.  Continue reading