Archive for the ‘Persecution’ Category

The Experiences of Enslaved Africans in the Past and Today

January 24, 2022

One of the extremely positive features of Sean Stillwell’s Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014) is that includes short descriptions and quotations from slaves, slavers and slave masters in Africa describing their careers and situation. There was a striking variety of slave systems in Africa. In some societies, slaves were acquired for use and soldiers and could rise to high social rank through their connections to powerful chiefs., One of these was the Sokoto royal slave Dan Rimi Nuhu. The book states

‘At the end of the nineteenth century, during a civil was in Kano (located in what is now northern Nigeria) Emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate, Dan Rimi Nuhu, a powerful royal slave official, soldier, and titleholder, crowned the rebel pretender, Yusufu, as emir. Nuhu had long supported Yusufu’s cause and claim. Nuhu was a well-known and powerful slave i8n the palace, but he had joined the war camp of Yusufu early on in the struggle. When Nuhu arrived on horseback, Yusufu said, “Our trip is successful, our trip is successful since Nuhu has joined us, he has joined our camp!” Thereafter, Nuhu transformed Yusufu’s military camp into the proper seat of a rival emir. He gave Yusufu the royal regalia and insisted that he follow Kano court protocol. With Nuhu’s support the rebels later took the Kano throne. Afterward, the royal slaves and their families who supported the new emir gained a substantial amount of power.’ ( pp.89-90).

Others were not so well treated.

‘Msatulwa Mwachitete grew up in Chitete, located in central East Africa, to the west of Lake Malawai, in the house of his father, who had twelve wives. Their home was attacked numerous times by Mkomas of the Inamwanga, who regularly carried off women and children into slavery after setting fire to surrounding villages. During one such attack, Msatulwa was captured, along with his mother and brother. He was taken some distance from his home and given as a slave to Mitano. Msatulwa was forced to grind corn, cut firewood, cook, hoe fields, and fetch water, but was eventually given to another person, who treated him better. In the end Msatulwa found his way home after running away.’

Horrifically, slavery isn’t a thing of the past. The Islamists that have seized power in one part of Libya after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy have reopened the slave markets, selling the Black migrants who have travelled north in the hope of reaching Europe. Slave markets have also reopened in Uganda. The book also gives the testimony of Ahok Ahok, an enslaved Dinka woman, given to Anti-Slavery International. She was captured and forced into slavery during the Sudanese civil war in the ’90s.

‘Our family was captured about six years ago [i.e., about 1994] when we were already fleeing north and had crossed into the North into Kordofan. I was captured with my son, Akai, and my two daughters, this one called Abuk … who was about eight at the time, and a younger one, about two. We were taken by a tribe called Humr [i.e. Misseriya Humr], who split the three of us up. The man who took me subsequently sold me on to some other nomads to look after cattle, for about 130 Sudanese Pounds. I had to look after their cows and spent about six years with them before I managed to escape to Makaringa village…. Meanwhile my three children had been taken by others. For six years, until I reached Makaringa village, I had no news of them. When I reached the village, my son Akai heard where I was and joined me there. He is with us at this CEAWC centre. We then contacted the Dinka Committee and they were able to find my daughter Abuk, who had been renamed Khadija. She had initially been put to work looking after livestock, but had got into trouble when some animals had escaped – she was too little to look after them. After that she was employed as a domestic servant. She hardly speaks any Dinka language now, only Arabic… I still have no news of my youngest daughter and am still hoping to find her.’ (211-2).

The book also gives the names of some of the African organisations set up to help slaves. These include Timidria in Niger, the Dinka Committee in Sudan; El Hor (Free Man), set up in the 1970s by former slaves in Mauretania; and SOS-Esclaves, set up in 1995. These organisations face continuing difficulties to fight slavery and improve conditions for former slaves, as shown by an additional piece of testimony:

‘It is uphill work…. Some of their members have been imprisoned. Seeking help through the courts is usually useless. Sharia courts maintain that slavery is legal. Since no laws have been passed, laying down penalties for enslavement or detailing the rights of slaves, other courts and local officials maintain that they have jurisdiction if slaves bring cases for custody of their children or try to establish their right to remain on the land they farm. Former owners may claim the property even of freed slaves when they die.’ (213).

These slaves are not going to get any help from the western advocates of Postcolonial and Critical Race Theory, because these disciplines are exclusively focused on White racism and the horrors of White colonialism. I’ve mentioned that feminists in India and the Middle East have been bitterly critical about the refusal of the activists and scholars supporting these forms of Critical Theory to criticise the treatment of women and LGBTQ folk in these countries. Indeed, Indian progressives have attacked these postmodern ideologies for giving support to the most reactionary elements of these societies on the grounds that, as they are part of these societies’ traditional structures and not the product of western colonialism, they are exempt from criticism. And you could see the attitude in a speech given by Barbara Barnaby, the head of the British branch of Black Lives Matter to a fringe meeting of the Labour party last summer. She criticised the resurgence of slavery in Libya, because this was a product of Blair’s colonialism. But she didn’t condemn it elsewhere in Africa, where it is the product of indigenous forces. Her demand that Britain and the other European countries was based on the abuse of the peoples of the global south during colonialism, but made no mention or criticism of the tyranny, corruption and poverty of African rulers and regimes that is behind much of the migration to Europe.

This isn’t, as Kate Maltby tried to claim in the I a few years ago, an attempt to avoid being diverted from the campaign for equality and social justice in the west into criticism and activism against non-European slavery. It is the product of a profoundly racist ideology that sees slavery and other human rights abuses as only worth fighting if they are committed by Whites.

Barnaby, Black Lives Matter and similar organisations may have the best intentions, but their exclusive focus of White racism is actively hindering real anti-racism and campaigns to eradicate modern slavery.

Did Farrakhan Get His Ideas about White Origins from Fu Manchu Novels?

January 23, 2022

I’ve also been reading Stephen Howe’s history and critique of Afrocentrism, Afrocentrism – Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (London: Verso 1998). Afrocentrism is a pseudo-historical movement that claims that the ancient Egyptians were really Black, and that their ideas are really at the centre of European civilisation as they were passed on or appropriated by the Greeks and Romans. The book shows that it began in the early 19th century, and different Afro-centrists had different views of this glorious imagined past. Some believed that the real, great civilisation had been the ancient Ethiopians, who colonised ancient Egypt. Others claimed that the original ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the Carthaginians, had been Black, civilising the White European savages. And there was considerable difference of opinion about the ancient Egyptian’s Blackness. Some Afrocentrists considered that the Egyptians were a mixture of Black African, White and Semitic races, and so while not White, and would have suffered under the segregation legislation, weren’t exactly purely negro either. This seems about right to me. They clearly depicted themselves as darker than the Europeans they were in contact with. Ancient Egyptian art commonly portrays Egyptian men as having reddish-brown skin, and women as yellow. The Minoans, however, are painted pink, while the darker-skinned people further south are portrayed as Black. And the rock paintings of Tassili n-Ajjer in the Sahara show that, thousands of years ago when the desert was green, groups of Blacks and Whites crossed and lived in it. It would be perfectly natural for these groups to have mixed and intermarried.

But the most bizarre ideas about racial origins seem to come from Louis Farrakhan’s branch of the Nation Islam. This holds that Black people were the original human race, and came originally from the Moon via Mecca. They also believe that White people are the creation of an evil Meccan scientist, Shaitan, to destroy the purity of the White race. Howe, in one of his footnotes, states that this idea is remarkably similar to one of Saxe Romer’s infamous Fu Manchu novels, The Island of Fu Manchu. Which leaves you wondering about Farrakhan’s choice of reading matter.

Labour Party Asks Muslims for their Input

January 22, 2022

I don’t know why I got the email, as I’m not a Muslim. A few days ago the Labour party sent out a general email to its Muslim Labour members requesting them for their views and opinions on how the party could help them. This was on behalf of a Muslim Labour party organisation. My guess is that it was a general mail-out, because I have some views on institutional Islam in the UK which definitely do not fit with elements of current anti-racist orthodoxy.

My views on elements of Islam in the UK have been strongly influenced by the Satanic Verses affair and the Islamists goose-stepping around in the first decade of this century proclaiming that Islam would conquer the west and demanding death for blasphemers, including the previous pope. I also found a lot of anti-Christian, frankly racist Muslim polemic when I was studying Islam at college, and a number of texts from British Islamic presses openly demanded the creation of self-governing Muslim ghettoes ruled by shariah law.

There was international outrage in the Muslim community worldwide at the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. In fact the book isn’t blasphemous. It is, however, immensely tedious. It was labelled as such by the Ayatollah Khomeini as part of an attempt by his regime in Iran to gain the moral leadership of the international Islamic community. This is the real reason he seized on the book and placed a fatwa on Rushdie’s head. In Britain the protests were led by Mohammed Akhthar and Kalim Saddiqui, both of whom were hard-liners with bitterly intolerant views. Saddiqui appeared on a Beeb programme, The Trouble with Islam, telling the congregation of his mosque that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’. This is pure racism, and if it came from a White, non-Muslim preacher would result in immediate legal action. When asked about his comments by the interviewer, Saddiqui waffled about the Satanic Verses.

Way back in 2007 Channel 4 broadcast a highly controversial issues of Dispatches, entitled ‘Undercover Mosque’. They sent their reporters in disguise to a hundred mosques, and filmed the imams preaching violent hatred against Jews, Christians and homosexuals. This was immediately denounced as racist and islamophobic, but I got the distinct impression that it was a fair picture of much Islamic preaching in Britain today. Way back in the 19th century the British government protested against the demonisation of Christians by Muslim preachers in the Balkans. I think much of this hate comes from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. When I was studying Islam at College in the 1980s we were told that there were some terribly anti-Christian polemical literature published in Pakistan. We were told this not by Islamophobes but by people with a sincere appreciation of the religion. I even remember one of them saying that the Qur’an was his favourite religious text after the Gospel of Luke, and going over to a window to chant it while we were working on some task set for us.

As for the British Muslim establishment, Birmingham Central Mosque, the British Council of Mosques, British Islamic Council or whatever, I am deeply distrustful of them. A few years ago they were caught out giving platforms to the preachers of hate, and every time they excused themselves by saying something like it had been out of their hands and was the responsibility of another organisation to whom they had delegated the function of booking preachers. And there has similarly been considerable deceit by official Islam in the condemnation of Islamism, at least if Ed Hussein’s The Islamist can be believed. Hussein was a member of the militant Islamist organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which would like to set up a caliphate in Pakistan, before seeing reason and getting out. He’s associated with the Quilliam Foundation, I believe, which is another right-wing think tank. Hence to many people on the left, he’s poison. In The Islamist he describes the various leaders of the Muslim community traipsing into 10 Downing Street to reassure Tony Blair that they were solidly against Islamism and backed his campaign to stamp it out. And all of them were hypocrites as they all secretly supported it. I’ve heard from others that some of the Muslim groups they attempted to establish a Christian-Muslim dialogue with were also Islamists.

This is not the kind of thing the left in particular wants to hear, but it is part of the problem. As is the growing Islamophobia within the Labour party itself. Now I’m sure that the majority of Muslims in the UK don’t want to take over the place, and only five percent of them want sharia law despite all the alarmist fear-mongering by rags like the Heil. As for the preachers of hate, I honestly don’t know how seriously their congregations take them. I can see many of them simply getting bored, listening politely while wondering what their having for lunch and tea, or how the local football team is doing. They’ve also been condemned by liberal Muslims, who have organised marches against them. But these marches are rarely covered, and their organisers have said that they haven’t received the support they need from anti-racist organisations and the wider community. This is a pity, because I think it could change opinions of Islam radically. White allies supporting their Muslims friends marching against such hatred and intolerance under the banner of ‘Black and White, Unite and Fight’ would demonstrate graphically that by no means all Muslims are terrorists and jihadi wannabes, and that Muslims genuinely wanted pluralism and tolerance. This also means bringing up and supporting home-grown imams, imbued with proper British values. There have been complaints that the shortage of imams in this country has led to the importation of preachers from Pakistan, who are viciously intolerant and grossly unsuitable to lead a congregation in a genuinely democratic, tolerant society.

But apart from these issues in the wider British society, the Labour party can do much for its Muslim members by cleaning up the real Islamophobia and bullying in its ranks. One third of Muslim members have reported Islamophobic incidents, and there was the bullying of BAME activists and politicos last year by Labour apparatchiks. This went unpunished, undoubtedly because the same people were supporters of Keef Stalin. Now Stalin’s in the shtuck, he’s looking for their support. If he genuinely wishes, he can start by purging the genuine Islamophobes and punishing the apparatchiks responsible.

But I doubt that he will. Starmer’s an inveterate liar, and this looks like more window-dressing and sham.

Hope Not Hate Ask For Contributions in Legal Battle against Tommy Robinson – And Why I’m Not Contributing

January 22, 2022

I have had a couple of emails from the anti-racism/ anti-religious extremism organisation Hope Not Hate over the past few days asking if I would like to donate to their legal fund to fight Tommy Robinson, former head of the EDL, Pegida UK, jail bird, mortgage fraudster, and former member of the BNP. He’s a violent islamophobe with convictions for assault. His modus operandi in dealing with his online critics has been to dox them to his followers, leave the information up for a few hours, and then tell everyone he doesn’t want them touched or abused after this has no doubt happened. He also turns up to his critics’ homes, or those of their elderly parents in the middle night with a few of his thugs demanding to have a few words. One of his minions is the war criminal Avi Yemeni, an Australian-Israeli. Yemeni claims to have shot an unarmed Palestinian protester during his time in the IDF, and talks like he’s proud of it. Robinson also turned up at the home of Mike Stuchbery, a teacher, in the middle of the night, loudly insinuating that he was paedophile. This is pure invention, but nevertheless it led to Stuckbery leaving his job and moving to Germany.

A year or so ago Robinson was sued for libel for lawyers acting on a behalf of a Syrian refugee schoolboy, who had suffered a violent racial assault and bullying at school. Robinson, despite the evidence, immediately took the opposite view and decided that the lad’s White English assailant was really the victim. He interviewed him and put up the interview on YouTube. The Syrian lad and his lawyers won the case, and the beak ordered Robinson to pay £100,000 in costs and damages. Robinson has refused, pleading bankruptcy. Which is why Hope Not Hate are writing to me and others.

They’re not convinced Robinson is bankrupt, and are appealing to their supporters for funds so they can sue him and prove otherwise. Now as you might have gathered from the above description of Tommy Robinson’s sordid political career, I have no sympathy for him. In fact, I think he’s a counterproductive menace. He was jailed several times for contempt of court for his citizen coverage of the trials of Muslim grooming gangs. Except he broke all the rules real journalists have to follow to ensure that everyone gets a fair trial. He talked as if they were already proven guilty. This is dangerous, because if they were, but could claim that they didn’t get a fair trial thanks to Robinson’s reportage, they could get off.

But I have a problem with this, and with Hope Not Hate’s friends and allies. They’re connected to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Israel lobby organisation that was deeply involved in the witch hunt against supposed anti-Semites in the Labour party. Except those they accused of anti-Semitism were simply followers and supporters of Corbyn and campaigners and supporters of the Palestinians, who were overwhelmingly genuine, principled anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism. A very high proportion of the victims of this witch hunt are Jews. They are five times more likely to be accused of anti-Semitism as gentiles. As I keep banging on about again and again, many of them have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and violence, and have been threatened with further violence after these smears.

I am concerned about the safety of these victims of the smears, and especially Mike, from legal persecution. The Israel lobby uses lawfare – legal action – to shut down its critics. This was powerfully shown in the YouTube video Mike did with other victims of the witch-hunt to mark the release of a film refuting the Panorama claim that Labour was rife with anti-Semitism. I am also very concerned about how such legal actions, like the one Hope Not Hate wishes to bring against Tommy Robinson, will affect Mike.

As you know, Mike is currently in a legal battle with Rachel Riley, Countdown numbers person, who is suing him for libel. It’s a thoroughly unfair battle, as Riley is a rich woman – forget all that bilge from her oppo Tracey-Ann Oberman about jobbing actors. Mike, like the rest of us, is just an ordinary bloke with a limited income, and carer for missus Mike. He has been forced to rely on crowdfunding to help fund his battle. Riley and her expensive lawyers have attempted to stop this. They have also enquired how much money he has and whether this will make it worth their while to sue him. Her followers have also shown themselves to be deeply unpleasant, vicious people. They have gloated over the prospect of Mike being left bankrupt and homeless, looking forward to him losing the case and having to sell his house to pay her damages.

Riley and Oberman and their supporters have shown themselves in their conduct to be nothing but litigious thugs in my view. I am deeply concerned that if Hope Not Hate uses this tactic against Tommy Robinson, the same tactics will also be used against Mike, and every other genuine anti-racist Riley or someone like her chooses to sue.

In normal circumstances I would have no hesitation in helping Hope Not Hate sue Robinson. I have considerable respect for the work they have done exposing and fighting genuine Nazis, White supremacists and Islamists.

But because of their connections to the militant Zionist witch hunters and smear merchants I cannot do so because of the danger this poses to decent people, simply because they support Corbyn, the Palestinians or the people who have been falsely accused.

I must therefore decline and strongly encourage others to think twice before contributing to their legal campaign.

A Rock Legend Passes – Meat Loaf Dies Aged 74

January 21, 2022

One of the big stories today, which isn’t about the military build-up around Ukraine and Boris Johnson and his wretched parties, has been the death of Meat Loaf. One of the things that surprised me in the news items about him was that he was in 65 or so films. I was aware that he played Eddie, a zombie in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’d also seen him as a man suffering from testicular cancer who joins the underground boxers in the 1990s film Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk. But I wasn’t aware of any others, and certainly not that he’d been in so many.

He’s best known, however, for Bat Out Of Hell, which is now a Rock classic. I can remember the exciting amongst the rockers and metal freaks I was at school with when it came out. It even got played at a school assembly by one of the teachers. He wasn’t disapproving, just using it to illustrate some point about different moods in music. Bat Out Of Hell, in contrast to other, more soothing pieces, was pure, raw aggression. It was, but not violence. It was loud, fast, melodic rock. His co-writer, Jim Steinman, appeared on a Beeb rockumentary a few years ago. The interviewer commented on the operatic quality of the piece. Steinman agreed, and said that it was because he was listening to a lot of opera at the time.

Bat Out Of Hell came out just as the Satanism scare was beginning, and the real-life modern witch-hunters went to absurd lengths to claim that there was a terrible Satanic conspiracy to corrupt American youth. Dungeons and Dragons was supposed to include real spells and was turning young people to crime, sex, and suicide. I’ve friends who were into it, and that very definitely wasn’t the case. D&D was an imaginary Tolkienesque world of goblins, orcs, giants and wizards, but these were the staple characters of children’s fantasy. For the vast majority of youngsters, it was just a great way to spend a couple of evening with your friends. Rock music was particularly singled out for condemnation. Now there are metal bands, which I think genuinely are aggressively anti-Christian. But for many, it’s just theatre, as Satanic as a Hammer Horror flick. Bat Out Of Hell got some of this, because the album cover showed a motorcycle erupting out of a grave watched by a demon. This was occult imagery. It is, but again, it’s fantasy occult imagery. You could and can see pretty much the same kind of imagery on any genre horror, fantasy or sword and sorcery paperback. And there’s absolutely no mention of the occult or the Devil in the track itself. I bought the sheet music awhile ago and I’ve played it. What it tells me is that Meat Loaf liked the dark imagery of rock, and had a taste for awesome motorbikes. As for groups labelled Satanic, back in the ’90s the accusation was levelled at the American band Ossuary. Or it was until they issued a statement explaining that they were all good children of the Roman Catholic church, and their songs attacked the preachers who were bringing the church into disrepute. Then someone had the idea of checking with their parish priest, who confirmed what they said.

But to me, one of the most memorable of Meat Loaf’s appearances on British TV was when he outwitted Clive Anderson. Anderson had his own chat show, Clive Anderson Talks Back, in which he made light banter poking fun at his guests. Sometimes he went too far, and offended them. He did that to the Bee Gees. There’s a clip of them walking off, one by one, after he told them their music was rubbish. Anderson was left with his mouth hanging open, looking pleadingly at them. Finally only one was left, and as he turned to go, Anderson said to him, ‘You’re not going as well, are you?’ ‘Sorry,’ the pop musician replied, ‘but I don’t do lone interviews.’ That never happened to Meat Loaf, but he did think of a getting a few chuckles from his name. ‘What should I call you – Meat? Mr Loaf? What do your children call you?’ Meat Loaf had answer to that: ‘Mostly they call me ‘Dad’.’ as Jazz Club would say on the Fast Show ‘Grrreat.’

Farewell, Big Guy. You will be missed, and rock is poorer without you.

The sheet music for the album Bat Out Of Hell, which was written and composed by Steinman, arranged for piano with guitar tablature and lyrics, has been published by International Music Publications Ltd. Apart from the title track, it has ‘You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), Heaven Can Wait, All Revved Up With No place to Go, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Paradise by Dashboard Light and For Crying Out Loud’.

The cover image was dreamed up by Steinman, and painted by fantasy artist and comics legend Richard Corben.

Way back in the ’90s there was a slew of tribute bands – the Bootleg Beatles, Elton Jack and so on. Meat Loaf did not escape. His was called ‘Fat Out Of Hell’.

May he, like Elvis, keep ’em rocking.

A Thorough Demolition of Postmodern Anti-Liberal Social Justice Theories

January 21, 2022

One of the other books I’ve ordered from Amazon, and which I’m reading at the moment, is Helen Pluckrose’s and James Lindsay’s Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody (Swift Press 2020). Pluckrose and Lindsay are two thirds of the group, with Peter Boghossian, of academics that are actively seeking to lampoon and refute the various pseudo-academic disciplines that have emerged from Postmodernism and Critical Theory. These theories, Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Queer Theory, Disability and Fat Studies, promise to help make society fairer, but instead are doing immense damage, including to the very groups they profess to want to help. They consciously reject the Enlightenment ideas of reason, evidence, science and the individual and universal. This is particularly clear in Critical Race Theory, which denounces as a failure the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s, with materialist Critical Race Theorists arguing instead for segregation. CRT, Postcolonial Theory and Intersectional Feminism also reject ideas of evidence and reasoned argument on the grounds that this is a discourse created by White men to keep everyone else down. Instead they promote myth, story and lived experience as authentic, non-White ways of knowing that should takes its place. Those advocating this nonsense include Novara Media’s Dalia Gebreal, who was one of the editors of Decolonising the University a few years ago. In the case of the Postcolonialists, their view of an irrational east is exactly the same as the western Orientalists they decry following Edward Said’s Orientalism. And the real social activists in India and elsewhere in the Developing World are very much aware of it. I’ve only read a few chapters so far, but from what I’ve seen, Lindsay and Pluckrose show again and again that these Theories are only making matters worse. Real progress for Blacks, gays and other marginalised groups has come from evidence, reasoned argument and universalism – the idea that there are universal human rights, which should apply to everyone regardless of race, creed, gender or sexuality/ gender identity.

In fact some of these ideologies are actively malign and reactionary. Postcolonialist activists, for example, do not lend their voice to activists in Saudi Arabia or India protesting the oppression of women and LGBTQ people in those countries and the Middle East. It’s because the ideology itself actively defends and promotes indigenous, non-Western cultures and their worldviews, which may vehemently reject modern ideas of feminism and sexual tolerance. They’re only interested in oppression in the non-Western world when this is due, or can be blamed on, colonialism. This is explains why Barbara Barnaby, the British head of Black Lives Matter, in her speech to a fringe Labour party meeting a few years ago, condemned the toppling of Colonel Gaddafy and the consequent enslavement of Black Africans, but had nothing to say about the revival of indigenous slavery further south, such as Uganda. Nor did she mention oppression by Black African and other non-Western regimes. Instead she demanded that refugees automatically be allowed into ‘Fortress Europe’ because ‘You oppressed us under colonialism’. But overt colonial rule in many countries ended sixty or so years ago, in the 1950s and 1960s. These nations achieved their independence, and the poverty, corruption and oppression these nations have experienced since then have been at the hands of indigenous rulers. A far better argument, for me, would be to say that, as former imperial subjects, refugees from these nations deserve to be given sanctuary in Britain, and some activists have used this argument. But Barnaby’s silence about oppression and violence by indigenous non-Western regimes is part of the general refusal of Postcolonial Theory to confront this brutal reality.

The book’s blurb runs

Cynical Theories argues that struggles for social justice are strongest when they are founded on respect for evidence, reason and free and open debate. It deplores the harm that closed-minded Social Justice ideologues, cancel cultures and social media pile-ons are doing to the cause of social justice and liberal democracy itself.

Pluckrose and Lindsay demonstrate that only through proper understanding of the evolution of these ideas can we challenge this harmful orthodox, and offer practical strategies to combat it.’

After the Introduction, it has the following chapters

  1. Postmodernism ‘A Revolution in Knowledge and Powers’
  2. Postmodernism’s Applied Turn ‘Making Oppression Real’
  3. Postcolonial Theory ‘Deconstructing the West to Save the Other’
  4. Queer Theory ‘Freedom from the Normal’
  5. Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality ‘Ending Racism by Seeing It Everywhere’
  6. Feminisms and Gender Studies ‘Simplification as Sophistication’
  7. Disability and Fat Studies ‘Support-Group Identity Theory’
  8. Social Justice Scholarship and Thought ‘The Truth According to Social Justice’
  9. Social Justice in Action ‘Theory Always Looks Good on Paper’
  10. An Alternative to the Ideology of Social Justice ‘Liberalism without Identity Politics’.

This book supplies a much-need critique of these thoroughly pernicious theories, which regrettably have gained considerable ground on the Left and in academia. Instead of bringing people together and actually helping those they purport to want to help, they are actually creating more division and hatred. James Lindsay, one of the book’s authors, recently described his experience of appearing on Dr. Phil, an American talk show, to confront various Critical Race Theorists on Benjamin Boyce’s YouTube channel. When they asked him what he would recommend instead to tackle racism, he replied that it should be colour-blindness, where people are rewarded on ability. He said they looked at him as if they’d sh*t themselves.

If we are to progress as a people and species, it can only come through reason, logical argument and a concern for objective truth, as well as genuine liberal universalism, which sees everyone as equally deserving of human rights.

And that means dumping these destructive and pernicious pseudo-ideologies.

A Jewish Traveller’s Description of a Moroccan Slave Market

January 20, 2022

I found this description of an 18th century slave market in Morocco in Samuel Romanelli’s Travail in an Arab Land, trans. and notes by Yedida K. and Norman A. Stillman (Tuscaloosa: University of Arizona Press 1989). Romanelli was an Italian Jew, who found himself stranded in Morocco from 1787 to 1790. His book, originally published in Hebrew, is a detailed description of Morocco, its society and Jewish communities. Romanelli was a highly cultured man, deeply versed in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and Hebrew. He was scathing both of the Arabs and what he considered to be the ignorance and superstition of Morocco’s oppressed Jews. Morocco was the endpoint of a route used by slavers taking enslaved Black Africans from sub-Saharan west Africa. Unfortunately this slave trade survived into the early 20th century because we disrupted a European blockade of Morocco c. 1909 or thereabouts to prevent the other nations invading. Morocco was kept free, but the consequence was that its indigenous slave trade continued to flourish. Romanelli states

“Twice a week there is an auction called delal … In this type of delal, they also sell black men and women. Slaves and maidservants follow behind the slave driver. The buyer will examine a maidservant as he would examine a sheep. She then becomes his permanent possession. He may either keep her as his slave or be harsh to her and resell her to another. In olden times even whites and Jews were sold, as we know from the story of Joseph and from the Mosaic ordinances.”

In fact Morocco, with Algeria, was one of the centres of the Barbary pirates, which raided Europe and attacked European and American shipping to capture white slaves. This carried on in Algiers until the British launched a reprisal in the 1830s. I’ve put this up because, as western slavery is now again a topic of controversy, political debate and demands for reparations and education, it is important to remember that slavery and the enslavement of Black Africans was not unique to the West.

And it is also disgusting that slavery is returning in the 21st century, as slave markets reopen in Uganda and in the Islamist-held portion of Libya. The last is a consequence of Blair’s overthrow of Colonel Gaddafy, and should count as another reason why the warmonger shouldn’t get a knighthood.

History Book on Slavery in Africa

January 20, 2022

Sean Stillwell, Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014)

I ordered this book from Amazon and got it through the post yesterday. I’ve done no more than skim it, but it appears to be an excellent history of slavery and slaving in Africa from its origins in the ancient past to the transatlantic slave trade and today, when, horrifically, Africans are still being enslaved. The blurb for the book states

‘This book is a comprehensive history of slavery in Africa from the earliest times to the end of the twentieth century, when slavery in most parts of the continent ceased to exist. It connects the emergence and consolidation of slavery to specific historical forces both internal and external to the African continent. Sean Stillwell pays special attention to the development of settled agriculture, the invention of kinship, “big men” and centralized states, the role of African economic production and exchange, the interaction of local structures of dependence with the external slave trades (transatlantic, trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean) and the impact of colonialism on slavery in the twentieth century. He also provides an introduction to the central debates that have shaped current understanding of slavery in Africa. The book examines different forms of slavery that developed over time in Africa and introduces readers to the lives, work, and struggles of slave themselves.’

Africa isn’t a single nation, but a continent with many different cultures and peoples, and the forms slavery took are similarly varied. In some cultures, slaves could rise through their relationship to their masters to high social positions, often in preference to their masters’ own sons. Some states used slaves as soldiers, arming them with guns. These slave soldiers appear largely to have been satisfied with their position and were unlikely to revolt. This reminded me of the episode in the British Caribbean when, faced with the threat of invasion from Napoleonic France, the British reluctantly armed their slaves. I’m not sure, but I got a feeling that this infused the enslaved peoples with pride. After the American Revolution, Black loyalists were also settled in the Caribbean. They were described as living under military discipline, with their own colonels and officers and to be largely satisfied with their condition. I think this says something about the importance of combat and militarism to masculine self-worth.

One positive feature of the book is that includes testimony and statements from slavers, slave masters and the enslaved themselves. Again, it’s important, as all too rarely the enslaved speak for themselves, although, of course, there are a number of books and literature from former slaves like Frederick Douglas and Olaudah Equiano denouncing slavery and demanding its abolition. The final chapter, which also discusses the persistence of slavery in Africa, also includes statements and testimony from former slaves. It also discusses the various anti-slavery organisations that have emerged recently in Africa, many of them led or founded by former slaves.

Part of the rationale behind the British invasion of Africa was to combat the slave trade at its source. Unfortunately this goal, and the hope of many enslaved Africans, was frustrated by the colonial authorities. These sided with slaveowners and existing power structures. Runaway slaves could find themselves returned to their masters, and obstacles, like higher taxes, placed in the way of slaves seeking to gain their emancipation. Lord Lugard is a prime offender in this, and there’s a quote from him where he states clearly that the people at home would go berserk if they knew what he was doing. But in some areas the arrival of the British was initially welcomed by the enslaved population as liberators. When we conquered Kano, in what is now modern Nigeria, the slaves were desperate to touch the British flag, because they believed this would secure their freedom. They sang the following song:

A flag touching dance

Is performed by freeborns alone.

Anybody who touches the flag,

Becomes free.

He and his father [master].

Become equals.

It is one of the injustices of colonialism that, for many slaves, this was not realised, and it is disgusting that slavery has persisted on the continent, so that slave markets have reopened in Uganda and Libya.

Bristol Announces Education Report about the Contribution of Different Communities to City

January 19, 2022

Yesterday a couple of bods from Bristol city council appeared on the news to announce the imminent public of two reports, both dealing with race and community issues. At lunchtime it was reported that there was a report coming out about how the city should educate people about city’s history as a major centre of the slave trade. Then on the 6.30 local news, deputy mayor and head of equalities Asher Craig appeared to tell viewers about another report coming out about another education initiative, this time about the contribution different communities had made to the city. She thought it might perhaps form the basis for a new museum. The report was hailed as bringing communities together.

Bristol’s a port city and so people of different races and nationalities have been living in the city since the Middle Ages. It had a Jewish community, complete with a miqveh or ritual bath, on Jacob’s Wells Road before Edward I’s expulsion of them from England. it also had strong links with Ireland, and it’s possible that there was a community of Bristol merchants in Dublin before Henry IIs invasion of 1169. It also had strong links to Wales, and so there’s always been people from Ireland and Wales here in the city. There were a few Icelandic merchants resident in Bristol in the 15th century. As the city also traded in wine from France and Spain, I’m fairly certain there were also French people and Spaniards here. There were also Black people in Bristol from the 16th century onwards following the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. However, the bulk of the modern Black population probably really only dates from the Windrush migration. Other immigrants to Bristol include Poles, Russians – there’s a Russian Orthodox church on University Road by the museum in Clifton, Chinese and peeps from India and Pakistan. A few years ago a book was published about Bristol’s diverse immigrant population.

But I don’t think this is primarily about all of the city’s various ethnic communities. I think it’s really an attempt to promote Bristol’s Black community. Last year, when I contacted Craig criticising her for some of her comments about the city’s involvement in the slave trade, her reply talked about the ‘One Bristol’ educational project. This would promote Blacks, and be ‘diverse and inclusive’, which didn’t always happen with White men. I don’t know if that last comment is a deliberate sneer or putdown.

It’s fair to say that the majority Black areas of the Bristol have the same problems and reputation of inner cities elsewhere – drugs, crime, prostitution and violence. When I was growing up people from outside the area drove along Stapleton Road in St. Paul’s with their windows up and the door firmly locked. Nearly two decades ago in 2004 there were a series of murders in the area and it was reported on the news that there was a gun-related incident everyday. I can remember going along the road on the bus to a lecture at UWE and seeing armed policemen on the street. I’ve heard from friends that there are local people in the community collecting and blogging about the area and Bristol’s black history as way of combating the alienation and marginalisation many Black Bristolians feel. From Craig’s reply to me, it looks like the ‘One Bristol’ education project is intended to do something similar by giving a more positive image of the community.

As for educating Bristolians about the city’s role in the slave trade, I’ve grown up knowing about it although there is still the strong belief among some Blacks, repeated by Craig in her interview on Radio 4 last year, that the city authorities have covered it up. In the 1990s the City Museum and Art Gallery staged an exhibition about the city and the slave trade, ‘A Respectable Trade’, named after the costume drama then showing on the Beeb, adapted from a book by Philippa Gregory. The M Shed museum on the city docks also has a gallery about Bristol and the slave trade. There are articles about the city’s involvement in the slave trade on the museum’s website, a slave walk in Clifton and a plaque on one of the warehouses down by the M Shed commemorating the victims who were enslaved and sold by Bristol merchants. The official name for the very bizarre looking ‘horned bridge’ across the dock’s is Pero’s Bridge, after one of the few named slaves who was brought to Bristol itself.

I have to say I’m a bit sensitive about some of the demands for the proper commemoration of the slave trade in the city. It sometimes seems to me that’s it’s being used by angry members of the Black community to attack White Bristol because of the poverty and marginalisation that still plagues their community. Back in the 1990s, for example, when the city celebrated the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, various Black spokesmen declared that it was a celebration of slavery. This followed American Blacks’ condemnation of the celebration of Columbus’ discovery of America a few years earlier. Indigenous Americans also attacked it as a celebration of their genocide. It wasn’t, of course, meant to be a celebration of slavery, but they had a point. Following Columbus discovery of the New World, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean were enslaved and worked, tortured and massacred until they died out. The Spanish then turned to Black African slaves to replace them. I don’t believe that the discovery of Newfoundland had any direct connection with slavery. That seems to have started in 1619 when Spanish merchants brought a consignment of them to Jamestown, and it seems that initially the English settlers didn’t know what to do with them. However, slavery and all the horrendous methods of repression soon followed. A Black artist produced a picture showing his feelings about the celebration of Cabot’s discovery. It shows the Matthew sailing up the Avon Gorge. watched by cameras from the Evening Post and the local news, while shadowy figures rampage across the suspension bridge. The painting’s now on display in the slavery gallery in the M Shed. To me it demonstrates a bitter mentality that automatically assumes any celebration like it must somehow be about the persecution or exploitation of Blacks, and it seems to me that a similar deep bitterness is driving the demands for proper education about the city’s slavery history. On the other hand, there have been a large influx of newcomers to the city from London and elsewhere, and it’s possible that, not being Bristolians, they really know little about the city and the slave trade. The education initiative could therefore be a response to them requiring to know more.

Points West stated that the report about educating Bristolians about the contributions of Bristol’s multiracial communities will make five recommendations, while the one about slavery will make fifteen. It’ll be interesting to see what they are.

Nazism and the Texas Synagogue Terrorist

January 18, 2022

One of the big international stories over the past few days has been the invasion of a Texas synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville by an armed British-Pakistani man, Malik Faisal Akram. Akram took the rabbi and the congregation, who were there for morning prayers, hostage demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who was jailed for 85 years on terrorism charges in Afghanistan. Fortunately, the rabbi and his flock managed to escape as the FBI shot Akram dead. Akram’s brother blamed mental health issues, and two teens have been arrested, suspected of terrorism, in Manchester. Real anti-Semitic incidents like this are becoming all too regular. If I remember correctly, it was around this time last year that a White Nazi shot up the Tree of Life Synagogue in America. This is what real, vicious anti-Semitism looks like, not Jeremy Corbyn nodding in agreement with a Holocaust survivor who compares the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ persecution of his. And as a survivor of the Shoah, I’d say that the gentleman concerned had every right to make that comparison, no matter how it may infuriate the extreme nationalists of the Israel lobby.

We’re used to western, Fascist anti-Semitism and its origins in stupid, poisonous conspiracy theories about an international Jewish plot to enslave Whites, and there is now a considerable amount of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world. A few years ago Egyptian television broadcast an adaptation of the infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. While Islam’s history has not been entirely without Jew-hatred, historians have traditionally considered that it was much less than in Christendom. In fact, the type of poisonous anti-Semitism now inspiring such attacks and atrocities in the Muslim world really only dates from about the Second World War and the formation of the Jewish colonies in mandate Palestine. As conflict broke out between the Jewish settlers and Palestinians, the Nazis decided that they were going to try to appeal to the Muslim world as allies against the Jews and the British. They therefore recruited the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who formed a squad of Muslim Nazi auxiliaries to fight in the Balkans and elsewhere. The Nazis also got busy trying to formulate an Islamic version of their own wretched ideology, which would inspire Muslims to join them. They therefore decided that there were four important, defining similarities between Islam and Nazism. I can’t quite remember what they are – it’s a little while since I read up on it. But I do remember that they were so broad and vague that there was precious little in them that could be seen as unique to Islam, or convince anyone not already an Islamist Nazi fanatic that there was any particular similarity between Islam and Nazism. They also attempted to reformulate Islamic history, creating a gross distortion that presented the Jews as the inveterate enemies of Islam since the days of Mohammed. Mohammed did indeed fight battles against the Jewish tribes in Arabia during his career. But the impression I’ve had was that, after his victories over them, there wasn’t much anti-Semitism in Islam. Pogroms did break out sporadically, and in Morocco Jews were confined to ghettos as they were in Christian Europe. But generally Islam was more tolerant of the Jews than the Christian world.

From what I’ve seen, ,the Islamists responsible for terrorist atrocities across the world are very strongly influence by the Nazi conspiracy theories. They seem to believe, like their White, western counterparts, that there is some global, secret Jewish conspiracy controlling everything behind the scenes. The Jews are somehow responsible for every thing evil in the world, and particularly for any attack on Islam and its people. Combating Islamism means exposing and fighting the perverted view of Islamic history that was introduced by Hitler’s minions. Just as fighting anti-Semitism means standing up to White, non-Muslim Nazi thugs.

If this is done, then hopefully society will become more tolerant and terrorist attacks on synagogues, whether by Whites, Muslims or anybody, will become much rarer.