We mustn’t let those who seek to divide us win, writes RICK EVANS
Racism is nothing new. It has always been around and is one of the worst characteristics of the human race. It produces only suffering and heartache for those who suffer it.
But it has often been used throughout history as a tool, sometimes blatantly, sometimes more insidiously, as a way of deflecting attention from other problems.
We have made great progress against racism over the years but it never seems to go away completely and when times are tough it always increases. Let me explain why and why we must defeat it. I also want to give a little personal background.
In the last few years the Tories have been selling us the lie that we need austerity; that we can’t afford anything. They have also been talking tough on immigration. The last few years have been tough for many of us; low pay increases, poor jobs, poor pay and zero-hours contracts.
In these sorts of times, when things are going badly for a lot of people, the blame game usually starts.
This is always peddled by the right-wing press: the Mail, the Express and the Sun. Immigrants are taking all our jobs and all our houses, they say. When immigrants are blamed, racism usually isn’t too far behind — they are often linked.
Immigrants are an easy target to scapegoat but there are others as well, for example people on benefits.
This is part of the same agenda. Although the Tories and the Establishment can appear at times to talk the talk against racism, at times like these some of them are quite prepared to play the racist card.
The last few years have seen immigration increasingly talked about in the media and I think that has been quite deliberate.
This is what they want us to talk about. During the EU referendum and since, racist attacks have gone up. All this isn’t a coincidence and the media are playing a very dangerous game.
Why do they want us to talk about immigrants? The answer is clear to me. While we talk and moan and blame them, we aren’t blaming the real culprits for austerity and cutbacks.
The ones who are at the top of the pyramid, who caused the economic crash are the ones to blame, but of course they carry on as though nothing has happened with all their money and luxuries intact.
As usual they get away scot-free. So it’s not too hard to see why they would want to blame someone else for the problems in society is it?
Let’s be clear, the 1 per cent who have all the power are intrinsically linked to the Conservative Party, the Establishment and the right-wing press.
Obviously they want to keep the status quo. So they will use the press and media to their own advantage and will try to divide us to keep what they have. That is what they do and have always done.
The politics of fear and division are
what the Tories are about because they know a united working class is a huge threat to them.
So if we blame immigrants, we are letting the Tories off the hook because immigrants aren’t the problem. Immigrants aren’t responsible for the housing crisis; immigrants aren’t responsible for the cuts in public services or any of the other problems affecting most of us.
It’s the capitalist system that is. There are literally trillions of pounds locked away in tax havens that could make a huge difference to many people’s lives, if only a bit of it could be tapped into. That’s the message we have to get across.
How did I come to these views? Well it started many years ago when I was at secondary school. I grew up in Coventry and went to a multicultural school in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
My elder brother had at that time pretty far right-wing views and they probably had some effect on me. But during my school years I became friends with many Asian and black people. I quickly realised that the colour of your skin was irrelevant and that had no bearing on if you were a good or bad person.
Looking back I’m extremely pleased I went to such a multicultural school because it certainly contributed to my views about colour and race.
After all, we are all the same really and that is the point. On a happy positive note, my brother has completely changed his views and has been a Muslim for many years now and is also a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. Which goes to show people can change.
We need to remember immigrants are the same as you or me: ordinary people who want a better life for themselves and their families.
To fall into blaming them for our own ills is falling into a trap set for us by the right-wing Establishment.
We have to learn from history and remember how far-right fascist views can easily spread and we mustn’t let that happen again. When societies go down the road of scapegoating immigrants it can become a slippery slope. There is a big picture to look at here.
How we grow up and live helps shape our views. But we need to be wary of outside influences as well because they often have their own agendas.
Immigration can easily be used as a diversion by the Establishment, leading to increased racism — and we have to be careful of that.
Sometimes the left have been very weak when talking about this. But we have to get much better because this is something we are going to get attacked on relentlessly.
So we need to go on the attack ourselves, and say it loud and clear — immigrants aren’t the problem; it’s the greedy super-rich and they system they cling to that’s the problem.
We mustn’t let those who seek to divide us win, because together, united, we are so strong — and that is what the powers that be don’t want us to realise.