Milkshakes – Farage and the far-right

Tomorrow people will vote in European Elections something we shouldn’t have been a part of due to the UK supposedly leaving the European Union. 

In the previous few weeks of campaigning we have seen high profile incidents where MEP candidates have had milkshakes thrown at them. Some have seen as a childish pranks and others have classified it as ‘domestic terrorism’. What ever your views on this doesn’t take away the real issue people should be talking about. Why are they people being covered in fast food drinks?

Far-right commentators are quick to blame ‘militant far-left agitators’ and see it as a divisional argument where two sides of a political debate are waring for attention and support. This divisive tactic for me makes people believe that there are competing enemies ready to defend their beliefs and use varying methods of protest. I think there is a simpler point that’s being made.

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People are utterly fed up of hearing hatred and vilification of various communities and minorities. Conspiracy theories are now so engrained in some that they have become part and parcel of everyday life. In a blog post last year I wrote about how the conspiracy theory is the new religion. We have accepted revisionist history lessons as if they were fact. Happy to embrace far-right tropes such as ‘Islam isn’t a race therefore it’s not racist to criticise it’ (or demonise an entire religion).

As I explained about confirmation bias we look for possible information to back up our own beliefs without actually thinking rationally about a situation or event. We are constantly on the search for material that panders to our own fears and prejudices. For example, say I am afraid of spiders I see a story about a man who was hospitalised due to a bite from a spider on holiday and we confirm in our minds the reasons that we hate spiders, and don’t read the rest of the story that explains the man was hospitalised due to the wound being infected, rather than the actual spider bite. The danger doesn’t come from the spider but the infection that is caused and could have happened in any other way in which skin is broken and allowed germs breed and spread.

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I try to look at a situation rationally and objectively. See the reasons behind someone’s actions. I don’t follow any religions and dismiss conspiracies and theories not facts. The recent increase in measles is without a doubt down to parents listening to lies that vaccines cause autism. They don’t. There is no proof just one discredited medic with an opinion.

These theories that can spread quickly over social media and they become irrational when parents are willing to endanger their own children but not getting them vaccinated against deadly but treatable diseases. Rational thought is dismissed and science thrown away. If make this rational statement on social media I can guarantee within a few minutes I will have someone popping up on my timeline to argue the case that the ‘conspiracy’ is true and vaccines are bad for the world.

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For me Farage is the arse-end of politics. He has used the theory of leaving the EU as a basis of political debate and whether you agree with him or not, it is clear the far-right xenophobes have latched on to believing that if the UK does eventually leave then the freedom of people to come in to the country will some how be immediately stopped – it won’t.

I know all those who voted to leave the EU aren’t racist but all the racists voted to leave.

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Vigil for the victims of New Zealand attack

Sometimes you feel helpless when bad things happen thousands of miles away. I felt I needed to show solidarity with those who are suffering.

In the days after the Christchurch killings I felt utterly helpless. In the past when I have seen such suffering I have been able to help by sending to money to those who need it. This time is different as how can you let people know that these people are not alone and we won’t sit silently allowing such hate and evil go unnoticed.

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I follow a north east group which protests against racism and those who chose to stir up hatred within the entire country. They felt it was necessary to hold a vigil for the people who have survived the massacre in New Zealand.

It was amazing to see so many gather in St Nicolas’s Cathedral, Newcastle. It isn’t surprising but very sad at the same time that we have witnesses the rise of hate-related incidents in this country and it parts of the world. People’s inability to leave in a harmonious way has led us into some terrible times.

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The rise in social media and people sharing unsavoury views about certain groups has led some in our society to have views which I think are plainly warped. Their views about the Muslim community has been distorted by those who have played a dangerous divisive game for years. Spreading lies and mistruths for their own agenda.

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Thank goodness now the social media companies have started to crack down on those who spread hate. The main ones have put the brakes on those who spread hatred. They have decried their so-called action as attempt to ‘silence’ and ‘censor’ them. This only plays into the hands of the supporters as it gets them angry even though there are thousands of other ways in which hatred can be spread throughout the world.

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The evening was a peaceful reflection where there were members representing a number of faiths, including those from the Jewish and Roma communities, came together as one. As someone with no faith I still strongly believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with those in a minority who had suffered in such a way.

Dipu Ahad is a Labour councillor in Newcastle and was the person who introduced some people to speak about the attack in New Zealand. It was heart-warming to hear of the generosity of those who had reached out to the community on the other side of the world. As I said at the beginning of this post I certainly felt helpless at being unable to share my sympathies with those who were hurting but after this evenings vigil I felt I was able to give my support to the victims of hate and violence.

New Zealand Mosque Attack

My heartfelt sympathies go out to the friends and family of this despicable crime. New Zealand and other decent countries deserve better than this awful tragedy. 

I watched carefully the response of people from all side of the political spectrum. It was incredible to see the wonderful response of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden.

These sort of crimes could happen anywhere in the world. The fact that it happened in New Zealand was appalling as they had been immune to terrorism on the scale that has been seen other countries around the world.

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The different between other terrorist attacks was that it was carried out by a white supremacist someone who believed that his race is better than others and those people who were killed somehow deserved it.

Like others who have murdered in the name of an ideology the terrorist had to be radicalised a word that is often used to describe the process of someone turning from a normal human being into a cold mass murdering killer. I wrote a blog post in 2017 about how people become radicalised into becoming terrorists and it is often a long process that has taken place over time where people will look for answers to complex problems.

People will want to know the reason why the terrorist did what did and why he thought carrying out such an atrocity was the right thing to do. He will try to promote his cause in court and claim his a soldier in some sort of war. We often put ourselves in the position of the person carrying out the crime and wonder how and why they could carry out something so despicable.

These sort of actions don’t happen over night they aren drip-fed through media, television and news outlets that often portray immigrant communities in a negative light. We know there are bad people in all races not all are perfect we all have problems to contend with whether it is illegal drug trades, knife crime or domestic violence. Each community has its own share of problems.

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Just as the Islamic community now is being blamed for terrorist groups like Isis people believe in conspiracy theories repeating by far right agitators like Tommy Robinson. These sort of conspiracies are extremely dangerous. At the turn of the 20th century there was a publication printed called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it was the ideas that somehow the Jewish people should be regarded with suspicion as they were seen as some sort of threat to world order and that they were the ones who wanted to over all control and domination.

The same lies is being spread by those on the far-right and those who choose to demonise all immigrants as bad people. This is how people like the terrorist become radicalised in the first place.

I always like to think I am a free-thinker. I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god but I do believe religion and political ideologies can have a strong influence on someones beliefs, and actions. Sometimes those actions have catastrophic consequences.

I want a life with compassion, hope, love, justice and hopefully peace.

 

 

Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan sentenced to life

Teenager Ahmed Hassan is sentenced to life with a minimum term of 34 years after leaving a homemade bomb on a packed underground train.

He just looks like any other teenager. His hair is a little crazy and looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten a decent meal in weeks. But Ahmed Hassan is a convicted terrorist who brought shock and panic to the capital September last year.

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‘I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years. You will have plenty of time to read the Koran in prison. The Koran is a book of peace. Islam forbids breaking the law of the land. Islam forbids terrorism. You have violated Islam and the Koran by your actions.’

These are the words of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave the judge who sentenced Hassan. These aren’t taken lightly and not out of malice. They aren’t words that have been used in the heat of radicalisation or without knowledge and experience. Yet there are those people still in this country who have no idea how and what Muslims believe. They have taken it upon themselves to be educated by tabloid newspapers and right-wing commentators who claim to speak for the ordinary working man.

I have seen all sorts of ridiculous claims over the last few months about misconceptions and blatant fallacies when it comes to Islam. I challenged one person who said ‘They never arrest any Muslims and send them to prison like they do to Britain First leaders’. I gave them numerous examples of how this wasn’t the case; facts don’t matter to them.

Islam is a religion of peace. I will say that until my dying day. It is those who chose to distort, lie and make up their own rules to suit their interpretations of Qu’ran. You can take any holy teachings or writings and mangle them to your own way of thinking. You will see the world how terrorists and right-wing commentators want you to see it that process is called radicalisation. You are believing misconceptions, biased opinions, perverted and altered for their own ends.

I want peace, calm and tranquillity. I want unity among people of different faiths, religions and practices. I want to live in a world were people of different backgrounds and countries can learn from each other. I want to know how and why people think they way they do and educate myself. Make myself a better person and not shutting myself off from other human beings. This planet is an amazing place. It is full of decent, wonderful, hardworking people who make a great contribution to it. Closing your mind to the world is ignorance.

Parkland – Florida​

A town which remained unremarkable in history until this week. Things changed dramatically for it residents and it would never be the same again. 

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Sometimes you draw a breath and you are stunned about how much a country and its people can take without inaction. The fact that news agencies are arguing over what has been classed as a school shooting is a testament to the fact that these incidents are happening far too often.

Seventeen people are dead at the hands of a teenager with a gun. If you ever experience a fraction of the hurt that this causes someone surely a person with a rational mind says ‘enough is enough’ and this cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s no longer about rights to protect someone’s ownership of a gun but the lives of those who are innocent and slaughtered.

I said in my blog post from last year when the horrific shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.”

The USA has to realise it has a serious problem. The problem is gun control. This problem isn’t just of mental health, which isn’t unique to America, it is all over the world. It is how we respond to it out children and their children will judge us.

Gun Control – Las Vegas

I don’t think I have ever spoken about gun control on this blog. But the tragic news today has made me think. 

Firstly, my thoughts and condolences are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones in this horrendous tragedy. It’s appalling to think that so many people lost their lives in such a way that is easily preventable.

This wasn’t a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake. Something that couldn’t be avoided or stopped. This was a deranged terrorist (and rightly named) who brought carnage, death and suffering on an unimaginable scale.

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Yet I am still hearing that people in America will not move on the idea that there should be stricter gun laws in the country. I have heard commentators repeating their mantra that they should be allowed to access weapons as it’s this is their right.

All I can say is that thank goodness I live in the UK and not USA. It is almost laughable that a progressive country like the USA is allowing its citizens to carry out mass-murders without sensibly addressing the issue.

When the Dunblane massacre occurred in 1996 stricter laws in the UK were brought in and I believe made the country a safer place. I had to reassure my class at the time as they were frightened that a gunman could do the same in the school. They were genuinely worried.

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If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.

The USA has collective denial. Some of those people who were affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy have campaigned for tighter gun laws. This was reflected in Barack Obama’s attempt and failure to change the country’s law regarding guns.

Everyone can own and drive a car with a license that’s attained by certain standards. These standards are legally required drive on UK roads. There are yearly checks made on a vehicles roadworthiness. Billions of pounds is spent implementing safety measures in vehicles so people are less likely to be injured or killed as a result of an accident. Yet America is not prepared to do so on guns which are solely designed to insure or kill. If you don’t know that a definition of madness is, this is it.

 

Police

Watching news items today in the wake of terrorist attacks and the appalling Grenfell tower fire, it’s apparent that the police are under an enormous pressure to investigate horrendous crimes and multiple deaths.

It was commented, by some in the force, that the stress that the police are under has caused serious mental health problems and consequences of this can only be imagined. Some chap decided to go on a news channel and say, in a nutshell, that the ‘people should manage their time better’ and there is ‘room for improvement’. Personally, I feel like punching someone in the face, when they come out with crap like that.

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I know what it’s like to spend hours and hours working for little or no recognition, only to have managers criticise your every mistake or take you up on something you inadvertently forgot to do. People aren’t treated like human beings anymore, they are commodities that are easily replaced. This has to stop.

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The culture in work isn’t about team work; although companies will insist it is. It’s about ringing out as much as you can get from a person. I saw it in education numerous times, where people had breakdowns or strokes due to overwork and stress. No matter how long you have worked, or how much to have done to build a career, putting your health on the line isn’t worth it.

The Government has to act now to reverse the cuts to police forces. Stop putting out sound bites that say that ‘crime is falling’ and other faux-justifications for cuts. General crimes like robbery and burglary may have fallen, but other crimes have risen, such as knife and cyber crime.

The abuse that the police get is unjustifiable. Criticising the police with one hand and then the next week demanding they solve a crime that you might have been affected by is not acceptable. It’s hypocritical and childish.