Muslims, The Media And Poor Reporting

We are often caught up with our own lives. Attempting to understand how others see the world is frequently near-on impossible, but we should try, particularly when it comes to societal racism.

Daily Racism

Since 2001 increasing hatred and loathing has been directed towards Muslims. Political opportunists, such as the English Defence League, have tried to exploit the prevailing xenophobic climate in Britain and incite racial hatred.

Every day in Britain Muslims suffer racism. From verbal abuse to physical attacks. On-line animosity towards Muslims is stoked up daily by racists and semi-professional bigots. On-line activities have real world consequences as the site, EDL Criminals has shown time and again.

The real lives of real people in Britain are blighted by racism, yet these facts receive scant coverage in the Oxbridge dominated media. There are a few lines here or there, but little real investigation.

Factual Reports
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However, there is no shortage of informed commentary on Islamophobia or its negative consequences:

One academic report details how the Far Right and extremists exploit negative sentiment towards Muslims.

Another scholarly paper looked at the impact of racism towards Muslim women.

HMG report

The new government report on extremism has been welcomed by Tell MAMA, but highlights the complexities of these issues (I paraphrase):

  • It is very important to have a subtle approach to this topic and a dire need to tackle extremists who promote hatred towards communities.
  • Greater use of pastoral care should be made in prisons, etc, helping people in the most vulnerable of positions and playing a role in countering extremism.
  • On-line extremism is an unfortunate reality and in the Internet age we have to acknowledge this fact.
  • Extremism is often stoked up by international events, e.g in Syria or Middle East. We must ensure that whole communities, British Muslims, etc. are not blamed, labelled or isolated as a result.
  • Getting the balance is tricky, previous Governments talking tough simply fuelled isolation and helped extremist groups, like Al-Muhajiroun.
  • The new position by HMG is far more informed and nuanced, it should be welcomed.

A Societal Issue and The Independent

A piece in the Independent seems to have grasp the headline of this issue but not the subtleties, as expressed above, and:

In society we need to admit that anti-Muslim prejudice is quite widespread. That such reports can lead to a flare up of on-line hate against Muslims and cause more problems.

We should accept that anti-Muslim prejudice has to be tackled.

It is wrong to blame whole or part of communities as it further exasperates extremism, increasing societal disconnect and isolation. Such an approach aids the extremists, be they the EDL or Al-Muhajiroun.

We need to take care on these issues, racism, whatever its forms should not be encouraged.

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Iain Duncan Smith Caught Lying By The Economist

Politicians do not like being told that they lie.

The English language hides the necessary directness beneath such wording as disingenuous, economical with the truth or actualité. But even the Economist, frequently feriously supportitive of the Tories, has conceded that Iain Duncan Smith is a liar, in a roundabout fashion:

”And this is the only the latest in a series of questionable press releases. Earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith claimed that the benefits cap had encouraged 8,000 people to get jobs. Yet as Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute for Economics and Social Research pointed out, the Department for Work and Pensions has never made an estimate of the behavioural effects of the benefit cap. At best, Mr Duncan Smith’s figures simply showed that 8,000 people who were to be affected had got jobs. Perhaps some did because of the benefits cap—but we have no idea.

Even before that, there was the matter of 878,000 people who apparently dropped their claims for disability benefits when faced with a doctors test over the past four years, as the old Incapacity Benefit system was replaced with the new Employment and Support Allowance. Again, this figure was absurd. It took no account of the churn—the number of people who come off benefits each month anyway. The most glaring error was that the figures completely ignored the fact that a lot of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claims are short-term—and so a lot of claimants simply got better before facing the test.

All of these are technical, even wonkish objections. “Yes, we twisted the statistics a little”, I can hear a hypothetical Conservative MP saying, “but so does Labour, and the fundamental truth is that the benefits system costs too much and is need of reform.”

Well, quite. The welfare system does indeed need reform. But the whole point about government statistics is that they are meant to be at least sort of objective. Ministers can quote the ones which support their case—but they shouldn’t manipulate them and distort them to tell stories that aren’t actually true. There is plenty of evidence to support welfare reform without resorting to such disgraceful abuse of numbers.

But the problem is, they get away with it—they have done for a long time. Even before the election, Chris Grayling, then the shadow home secretary, was alleging that gun crime was soaring, using distorted data to prove his point. In fact, gun crime began its precipitous decline under Labour. Similarly, much of David Cameron’s “Broken Britain” rhetoric ignored—or denied—dramatic and unexpected improvements in social indicators. “[My emphasis.]

The Economist is too polite. I blame lying Tories, myself.

Genteel Racism at Liberal Conspiracy And Cranks Around Up

We tend to think of anti-Jewish sentiment as coming from the Far Right, yet nowadays it is fairly common to find examples of it on liberal or left wing web sites. It is not overt or blunt as found amongst the extreme racists, but there are tell-tale signs: conspiracy theories and strange terminology.

Some posters at Liberal Conspiracy indulge in such activities without a moment’s recrimination or actions from the site’s moderators or post’s author.

I am not surprised that racists mount their pathetic hobbyhorses, rather that the non-racists who read that material at Liberal Conspiracy can’t see a problem or are willing to let it go unchallenged. If I were charitable I might conclude that most at Liberal Conspiracy don’t understand racism, and in particular anti-Jewish racism.

Snap 2013-03-30 at 15.38.33

Shorter version: maligning Israelis and Jews gives the game away. Particularly if there is a pejorative reference to the “Chosen”, or consciously linking to Rense, a site which proffers conspiracy theories, anti-Jewish racism and approvingly advertises David Duke.

This is not an isolated incident at Liberal Conspiracy as I have covered such poor behaviour before.

Even George Orwell spotted this form of usage in the post war period.

In an under reported topic on the British media, Asiya Islam looks at discrimination faced by Muslims, as seen by five women:
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Jubilee Stewards And Twitter

I have previously blogged concerning the appalling treatment of unpaid stewards during the British Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, but other blogs and media have covered it with greater finesse. I might have missed some worthy contributions, please let me know in the comments box.

This debacle even has its own twitter tag, #jubileestewards.

Belfast Telegraph, Firm in row over unpaid Jubilee stewards to have Olympic fire safety role.

The Edinburgh Eye’s Workfare and the Big Society is very good.

Firm who forced Jubilee stewards to sleep under London Bridge apologises for getting caught.

At the Indy, Jubilee workfare: A Dickensian tale brought to life.

At Channel 4, Concerns over cheap Olympics labour.

The Guardian, Unpaid jubilee jobseekers: Downing Street dismisses criticisms.

The jubilee jobseekers show modern Britain at its worst.

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Jobseekers And The Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

The underbelly of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has been revealed by the Guardian:

“A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the diamond jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.

Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth as part of the government’s Work Programme.

Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, said they had to camp under London Bridge the night before the pageant. They told the Guardian they had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.

One young worker said she was on duty between London Bridge and Tower Bridge during the £12m river spectacle of a 1,000-boat flotilla and members of the Royal family sail by . She said that the security firm Close Protection UK, which won a stewarding contract for the jubilee events, gave her a plastic see-through poncho and a high-visibility jacket for protection against the rain.

Close Protection UK confirmed that it was using up to 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices, who were paid £2.80 an hour, for the three-day event in London. A spokesman said the unpaid work was a trial for paid roles at the Olympics, which it had also won a contract to staff. Unpaid staff were expected to work two days out of the three-day holiday.

The firm said it had spent considerable resources on training and equipment that stewards could keep and that the experience was voluntary and did not affect jobseekers keeping their benefits.

The woman said that people were picked up at Bristol at 11pm on Saturday and arrived in London at 3am on Sunday. “We all got off the coach and we were stranded on the side of the road for 20 minutes until they came back and told us all to follow them,” she said. “We followed them under London Bridge and that’s where they told us to camp out for the night … It was raining and freezing.” “

Update 1: Queen Put at Risk by Workfare Provider, expands on events.
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Joking Obama, Lenin’s Demise And Elections.

I haven’t done a round-up of news snippets for, what seems like, ages.

President Obama jokes.

More than 70 years on and people are still concerned about Lenin’s demise.

Why I can’t really say, but had Lenin stayed in Switzerland then conceivably millions might not have been murdered or Russia not run by dictators and kleptomaniacs. Speaking of which, Putin was re-elected as President of Russia.

Be afraid, exultant Greek neo-Nazis warn rivals.

Not forgetting the other election, in Serbia.

Arrested by a robot? Almost.

Opposing the State in China is costly, emotionally, physically and has a toll on families.

Cheerful news from Hope NOT Hate.

These military tribunals might have the trappings of legalism, but they are wrong and ultimately detrimental. The New Yorker has the lighter side of them.

Will Straw’s take on election techniques over at Labour list.

Syrians vote in election dismissed as a sham.

HMG’s continued negligence towards those affected by Thalidomide.

Finally, the CST on Lessons From Nick Griffin and Jeremy Corbyn.