Racial hate, racial hate, who do we appreciate?

Remember those cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed? To refresh your memory, we have printed one of them on the web page of BT, in place of our regular cartoon. Got to the site now and check it out. Ha ha, are you crazy? What are we, idiots? Anyway, one of the protesters who was arrested for the offensive statements he made was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred and remanded into custody last week. What he said was: ‘UK, you will pay’, which is pretty sinister, though no more so than the Punk rock classic, Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols, which not only promotes anarchy but name checks one or two terrorist organisations as well. Like the song or not, it is still being sold, played and broadcast in this country and Pistols lead singer, John ‘Rotten’ Lydon still walks around free as a bird. Now admittedly he did suffer the indignity of appearing on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but it’s hardly comparable to waiting in prison until sentencing in April and then who knows how long after that. Abdul Rahman Saleem will not have the luxury of comparison. Now, does Mr Saleem seem to me like a sterling chap, a fine fellow? Not so much, no. He seems a mite unhinged (particularly as the offending cartoons did not originate here) and the things he said are pretty offensive. He also said ‘Europe you will pay with your blood’—that’s bound to annoy people (mainly UKIP members, muttering ‘we’re not cheese-eating surrender-monkeys’ and ‘we’re not European!’). Do I feel threatened by him though? Do I really believe that his carrying those placards and chanting those things actually made things worse in terms of the anger of disaffected Muslim youth in this country, worse than, say, the Iraq war? How do you say ‘not really’ in Danish?

 Compare ‘UK, you will pay’ with calling an Indian Actress ‘Poppadom’. Though the papers broiled, fried and painfully dried her, I can’t for the life of me think when Jade Goody’s trial for racial hate is coming up, can you? But the true winner of the Alanis Morissette ‘Isn’t It Ironic’ prize last week must go to the court that found Pc David Yates innocent of racially aggravated assault. Apparently Pc Yates arrested a Kurdish youth for swearing at him and then proceeded to unleash a stream of profanity and abuse, including 15 uses of the F-word. That’s fair enough, I guess if the kid swore at you. But the logic and justice of still charging him after that seems a little flimsy.

 The kicker in this story is that the Pc threatened to ‘smash your Arab face in’ and labeled the youth a ‘robbing, raping (insert foul word of your choosing here)’, later telling him that he ‘hated’ him. Which seems a little harsh. The youth recorded the lot on his mobile phone, which is probably why he was released without charge and the officer in question was suspended before last week’s verdict. Is the fact that there is not much outcry or comparison between two such different verdicts simply down to Islamophobia? Certainly Rowan Williams, if he so desires, can express whatever views he likes, even if they include sympathy for terrorist groups and need only fear the premature death of his career. Your local Imam faces deportation, arrest or Gitmo. I don’t however think that that is it. It may not be a coincidence that one was a policeman in the line of duty. It’s a question of the slack we cut those with authority, power and the legitimacy that comes from status. Police have more reason to hurl abuse than other citizens. Governments have more right to bomb than civilians. White-collar criminals need jailing less than burglars. Christians should have more freedom than other religious groups. And the rich should sit in the places of honour at our tables.  

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One Response

  1. Racism is one of the rare times a person’s motive is really brought into question and it seems to legally matter. A guy robbed someone? That’s fine. A white guy robbed a black guy and said he doesn’t prefer black people if he had the choice? That’s worthy of the front page! I’m obviously not going to condone anyone having prejudice, but I certainly wouldn’t condone people *ALLOWING THEMSELVES* to be offended either. Wait, did I just say offense was a personal choice? Last time I checked being offended never solved anything. Ever. If someone is violating another person based on some single factor they have, it deserves a second look. At the same time, I doubt anyone would be near as angry if said robber was stealing from the rich because they can spare it after all. Everyone has unfair things thrown at them, and, if addressed appropriately, any system can be fixed. I may have gone a little off-base.

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