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:

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– 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.

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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:

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

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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:

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ferge

BQWLs8BCIAECZBE

BQVVxMOCIAICRxo

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sketch

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BQLpCXrCEAATCb4

Racist van 8

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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.

hamas
– 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.

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– 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.

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– 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

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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:

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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:

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    – 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.