The question is how we react to this great prejudice against women. The rule of law and social activism certainly are crucial. But no matter how...”
In large part, the shooters and arsonists who are behind many, if not most of these events in America, are white men. In large part, these men have either come of age in the shadow of September 11. They have watched the media, heard Department of Homeland Security officials, and followed as mostly white male (and some female) politicians have given the anxious go ahead to wage an enormous war against Muslims abroad (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) or at home (in the form of the War on Terror). Several of them have served in a military that follows the orders of two U.S. Presidential administrations by training their men to shoot, invade, drop rockets from helicopters, and drones controlled remotely from Syracuse, NY and other air force bases in the United States.
These white men have learned their lessons well, whether in the military or from hours of media news: the frustrations of a scared (white) America can be dealt with waging a war using guns, bombs, chemicals, and drones. They have learned that it is ok to kill those who you believe to be behind threats to your comfort. They have internalized the message that those you fear can be addressed without words, without dialogue, but with violence, with power, with coercion. They have learned that some religions are automatically evil and that those who adhere to those religions must be destroyed. And these white men reflect an ideology of violence that has permeated America in the name of the War on Terror. Sadly, that ideology, perpetuated by our white men and women in power, carried out by American soldiers, and endorsed by a lapdog media, isn’t fading away. It’s becoming bigger, stronger, and more murderous.
These men are not mad or crazy. They are the well-trained students of American foreign and domestic policies. They have learned well the United States’ message: that violence and mayhem are the answer. We need to change the scripts, and confront the fallout of a decade of the War on Terror—and other excuses for state-led violence quickly
Murdoch has hotly denied ever trading the influence of his market-leading newspapers in return for policy favours. “That was absolutely not News Corporation’s policy and I would not do business like that,” Murdoch repeated in a six-hour appearance before the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday.
But emails published by the inquiry indicate that some in Murdoch’s inner circle were not blind to the political importance of the media group. Frédéric Michel, the head of European public affairs for News Corp and the man tasked with smoothing the way for the BSkyB deal, told Murdoch in an email on 10 January 2011 that Hunt might appreciate some friendly coverage in anticipation that the government would come under fire from those who opposed the $8bn takeover.
“He [Hunt] is keen to meet next Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss our submission. He said he would not be influenced by the negative media coverage but would welcomed [sic] other opeds like Littlewood or Elstein in the coming days,” Michel said in the email to Murdoch. Two weeks later Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, issued a statement supporting the bid and David Elstein, former Thames TV and Sky executive, writes two pieces for Open democracy website in favour of the takeover.
What scares the banks is any criticism that goes beyond claims of greed or fraud or even incompetence, and instead questions the system itself. The sanctity and perfection of the system and its right to ‘regulate’ itself, is what they are totally committed to protect. The system is what gives them their status and wealth. Question that and you threaten them where they are vulnerable.
It seems to me therefore that it is high time we questioned not just the probity, or even the solvency of the big global banks but their very intellectual foundation. It is time for us to wrench back the initiative from the banks. The financial elite have spent all this last year rewriting history so that blame for the banking crisis has been turned away from them and laid instead at the door of ‘people’ and then entire nations who ‘took’ on debts they coudn’t afford . It is time to counter-attack and make the case, that it was and is the way that banks and banking go about their normal business that caused this crisis and are still causing it. We have to show that it was not a break down in an otherwise fine system which caused this crisis but that it was a result and consequence of a system which is an utter failure at doing what it prides itself most on being able to do – managing risk. Not just a onetime failure but a systemic failure which presents an on-going danger to the rest of us.
Defined as a leading black feminist scholar for her work on developing black feminist thought, bell hooks clearly also had a blind spot regarding third world feminisms, which disappear from her formulations, except, perhaps, in “Third World Diva Girls: Politics of Feminist Solidarity.” 16 While the essay claimed to work toward “feminist solidarity between black women/women of color” (94), it homogenized all “third world women” into some generic “third world woman.” In this formulation, clearly no room exists for black feminist discourse in some sort of transnational context.
Again, speaking of its limits, and not devaluing its contributions, it is helpful to examine the underlying principles of the work of Patricia Hill Collins. In her Black Feminist Thought one is even more struck by the way in which the definitions of black feminism are circumscribed by U.S. nation-state, patriotic Americanism; the ways in which racial discourse in the United States consistently effaces “transnational Afro- diasporism.”“Thus she dismisses the analyses of internal colonialism that would link African American populations in the United States more solidly to the discourses of African diaspora. Her essay “Learning from the Outsider Within: The Social Significance of Black Feminist Thought” is perhaps most instructive. It is based entirely on a position grounded in U.S. parochialism and by its very construction marks the limits of “outsider within” positionality. Beginning with the case of the domestic worker who knows the house better than the mistress allows her to construct black feminist intellectuals within a similar relationship to white feminists. The subject of the address is white women, with a U.S. definition of naturalized, essentialized race as marker, which thus allows her to develop what she calls “standpoint epistemology,” that is, that U.S. black women as a group all see the world from a particular angle. It is only logical that the discourse will turn in onto itself in her formulation of Afrocentric feminism
Luckily, I managed to get a partial recording of the speech. Transcribed below, it began with Evans referring to a recent episode of BBC’s Newsnight, during which former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie dismissed any attempt to understand the wider context of the riots…
… The presenter turned to Kelvin Mackenzie and said to him, “don’t you think we should try to understand these riots?”
He said, “no I don’t think we should”. And there we have it. The lack of understanding; the wilful ignorance. To try and come to terms with what’s caused this trouble in our society and this alienation where one large section of society just doesn’t want to think about the people who are involved in it [the rioting]. And wants to write them off, criminalise them, and put them in to a sort of box where they don’t have to be thought about.
I think that is what has characterised the coverage of the riots. I think it has been a particularly grim period for journalism. It was led that way, in many ways, in the initial outburst of violence by the 24hr rolling news.
I found it staggering, the way news presenters were editorialising. They were showing film of what was going on in Tottenham, and they were saying: “there is no political element to this, this is just vandalism, this is just people looting” … without any sense of what the background to this was. Without any attempt to put it in its context.
We saw Sky News reporters walking down the streets, filming people on their phones and saying, “I come from round here, I can’t believe what I’m seeing, are you proud of yourself?” As if they were headmasters.
That’s not journalism. Journalism should be the pursuit of the truth and the pursuit of knowledge. And we weren’t seeing knowledge there. We were getting the vicarious thrills of being in the middle of a riot. The Daily Mail’s view? “Give this man an award”. I don’t think it’s award-winning journalism personally – because it told me nothing.
It told me nothing because I’ve been in a riot. I’ve fought with policemen. I’ve kicked in shop windows. I’ve stole from shops. Alot of people haven’t, but I have. And I understand the frustrations that come from being in that underclass, where you’re written off, where you’re given no opportunities. And you’re demonised. You’re demonised by the media and you’re demonised by the political system. It was 30 years ago, but I felt the same way they [the rioters] did.
The way the media was quick to put it all down to a sense of consumerism. “They’ve all got Blackberrys”. Well, a Blackberry doesn’t cost very much actually. But I’ll tell you what – what alot of the kids who where there [rioting] don’t have is expectations. The poverty of expectation, the poverty of belief in what you can do with your life…
But of course, the newspapers were more concerned with taking the opposite view. The Daily Express – the headline – “Flaming Morons”. Which says to you: these people don’t deserve to be treated well, they don’t deserve to be regarded as human beings. And all through that whole week of rioting… the narrative was all about that. It was all about criminality. It’s all about not being able to explain, about not being able to understand. As if this came all out of the blue and surprised us.
This has been building for four or five years. And the only people who appear to be surprised about it are journalists and politicians. So we have this situation where the government now is allowed to move the dialogue on and suddenly blame gangs. And the newspapers are rushing to report this, and agree with it.
In every time of economic turmoil, where poverty is building, there have been riots over the years. There has also been the instinctive urge to blame gangs. It goes back to the 1870s and the 1880s and the High Rip [gang] in Liverpool. So they [gangs] are easy targets.
And what it does: you don’t need to get beyond the surface, you can just point fingers. And this is what’s disappointed me from the newspapers especially in the last few weeks.
I can understand the superficiality of television. But you know, I can’t understand that newspapers, where you’ve got time, you’ve got the chance to talk to people, the anonymity that’s guaranteed in print, that no one’s gone out to talk to the people who were doing this, who were out there.
… Sky News ran a piece with four kids, where they discussed the reason that they rioted. And they were very articulate about it. They talked about how they had attempted to fit in to normal society, but had been turned back at every turn. You know, it’s easy to understand. But again, that piece was undermined by the payoff, which talked about criminal behaviour. If this was about criminal behaviour, if this was about violence, if this was just about feral kids running out of control, we’d see it every weekend.
We saw spontaneous outbursts of it because this society’s mantra is “there is no society”. Why would you expect these kids to care about people around them?
And yet, there was no sense of blaming the politicians for this environment that they’ve created. It’s all about punishment. It’s all about victimisation, it’s all about marginalising people who’ve got the least voice. That’s what’s really disappointed me. And I don’t see it getting any better.
Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a will to understand in this country. And I also think there is an instinctive fear in some journalists – quite alot of them – to actually confront the preconceptions of the mass of the British public.
This is a time when journalism has been trusted probably about as little as it’s ever been trusted. And what people don’t want to do is say to the people who say “they’re louts, send them to the army, hang them, shoot them”, no, you’re wrong, think about it. It’s easier to go along with public perceptions…
But that’s not our role. Our role is to come up with the truth. And I don’t believe we’ve got to the truth in the last few weeks.