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Proletarian issue 80 (October 2017)
British media go all out to spread racism and islamophobia
While the true interests of vulnerable children are callously disregarded.
The efforts made by the representatives of the capitalist ruling class to keep the working class divided remain as blatant as ever. As a number of recent news items serve to illustrate, the anti-migrant, racist, toxic climate created by bourgeois politicians and media continues to fester.

Fake fostering hysteria

On 28 August, The Times carried a story, “Christian child forced into muslim foster care”, aimed at whipping up backward racist sentiments. According to the report, a 5-year-old christian child in east London’s Tower Hamlets had been placed into the care of muslim foster parents.

The story was picked up and seized upon by the usual suspects, including the EDL, Katie Hopkins and the Daily Mail. In the case of the Mail, they ran the story but used a stock image which they doctored, putting a veil on the face of the woman in the picture. This kind of blatant misrepresentation is a reminder of why print journalism is in such a state of disrepute, and of the role such papers play in intentionally sowing divisions amongst workers. (See MPs demand inquiry over five-year-old christian girl forced to live with muslim foster carers ‘who told her Christmas and Easter are stupid and European women are alcoholics’ by Vanessa Allen and Eleanor Harding, 28 August 2017)

Katie Hopkins, also of the Mail Online, tweeted that the child had been abused, providing in turn ammunition for the usual collection of neo-Nazi websites. It was also claimed the child did not want to be with the foster parents because “they did not speak English”.

This turned out to be a complete fabrication, something made evident when Tower Hamlets council issued a statement against the inaccuracies of the media reporting. In fact, the child had been fostered to an English speaking mixed-race family, completely shattering the agenda being pursued by the gutter press.

Reportedly, the child was distressed every time she had to return to her foster family, but such distress is natural for any 5-year old being taken from the home in which she has been brought up and with which she is familiar, but which unfortunately had become unsafe for her to return to. The distress does not at all indicate that the foster home was unsuitable, much less that it was unsuitable because of the religion or language of the foster parents, but merely how terribly sad it is that it is sometimes necessary to separate children from the parents whom they love.

The statement also said the child has since been placed in the care of her maternal grandmother. A victory for the papers perhaps? Perhaps. Until it was revealed the maternal grandmother was herself a ‘non-practising muslim’. Court papers also showed the paternal grandmother had been the council’s first-choice carer for the child but that this had not been immediately possible. So in reality great attempts were made to keep the little girl with her family, and in the end this was achieved.

More importantly, in a broader sense though, is the fact that many more children of muslim families are put into the care of “white British christian families”, as noted by Elaine Dibben of Coram BAAF, a fostering and adoption charity. (See CoramBAAF’s Elaine Dibben provides expert comment on fostering for BBC Newsnight, Radio 2 and Radio 4, Coram.org.uk, 31 August 2017)

Whilst children of families of one religion or ethnic background being put with a family from another religion or ethnic background should be neither here nor there, the implications are significant. Britain’s highly-paid media pundits clearly wish workers to believe that a supposedly white christian child being fostered by muslims is concerning, but that the many ‘muslim children’ being fostered by ‘white British christian families’ is entirely acceptable – a clear double standard. Clearly, mainstream media coverage – that is, the media of the capitalists – is guided by racist and xenophobic intent.

Even the headlines alone provide a subtle example of the artificial divisions skilfully created by the ruling class. They serve to reinforce divisions, which then become ingrained in our minds. But if we stop to consider, the very idea of a ‘christian child’ becomes preposterous.

The idea that a young child has any clear thoughts on a) the existence of God(s) b), the nature of said God(s), c) the religion identified with said God(s), d) which subset of said religion said God(s) belong to, or e) enough knowledge of other religions to the one which they ‘believe’ in order to compare their comparative truth is clearly ridiculous. It would be akin to running with the headline “Liberal child forced into conservative foster care” or “Marxist child forced into Keynesian foster care”.

This is clearly nonsense. But it is dangerous and divisive nonsense. Everyday language is a powerful weapon, which in the hands of the ruling class often turns workers’ attentions from the material to the immaterial; from the class struggle to racial or religious struggles.

This story has been used purely to further an agenda of hate and suspicion. Nothing positive could come from the reporting of the bourgeois press. Whilst the ‘problem’ reported was actually a non-problem, if it had been an actual problem the media could have offered solutions rather than further division.

If keeping children within certain ethnic-religious boundaries was really of significance, they could have reported on a need for more foster carers from particular backgrounds – they could have encouraged the compassionate-minded to come forward and provide a larger base of those willing to help society’s most vulnerable children.

Instead, they simply choose to rile the naive. A socialist media would suggest solutions to problems, whilst a capitalist media will only create problems where solutions already exist.

Labour’s endemic racism

Even more despicable was the case of Labour shadow equalities minister Sarah Champion’s article in The Sun. In it, she wrote: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

“For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.” (British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls ... and it’s time we faced up to it, 10 August 2017)

This vile statement effectively tars all muslim men, not just Pakistanis, with the same brush. It blatantly suggests that because some men of a particular ethnic background are criminals, the ‘community’ as a whole is criminal. On this reasoning, because the Yorkshire Ripper was a member of the ‘white community’, all white men are serial killers.

If there is any truth in the suggestion that the authorities in Rotherham failed for years to take the action they should have taken to protect the young girls involved for fear of being dubbed racists, then it is that egregious cowardice that should be condemned, not an entire ethnic group for having a tiny minority of criminals among its members.

At the same time, Sarah Champion’s views act as a stark reminder of some of the elements surrounding Jeremy Corbyn, even within his would-be cabinet. Those who are caught up in the supposed revolutionary potential of a Corbyn-led Labour government should look long and hard at the elements composing the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Corbyn is still surrounded by a swathe of reactionaries, bigots and racists, to the extent that the would-be equalities minister, no less, has been shown to be a bigot. Irony drips from this story.

In another blatantly racist article in The Sun, Trevor Kavanagh wrote: “Thanks to former equalities chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham’s Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.”

Champion’s article was a gift to the gutter press. It is far more credible for them to quote a shadow cabinet minister’s bigotry rather than that of EDL co-founder Tommy Robinson et al. But there is zero difference in content between Champion and the EDL types.

Let the Corbynistas be left with this: “The Labour leader’s office appeared to back Champion until Wednesday lunchtime, when positive emails from her office to The Sun in the aftermath of the piece’s publication were highlighted by the newspaper.

“Corbyn’s statement in response to her resignation was brief. ‘I have accepted Sarah Champion’s resignation and thank her for her work in the shadow cabinet. I look forward to working together in future,’ he said.” (Sarah Champion resigns as shadow equalities minister by Jessica Elgot, Guardian, 16 August 2017)

May’s immigration lies exposed

Finally, Prime Minister Theresa May’s insistence on including foreign students in immigration figures during her time as home secretary has come back to bite her. Students have been included in the figures owing to her dogmatic insistence, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that thousands were staying on illegally post-graduation.

Even Boris Johnson and Liam Fox failed to back her on this one. The inclusion of students within the figures was an extension of May’s policy to reduce immigration to under 100,000 a year – and also a further factor rendering it impossible, but serving nicely to fuel and sustain racist hysteria.

“The Home Office has commissioned a report into the impact of international students in the UK after exit checks found that immigration figures are far lower than previously thought.

“New border checks introduced last year found that almost all international students left the UK after finishing their studies, the government will announce on Thursday.

“Ninety-seven percent of international students left the UK after graduating, the Telegraph newspaper reported, which could mean a complete change in how immigration statistics are calculated.

“It was previously suspected that tens of thousands were staying in the country illegally after completing their courses.

“The new immigration figures are based on passenger surveys at airports which were implemented last year.

“Whitehall officials have suggested overall net migration could be reduced by tens of thousands once the exit of international students has been taken into account, reducing the current 248,000 figure.

“A government source told the Telegraph: ‘Ministers have asked the Office for National Statistics to review the net migration figures in the wake of this new data. It means that the overall net migration figure could be significantly lower than previously thought.’” (Immigration figures are far lower than previously thought by Adam Becket, Business Insider, 24 August 2017)

So May’s strident insistence (duly reported across British media) that student migration was somehow ‘out of control’ has been shown to be completely bogus. Instead, only 3 percent stay after graduating. Not that more staying would be a bad thing in our view.

Still, in the absence of any actual facts, May’s only motivation can have been to contribute to the climate of racist toxicity being promoted by the ruling class. She was simply drumming up further anti-immigrant hysteria and further empowering the rancid right.

Racism: number one weapon of choice in the battle to divide and rule

What all these stories show is that the ruling class remains on a collective and organised offensive against migrants and ethnic minorities. Whether Tory, Labour or the capitalist press – all are united in pursuing the racist anti-immigrant agenda.

However, no worker, whatever their skin colour, will ever be free so long as they allow themselves to be duped and conned by these miserable liars. White workers who fall victim to this trickery play right into the hands of the enemy: the capitalist class.

The capitalists, through their agents in the bourgeois political parties and media, propagate lies designed to divide the working class, and thus to shield their obscene levels of wealth. As a result, rather than white workers turning their attention to their real enemy, the capitalists, many of them are turning on their natural allies, their fellow workers. This is how capitalism operates – indeed, how it survives.

The job of political parties like Conservative, Labour, LibDem, SNP etc is to protect the wealth of the ruling class. This should never be more evident than in the light of these stories. They and the mainstream media in general continue to con much of the working class into thinking that if only there were fewer black and brown faces in this country, there would somehow be no more terrorism, enough social housing and education, decent healthcare and jobs for all.

Such claims ought to be taken as an insult to the intelligence of workers. The British empire plundered the globe at a time when there was scarcely any muslim population in Britain to speak of, but families lived in overcrowded dwellings and were sent to the poorhouse all the same.

Poverty then, just like poverty now, was not caused by migrants – it was and is caused by the capitalist economic system. If every migrant and every ethnic minority person left the country, standards of living for the white working class would not increase one bit, as history reinforces. In fact, the remaining workers would be more exploited than ever.

Our enemies can only be swept away by revolution and the construction of socialism: a period of prolonged and intense struggle until one class prevails and the other is banished to the pages of history books. And central to that struggle will be the battle to overcome all the artificial divisions between workers created by the poisonous rantings of the spokespeople of the decaying capitalist class.
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