The Human Cost of the Bedroom Tax

July 30, 2013

In May this year, Liverpool’s Riverside Housing Association called for the urgent help of the Samaritans, to deal with the rising number of people on the brink of suicide because of the misery inflicted by the Bedroom Tax. The country’s most vulnerable – and subsequently, the easiest for a Cabinet of millionaires to belittle, humiliate, and immiserate – are having to pay (some, with their lives) for the failure of the Banks, and the offshore donors love affair with the Conservative Party.

In March this year, grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide, after telling neighbours that she couldn’t afford to live any more. She could not afford the cost of living in her house, a home she had lived in for 18 years, because a government of millionaires decided she had too many ‘spare’ bedrooms.

Today the High Court ruled that the Bedroom Tax legally discriminates against people with disabilities, and so, could not be overturned by the Judiciary. The case brought by ten families who will suffer from the Bedroom Tax, had asked the court to determine that the rules do not recognise additional needs required by disabled people and families. The ten households that brought the case argued that the Discretionary Housing Payment was woefully inadequate. Shelter agreed. As did other charities in the sector. The wealthy judges, unsurprisingly, didn’t.

Firstly, it is important to note that the Court did find that the policy was discriminatory toward some disabled people. Try to remember that, when you hear the joyful response from Conservative MPs. They are expressing delight at the fact that they now have a legal right to discriminate against people with disabilities. This is the nature of the Conservative Party in 2013.

In the coming days, we are likely to hear analysis on policy, on the Court’s role in challenging policy, we’re likely to hear how the bedroom tax is ‘already helping’ bring down costs, we’re likely to hear about logistics, and how unaffordable the housing situation is in the UK, we’re likely to hear about how the DHP is incredibly well funded and how Iain Duncan Smith finds everyone working at Shelter to be secret Marxists. All faceless, soulless discussion that works only to dehumanise the consequences of the policy. We’re likely to hear all of this, from very wealthy individuals, in very large houses, coming from the gleaming faces of Iain Duncan Smith and others like him, who do not have to deal with the horrendous circumstances they choose to inflict upon the most vulnerable. For example, this charming chap:

– On a side note, disabled people aren’t the only people Bob Blackman insists are less than human. He also told BBC News that gay marriage legislation was wrong “on principle”, insisting it could only work between one man and one woman….. The Mirror then exposed Blackman as a cheat. So, let’s be clear, Bob Blackman and others like him, enjoy inflicting misery on others. He has no principles. He has hobbies. Those hobbies include contempt for anyone who isn’t Bob Blackman.

What we are unlikely to hear, are the human stories from those who will be most affected by today’s decision. Those that are forced to make heartbreaking decisions. FutileDemocracy spoke to two of those people, and so here are their stories, in their own words:

Jacqueline Leeson, in Lincolnshire has two children; Ashley and Jake.
Jacqueline told me:

“One child is suspected autistic spectrum, he has social difficulties, he also suffers from short term memory, dyspraxia of the mouth and petit mals, he has a life threatening allergy to grass and is asthmatic, my other son has short term memory and also is asthmatic, my son with the social difficulties spends much of his night time talking in his sleep, falling out of bed, crying out and making dashes to safety from his night terrors, he’s now 11 and always been this way, I have a three bed house.

“A short time ago I managed to find an exchange to Cornwall to another three bedroom house. It was the closest I could get back to my family and it took over a year to find this exchange, the school down there had autistic and a short term memory units meaning both of my children would have been supported, where I live now none of this is available at all, in fact hardly any support in these area’s are available.

“Cornwall council deemed I was going to be over housed and removed me the move even though my children had been accepted in the new school and the disability care was already being arranged.

“The bedroom tax has lost my children’s right to a better education and have their disabilities supported, I’ve also lost my partner as he’s working in Somerset as there is no work up here for his industry and the distance was too far for him to travel.
My family have split up, my children have been left with the bare minimum chance of success and I’m still nearly 300 miles away from my disabled Mum who is very poorly, all because of the bedroom tax.
Jakes also had his DLA slashed as well by about £75 a week.”

– The Bedroom Tax – especially when taken with other harsh cuts – in this situation, not only punishes Jacqueline and her children, who are in a situation not of their own making, for wishing even a slightly better situation for herself and her children after years of difficulty. It is also a notice that the future must be bleak also. That their suffering is necessary. That Conservative policy, does not care much for family. That successive governments’ failure to deal with a housing crises, whilst Minister’s in control of policy – like the Bedroom Tax – such as the truly insufferable Lord Freud sat back relaxed in the comfort of luxury, knowing they didn’t have to act, because it didn’t affect them.

Freud isn’t the only one.
Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg insisted that the Bedroom Tax was necessary to deal with the 2,000,000 people on social housing waiting list, by evicting those in houses that have one too many bedrooms than necessary. Incidentally, Nick Clegg, upon his appointment as Deputy PM, gets to live here, somewhere among the 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening…. and he lives here, free:

Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Dhowes9.

Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Dhowes9.

– Though, he does have to share the 115 room Estate, with Foreign Secretary William Hague. So, he only has 113 spare rooms really.

Sue North-Blake and her husband are having to cope with cutting down on the most fundamental necessities, like food, and heating. Their choice is; cut out meals, or leave their home. This is the reality of the choice handed to families that have to deal with the hardship of disabilities, by a government of multi-millionaires who themselves, own multiple mansions.

My disabled husband and I live in a two bed bungalow. I am his full time carer. Because of his disabilities I use the second bedroom. It is NOT spare!. We applied for the DHP but were turned down because the council counts DLA as income, and said we should be using that to pay for the room.”

“So we had to cut down on food, and in the winter the heating will just not go on. Yet if we had a night carer come in we would be able to have 2 bedrooms! The government is discriminating against married couples who need two bedrooms for medical reasons.”

So, the legacy of the Bedroom Tax is one which promotes further hardship for those in the most vulnerable of situations. Conservatives and their voters should of course be ashamed, but it isn’t surprising. This is what Conservatives do. They measure the success of a government, by the wealth of its richest, rather than the poverty of its poorest. The real shame, should be reserved for the Liberal Democrats, whose support is necessary to enact such horrendous policy decisions.

It is worth noting just who the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, actually is. She spouts the usual “Labour’s legacy” defence whenever questioned on the human cost of her soulless policies. Do we really believe that if Labour had left a strong economy, a Tory government wouldn’t be doing the exact same as what they are doing now? Do we really believe that this is all due to addressing the deficit, rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Do we really believe that having spent thirty years extolling the virtues of leaving the most vulnerable to suffer by themselves, this is happening because it is ‘necessary’ rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Well, one must examine Esther McVey’s ideological leanings, for the answer. And it comes all too easily.

It is unsurprising that McVey feels it necessary to inflict more misery upon those who need the most support, given that she is a keen supporter of ‘Conservative Way Forward’, a group that dedicates itself to the further realisation of Thatcherite principles. Thatcher; ideologically dedicated to removing as much State support for the most vulnerable as possible, promoting the truly monstrous ‘care in the community’ scheme, alongside horrendously degrading and humiliating procedures in order to receive Disability Living Allowance. McVey is one part of the Thatcherite poison that infects the government and its disabled policy. The new PIP rules set to replace DLA, contain some awful details, when examined,(for example, the truly horrifying new rule that to qualify for Motability support, one must be unable to walk more than 20 metres) but again, when these people control the country, it is of no surprise that disabled people suffer the most. I’m sure joyfully slashing support for those already having to cut down on food, and having to deal with unheated homes, and care for disabled family members, pushing more and more to the brink of suicide, comes easy to the heartless Esther McVey, and the £51,737.22 she claimed in expenses alone for 2012/2013.

Hitting the Conservatives with real life stories of the misery that they purposely inflict upon the most vulnerable families, highlights just how monstrous their dehumanising policies are in the 21st century. Especially from a Party whose donors cash in so heavily on that misery.

Trolling Racist Van.

July 29, 2013

Stewart Lee once said that if ‘political correctness’ had achieved one thing, it had forced the Conservative Party to cloak their inherent racism behind more creative language. This July confirmed that Lee may be onto something. The Tories have evolved from this catchy little 1964 Tory campaign leaflet distributed in Birmingham at the time:


To their new, far more subtle campaign, featuring more creative, yet similarly dirty language and imagery:


The campaign has drawn condemnation from all sections of the political spectrum. From Lib Dem coalition partners like Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called the vans “Stupid and offensive”, to, amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted:

“The danger is that the kind of message that is being sent from these billboards will be taken not just by illegal immigrants but also by many people of settled ethnic minorities as being some sort of sign of open warfare.”

Even leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Keith Prince was unhappy with his horrendous colleagues at the Home Office:

“If we had been consulted, we would have warned strongly that, whatever effect this campaign might be intended to have on people who are in the country unlawfully, that message is far outweighed by the negative message to the great majority of people, from all backgrounds, who live and work together in Redbridge, peacefully, productively and lawfully.”

One cannot help but wonder if Lynton Crosby has recently invested in the van industry.

It was of course, only a matter of time before this wretched little campaign fell victim to both Photoshop, and prank calls. And rightfully so. So here are a few of my favourite racist van trolls:










Racist van 8


As with all failing Tory campaigns, this particular nasty campaign complete with a thinly veiled, menacing threat – naturally used to pass through poorer, multi-ethnic areas of London – is already being touted as a success by the Home Office, without actually producing evidence to confirm. Child-like, EDL-style fear tactics, with NF procured phrases like ‘go home’, designed to spark up community mistrust, suspicion and division, rather than measured and humane approaches, to, well, anything, seems to be the basis by which all Tory policies are formulated.

Galloway: When you defend Hamas…

July 28, 2013

George Galloway is working on a documentary to ‘expose’ the Blair administration as what he perceives to be ‘war criminals’. It might therefore be worth remembering the odious, anti-secular, violent, homophobic, misogynistic religious far-right war criminals that Galloway happily and publicly supports and funds.

In 2009, Galloway delivered an address in Gaza, in which he proudly states that he will be funding Hamas. Here:

“I, now, here, on behalf of myself, my sister Yvonne Ridley, and the two Respect councillors – Muhammad Ishtiaq and Naim Khan – are giving three cars and 25,000 pounds in cash to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics.”

Later, Galloway insisted he actually doesn’t fund Hamas at all. It was all – presumably Western, Zionist, Neo-Con – lies:

“I didn’t give any money to Hamas, I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza to pay for the salaries of the doctors and nurses who hadn’t been paid. By the way, we’re talking about 20 odd thousand pounds, not millions. It’s a symbolic donation. I gave it to the ministry of health in Gaza and I’m proud to have done so.”

He goes on:

“Maybe the Americans, the British, the Israeli’s don’t recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine, BUT WE recognise Ismail Haniyah as the Prime Minister of Palestine.”

– This horrendous sentiment summarises just why Galloway must be considered of the Islamist far-right, rather than of anything even slightly left. Ismail Haniyah referred to Osama Bin Laden as a ‘Muslim warrior’ whose soul ‘rests in peace’. Haniyah is also imperialistic, believing the entire region Islamic by divine right. He believes that peace with Israel can only come about, if they agree to give up Jerusalem, for no other reason, than being under the delusion that his particular fairy-sky man divinely ordained it for Muslims. If support for violent Islamist imperialism, based on faith is what passes for ‘left’ in the 21st Century, keep it.

– So flippant. So ignorant. “For all their mistakes”. This is a wonderful way to so effortlessly underplay the violent imperialism, so contrary to liberal, left wing ideals that Galloway at other times professes.
Incidentally, “for all their mistakes” is better articulated by Amnesty:

“The human rights violations perpetrated … have included killings of fugitives, prisoners and detainees, injuries caused by severe physical violence, torture and misuse of weapons, the imposition of house arrest, and other restrictions that have been imposed on civil society organisations.”

– Oh just simple mistakes then. Nothing to stop Galloway funnelling money to the leadership thereby perpetuating the inherently oppressive nature of Hamas.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly dismissing their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend violence against other religious minorities in the West Bank, simply for being non-Islamic.
In 2006, a Christian YMCA was burnt to the ground in Hamas-controlled Qalqiliya, by Hamas members. The Christian’s ‘crime’? Being missionaries. A petition had previously been sent to local authority, by Muslim groups demanding:

“We the preachers of the mosques and representatives of major families in Qalqiliya ask you to close the offices of the YMCA because the population of Qalqiliya doesn’t need such offices, especially since there are not many Christians in our city. The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension.”

– It isn’t just in the West Bank that Christians must be fearful of how the Galloway-funded imperialists running the show might treat them. Imad Jelda, an Orthodox Christian who runs a Youth Training Centre in Gaza, said:

“People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous. The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves.”

– This, after Hamas worked to ensure no Christmas tree would be allowed any more in Gaza City, and Christmas no longer celebrated as a public holiday. Families are split, as Christians travel abroad to enjoy their freedom, leaving older family members in Gaza, unable to celebrate Christmas alone, and unable to celebrate with their dearly missed loved ones. This is the reality of the group Galloway chooses to fund.
But his own logic, appears to contradict his actions. Despite his deep involvement and love affair with the Hamas leadership, when talking to a caller on the subject of underrage marriage in Saudi Arabia, Galloway said:

“What happens in Saudi Arabia is none of your business. It is your business, what happens in Britain.”

– Well, George, what happens in Palestine is none of your business, and yet you seem more than happy to be funding a group that willfully attacks and threatens the rights of minorities. Galloway is of course very hypocritical, but a typical Islamist. Anything that gets in the way of Theocratic dominance, is deemed to be “imperialism”, whilst Islamist imperialism, is defended, and promoted.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism, you defend their murder sprees.
If then, you happen to be George Galloway, your 2005 election victory speech seems to be laden with hypocrisies:

“Mr Blair, this defeat is for Iraq and the other defeats that New Labour has received this evening are for Iraq. All the people you have killed and all the loss of life have come back to haunt you and the best thing that the Labour Party can do is sack you tomorrow morning.”

– The key to this, is his focus on innocent lives lost. Well, then we must play by Galloway’s standard. Let’s remember that Galloway not only defends Hamas, he also willfully funds them. This, despite knowing that a year prior to his 2009 funding effort, three Hamas members blew themselves up at Kerem Shalom border crossing, injuring thirteen people. Any attacks, following this, and following his funding effort, Galloway must shoulder some responsibility for, if we are to play by his own logic.

For example, a year after Galloway so whimsically and joyfully funded Hamas, the imperialist group attacked an Israeli settlement near Kiryat Arba, in which Tali Ames, a woman nine months pregnant was murdered along with her partner. They had a five year old child. Kochava Even Chaim was also killed. She was a teacher, with an 8 year old child. Hamas hailed the massacre of pregnant women, and a teacher with a young child, as a “heroic operation”.

Galloway then, knew of Hamas violence, and innocent deaths prior to funding them. He then funded them. And more pointless deaths, achieving nothing, occurred. By his own logic, George Galloway – a man who funds a group who find the murder of mothers, and pregnant women to be “heroic” – is partly responsible for the deaths of those people. He funds a group that wish to establish power for one faith, over the lives of all others. I hope, by his own words, the loss of life, and those killed, haunt him. I doubt they will.

When you defend Hamas by flippantly ignoring their guiding principle of Theocratic imperialism that seeks to cage those who don’t fit its narrow spectrum of 7th century moral teachings, you defend the increasing crackdown on human liberties throughout Hamas-controlled areas.

Those of us on the progressive, liberal, secular side of the aisle, support – and incidentally, “Respect” – the right for human beings to love whomever they wish without oppressive and grotesque ideologies forcing those people to live in fear of their lives. Gender is irrelevant. We must always support LGBT rights as natural human rights considered sacred, and oppose those who wish to oppress. Galloway-funded Hamas, incidentally, seek to harm those who aren’t exactly like them, in abhorrent ways, according only to the dictates of their single faith. For example, Shaul Ganon, of Agudah, a gay rights group in the region, said:

“I know of two cases in the last three years where people were tried explicitly for being homosexuals,they were both beheaded.”

Dr. Mahmoud Zahar (seen stood next to George Galloway in this video a co-founder and senior leader of Hamas, described gay people as being:

“a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– Does this fall under the flippant “for all their mistakes” that George Galloway thinks isn’t important enough to warrant his express condemnation, and cessation of funding? Where is Galloway’s outrage at the imperial, anti-human rights, destruction of all things those of the left should be fighting to protect against?

It isn’t just gay people that Galloway’s friends over in Hamas have issues with, and believe they have a divinely ordained right to harm. Predictably, for Islamic Theocrats, they don’t particularly like women either.
In 2009 (the year Galloway chose to fund Hamas) the feminist, secularist writer and journalist (those who we on the Left should absolutely be showing solidarity toward) Asma al-Ghul was detained by Hamas, for the terrible crime laughing loudly, around male friends, and not wearing a Hijab. al-Ghul says:

“They also wanted to know the identity of the people who were with me at the beach and whether they were relatives of mine.”

– Subsequently, the men who were with her, were detained, and beaten. This was in July, 2009. Galloway funded Hamas earlier that year. Perhaps his money went to paying the salaries of the Hamas officials who beat men, for hanging around with a woman who dared to laugh.
In March this year, the UN cancelled a planned Marathon in Gaza, because Hamas banned women from participating. Hamas Cabinet secretary, Abdul-Salam Siam said:

“We don’t want women and men mixing in the same race. We don’t want any woman running uncovered.”

– George Galloway therefore, funded a group dedicated to Patriarchy and controlling women.
A month before George Galloway stood in solidarity with the Hamas leadership, promising them funds, Amnesty reported:

“Hamas gunmen have shot dead at least two dozen men since the end of December last year. In the same period, scores of others have been shot in the legs, subjected to severe beatings which caused multiple fractures and other injuries, or otherwise tortured or ill-treated, according to evidence given to Amnesty International. ”

“Most of the victims were abducted from their homes; they were later dumped – dead or injured – in isolated areas, or were found dead in the morgue of one of Gaza’s hospitals. Some were shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment for injuries they sustained in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza’s Central Prison.”

– Presumably George Galloway saw this, and thought…. “Yes! Abducting people from their homes, shooting them in the legs, dumping their bodies in isolated areas, is the epitome of freedom fighting! Let’s fund them!
As of April this year, the Education Ministry in Gaza, has decided men are no longer allowed to teach girls in schools, and boys and girls are not allowed to share classrooms, after the age of 9. Why? Because Allah! That’s why!

It is of course possible for those of us on the left to oppose restrictions placed on Gaza by Israel, to oppose the similar religious extremism of the far-right in Israel that undoubtedly fuel the fire of Islamic extremism in the region, and help empower Islamist groups like Hamas. We can do this, whilst simultaneously condemning absolutely everything Hamas do, everything they say, and everything they stand for.

George Galloway is not of the left. He is not a fan of democracy. He is anti-secular; choosing instead to fund a group dedicated to combining Mosque and State, and all the hideous oppression that comes with it. He funds a group dedicated to eroding civil liberties, and democratic rights. He funds a group dedicated to the imperialistic dream of Islamism; to control land they believe is theirs by nothing more than a child-like “my God said it’s mine!” rationale. He funds a group dedicated to achieving that imperialist goal, even if it means massacring pregnant women and innocent mothers. He funds a group willing to behead gay people, and detain feminists. He funds, and supports a group that wishes to impose a violently strict code of barbaric Islamist ‘morality’ upon citizens whether they want it or not. This is the antithesis of left-wing, liberal, secular principles, and should be resisted at every opportunity. It is the complete opposite of “Respect”.

Islam & Patriarchy

July 27, 2013

I was recently introduced to the idea of ‘masculinism’. It’s an odd little term to me; sort of like those who demand a ‘white history month’ or a ‘straight pride’ celebration. A way to show the World that you do not understand the progression of Western history by those who have always controlled it (white, straight, men). The rules were devised by the very groups whose offspring now insist are the ones oppressed by it.

Masculinism, whilst woefully uninformed, seems to be an attempt to break down Patriarchal structures that have become a hindrance to men also. Perhaps when Patriarchal religious societies begin to notice that men too are damaged by Patriarchy, they may start to fight it. But as of yet, religious societies seek the opposite; to uphold the Patriarchal order by any means necessary. This article will focus on Islam, whilst the next will focus on Christianity.

Earlier this year, the Muslim Brotherhood declared that a UN declaration calling for an end to violence against women, would lead to the end of civilised society as we know it. It was of course a predictable response from a group obsessed with controlling women, but also a rather ironic statement from a group whose Islamist tendencies tend to destroy everything it touches. The Brotherhood said:

“This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.”

– Of course, seeking to reduce every conflict – including those that seek to promote the rights of those oppressed by male dominated Islamic regimes – down to Western imperialism has been a rhetorical tactic for centuries, in trying to induce post-colonial guilt upon the West in the hope that they might back off and allow regressive Islamist regimes to flourish. It transfers the argument from the misdeeds and the misogyny of a group like the Muslim Brotherhood (who are apparently convinced that society is held together by some sort of natural male dominance), and attempts to ensure we’re all focused on ‘Western imperialism’. It’s a cow they just wont stop milking. And yet, ironically, Patriarchal religions in the 21st century, are the most imperial and dictatorial of them all. They seek to have full control, both physically and mentally, over women.

– In other words, don’t think for yourself. Thinking for yourself leads to rejecting archaic “principles” that have no reasonable justification, but to empower controlling men.

– An interesting statement on many levels. A thinly veiled declaration of his in-built desire to control women. If one uses faith as an excuse, individual tendencies toward Patriarchy are excused as cultural. He believes that he gets to define the term ‘modest’ and apply it to every woman on the planet. To this misogynist, it is impossible for a woman to be at modest, without being covered from head to toe. If you are not covered from head to toe, you lack all decency. What an insult to billions of women across the World.

On a second level, the idea extends only to the appearance of women. The character, personality, nature of an individual woman is irrelevant to Islamists. You could have the most wonderful character, but if you ever have the nerve to sunbathe with a bikini on a beach, you’re indecent and deserve to be told so, by those “modest” few who ironically, feel the need to tell everyone how modest they are, at every given opportunity. Feel free to look over this guy’s tweets. His obsession with controlling women is incredibly unnerving.

On a third level, his comment only applies to women. Humility and decency apparently do not apply to the covering up of men. Only women. Men are judged by deeds. Women are judged by what they choose to wear.

On a fourth level, the usual reason given to women covering up, is to protect them from the sex-obsessed glare of men. The implication being that men are inherently prone to viewing women as an object, unable to control our sexual desires, and that it is women who need to change their behaviour in order for men to cope. This reflects badly on the self restraint of Muslim men, apparently unable to contain their sexual rage unless a woman is fully covered (you should be in prison, not lecturing people on how to dress). Islamists believe it is women who must change their behaviour to stop men treating women like sexualised objects, rather than educating men away from the objectification of women (which would naturally require the abandoning of Holy texts altogether). This is protecting a few sex crazed men, not women. And secondly, by forcing women into this mode of ‘modesty’ it simply solidifies the notion that women are naturally sex objects, unless they are covered.

This does not mean that I think women shouldn’t wear the hijab. A person should be free to wear whatever they feel most comfortable wearing. I do not claim that the hijab oppresses the individual who chooses to wear it. But the symbol of ‘modesty’ and the victim-blaming mentality toward those who don’t wear it along with the idea that women are simply sex-objects without it, is oppressive to both men and women. It simply means the values that the hijab represent, repulses me. It is the symbol of misogynistic indoctrination on so many levels.

The Qur’an and the words and deeds of the Prophet are not an attack on Patriarchy. Much the opposite. They uphold and promote Patriarchy.

This blatant repression of gender equality, and sexual expression, is reflected in the very fact that Islamic countries tend to have the highest percentage of people searching for sex terms on the internet. Pakistan is number one in the World for searching “rape videos”, and “teen anal sex”. Sexual repression, rather than sexual education and the breaking down of Patriarchal barriers, does more to uphold Patriarchal, female-objectification, than any other. It fails to identify the root of the problem; archaic faiths made by men, for men.

One cannot fail to note the irony in a faith claiming to protect women, when its leader sold women as sex slaves, invented a Holy Book full of promises of women for himself, and married a young child. Though, Islamic denial tends to be rather strong on this. Hakeem Muhammad is under the particularly odd impression that:

“Far from being a “tool of patriarchal oppression,” the Qu’ran quite simply is a book that is a critique of tyranny and oppression.”

– Denial is the key to upholding much of society’s inequalities. White supremacists refuse to accept that they have been the beneficiary of white privilege. Heterosexual, homophobic men are convinced that withholding a gay couple’s right to marry is not a “rights issue”. Similarly, Patriarchal religious folk are under the rather odd delusion that their faith is in fact, a beacon of equality and progress. The argument from Hakeem, seems to be that Muhammad improved upon the terrible conditions facing women in pre-Islamic Arabia. Great. That’s great. But it’s also flawed. The Qur’an is supposed to transcend the context of time, and so it has no room itself to be improved upon when it comes to women’s rights. Women must be, as the Qur’an deems, for the rest of history. It isn’t claiming progress. It is claiming an end to history when it comes to women’s rights. All progress toward gender equality, must end at the Qur’an. Therefore, we must focus purely on that end claim, rather than anything that came before it, or Europe dealt with women’s rights at the time (shockingly, but then, Europe was under the power of another horrifically Patriarchal faith).
The Qur’an institutionalises inequality, for all time, between the sexes in many passages, including when it comes to law. Sura 2:228:

“And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.”

– If we are in any doubt exactly what this means, the Prophet Muhammad gives us this little gem of unsupported, completely unscientific, regressive explanation:

“The Prophet said, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.'”

– What deficiency is this? What deficiency affects a woman so much so that she is less reliable in a court, than a man? Well, the Prophet doesn’t elaborate. Patriarchal religious rules tend not to have a rational base.
We of course, shouldn’t be surprised, given that the Qur’an – which could spend time telling us about the wonders of the universe, the event horizon, the beauty of time, the extraordinary tale of evolution – spends an incredibly suspicious amount of time discussing how many women the Prophet is allowed to control:

“O Prophet, We have made lawful to you those of your wives, whose dowers you have paid, and those women who come into your possession out of the slave—girls granted by Allah, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you, and the believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet may desire her. This privilege is for you only, not for the other believers .”

– The women of course, have no choice in this. Hakeem, is insistent. This is a book that critiques Patriarchy and oppression. Seriously.

Female children don’t fare much better either. This passage gives instruction on how a Muslim man is to go about divorcing his young bride:

“65:1 O Prophet, when you divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting—period and count the waiting—period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet.”

– Now, if we are in any doubt as to what this means, Abul A’la Maududi explains:

“Therefore, making mention of the waiting—period for girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl at this age but it is permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur’an has held as permissible.”

– Here we see tacit acknowledgement, that precedents given in the Qur’an (universal rules, remember) are naturally used to oppress and develop and maintain Patriarchal structures in which women and children are objects (the hijab doesn’t protect them at all), that lead to situations that we currently see shaping Muslim countries in response to the Syrian female refugee crises. Abu Sanad, a father in the Za’artari refugee camp in north Jordan, said:

“People from Jordan, from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, they come and ask: ‘Do you want to give your daughters for marriage? What do they see us as? A market place for selling? Like selling sheep.They see we don’t have money. They want to exploit us. Give me your daughter for 200,000 lira or 100,000 lira. ”

– If Allah didn’t realise that condoning child marriage isn’t only abuse in itself, but may also foster horrific abuse of children in the future, he is woefully inadequate. But even if that’s not enough, then we have the delightful Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arefe to expand on why children are to blame for their fathers sexually abusing them:

“Oh, people, some girls are youthful and have beautiful figures, and decide to wear tight clothing, or tight trousers, and short tops and wear them in front of their fathers. She needs to realise that her father is also a youth! He may feel sexually attracted to his daughter, we seek refuge in God, and when he shakes her hand or kisses her or hugs her, the devil might push him to act upon his desires. So I urge this girl and other girls, if they are young, not to wear bad clothes in front of her father, or reveal her chest or anything like that, just because he’s her father, fact is that father is still a man.”

– Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arefe has attempted to justify paedophilia as well as incest. Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arefe should not be allowed near children.

To solidify this notion of dominance/subordination, the Qur’an forever institutionalises the male natural right, to his wife sexually. He is in control of their sexual relationship:

“Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves”

– If she refuses to be used as a “place of sowing seed” for her domineering husband demanding sex, according to Muhammad, expressed through Bukhari, she is cursed:

“If a man invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses to come to him, then the angels send their curses on her till morning.”

– If this isn’t evidence of Islam created by men, for men, I’m not sure what is.

In case women still aren’t sure of their place, Sura An-Nisa 4:34 clarifies:

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”

– Women, if you don’t obey your husband, he has the right to beat you. Because, you know, he’s “in charge” of you.

The point is, by suggesting that the Qur’an, and the Prophet progressed women’s rights is meaningless if that which replaced it claims to be universal, and yet still contains passages upholding, and institutionalising Patriarchy. Getting rid of some forms of oppression, but maintaining or expanding on others, is not good enough for a universal, time-transcending Holy book. Which is exactly what the Qur’an, and the words of Muhammad do. If your universal guide for humanity includes passages on how to treat female slaves, rather than calling for the complete abolition of slavery; if it includes passages on how to sexually dominate your wife rather than calling for sexual equality; if it contains passages on when is the right time to beat your wife, rather than insisting that there is never a right time to beat your wife; If it includes passages on marrying female children rather than protecting them from sexual abuse; if it includes passages on covering women from head to toe, but not men….. then it isn’t a book dedicated to fighting Patriarchy and oppression. It isn’t a mistranslation. Islam was created by men, for power, and for the sexual benefit of men. Islam, is Patriarchy.

The Poison of the Watchtower.

July 24, 2013


In between wrongly predicting the end of the World every couple of years, the cult of Jehovah’s Witness often leaves nothing but a trail of destruction and ruined lives, wherever it infects. Its viciously totalitarian and narcissistic leadership forces uniformity of opinion, suppression of speech, and threats that if you dare to disagree, you will be shunned. Its Governing Body does this, whilst amassing great wealth. But its handling of those who chose to leave the faith, is perhaps its most disgusting contribution to society. They have a policy of destroying families.

Let’s say you’re born into a Jehovah’s Witness family. You’re raised in the faith. You have a wonderful family. You are however, often ostracised from the outside World, and are constantly told that it is a hotbed of evil and sin. You reach 18, and you decide that this faith isn’t for you. You don’t accept the doctrines that Kingdom Hall is attempting to force on you. Let’s say, you just want to live a life without religion, though you know you will struggle because all you’ve known your entire life, is this one cult. You could use some family support at this difficult time. Well, here is what you can expect, from the Watchtower:

“Again, the disfellowshipping does not dissolve the flesh-and-blood ties, but, in this situation, contact, if it were necessary at all, would be much more rare than between persons living in the same home. Yet, there might be some absolutely necessary family matters requiring communication, such as legalities over a will or property. But the disfellowshiped relative should be made to appreciate that his status has changed, that he is no longer welcome in the home nor is he a preferred companion.”

– Had you reached 18 and had you successfully managed to repel the forced process of indoctrination you will have been exposed to for years, deciding that you don’t believe it; then this horrid little family-destroying cult thinks it has a right to make you understand that your ‘status has changed’ and that you’re ‘no longer welcome in the home’. In your own home. They have reduced you, to a ‘flesh-and-blood’ tie, which to them, is meaningless. Jehovah’s Witnesses wish to control not only your thoughts, but your family ties.

They reinforce this, in another Watchtower article:

“If the disfellowshipped or disassociated one is a relative living outside the immediate family circle and home. It might be possible to have almost no contact at all with the relative. Even if there were some family matters requiring contact, this certainly would be kept to a minimum, in line with the divine principle: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person [or guilty of another gross sin], . . . not even eating with such a man.”—1 Corinthians 5:11.”

Both of those quotes are from Watchtower editions in the 1970s and 1980s. So maybe they’ve changed in the past thirty years? Well, no. In January 2013, The Watchtower said this:

“Really, what your beloved family member needs to see is your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else – including the family bond. … Do not look for excuses to associate with a disfellowshipped family member, for example, through e-mail.”

– When they say “your resolute stance to put Jehovah above everything else”, what they mean is, your resolute stance to give yourself entirely to the cult leadership at the expense of people who you love, and rely on. They own you.

In 2011, the Watchtower tried to shamefully manipulate the emotions of family members of a disfellowshipped member, that in fact, completely shunning them, making their life as difficult as possible, is best for them:

“By cutting off contact with the disfellowshipped or disassociated one, you are showing that you hate the attitudes and actions that led to that outcome. However, you are also showing that you love the wrongdoer enough to do what is best for him or her. Your loyalty to Jehovah may increase the likelihood that the disciplined one will repent and return to Jehovah.”

– There is of course, no evidence for any claim made in that passage.

Next, they invent their own rules, that have absolutely no Biblical basis. This of course, cannot be anything other than power:

“What about speaking with a disfellowshipped person? While the Bible does not cover every possible situation, 2 John 10 helps us to get Jehovah’s view of matters: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.” …. A simple ‘Hello’ to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshipped person?”

– By Watchtower standards – not Biblical standards at all – saying ‘hello’ to your child, is discouraged. This is invented, out of thin air. Whilst it quite obviously has no logical reason; it also has no Biblical reason. Though they claim it does. Here is one vile excuse for their inherently abusive nature:


They then seem to take great sadistic pleasure in those who have left the faith, being punished as Ellwood Johnson, past Circuit Overseer makes so whimsically clear:

“…Once that sign of the Son of man appears in the heavens, where Jesus sits down on his glorious throne, he will judge you and I at that point in history as to whether or not you are actually a sheep or a goat. …. You will not be able to say to Jesus, “Oh Jesus, wait a minute, I’m disfellowshipped. Wait a minute, let me get reinstated.” Oh no! Oh no! You see, all the evidence will have been brought into the court as to who you are and what you are as a person. And once he sits down, you will not be able to change your record. Not one iota!”

– They seem to take joy out of controlling a family enough to see it broken to pieces, and then forging subtle messages of hate, and threats at those already suffering from being cast out by their own family.

According to one ex-Jehovah’s Witness:

“I had a miscarriage, and I really needed my mom, but she wouldn’t return my call.”

– This is the product of wholly unnatural extremist processes that infect natural human bonds.

To add to the mentality of the slightly psychotic, certainly power obsessed narcissists that run the Governing Body (all of whom, are rather shadowy figures, which is odd given how much control they wish to have over the lives of believers), if you dare to even begin to suggest you disagree with what the Governing Body has decreed, you will be hauled in front of a trial by Judicial Committee, where a group of Committee members let you know how much they hate you (you are referred to as ‘mentally diseased’ which is basically like an elephant calling you an elephant), how much your family wont be speaking to you any more, and throws you out. It is all one big power mechanism.

The reason the Governing Body do not like families to associate with those who have left the faith, is because to do so, would be to ‘expose’ the family to a way of thinking that doesn’t benefit the Governing Body. Their wealth grows, as the faithful grow. So, indoctrinate from birth, include stories of judgement and hellfire for leaving the faith, scare people into knowing that they will lose everyone they love if they dare to think for themselves. This is how cults operate. They use scripture in a weak attempt to justify this. Unsurprisingly, they ignore scripture that may be detrimental to their leadership. For example:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
– Matthew 6:24

– Seems rather succinct and blunt to me. You cannot serve both money and God. And yet according to accounts from around the UK Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2009, we see this:

  • Surrey Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses: £3924638
  • Bristol Assemble Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses: £3977491
  • East Pennine Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses: £6359630

    – Those are just three. That’s a lot of money sitting in Jehovah’s Witness Hall bank accounts. It seems you can serve God and Money afterall.

    As much as religions like to suggest they are the glue that holds the family together, they are in fact quite the opposite. Religion is not family focused. Religion is religion focused. And anything that doesn’t fit the model (family included) is worthless. The religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is in the business of profiting from breaking families. It is a business model. Apostasy laws, rules and indoctrinated thoughts upon the idea that your family is less important than your faith; break families apart.

    An Atheist living in a Jehovah’s Witness family, has two choices; shut up, say nothing, your entire life must be a lie if you wish to keep speaking to your family. Alternatively, speak up, be made to feel worthless, be told you’re the antichrist by your own family, be hauled in front of a committee of self important, patriarchal narcissists worried that you might affect the power structure that keeps them in place and in wealth. When a group of very controlling men (there are no women in the Governing Body) control emotions, through the psychological ability to dissolve family ties, you have complete mechanical control over very vulnerable people, and you have a business model worth millions. This is the reality of the poison of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • An American History.

    July 22, 2013

    The narrative of the history of America that most of us have rolling around in our minds is rather simple; Columbus crossed the Atlantic, found America in 1492, slave owning colonies cropped up, the Native Indians were less advanced, lived in teepees, and were eventually wiped out, before George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and a few others broke free from the British Empire (or as right winged Americans like to inform me regardless of the debate; “that time we kicked your ass“). But the history of America, and specifically, what we’re taught, is far different, far more astonishing, at times unexpected and complex, and has far more twists than we could ever expect. Here are three largely unknown, yet vastly intriguing stories from American history:

    Columbus didn’t discover America. Native Americans discovered Europe.
    It would seem that the Anglo-Saxon, Euro-centric view of the the beginnings of the relationship between “us”, and the Natives in America is entirely misinformed. According to a new theory, it seems two Native American ships left Canada, and headed toward Scandinavia, ending up ship wrecked just off the coast of Holland….. in 60bc.
    To put that into perspective; Jesus was 60 years from being born, there was no Catholic Church, there was no state of Spain, or England, or Italian States like the Republic of Genoa in which Columbus would be born around 1,500 year later, Julius Caesar was not widely known, Augustus had not been born, the Colosseum hadn’t yet been built, and there was to be no such thing as the ‘Empire’ of Rome, for another 35 years.

    In 1470, twenty-two years before Columbus makes his voyage, two Native Americans washed up on Galway Bay in Ireland. We know this, because it was recorded in writing… by Christopher Columbus. In the margins of his copy of Piccolomini’s Historia Rerum, Columbus wrote:

    “People from Kayato came toward the East. We saw many notable things, and specifically in Galway, Ireland, a man and his wife. A man and a woman with two logs dragged by storm. A superb creature”.

    – Naturally, Columbus thought they had sailed from China, given that he had no idea America existed. But this is clear evidence from Columbus himself, that people that were not from Europe, and had came from the East, landed in Ireland, twenty-two years before Columbus headed west. ‘…With two logs’ is also significant, given that it would suggest Columbus didn’t know what to call it. It wasn’t a boat he’d seen before, but it corresponds perfectly to the hollowed out wood for boats used by Native Americans at the time.

    Europe didn’t “discover” the Americas. The Americas were populated with great cities, explorers, wonders, commerce, colonists, government, constitutions, and far more people lived in what would become the US and Canada, at the time, than in Europe. It was they, who discovered Europe.

    African-American free men, owned African-American slaves.
    Andrew Durnford was one of Mississippi’s most successful plantation owners. His best friend, was John McDonogh, the wealthiest man in Louisiana. Schools in New Orleans still bear McDonogh name. McDonogh’s friend, Andrew Durnford, built his successful plantation using slave power. When he first bought the plot of land from McDonogh, he also bought twelve adult slaves, and two child slaves, to undertake the heavy work of building a sugar plantation. He was notably vicious in his treatment of his slaves. He also happened to be black.

    In 1830, over 12,000 African-American slaves, were owned by almost 4,000 African-American free men. Slaveholding was a class unto itself, and by 1830, everyone – white & black – strove to be included in the privileged slaveholding class. This included a number of African-American free men.

    It is true, that most African-Americans who owned slaves, did so out of benevolence. Most were family members, bought by newly freed African-American ex-slaves, who wished to protect their family. But a few African-Americans owned slaves for economic reasons. Durnford was one of them. As was Richard Holloway. Holloway lived in Charleston. He owned a slave called ‘Sarah’, along with her two children ‘Annett’ and ‘Edward’. After three years, Holloway – instead of freeing Sarah and her children – sold the family for $945, making around $400 profit on what he originally paid for them. For Holloway – African American – owning African-Americans as slaves was not an issue of race, it was an economic investment. Self interest. Slaves were a product to be bought and sold. Andrew Durnford similarly justified his ownership of slaves, with:

    “Self interest is too strongly rooted in the bosom of all that breathes the American atmosphere. Self interest is a la mode.”

    – Instead of trying to help to overthrow the system that undoubtedly held his ancestors back so horrendously, Durnford, Holloway, and many more chose to embrace the system, and to use it for his economic advantage.

    The unspoken inspiration for the US Constitution.
    As independence for the colonies drew close, the question of how to form a government became hot. The obvious inspiration for a democratic (at least, democratic for that particular time period) system ahead of a Monarchy comes from the desire to be free from British rule. The obvious inspiration for a a secular system based on inalienable rights comes from the Enlightenment thinking of time; Locke, Rousseau, Paine. But how to link together sections of land and populations vastly separated from north to south? What distinctive inspiration could be used to bind those people together? Well, it seems the Founders may have found inspiration in the local Native population.

    The Iroquois were a loose collection of six Nations, under Confederation. They comprised the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and the Mohawk. They referred to themselves as ‘Haudenosaunee’ meaning ‘People of the longhouse’, which for the Natives, meant several nations, living together, under one house. Each nation lived differently from the others, with different cultural norms, and different languages, yet came together as a government under Confederation, on the basis of cooperation and sharing, noting:

    “We bind ourselves together by taking hold of each other’s hands so firmly and forming a circle so strong that if a tree should fall upon it, it could not shake nor break it, so that our people and grandchildren shall remain in the circle of security, peace, and happiness.”

    – This new League had a spoken Constitution, ratified close to modern day New York. A model for confederacy of separate nations (or States) already existed, right there, on the doorstep of the Founders. And by new estimates, the Iroquois Confederacy seems to begun as early as the 11th Century. 600 years before the Founding of the United States.
    In 1988, Congress passed a resolution noting:

    “Concurrent resolution to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy to the development of the United States Constitution.”

    – It was Iroquois leaders such as Canassatego, who urged the States to confederate. In 1744, Canassatego was invited to talk with a delegation in Philadelphia on American and Indian relations. The spokesman for the Iroquois Confederation said:

    “Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another.”

    – The United States owes much to the system of confederation already established by advanced Iroquois nations, in its founding. Perhaps as much as it owes to John Locke, to Thomas Paine, to the principles of the Enlightenment. The notion of individual rights undoubtedly born out of the minds of philosophers of the Enlightenment. But the premise of separate ‘nations’ working together, under one banner, peaceful and cooperation; came from the Iroquois. Therefore, the Iroquois must share the title of America’s Founding Fathers.

    The history of the US is not simple, it isn’t straightforward, it isn’t linear. It is filled with wonderful stories, dark stories, it was a melting pot of ideas as well as people and cultures, it wasn’t a blank slate, and the most widely taught narratives of US history often possess a hidden side that never quite fits the white Euro-centric vision we’re so used to. The history of the US is fascinating. The stories are enlightening. The forgotten figures, without knowing it, would shape the World for the next 250 years.

    The Privilege of Dan Riehl.

    July 20, 2013

    Conservative commentator Dan Riehl is apparently more annoyed at the President for speaking out on the fact that he has experienced being followed in shops simply because he is black, than he is that the President has experienced being followed in shops simply because he is black.

    He also didn’t get this angry when Donald Trump and the Tea Party faction demanded the President’s birth certificate, in one horrendous display of racial profiling.

    Yesterday, President Obama stood in the White House Press room, and shared his thoughts on the Trayvon Martin ruling. The President said:

    “I think it’s important to recognise that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience in this country, of being followed when they’re shopping in a department store. And that includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street, and hearing locks click on the doors of cars. That happened to me. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator of a woman clutching her purse nervously. Those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”

    – For what it’s worth, I rate this as the President’s most important speech. It was impromptu, and that gave the speech its honesty. It was personable, heartfelt, and it struck right to the heart of the privileges that do not face the average white American every day, yet affects the average African American every day.

    Predictably, conservatives across America react nonsensically, not wishing to know the feelings the first African American President has toward race relations in the country. Typically, as conservatives tend to be with women, with minorities, with the gay community the message coming from them is loud and clear; “we don’t want to know, shut up and deal with it.” Dan Riehl, rather oddly, says:

    – Apparently President Nixon’s Southern Strategy; a strategy designed to provoke racial tension in the south thus attracting white supremacists over to voting Republican, isn’t considered racist. Nixon is also on tape saying:

    “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white, or rape.”

    – Apparently considering a child of mixed-race to be as terrible as rape, doesn’t qualify as racism.
    Apparently, President Lincoln’s thoughts on race relations being:

    “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.”

    – is not racist. Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and many more US Presidents owned slaves. Apparently, this isn’t racist. Nor Ronald Reagan’s subtle racial remarks on “Welfare queens” and his strategy to appeal to “George Wallace inclined voters“. But, President Obama sharing his experiences of a post-civil rights culture slowly trying to shed its racist past, makes him the “first Racist in chief”. The President was not suggesting the creation of a brand new social and economic system, based on black supremacy. The President was highlighting racial inequality and ingrained cultural racism.

    Dan Riehl believes that any African American suggesting that America might still have race problems, or highlighting that racism, are themselves a racist for doing so. Dan Riehl is under the impression that the status quo, as long as the cracks are kept silent, is acceptable. He can enjoy the privileges afforded to him by virtue of his skin colour, without having to think too much of those that the system leaves behind.

    So what are those unearned privileges afforded to Dan Riehl?

    Well, it starts with education. Naturally, when a particular minority has spent 200+ years discriminated wildly against when it comes to standards in education, as well as healthcare, housing, justice, opportunities; they are at a disadvantage from birth. It is institutional. To alleviate those disadvantages, there must be a concerted effort to increase standards through funding among other things. Half of all public school funding, comes from property taxes. And so, the poorest areas (and those who have already suffered discrimination in housing, for decades) are disproportionately underfunded. Dan Riehl’s facebook page, tells us that he studied at Steinert High School in New Jersey. New Jersey is ranked second highest for graduation results, test scores etc……. New Jersey is also the second highest spender per pupil, spending on average $15,000 per pupil. Whereas Mississippi for example (which has an African American population 23% higher than New Jersey) is ranked 48th for student success, and spends just $9,708 per pupil. Dan Riehl is privileged simply by being born in a State that for white, economically advantaged students, is an educational haven.

    Of course, had Dan Riehl, during the 90s, and right up until 2003, drove through New Jersey, he would have had the privilege of not being suspected of being a drug kingpin, and pulled over, in the nationwide scandal in which officers in New Jersey testified that they were told by their superiors to racially profile motorists on the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 95.
    Most drug users in the US, are white. In fact, only 13% of drug users in the US, are African American. And yet, 74% of those sentenced to prison for drug use in the US, are African American. African Americans are on average, 11 times more likely to be imprisoned for drug use, than white Americans. If Dan Riehl wanted to use drugs, he will experience the privilege of being far more likely to get away with it, simply for the colour of his skin. In fact, he could have happily driven trucks full of heroin through New Jersey, and been able to do so, because officers were busy watching out for African Americans.

    The denial of white privilege by those who gain the most from it, is not new. Currently, it seeks to turn any sort of alleviating of institutional racism into a sort of privilege for African Americans. For example, over here in the UK I often hear the claim that a Pakistani person got a job ahead of a white British person. As if that’s inherently wrong. Similarly, in America I often read claims that a white person didn’t get into a particular college, because, despite getting lower grades, the place was given to an African American person (not forced, just given). In both cases, the white person claims to have been the victim of some sort of reverse racism. And in both cases, neither bother to accept that not only does affirmative action not force a company or school to “put aside” places for people of different races (it is race neutral), but they also don’t seem to understand that white people have also been given a place ahead of them.

    For example, A study by the American economic review between July 2001 and May 2002 entitled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination” found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a black sounding name. It proved that regardless of credentials, African American applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant. And so the claim that work placements or college placements should be “based on merit” is fine, but isn’t the case in reality. In October 2012, the African American unemployment rate was around twice as high as the white unemployment rate. In fact, in one in six industries, white and black segregation has increased since the 1980s. Dan Riehl is privileged, simply by having a white sounding name.

    In 2001, Gallup reported that 40% of white people believe that African Americans are treated the same as white Americans in the US. By contrast, only 9% of African Americans believe they are treated equally. Similarly, in 1962, 95 of white Americans believed African Americans had the same opportunities to get a good education, as white Americans. 1962. Prior to the civil rights act, and in the midst of Apartheid America. Dan Riehl has the privilege of being able to say “sure, they’re treated fine“, whilst never having to experience what it’s like for 91% of African Americans who completely disagree.

    But white denial (which I characterise as a defence of white privilege; a way to try to ensure that ‘white‘ must come first) goes much further back. The philosophy employed in attempts to defend slavery in the south prior to the Civil War was full of denial.
    The American Social Theorist George Fitzhugh argued that the Capitalism of the north would disproportionately affect African Americans, given that they were, in his mind, less able. And so slavery, according to Fitzhugh, actually protected African Americans. Fitzhugh comments:

    “We do not set children and women free because they are not capable of looking after themselves, not equal to the constant struggle of society. But half of mankind are but grown up children and liberty is as fatal to them as it would be to children.”

    – Suddenly, we have a philosophy of white, patriarchal denial. The privileges bestowed upon white Americans, defended as philanthropic. As if beaten, and immiserated African American slaves, treated like animals, should thank their ‘Masters‘ for the kindness of protecting them, from being free. Obviously, they have no choice in whether they wish to be enslaved or free in the first place. Perhaps they should have thanked their ‘Masters‘ for that too. The justification from Fitzhugh for slavery is as filled with a defence of white supremacy, as it is with denial. And it continues. Generation after generation, conservative white people insist that there is no problem. Fifty years later, they admit, there might have been a problem fifty years ago. During the antebellum period, any attempts to suggest an abolition of slavery, or African American civil rights, was met with conservative anger and derision by which it claimed those policies were in fact, anti-white. During the civil rights era, any attempts to equalise education, transport, housing, for African Americans was met with conservative anger and derision, by which it claimed those policies were in fact, anti-white. Today, it is no different.

    Today, as then, those arguments simply reflect a desire to uphold a system of unearned, racial privilege and barriers that perpetuates a lack of opportunity, suspicion, fear, and poverty. The sort that President Obama was absolutely right to touch upon, and the sort that plenty of white President’s have used to their advantage in the past.

    Dan Riehl will never accept, nor even understand the privileges that have allowed him to get to a position in which he refers to the nation’s first African American President, as ‘racist‘ simply for describing the prejudice he has faced in his own life. Riehl isn’t concerned about losing rights. Riehl is concerned about losing privilege.

    Conservative America apparently doesn’t like to accept that there is an ongoing race problem in the US. What a completely new and original response from them.

    Communism and Homosexuality

    July 19, 2013

    The gay marriage bill passed the House of Lords successfully this week, effectively legalising marriage for same-sex couples in the UK. For most of us, this is a wonderful step forward for human progress and equality. For a select melodramatic few, the World is about to end. One of the many charges against those who support same-sex marriage, is…. well… I’ll allow these people to gleefully inform you:

    Article here.

    So, I thought I’d write on the subject of Communism, and homosexuality, in order to dispel this – easy to dispel – right winged myth, that same sex marriage, can in any way, be linked to Communism. As it turns out, a lot has been written on the Soviet Union and homosexuality, and rather in depth the subject is too. So I will briefly summarise the research here.

    We must of course cast ourselves back to the very foundation of the concept of Communism, and its founders, to base our understanding of Communism and Homosexuality. The 19th century that Karl Marx inhabited was a very homophobic century, and this homophobia didn’t escape Communists of the time. Actually, much of the complaints of modern day homophobes on the Right – conspiracy against the State – can be found in the writings of early Communist. Engels himself linked homosexuality, with paedophilia – a tactic used by both Stalin in the 1930s, and today on the right wing – as a reason to discriminate heavily against the gay community. On June 22, 1869, Engels wrote to Marx:

    “That is really a very odd ‘Urning’ you just sent me. Those are just unveilings being extremely against nature. The pederasts begin counting themselves and find that they are forming a power within the state. Only an organisation was missing, but according to this it seems to be already existing in the secret. And as they are counting so important men within all the old parties and even in the new ones, from Rösing to Schweitzer, their victory is inevitable. ‘Guerre aux cons, paix aux trous de cul’ it will go now. It is only a luck that we personally are too old to have to fear, this party gaining victory, to have to pay bodily tribute to the victors. But the young generation! By the way, only possible in Germany that a guy like that appears, translates the dirt into a theory and invites: introite, and so on. ”

    – Here, Engels is talking about Karl Ulrichs, the early gay rights pioneer. Ulrichs sent a letter to Marx asking for support from the Communists. Marx asked Engels for his opinion. Engels writes back rather unequivocally. The word ‘urning’ in the opening sentence, is a word meaning the body of a man with the mind and lusts of a woman; a man attracted to other men. ‘Against nature’, ‘forming a power within the state’, ‘existing in secret’, ‘translates dirt into a theory’. The homophobic diatribe by Engels is reminiscent of 21st Century conservatives like the blogger above who is convinced same-sex unions are a coup by a well organised group to destroy the state as we know it.

    Whilst homosexuality was technically legalised in the early Soviet Union (not purposely, but as a result of the overturning of all Tsarist laws), it only applied to Russia itself. The nations surrounding Russia, within the Soviet Union had extremely strict anti-homosexuality laws. There was no big Communist push to liberalise sexuality. There was no suggestion that homosexuality could be used to destroy Western civilisation, that it was an intrinsic materialist device to overthrow Capitalist society. In fact, homosexuality was a crime in Azerbaijan, in Turkmenistan, in Uzbekistan. In 1930, only 13 years after the founding of the Soviet Union, a Soviet medical official named Sereisky penned the Soviet’s new stance on homosexuality:

    “Soviet legislation does not recognize so-called crimes against morality. Our laws proceed from the principle of protection of society and therefore countenance punishment only in those instances when juveniles and minors are the objects of homosexual interest … while recognizing the incorrectness of homosexual development … our society combines prophylactic and other therapeutic measures with all the necessary conditions for making the conflicts that afflict homosexuals as painless as possible and for resolving their typical estrangement from society within the collective.”

    – The passage here officially condemns homosexuality as a crime against morality, that it is a threat to children, and that it is outside the realms of civilised society, whilst stopping short of full criminalisation. As it happens, this demonisation of homosexuality was a precursor for the next phase in Soviet sexual repression.

    Three years later, in 1933, Article 121 was added to the Soviet penal code within Stalin’s Soviet Union. The Article stated that:

    “sexual relations between men are punishable by prison terms of up to five years.”

    – This law lasted another sixty years, with ten people imprisoned in 1992 for homosexual relations. Originally, Stalin introduced Article 121 in order to give credit to the idea that homosexuality, was actually a Fascist plot. Just before his death, Soviet cultural writer Maxim Gorky wrote:

    “”In a country in which the proletariat rules courageously and successfully, homosexuality, which depraves the youth, is recognized and punished as the antisocial crime that it is, while in the so-called cultivated countries /…/ it occurs freely and unchecked. Already, a sarcastic proverb has been devised: Eradicate homosexuality and you will eliminate fascism.”

    – Of course, Gorky left out the part in which upon coming to power, Hitler rounded up homosexual men and threw them into concentration camps, but it suited his narrative, and Soviet homophobic propaganda, not to mention that. Isn’t it ironic that the same arguments employed by the far right today, were used almost identically by the far left almost a century ago; both are guilty of the social abuse of a minority in order to advance their own ideological agenda.
    We also see Gorky using the commonly used tactic; fear for the future of your children. We’ll come back to this a little later.

    After Stalin’s death, Kruschev repealed many of the anti-liberalisation laws of the Stalin era, including anti-abortion laws, anti-divorce laws…. but he didn’t repeal the anti-homosexuality laws. Those remained in place. He was afraid that the prisoner-like sexual mentality would infect the rest of the population. Suddenly, in less than a year, the very top of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union went from mistakenly linking homosexuality to paedophilia, to linking homosexuality to forced prison-like sex. The anti-homosexuality rhetoric and action were so repulsive, it is only matched by the repulsive attitudes toward homosexuality coming from the right wing today. For example, the Stalinist (and Engels) line that homosexuality and paedophilia are linked, has been appropriated in recent times, by the US Christian Right. Here, Pat Robertson tells us that gay marriage, will lead to the legalisation of paedophilia:

    “How about child molestation and paedophilia? How can we criminalise these things and at the same time have constitutional amendments allowing same sex marriage? You mark my words, this is just the beginning in a long downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent.”

    – Pat Robertson seems to be employing the Stalinist ‘crimes against morality’ logic with linking homosexuality to paedophilia, alongside a staggering slippery slope fallacy. It is exactly the arguments put forth by Communists within the Soviet Union, in the 1930s.

    Similarly, Michael Savage, US Radio DJ said:

    “You’ve got to explain to the children … why God told people this was wrong. You have to explain this to them in this time of mental rape that’s going on. The children’s minds are being raped by the homosexual mafia, that’s my position. They’re raping our children’s minds.”

    – The protection of children, as mentioned above, has been a key rhetorical device used by the homophobic for decades. You must fear for your child’s future if homosexuality is allowed to persist… is the cry of the bigot. Not only did Stalin, Sereisky, and Gorky dubiously tie homosexuality with child molestation, but the right wing now appears to have taken that argument and made it their own. Like the ‘crimes against morality’ line that links both Soviet Communists, and modern day conservatives, the argument that we must fear for our children’s safety, because of homosexuality, is also a direct link between Soviet Communists, and modern day conservatives.

    Whilst homosexuality was criminalised in 1933 between two men, it wasn’t criminalised between two women. Instead, gay women were referred to psychiatrists, who in turn, had then committed for three months. During that time, drugs were often tested on young gay women, followed by the forced signing of the mentally ill register, rendering any possibility of a good career, a driving licence, and happy life, almost impossible. This practice ended, as late as 1988, though still proceeded in many provinces.

    One only has to look at the repression of homosexuality in Russia today, to understand the development historically of a very homophobic nation.

    In fact, Homosexuality was only removed from the list of Russian mental disorders, in 1999. Homosexuality, in Communist China was not decriminalised until 1997, and considered a mental illness until 2002.
    In the USA, the great gay rights activist Harry Hay was thrown out of the Communist Party, because the Communist Party did not allow gay people to be members.
    Nepal’s Maoists are still very anti-homosexuality, and repression of Nepals LGBT rights advocates, is widespread.
    Dev Gurung, the Maoist Minister of Justice for the Communist Party in Nepal, offered a mirrored image of right winged insistences that Communism and Homosexuality are intrinsically linked, with this little gem of melodrama:

    “Under Soviet rule there were no homosexuals in the Soviet Union. Now that they are moving towards capitalism, homosexuals may have arisen there as well. So homosexuality is a product of capitalism. Under socialism this kind of problem doesn’t exist.”

    – So you see, the same tired arguments are thrown from the fringes of the right and left, putridly degrading a minority, perpetuating discrimination and hate based on nothing of any substance, to promote an ideological standpoint.

    Communists regimes were among the most repressive in history, toward homosexuality.

    The repression of homosexuality throughout the Soviet Union, and by Communists in general was widespread throughout its history. Thousands were imprisoned for decades, many more were brutally beaten and murdered simply for being gay. This is what happens when you not only criminalise and work hard to stigmatise a biological trait (be it sexuality, gender, or race) but you base an entire social system upon patriarchy, or Theocracy, or the supremacy of one race above all others. A system of privilege for those who wrongfully think themselves the rightful rulers of civilised society based on no valid reasoning, develops into a system of repression against those who don’t fit its narrow band of what is decent and correct. To defend this system, the same fallacious arguments are thrown around, usually in an attempt to induce fear within a population. Defend homophobic, racist, patriarchy… otherwise God will punish you, and your children will be in danger! They scream ‘agenda!’ at every possible turn; the ‘abolitionist agenda’, the ‘feminist agenda!’, the ‘gay rights agenda!’, as if those are to be viewed negatively, rather than positive strides toward equality and an end to discriminatory, regressive consciousness. They insist the government is under attack, they play on the fears of danger to children. And it is the same today. 21st Century Conservatives; in a show of intense irony, those who claim the mantle of freedom and individual liberty, are the most repressive defenders of systems of privilege in the 21st century.

    ‘Stand your Ground’ means ‘fear of black men’.

    July 17, 2013

    When a particular race, alongside a particular cultural choice – dress sense/music taste – is portrayed so negatively through media, laws like ‘Stand your Ground’ cannot be fair and balanced and will always work to the disadvantage of that particular race. All the law does, is give credit to unfair stereotypes.

    In 2012, 17-year-old African American teenager Jordan Russell Davis, pulled into a gas station with a group of friends. As typical teenagers, the boys had their music played loudly in the car that day. Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white male, and in his car alongside the boys, took exception to this and told them to turn their music down. An argument ensued. Dunn pulled out a gun, fired around 8 shots at the car full of teenagers, and killed Jordan Davis. Dunn claims the boys got out of their cars, and pulled a gun. Witnesses say that didn’t happen at all, and in fact, only Dunn got out of his car. No gun was found in the car of the teenagers, or on any of the teenagers when the police arrived. Dunn’s defence team have invoked Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law, claiming that by opening fire on a car full of teenagers, killing Davis, Dunn was acting:

    “…responsibly and in self defense.”

    You’re going to have to forgive me for repeating myself a little, from yesterday’s post on Trayvon Martin and racism in 21st Century USA. I wanted to expand on ‘Stand your Ground’ laws, which requires cross over from a previous post.

    A Federal lawsuit in Georgia in 2012 required Georgia strike down its ‘Stand your Ground’ law, because it didn’t specify what circumstances justified “standing your ground”. According to the lawsuit, courts in Georgia had:

    “…accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.”

    – What this essentially means is, “I shot him, because I was scared, because he was black“. Whilst ‘Stand your Ground’ applies to both black, and white people, it disproportionately affects African Americans, due almost entirely to preconceptions stirred up by media outlets. The perception, the socially conditioned perception of young African American men, as somehow violent, is reflected in Michael Dunn’s claim that he shot Jordan Russell, because he was worried the boys might be in a gang. This isn’t reasonable, by anyone’s standards. Racial ignorance cannot possible be a defence.

    The Tampa Bay Times found that around one third of those citing ‘Stand your Ground’ in cases in Florida, had actually started the confrontation that led to the violence. They also found that of those cases involving the death of an African American person, the defendant went free 73% of the time.

    Stand your Ground laws were lobbied heavily on by the National Rifle Association. The NRA boasts as a board member Ted Nugent. Nugent – who, Republican Rep Steve Stockman called a true ‘Patriot’ – once said:

    “Working Hard, Playing Hard, White Motherfucking Shit Kickers Who Are Independent.”

    “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

    “There’s a lot of white people in this crowd. I like that.”

    The link between the NRA, Stand your Ground law lobbying, and racism is not at all ambiguous or subtle. It is quite obvious. In 2007, an NRA, typically delirious brochure entitled: “Freedom In Peril; Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century” in which African Americans are portrayed as violent trying to destroy white America was leaked. A picture depicting ‘street gangs’ shows African American, and Latin Americans, in hoodies, and bandanas. Perpetuating a stereotype. Cut to 2013, and an African American teenager armed with nothing but a packet of skittles, is murdered by a racist with a gun, citing “Stand your Ground” laws to protect him. “Stand your Ground” laws rely on the perpetuation of negative stereotypes, which then make it far easier to transfer the blame from a racist with a gun, profiling an innocent man… to the innocent man, because he doesn’t conform to a dress code, and a skin colour, that is deemed ‘acceptable’ by the NRA and its racist board members. Suddenly, ‘reasonable self defence’ becomes ‘it’s reasonable to shoot him, because he’s black and in a hoody, and The Wire once showed a black guy in a hoody killing someone’.

    It’s doesn’t take too much consideration, to draw a direct link between a racist National Rifle Association lobbying for a particular law, and that law leading to the horrendous deaths of young, innocent African Americans.

    Section 1 of the ALEC version of Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law states:

    “The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful act was occurring or had occurred, they are immune from prosecution or civil action from acting in defense of the themselves and others.”

    – In Trayvon Martin’s case, simply being black, was enough for George Zimmerman to have ‘reason to believe’ the teenager was going to commit a crime. However, this apparently doesn’t apply to Trayvon himself, who surely acted in self defence when noting that he was being stalked, by a racist with a loaded gun. Surely he had the right to act in self defence too? Surely the aggressor, is the person who initiates the stalk, with a gun, of an unarmed, innocent kid? The law, in Florida favoured the murderer. And this seems to be a trend.

    A study, by John Roman, at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, found that in States without ‘Stand your Ground’, a white person is likely to be found more justified in killing an African American 250% more, than a white person killing another white person (this is horrendous enough). But even worse, in ‘Stand your Ground’ States that number shoots up to 354%.

    A further study at Texas A&M University found that States with ‘Stand your Ground’ laws have on average an 8% increase in homicides, after passing the laws. Around 600 extra homicides than before the laws were passed. The Study concluded:

    “the results indicate that a primary consequence of strengthening self-defense law is increased homicide.”

    – As well as being racist, ‘Stand your Ground’ laws encourage violence and murder.

    Florida, Georgia and States with ‘Stand your Ground’ laws have got to a stage in their history, where the colour of someone’s skin, the music they listen to, or the clothes they choose to wear, is processed as reasonable justification to murder someone, completely irrespective of the persons behaviour.

    And yet:
    Richard Nixon: Disgraced, shamed, had to quit, only pardoned because of his friends in high places. White. Republican.
    George W Bush: Disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, alleged to have done cocaine. White. Republican.
    California State Republican Rita Lavelle: Convicted of perjury. paid a $10,000 fine, and was place on probation for five years. White. Republican.
    Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane was imprisoned in 1990 and fined $20,000 for his part in the Iran-Contra affair in ’86. White. Republican.
    President Reagan’s Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, Michael Deaver was convicted in 1987 of committing perjury in statements submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and then grand jury. White. Republican.
    Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Deborah Gore Dean was convicted by jury of accepting an illegal gratuity, on three counts of trying to defraud the Federal Government. White. Republican.
    Paul McKinley, recently won the Republican primary to represent 2nd Congressional District. Served almost 20 years behind bars for armed robberies, aggravated battery, and burglaries. White. Republican.
    John Poindexter, another National Security Advisor, was convicted in 1990 on five charges of lying to Congress by obstructing Congressional investigations into Iran-Contra. White. Republican.
    Darrell Isa. U.S. Representative for California’s 49th congressional district. Twice arrested on weapons charges, pleading guilty to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm. Arrested on suspicion of car theft.

    Maybe we should all start profiling anyone who looks like they might have ever voted Republican? Perhaps we should start following every white Republican, recording every last word they say, in case we catch them lying, or about to commit a felony? Perhaps we should all assume, until they prove otherwise, that Republicans are guilty of lying to Congess, driving under the influence, selling arms to bad guys, and committing armed robberies? Stalk a white Republican today.

    In a wholly white privileged, patriarchal system; the black kid being stalked is to blame. The woman who was raped is to blame. The person in poverty is to blame.

    ‘Stand your Ground’ simply means ‘Fear of black men’.

    Trayvon Martin and racism in 21st Century America.

    July 15, 2013

    The Trayvon Martin murder case has opened up wounds in American social life, that have been poorly bandaged for decades. A young boy, unarmed, confronted by a racist ‘neighbourhood watch’ patrolman with a gun, is confronted simply for ‘looking suspicious’, and is shot to death. The defendant is subsequently acquitted. The defendant, who, apparently cannot understand the difference between someone who is black and committing a crime, and someone who is black and not committing a crime, shoots the man who isn’t, and wasn’t going to commit a crime (I’m almost certain George Zimmerman would not have racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night, had Martin been white), and is acquitted. You would have to suspend all reasonable faculties, and wish away reality, to believe this has no racist connotations. But if you are in doubt here is Zimmerman’s 9/11 call in which he refers to Trayvon Martin as a “fucking coon“.

    The privilege afforded to white Americans in everyday social situations, may be less noticeable on the surface, than it perhaps was fifty years ago, but it is still there.

    A study by the American economic review between July 2001 and May 2002 entitled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researchers sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and African American sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas African American applicants with stronger resumes than other African American applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, African American applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant.

    Another study conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 46% of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal. Interestingly, Sarah Palin is the favoured candidate among Mississippi Republicans who think interracial marriage should be illegal, by 17 points more than second place. It is of course no surprise that a Tea Party-styled candidate may be favoured among racist voters, given Tea Party rallies tend to include racist overtones.

    Several times over the past few years, Palin has been on stage with Ted Nugent. The same Nugent invited to the State of the Union. Rep. Steve Stockman (R) said of Nugent’s invitation to the State of The Union:

    “I Am Excited To Have A Patriot Like Ted Nugent Joining Me In The House Chamber To Hear From President Obama.”

    – Both Palin’s appearance with Nugent, and Stockman’s insistence that Nugent is a “Patriot”, or a real American that Stockman can respect is rather telling given that Nugent once said that real Americans are:

    “Working Hard, Playing Hard, White Motherfucking Shit Kickers Who Are Independent.”

    – The seemingly racist Ted Nugent, loved by the Republican Party as a “Patriot” once said of the United States of America:

    “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

    – This is the man the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party embraces as a Patriot. A Confederate racist. So it is no surprise that Sarah Palin supporters in Mississippi would like to see interracial marriage banned.

    On a side note, Ted Nugent is an NRA board member. The NRA lobby for ‘Stand your Ground’ laws, the very law that failed Trayvon Martin, and is already appearing to be a law of white privilege. A Federal lawsuit in Georgia in 2012 required Georgia strike down its ‘Stand your Ground’ law, because it didn’t specify what circumstances justified “standing your ground”. According to the lawsuit, courts in Georgia had:

    “…accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.”

    – What this essentially means is, “I shot him, because I was scared, because he was black“. It is a white privilege defence. Ted Nugent, Confederate, racist, advocate of laws that threaten the lives of innocent African Americans, and according to Republicans; a ‘Patriot’.

    Institutional racism – an economic, social, or political structure designed to advance one race to the disadvantage of another – is particularly subtle, and so less noticeable in 21st Century America, than it was 40 years ago, though it still exists. If you are African American, you are three times more likely to be pulled over in your car and searched for drugs than if you’re white, despite the fact that if you’re white, on the few occasions when you are pulled over you are four times more likely to have drugs on you. If you are white and you drive past the police without them pulling you over, you are experiencing the privilege of being white. The war on drugs then, is not a war on drugs, if it were, those statistics would be a hell of a lot different. The war on drugs would go where the drugs actually are, not where the people with dark skin are.

    Fox News’s Geraldo blamed Trayvon Martin for his own death, rather creatively:
    – Geraldo went on to clarify that:

    “What I was trying to do was caution parents that allowing kids to wear hoodies or similar clothing in certain circumstances, particularly if they were minority young men, could be dangerous,”

    – I’d say allowing your children to watch a ‘News’ network that pushes the seemingly racist agenda of a particular party, is far more dangerous, and perpetuates the problem in the first place. The danger of wearing a hoody, is the product of Fox News, Republican style politics of fear and division. Fox News: Throwing fuel onto the fire, and then blaming those burning for being too flammable.

    Thirteen US States currently completely disenfranchise ex-felons. It is predictable, that this form of voter disenfranchisement disproportionately affects minorities; usually people from poorer minority backgrounds, who have already felt the effects of institutional racism within the school system, health system (The infant mortality rate for African American women was 2.4 times the rate of white women), housing system and justice system. Due to previous convictions, 5.3 million Americans were not allowed to vote in 2004.

    In June this year, the conservative lead Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, allowing States to change their own voting laws. The Voting Rights Act was of utmost importance in the fight against institutional racism, covering those States most affected by institutional racism through voting restrictions: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia & South Carolina.
    The Act prohibited States from imposing:

    “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”

    – The Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) which creates a formula which determines what a State must do to be subject to Section 5, which forces a State to seek approval from the Department of Justice before changing voting rules. Without Section 4(b), there is no Section 5.
    Predictably, like a dog pulling on its leash, desperate to break away; within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision, Texas announced it would rush ahead with changing Voting rules. As if Republican Texans had waited decades for this moment. The Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott announced he would be immediately reinstating the Voter ID rule:

    “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

    – Voter ID costs fall heavily on African American, and Hispanic communities. A hugely disproportionate number of those without photo ID, registered to vote, are Latin American.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found that in the last decade alone, Section 4(b) and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, protected minority voters, by striking down 43 attempts to change election rules in the noted States. Between 1982, and 2006, the Justice Department struck down 2,400 state and local voting rule changes. Thanks to voter protection for minorities, the proportion of African Americans registered to vote in Alabama increased from 19% in 1965 to 73% in 2004. The provisions struck down by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, were working.

    Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was left in place by the Supreme Court. Southern Republicans believe this to be enough to prevent racist policies creeping into the States. Section 2 allows the Federal Government to prosecute any local official introducing racist electoral policies. However, this relies on the victims of the racist electoral policies, pursuing legal action, finding a lawyer, knowing who to contact, where to go. Suddenly, the victims are the ones who must shoulder the burden.

    Suppression of minority voters, and playing on race issues, is a key factor in Republican election strategies, and has been for a very long time. Nixon’s Southern Strategy was a way to realign racist voters in the South away from the Democrats, over to the Republicans. Nixon’s strategist Kevin Phillips told the New York Times:

    “From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

    – Well, in 2013 Republicans have the racist vote, and so the Voting Rights Act is no longer required to “prod” them over to the GOP, and so the Voting Rights Act is no longer beneficial to Republicans. In 2013 this means, voter ID, trimming down early voting, enforcing long waiting times at voting booths, banning ex-felons from voting, and as was happening in Michigan in 2008; attempting to block people from voting if they turned up to vote still registered to their foreclosed home. These measures are all designed to suppress minority votes. The Republican Party is institutionally racist.

    But it isn’t just conservatives that show horrendous racial prejudice. After the Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, Minnesota State Rep. Ryan Winkler, a Democrat tweeted this:

    – An incredibly ironic statement, in that he is referring to Justice Clarence Thomas, an African American, as “uncle Thomas”, a phrase used to describe an African American who betrays his race to win favour from a structure of white privilege. The implication being that Justice Thomas couldn’t possibly have any other reason for opposing Section 4(b), than to suck up to those he must consider to be his white superiors. A second implication being, that African Americans must place their skin tone at the front of all policy considerations, whilst white people can have a multitude of reasons for opposing or supporting particular policy.

    Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel told the court that Trayvon had called her moments before the confrontation with Zimmermand, and had said he was being followed by “some creepy ass cracker“. In an article for The Slate, Craig Pittman says:

    “So when Trayvon Martin, who was black, referred to George Zimmerman, a light-skinned Hispanic, as a “cracker,” did he mean it in the “hey, look, it’s a son of the pioneers!” way? Given that the term was modified by the adjective “creepy-ass,” I would have to say no. ”

    – The implication being that Martin was the one that introduced racism to the confrontation. It is of course, intensely unimportant given that Zimmerman himself didn’t think to mention this, and so it didn’t actually figure in his decision to confront Trayvon. If Martin did use ‘cracker’, of course it was meant in a racial sense. The fact remains that had Zimmerman not racially profiled, and followed Martin in the first place (the introduction of confrontational racism into the situation), then the term ‘cracker’ (used by Martin in this context, whilst trying to walk away from Zimmerman) would not have been used. Zimmerman introduced racism, and very confrontational racism, into the equation. Any ensuing racism on the part of Trayvon Martin, can only be considered secondary, and completely unimportant to the case, after the fact that Zimmerman had already racially profiled him. The racism that lead to the death of unarmed, innocent Trayvon Martin was on the part of armed, racist George Zimmerman, and no one else.

    Trayvon Martin was followed and stopped, because he was black. George Zimmerman – despite his previous appearances in court for domestic violence, battery, speeding and alcohol abuse – will never have to experience that level of profiling. At night, in the street, he is presumed innocent. Trayvon Martin, on account of his skin colour, was presumed guilty. Racism is a social structure, not simply an individual revealing private prejudices.

    Those who insist that white privilege is no more, that racism is dead, that a framework built on race-based power is a relic of the past, are the very conservatives on the Supreme Court, and the ruling Republicans in Southern States who stand to gain the most from perpetuating racism and white privilege. America has an institutional racism problem, whose weakly applied bandage is slowly peeling away.

    Republican Round-up: Communist, terrorist plots, danger-tampons, and pro-life hypocrisy.

    July 13, 2013

    Soviet sex-ed, forced transvaginal probes, the ‘rabid radical homosexual agenda‘ and a smear campaign aimed at your opponent because she didn’t have an air conditioning system in her candidacy announcement video; all came together beautifully to form last week’s Republican Round-up. One may wonder if it is possible to get any more crazy Republican news this week. Perhaps last week was a fluke. A one off. As it goes, The Republican Party and its associates cannot go seven days without providing such priceless blogging material. Here are a few reasons from this past week, that the Republicans should never be allowed near a political office:

    The Communist, Terrorist-aiding plot to reform immigration:
    Ex-Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, Frank Gaffney is a veteran of extreme, nonsensical, almost child-like Republican rhetoric. In 2003, he famously called on the military to destroy Al-Jazeera. Further, in 2009, he wrote in the Washington Times:

    “President Obama on Friday reiterated for the umpteenth time his determination to develop a “new relationship” with the Muslim world. On this occasion, the audience were the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
    Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that, in so doing, he will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood – an organization dedicated to promoting the theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah and that has the self-described mission of “destroying Western civilization from within.”

    – Essentially telling America that their President, was sympathetic to Islamic extremism, and Shariah. In fact, not just sympathetic, but giving his Presidential blessing for a Islamic Theocratic coup. Gaffney was displaying his penchant for anti-Obama conspiracy, prevalent on the extreme end of the Republican scale. By 2010, he was convinced that an Islamic Theocratic coup inside the Obama administration had finally taken place, right down to the President’s creative design team:

    “…the newly-disclosed redesign of the Missile Defense Agency logo…. As Logan helpfully shows, the new MDA shield appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.”

    – Gaffney wasn’t the only far-right loon to suggest a secretive Islamist takeover of the US government, by that well known Islamist underhanded tactic of designing logos. No. Our friends over at fair and balanced Fox also jumped on the bandwagon, helpfully misrepresenting the “symbol of Islam” by giving the Turkish flag a 180 degree turn, in order to make it fit with the suggested conspiracy:

    – It’s funny that Frank Gaffney would even suggest a Presidential Administration appeasing Islamists. It’s not like he was ever part of an Administration that, according to the New York Times, provided:

    “…critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war”.

    Or that the President that Gaffney worked for at the time worked with a CIA who helped fund and arm the Mujahadin fighters that eventually became the Taliban; the most ruthless Islamist regime in decades, whom the President sat down with for a cosy chat in the Oval Office. It’s not like that ever happened. From this, we can deduce that assisting violent Islamists is fine, but designing a logo that has a star on it; Islamist takeover of US government.

    Onto this week. This week Gaffney went one further. Gaffney claimed that immigration reform was:

    “…a product of decades of work by communists determined to consign the GOP to permanent minority status incapable of halting the further radical transformation of America.”

    – Decades of work by shadowy communists will consign the GOP to history, rather than the GOPs anti-women, anti-gay rights, anti-immigrant, anti-anything that isn’t old, white, heterosexual, fundamentalist Christian rhetoric and policies. The Right tend to look outwardly to find reasons why they might be failing miserably, rather than inwardly, refusing to ever accept that they may be somewhat responsible for their own woes.
    Gaffney goes on to say that immigration reform will:

    “…permit terrorists now here to put on the so-called path to citizenship.”

    – The Obama Administration, according to Frank Gaffney, is a communist, terrorist, Shariah embracing administration taken over by Islamists.

    Tampons; more dangerous than guns.
    At committee meetings, when voting, at constituency meetings, Texas legislators have been carrying concealed guns at the Capitol for years. But it isn’t guns Republican Texans are worried about. Whilst the GOP in Texas has spent the past few weeks fighting incessantly to control women, they have also ramped up security in to Senate public gallery in a rather ludicrous/typically Republican fashion. they are told to throw away their tampons, for security purposes, but they’re allowed to keep their guns. Texas Republicans believed women might throw tampons at them, after the vote to restrict women’s rights. But apparently, Texas Republicans don’t believe guns are a threat. To be fair to manic Christian Republicans, female hygiene products are a direct result of Eve disobeying the good Lord, and it’s only right that His representatives on Earth punish women at every possible opportunity; which they’re working tremendously well to achieve.

    People in poverty need to have more poverty:
    As noted in my article: Stand For Life…. as long as it hasn’t left the womb yet, Republican controlled States appear to be the worst for poverty. In it, I point out:

    In Mississippi, child poverty rates are at a shocking 32%, one child or teenager is shot and killed every single week, and infant mortality is higher than anywhere in the country. This, as well as around 60,000 uninsured people living in Mississippi, and yet, Republicans in the State have decided to tackle all of these problems…….. by harshly regulating abortion inducing pills, whilst attempting to make it easier to carry a gun in public. Let’s also not forget that Mississippians still pay their tax dollars toward State murder, through the death penalty.
    According to Gallup, in 2009, Mississippi was the most Christian State in America (Vermont is the least religious State, and also, has one of the lowest poverty rates. It is a Democrat State), whilst also being the worst State to raise a child for 24 years.

    – So, in an effort to, well, push the most vulnerable into deeper poverty, the Republicans in the House separated food stamp program SNAP from the Farm Bill, in order for the Bill to pass. Traditionally the two are passed together, but with the split, the Republicans pathe the way for deep cuts to Food Stamps, prompting obert Greenstein of the Center For Budget and Policy Priorities to say:

    “…would take the SNAP bill farther to the right and make bigger cuts. I worry that it sets the program up for a ceaseless attack over time because it is unauthorized.”

    – Ceaseless attacks, because the Farm Bill is locked until 2018, and so funding cannot be altered. SNAP though, is open to be constant cut proposals, like the budget plan proposed by Paul Ryan in which SNAP was subject to an eye watering $135 billion cut, meaning the end of much needed assistance for millions of the most vulnerable. The projected number of SNAP participants in 2019, and so hugely at risk from Paul Ryan’s proposal, in Mississippi (the worst state to raise a child, with child poverty already at 32%), totals around 559,000. This, despite CBPP analysis of the March 2012 reporting that SNAP kept 1.5 million from falling below half of the poverty line in 2011 than any other program.

    When the Farm Bill was due to be voted on, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) shouted objection, to silence anyone accusing the GOP of hurting the most vulnerable people. Among them, Gohmert shouted down Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-IL) and Gohmert shouted down Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) as she said:

    “Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in strong opposition to the farm bill rule and the underlying bill because it will increase hunger in America,”

    Apparently a 32% child poverty rate isn’t high enough for Republicans.

    When babies aren’t babies; when they’re actually babies.
    Texas State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) of…

    “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

    … fame, and author of the anti-women bill in Texas, it turns out has a rather hypocritical record with being ‘pro-life’. In 2007, when asked why she tabled an amendment to an appropriations bill, requiring pregnant women to wait three months before receiving pre, and perinatal care from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Laubenberg replied:

    “But they’re not born yet.”

    – According to Rep. Rafael Anchia (D), Laubenberg’s amendment would have kicked 95,000 children out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similarly, in 2009, Laubenberg went on to vote against a bill – bipartisan – to increase the number of children covered by CHIP, after it was found that around 1,000,000 children in Texas are uninsured. Laubenberg apparently wishes to make sure a child is born, but has absolutely no quarrel with an impoverished, uninsured child. So, restricting access to healthcare for the mother and fetus before birth, and then restricting access to, well, everything after the baby is born. The Republicans.

    That is the state of the Republicans from July 6th, to July 13th 2013.
    Another Republican round-up will be available next week, here on Futile Democracy.

    The Party of Poverty.

    July 12, 2013

    Back in 2008, before the rise of food banks, before homeless rates sky rocketed, before the most vulnerable were forced out of their homes for having been deemed to have one bedroom too many by Conservatives with twelve bedroom country estates; the Tories attempted to reposition themselves as “the party of the poor“. Oliver Letwin told the New Statesman that year:

    “It is one of the ironies of the political scene that the leading advocates of radical change to achieve progressive goals are now to be found in the Conservative Party.”

    Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so in 2009 the Conservative Party again attempted to position itself as the “party of the poor“. In a speech that year, David Cameron told us that the Conservatives were now:

    “best-placed to fight poverty in our country”

    Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so in 2011 the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:

    “We are the party focused on the poor, so it follows that you might legitimately say that we are the party of the poor.”

    Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so next week, according to The I, the Tories will launch a campaign designed to try to shake off the ‘rich, posh‘ image (reality) and replace it with yet another attempt at a “We’re the party of the poor” narrative (fiction). It is therefore wise for us to note exactly how the most vulnerable have fared so far under a Tory government:

    Chris Mould, the executive chairman of Trussell Trust; a charity that runs over 300 food banks across the country noted the sharp rise in the use of foodbanks by the most vulnerable, hurt by round after round of deep, sharp Welfare cuts by a Party funded by millionaires. It is estimated that around 500,000 people in the UK currently feel they have to resort to using food banks. Mould said:

    “The only people who seem unable to accept there is a social crisis driven by the cost of living is the Government.”

    – This was in response to the truly reprehensible Lord Freud, who, on questioned in the Lords about the rise of food banks to support the least vulnerable, essentially told those using foodbanks, that they don’t need to, and are just greedy for free food:

    “If you put more food banks in, that is the supply. Clearly food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost infinite demand.”

    – This, despite reports by Church Action, Oxfam, among many charities, that note that welfare cuts, insecure work, job-seekers allowance sanctions, and rising costs of living impact the most vulnerable to the point where a foodbank is a measure of last resort. Oxfam said:

    “Cuts to social safety-nets have gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger.”

    – In response, the Department of Work and Pensions, incredibly let those 500,000 people in desperate need of food know that:

    “Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities.”

    – As with education, as with the NHS, as with the ramifications of deep austerity, the Conservative Party (and I include Liberal Democrats in the category of ‘The Conservative Party’) are in such vast denial when presented with the evidence for the failure of their policies, and the impact it has on the most vulnerable, that we should really be questioning just how such an extremist government is able to find itself electable at all. There is absolutely no way dismantling a safety net, and plunging the UKs welfare system back into the Victorian era, can be spun to appear beneficial to the poorest.
    – Party of the Poor.

    The Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Project, in March, published its report into poverty in the UK. The report – ‘The Impoverishment of the UK‘ – found that one in three people couldn’t afford to heat their homes throughout the winter in 2012. It found that 9% of people cannot afford to heat the living areas of their homes, up from 3% in the 90s. It found that 9% of households cannot afford to offer each opposite-sex child in the house of 10 years or over, their own bedroom, up from 3% in 1999. It found that one in three, cannot afford to save. It found that half a million children live in families in which the parents often go without food themselves to ensure their children eat. It found that 13,000,000 do not have adequate housing facilities. It found that 8% of children cannot afford to go on school trips, up from 2% in 1999.
    Professor David Gordon, head of the project, said:

    “About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living. Moreover, this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.”

    – Party of the Poor.

    The Guardian reported the desperation of disabled people whose needs are considered “moderate“, given that their social centres face closure up and down the country as local councils battle to save money. Amanda Preston, of Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services said:

    “I am really worried that by trying to make savings now we are pushing vulnerable people towards a crisis point, when any savings made now will be eaten up by the care and support they will need then.”

    – This, after Peterborough Council decided to end services for those considered to have “moderate” needs. Campaigners estimate that around 105,000 disabled people in the UK will go without much needed care, due to cuts made to local services.
    – Party of the Poor.

    Perhaps the most putrid Tory policy – defended by Liberal Democrats – is its most infamous in decades.
    ITV broadcast the story of Tony, Diann, their three year old daughter Shanice, and their 15 year old daughter Stephanie. Stephanie has 1p36 deletion syndrome, and a mental age of four. She struggles with words, and mobility. All three bedrooms in their house are currently occupied. Stephanie requires her own room, because she wakes up around 5am and can become loud and violent due to her illness. But under the rules of the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the two daughters will be required to share a bedroom, because they’re both under 16. That, or face a huge cut to their Housing benefit payment. They will be deemed to have a spare room. Tony and Diann say the cut would mean cutting down on meals.

    Maria Brabiner has lived in her home since 1978. It is indescribably cruel of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to wish to see her kicked out of the security of the house she has made a home, all because of a spare room. Do you know why she now has a spare room? It is because her mother, whom lived in the room, died recently. Miss Brabiner said:

    “I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me, I’m worried about whether my electric will be cut off, whether my gas will be cut off.

    – This is economic violence, by perhaps the two nastiest Parties we have seen in the UK, being forced upon a woman whose mother has recently died, and whose house is more than just a house; it is a home. Worse still, it is being forced on her, by a Cabinet of multi-millionaires, backbenches pushing for a massive pay rise for themselves, with multiple houses that remain unoccupied and included acres of land that could be used to build new houses on.

    Upon hearing that local authorities might re-designate houses to help the most vulnerable avoid the crippling Bedroom tax, Lord Freud sent them this memo:

    I would like to stress that if it is shown properties are being re-designated inappropriately this will be viewed very seriously. If the Department has cause to believe this is the case we will commission an independent audit to ascertain whether correct and appropriate procedures have been followed. I wish to state clearly that these audits would be separate from the subsidy audits already undertaken, which carry out sample checks on the assessment of Housing Benefit.

    Where it is found that a local authority has re-designated properties without reasonable grounds and without reducing rents, my Department would consider either restricting or not paying their Housing Benefit subsidy.

    – Party of the Poor.

    The number of children living in absolute poverty between 2011 and 2012, rose 300,000 on the previous year, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.
    – Party of the Poor.

    In March 2012, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities registered 48,510 households as homeless, representing a 14% leap. The largest in nine years. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
    Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

    “Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

    Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

    “These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

    Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

    “This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

    – Predictably, as with every overwhelming indication that Conservative policy is failing the most vulnerable, the Party refused to accept that the situation could ever be blamed on them. Grant Shapps said:

    “the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

    – The refusal to reverse course, or to even acknowledge the damage austerity poverty-driven policies have on the most vulnerable, and his indifference toward the problem, choosing instead to try to score, weak and cheap political points, should be enough to disgust anyone with a sense of social justice.
    – Party of the Poor.

    Conservatives; where creating poverty, homelessness, rough sleeping, rising food banks, attacks on the disabled, forcing people out of their homes for having a tiny extra room, parents going hungry to feed their children, and pensioners not being able to heat their homes, whilst ensuring tax breaks for the wealthiest is synonymous with being the “party of the poor“.

    Austerity is poverty.

    Please use #PartyofPoverty hashtag on twitter, to engage in a rebranding of the Tory Party. Thanks.

    The curse of the Tory Donors

    July 10, 2013

    Labour Leader Ed Miliband took a gamble this week with plans to reform Labour’s historic ties to the unions. From constant attacks surrounding the unions’ influence over the Labour Party in recent years, the Conservative Party play a very risky game given their relationship to very wealthy donors. A main complaint we often hear from the Tories’, is just how undemocratic the election processes within unions are. And this may be true. But again, the Conservatives play a very risky game in highlighting the undemocratic nature of unions, given that 52% of the British public did not vote Tory at the 2010 election; only 36% of a turnout of 65% did vote Tory; they didn’t manage to command a majority; they didn’t put their new coalition agreement to a vote; they didn’t run on the basis of a complete restructure of the National Health Service; and they didn’t explain where cuts would fall prior to election. As undemocratic processes go, the Tories between 2010 and 2013 have led the way on that one.

    But the biggest risk the Conservative Party has taken recently, has been to highlight the links between the unions and the Labour Party. And here is why:

    The Solicitor General and MP for the constituency of Harborough, Edward Garnier opposes, and voted strongly against practically all smoking regulations, in Parliament. Edward Garnier was treated to a £1,132 invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show, by the World’s third largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco International (which owns Silk Cut, Mayfair, and B&H). Along with a couple other Tory MPs (also voters against smoking regulations), JTI spent around £14,000 wining and dining their new friends in government, in 2011. A month later, six of the MPs invited by big tobacco to the Chelsea Flower Show, tried to block a bill in Parliament banning smoking in private vehicles that had children present.

    In November 2009, six months before the general election, and Andrew Lansley’s promotion to Health Secretary, John Nash of private health care provider Care UK donated £21,000 to Lansley’s personal office. This was the same year that Care UK received a large number of complaints – from demoralised staff, as well as patients – due its lack of acceptable care, losing contracts along the way. As Cameron – opposition leader at the time – was out insisting that the NHS was safe in his hands, that the Tories were now the party of the NHS, his Shadow Health Secretary was being bankrolled by a private health provider that was involved in a string of controversy, including an incident in which two bodies were left unfound for two days at Lennox House in Finsbury Park. Care UK now has a lovely little tax arrangement with HMRC by which, it takes out loans via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, and so lowers its tax bill (presumably so it can use the saved money, to fund the Tory Party). For a few Care UK horror stories, see here, here and here.
    Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

    “They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.”

    Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.

    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted research that found the Conservative Party between 2005 – 2010, reliant on hedgefunds, bankers, and investment executives for Party funding with just 10 donors from the City donating around £13,000,000 to the Tory Party in just five years. The biggest individual banking donor, was Michael Farmer, founder of hedge fund RK Capital Management. Coincidentally, he is co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

    Coincidentally, Farmer funded his son’s membership to the elite, violent, Bullingdon Club. Peter Cruddas, founder of CMC Markets gave £215,243. Coincidentally, he is an ex-co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, who once boasted that a large donation to the Tory Party would secure access to the Prime Minister and gain influence at No 10’s Policy Committee. There appear to be a lot of unfortunate coincidences when it comes to Tory Party donors.

    Another ex-Tory Party Treasurer is Michael Spencer. Spencer and his business partner David Roland (David Roland is worthy of an article all by himself) donated more than £2m to the Tory Party in 2010. Spencer threatened to move his company’s operations out of London, if a financial transaction tax was introduced. Another wealthy Tory who doesn’t wish to be included in the “we’re all in this together” mantra, whilst threatening the jobs & the livelihoods of the staff he couldn’t care less about, in the process. The putrid Michael Spencer is the personification of Tory Party “values” in 2013.

    On to David Roland. Roland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010 before revelations about his dodgy business deals, forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before.
    Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Apparently the Right Wing are convinced a single mother claiming a little extra in benefits each month, is monstrous, whilst David Rowland, some sort of hero. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is Tory Donor – David Roland that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Len McCluskey not starting to look so bad afterall.

    Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

    Every employee in the country might not be too pleased to know that the man who wrote the government report on the need to strip workers of their rights when it comes to unfair dismissal, Adrian Beecroft, donated over £500,000 to the Tory Party, whilst personally investing in payday loan company Beecroft insisted in his report that the government should make it easier for companies to fire employees (thus, further helping companies like, claiming it would promote economic growth. He provided no evidence for that claim. I’m not sure it’s right that very wealthy Tory donors, with links to predatory companies that benefit hugely from austerity, like should be allowed to create government policy. As well as the Tories not having a mandate to do any of what they have so far done, the public certainly didn’t vote for an awful man like Beecroft to oversee certain policy making endeavours.

    Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

    “absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

    Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK.

    In 2012, found that the Conservative Party was using a loophole in the donor system, to channel millions of pounds of donations into its coffers, with donors able to remain annonymous if they donated through a private club. If a donor gives more than £1500, they cannot remain anonymous. If they funnel the funds through a club, they can give up to £7500 without being named. Through this, the Carlton Club has donated over £500,000 to the Tories, without having to name individual donors. The local Party of Education Secretary Michael Gove has received over £100,000 from clubs, that don’t have to name their donors.

    When Tory backbenchers wave their papers in Parliament in a show of euphoria at the Chancellor’s child impoverishing cuts, we know that they are cheering the further enriching and empowering of their very very wealthy, tax avoiding donors.

    I am positive that I would rather a Party represented by Unions, and its members; those who fought for better working conditions, better pay, equal rights in the workplace, the end of child labour, the working week, minimum wage; than hedgefund managers, extremely wealthy, shadowy figures, and dangerous private healthcare and tobacco companies who keep their funds offshore, threaten to leave the country if they have to endure any sort of austerity, and sell access to the Prime Minister for large donations. The hypocrisy of a Tory leadership waging a ‘moral’ campaign against union activity with the Labour Party, is astounding. These are people that should not be allowed anywhere near political power. The Party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

    Battle for Virginia: The Cuccinelli Plague.

    July 9, 2013

    Ken Cuccinelli. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Gage Skidmore.

    Ken Cuccinelli.
    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: Gage Skidmore.

    By 2014 the Republican Party will have had two years following the Presidential defeat, to reposition their party as more inclusive of the demographics that voted overwhelmingly against them in 2012. As of July 2013, the Republicans have simply continued their war on immigrants, the poor, gay rights, and most notably, on women. And so it is those groups that will provide the strength to knock the Republicans from key positions in late 2013, and 2014.

    My next few articles will focus on some key battlegrounds in the fight to turn America blue.

    Virginia is one such place.

    In November 2013, Virginia will head to the polls to elect a new Governor. Moderates have a choice, they can choose to vote for Democratic nominee, and ex DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe; a moderate himself. Or they can choose to elect the Republican nomination, current Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli.

    Ken Cuccinelli is your typical Tea Party style Republican, dedicated to nothing more than rolling back gay rights, rolling back employee rights, and attempting to ensure that safe access to abortion disappears from Virginia. He has fought on this basis for quite some time.
    Recently Cuccinelli worked to force abortion clinics to upgrade to hospital level, thereby threatening the existence of abortion clinics in Virginia. This is a common GOP tactic in restricting access to abortion. Cuccinelli provided support for his particular war on women, with a speech that completely rewrote history:

    “Start right at the beginning – slavery. Today, abortion. History has shown us what the right position was, and those were issues that were attacked by people of faith aggressively to change the course of this country.”

    – Yes. The Attorney General of Virginia compared abortion to slavery. The enslavement, vicious beatings, forced labour, abuse, rapes of a people based solely on the shade of their skin….. Cuccinelli compares to abortion. He also seems to be unaware of the split in Christendom in the US during the antebellum period on the issue of slavery. People of faith both supported, and opposed slavery. They certainly weren’t united. Maryland’s “Society of Jesus” owned slaves and heavy handedly put them to work. And despite the official anti-slavery position of the Methodist Church; Southern Methodist church’s continued to support slavery even after the civil war. Cuccinelli is entirely wrong to suggest Christianity was responsible for the end of slavery. Christian propaganda is a wonderful tool wielded by the Christian Right.

    On gay rights, Cuccinelli wishes to ensure that gay people have few protections and rights as possible, stating:

    “It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification, as a protected class within its nondiscrimination policy, absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.”

    Along with women, and gay people, Cuccinelli also isn’t too keen on reality. Ken Cuccinelli believes himself to be correct, and practically every reputable scientist on the planet to be incorrect, when it comes to climate change. So much so, that upon taking office in 2010, he filed a lawsuit requiring the Environmental Protection Agency overturn its ruling that greenhouse gases endanger public health. Of course, the case failed. He then …. and i’m not making this up…. mocked the EPA by suggesting everyone hold their breath for a minute to prevent release of carbon dioxide to please them. That is the extent of the potential Governor of Virginia’ understanding of rising Co2 levels.
    He then attempted to launch a fraud investigation against a scientist at the University of Virginia. The District Court, followed by the Supreme Court threw his case out.
    His one man political crusade against reality prompted the University of Virginia to state:

    “His action and the potential threat of legal prosecution of scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer-review standards send a chilling message to scientists engaged in basic research involving Earth’s climate and indeed to scholars in any discipline. Such actions directly threaten academic freedom and, thus, our ability to generate the knowledge upon which informed public policy relies.”

    The Washington Post stated that Cuccinelli had:

    “….declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry”

    – Though, Cuccinelli’s position on climate change hasn’t been completely negative for him. During the first four months of 2013, he managed to raise over $2,500,000 for his campaign, mainly from gas and oil interests. That should certainly strengthen his anti-climate change position.

    Cuccinelli’s current war, is on…… again, not making this up……. oral and anal sex.
    Perhaps he thinks it’ll speak to a Virginian sense of heritage given that in the founding years of the nation, the Virginia legislature decided death was the appropriate penalty for “sodomy”. (Though, Thomas Jefferson did try to commute this to the much more liberal-minded punishment of castration).
    All ‘Sodomy’ laws were scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2003. In Virginia, the law broadly criminalised oral as well as anal sex. Ten years later, the potential Governor of Virginia wants the law upheld. He insists that his new idea for Sodomy laws would only involve cases of rape and minors. And yet, in 2004 when a bipartisan group of State Senators proposed a similar law, Cuccinelli voted against it. Just how far Cuccinelli can be trusted in not prosecuting consenting adults, can possibly be deduced from a 2009 speech in which he states:

    “My view is that homosexual acts — not homosexuality, but homosexual acts — are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country, it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that … They don’t comport with natural law

    – Seems to me that Cuccinelli wishes to criminalise homosexuality. And this man is running for public office… not in 1950. But in 2013.

    Cuccinelli is also a ‘Right-To-Work’ supporter; despite a recent ‘National Education Association’ study finding that:

    “worker-friendly states are significantly healthier, are more productive, have less poverty, and with citizens who enjoy longer life spans. In four of the seven measures (GDP per capita, poverty, insurance and life expectancy rates) so-called “right-to-work” states come out significantly (and statistically) worse.

    These findings have broad policy implications in those states where lawmakers are wrongly considering RTW measures, and should inform the good efforts of union members and allies to quell those efforts. Instead of pursuing laws that actually lower the standard of living in their states, policy makers should look for ways to elevate everyone’s standard of living. Enacting RTW laws is not only misguided, but in fact counterproductive to achieving such ends. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as ‘right to work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works’.”

    – Like with climate change, Cuccinelli is ignoring the facts on what actually works to provide a better standard of living for Virginians. He ignores facts, in order to progress a far right, damaging agenda. He is not a rational man. He is an extreme ideologue.

    So you can see, a typical Tea Party-esque politician that cannot be trusted with an ounce of power. He cannot be trusted with women’s health and women’s freedom issues, he cannot be trusted with gay rights issues, he cannot be trusted to stay out of your sex life, and he cannot be trusted with free inquiry and scientific advancement. For McAuliffe to win (he currently trails in the polls), those inclined to vote Democrat, or those that consider themselves moderate, must come out in force on election day. It is the only way to defeat a very right winged, very anti-women, very anti-gay rights, very anti-science Tea Party extremist straight from the 1950s. His statements and lawsuits as Attorney General are bad enough. As Governor, Ken Cuccinelli would be a disaster for Virginia.

    I hope that in November 2013, Virginia turns blue.

    Tweeting Haraam.

    July 7, 2013

    In the dying days of a faith, it is often the case that the most intense believers become overly defensive, paranoid, demanding, irrational, and aggressive in an attempt to preserve or perpetuate the illegitimate power they once had over the lives of others. Christianity no longer has the political power it used to have, and in its fits of dying rage from those who still wish it did, we hear constant overly dramatic, irrational and patriarchal sentiments spewed at women’s rights, at homosexuality, at the progression of science, that an Earthquake is God’s angry judgement and so forth. Similarly, the extremities within Islam – as the will for democracy, feminism, and secularism spreads across the World, as moderate Muslims reject Islamism as a political system everywhere – tend to overreact with irrational, and laughable sentiments of their own. Recently, Islamists take to social media to voice their opposition to anything even slightly “Western“, and usually if it has the effect of making people happy. The disapproval of the religious far-right is commonly gifted to us in the form of condescension and a distinct religious superiority complex.

    And so, here is a selection of crazed Islamists – The Westboro Baptist Church of Islam – angrily letting us all know what Allah disapproves of these days:

    – Yes! Exactly! My sweet grandma is quite naturally going to burn in the PITS OF HELL because she brought a Valentines Day card for my granddad. Spread this message of love… against love. Because hating love, is the new loving love.

    Ever see a loved up couple out on a date? Ever think to yourself “they’re cute. Look at them, gazing lovingly at each other“? Ever smile as they walk out of the restaurant clutching hands, knowing that the butterflies are fluttering in each of their stomachs hoping the other wants a second date? Ever watched the sweetness of romance blossom between two friends? WELL DON’T! They are the product of Satan! They’re definitely evil. As this tweeter kindly points out:

    – Our old favourite of the religious right wing; the subjugation of women. On the subject of how to control women (a key ingredient of the Abrahamic traditions), this next guy gives us a key insight:

    – Yes. He just compared women, to a mobile phone. A possession. Something that, unless looked after, will falter. Essentially, what’s good for an object like a mobile phone, is good for an object like a woman. One wonders what it is he believes a woman needs protecting from? If, as seems to be the common argument, it is against predatory men….. then I’d have to question his own attitudes toward women; because if the only reason you do not attack a woman is due to what she’s wearing, then you really need to be locked away.

    And so the ridiculous bigoted misogyny continues:
    – Women, looking at mens knees. Whatever next. Wanting to vote?

    – The continued abusive dehumanisation of gay people, is inherent to the fundamentalists of the Abrahamic religions. In fact, it exists nowhere else, but for the realm of archaic cults. Here, she announces that she doesn’t understand how people who are so disgusting, and sinful, can also be quite likeable. What a contradiction! Could it be possible that actually, gay people are no different from the rest of us, and don’t deserve such vicious mistreatment by religious nuts?
    For some odd reason, homophobia (and in fact, misogyny) is not treated with the same scorn that racism is treated with, despite all being biological, natural traits. We should consider all homophobia to be despicable, antiquated, and completely unacceptable; even if it is shrouded in the pitiful excuse of “faith“.

    – I’m glad he said it. We were all thinking it. It is obvious to everyone that Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are cover operations for the real goal of taking over Islamic Nations via a new round of crusades. Nintendo do this, through the novel medium, of making you pretend to play tennis in your living room.

    – Lipstick. Because it makes you an Egyptian prostitute from ancient times, willing to do terrible Haraam things. Like looking at footballers knees.

    – Music. Ban it. Ban it now. Especially those flutes. All inspired by Satan. Obviously. I do feel that if music were the work of Satan, he’s really let his eye off the ball a little since around the early ’70s. I appreciated his work in the ’60s. But let’s have less Nicki Minaj from now on please, Satan. Thanks.

    – Independence Day.

    – Santa. Because it’s wrong to talk about fictional characters. This is too easy to respond to.

    – Equal social & political rights.

    – Seriously. Allah absolutely hates twitter flirts. It say so in the Qur’an. Just under the parts where it’s fine for the Prophet to marry slave girls. Right around there, Allah tells us just how much he dislikes people sending winky emoticons to the opposite sex, on social media.

    – Religions are obsessed with sex. Utterly obsessed. Islamists insist that porn is sinful, sex before marriage is sinful (which naturally leads to early marriage), that dating is sinful. Homosexuality is sinful. Bisexuality is sinful. Sexual repression is rife. And so it is unsurprising that by region, the term “sex” is searched for more in Islamic countries than anywhere else on the planet. Pakistan is top of the list, followed by Egypt and Iran. Indonesia and Turkey also make the top ten. Indonesia is top for the search term “homo sex“. Arabic is the second most common language used for the search term “gay sex“. Saudi Arabia is top for the search term “Ass Sex“. A state can try, but it cannot fully repress natural desires. By attempting to make natural desires taboo, it drives them underground, and leads to all sorts of monstrous outcomes.

    – Sometimes I wish capslock was haram.

    We are often told just how “modest” Islamists are. The very fact that we’re told constantly how modest a religious group are, is rather ironically the height of immodesty. It is also, again, indicative of a religious superiority complex, because declaring modesty is usually accompanied by an attack on anyone who isn’t exactly like them. Here:

    – Tattoos.

    – Yes! This isn’t over dramatic at all! Stay away from people having fun. Avert your eyes from such evils! Especially women…… there are knees everywhere. Some people even…… I’m struggling to say this…… some people even…… play music.
    Also, “literally” naked? Unless he’s talking specifically about nudist beaches, I’m almost certain his use of “literally” offends God more than a man in speedos on a beach.

    – Nandos. The Prophet specifically hates Nandos. He tells us, just after he sends Sa’d bin Zayd Al-Ansari with captive women of Bani Qurayza to Najd, to trade the women for horses.

    – This is going to make jokes far less funny. I envisage: “Hypothetically if a horse were to walk into a bar, the barman might ask ‘why the long face’? Though I should point out that this didn’t happen, and the first thing the barman should do in this situation is not to ask the horse a question, because the horse wont understand, let alone answer. The first thing the barman should do is notify the local animal shelter and inquire into any missing horse notifications“. This is the sort of joke that pleases God.

    So, from this we can conclude that God hates: Valentines day, women’s bodies, women who watch football, voting, dating because Satan invented dating, music because Satan invented music, twitter flirting, games consoles, people who go to the beach, porn, Santa, tattoos, Independence Day, Nandos, and jokes that don’t come with a ‘truth’ disclaimer. All of these, will land you a spot in the pits of hell …… and this is a religion the World actually takes seriously. A religion that has power.

    We appear to be under the rather curious impression that a faith is immune from ridicule, or that it deserves a special protective layer, simply because it is widely believed. It is this special protection from ridicule, or satire, or criticism, that gives the religion credence and power that it absolutely should not have, nor does it deserve. The constant declarations of what is “haraam” is not modest when it is not kept to oneself. When it is aired in public, it is simply an attempt to appear superior. It is a divisive mechanism, and a power mechanism. An Islamist superiority complex. It is all about controlling others. Nothing less. We must, of course, not take it seriously. We must ridicule and question it at every opportunity. This is how Theocracy and religious fascism will always die out. And so remember, if far-right Islamists declare something to be “haram” or “something the Kuffar do“, then it is probably extremely fun, and well worth doing, and doing as much as possible.