The Daily Mail just showed why Black Lives Matter protests can’t stop

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Fréa Lockley

Statues ‘honouring’ the UK’s racist past are starting to fall. As Black Lives Matter protests continue, this is hugely symbolic. While it may not tackle the deeper issues of systemic racism, removing racist statues is powerful. And that power’s outraged white right-wingers. On 10 June, the Daily Mail‘s front page took this to a new level. But this also shows why these protests can’t stop.

Fear?

On 7 June, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol tore down a statue of Edward Colston – a slave trader. By 9 June, a statue of slave owner Robert Milligan had been removed from London Docklands. Meanwhile, in Oxford, protesters demanded the removal of a statue of racist colonialist Cecil Rhodes.

Enter the Daily Mail‘s Sarah Vine. On the paper’s front page she screamed that this makes her “fear for our future”:

Vine insists that the UK is “one of the most tolerant, fair and least prejudiced nations in the world”. Apparently, it “appears to have been infected by the same sickness that, for the past decade or so, has been tearing America apart”. She thinks “sheer ignorance” underpins these protests. Her entire article drips with word after word of white privilege, thinly masked as entitled self-righteousness.

Vine entirely sidestepped the shocking economic inequality people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) endure. She also ignored the continued “scaremongering and prejudice against migrants and people of colour”. She reduces a systemically racist police force and criminal justice system to a few “bad eggs”. There’s no mention of the Windrush scandal, of continued deportations, or of the disproportionate number of Black people who’ve died during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The UK’s history is a racist legacy. A report from the Runnymede trust noted: [pdf p5]

The British Empire meant that a global working class was put to work. From the indentured labourers working in sugar cane fields in Fiji, to those working in the mills in Wigan, and all of those enslaved across the Empire – all contributed to the wealth of the landed gentry and indeed all were oppressed by a system of power that privileged a handful at the top.

One Black academic summed this up perfectly:

Defending the indefensible

On 9 June, the Daily Mail slapped yet more racist cards on the table. It published an article that discussed the ‘pros and cons’ of key figures in the UK’s colonial and slave history. No really.

So Vine’s article continued this trend. She wrote:

Complex questions of politics, race and identity have become sharply polarised, stripped of all nuance, simplified beyond all reason and presented as moral imperatives, a simple case of good versus evil, love versus hate, and yes, black versus white.

Wtaf?

Not surprisingly, Vine’s article caused outrage:

Others, meanwhile, drew attention to Vine’s ongoing role in entrenching racist tropes:

Her sheer ignorance about toppling statues that ‘honour’ the slave trade also provoked comment:

Vine and the Mail can’t cope with the true significance of removing these statues.

Vine’s article encapsulates what we’re all up against from the entitled, white, right establishment. It’s no surprise that the racist, right-wing Mail published this article. But the right shouldn’t be surprised that this fuels the need for these protests further.

Featured image via screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. How far do we go?
      The Roman Empire was built on slavery. Should we pull down Hadrians Wall? The baths in Bath? Destroy all the artifacts in The British Museum?
      George Washington ‘owned’ slaves. Should America wipe away all reference to their first President?
      Statues of people like Colston, who’s income came almost unanimously from slavery, sure get rid of those.
      Those that helped “build” the British Empire that oft times used slave labour as part of said building. Let communities decide for themselves. My opinion would be leave them put but have descriptive plaques, scannable ones perhaps, that educate people to the true bredth of that persons actions. Good and bad.
      And as for HBO dropping Gone With The Wind for depicting slavery. That’s just stupid. The film is set in a time when slavery was real and a central fact in the events depicted in it. Put a warning label on the dvd or before the film, and others like it, sure. People can be upset by different things. I get that.
      We have to be careful that too much knee jerking will destroy things that can be used for historical educational tools.
      What better than a screening of Gone With The Wind, or a reading of North and South to help educate American students of their past history, and the big part it played into the oppression that Black Americans are still suffering today.

    2. Cynical move by ‘rent-a-racist’ Daily Mail and dog-whistle Sarah Vine aka ‘Let’s not discuss the big issues raised by BLM protests instead let’s get bogged down in bogus debates about statues.’ No, let’s not!

      Actions speak louder than words. The toppling of racist monuments needs no commentary. Let the statues fall. It speaks for itself.

      When idiots get protective of Britain’s racist past, that speaks for itself too. I would not respond to Vine and the other racist deniers like her. I would just switch her mic off.

      “Not allowed to spout my propaganda – its a ‘cancel culture,'” complains Trump’s daughter. FarRight feels silenced! That’s a great idea, Ivanka, let’s do that for all racists and apologists for slavery and imperialism and ‘White Supremacy’.

      People of the world, you have a mute button – use it! Assertiveness right there in your hand!

      Meanwhile, let’s keep our focus on the real objective. BLM is not about public monuments – duh! It is about fundamental and wide-ranging radical change in the daily lives of BAME citizens. If every statue was ripped down and BAME still experienced racist policing, education, housing, employment, health and all the other valid grievances of the BLM struggle what would the BAME citizen have gained? A cosmetic change? Screw that!

      BLM has to be about permanently shifting real major resources (political, economic, social, institutional, cultural – yes, including monumental art) away from oppressors back to the community of the oppressed. You know what, in my bucket list of revolutionary change, scrapping statues comes way down. Sure, better to be rid of them but (as the huge number of racist organisations currently busy scrapping statues to signal virtue shows) this is ‘low hanging fruit’. Compared with making the changes necessary to stop BAME Britons dying through police action or needlessly dying of Corvid-19 through institutional racism in the NHS because they get no PPE, chucking a statue in a river is completely pointless. Its bloody lame – and anyone wasting time over it needs to show me they already fixed the urgent stuff and can afford to fixate on the trivia. No more BAME victims of racism dying in Britain? Yeah? Great. Now we can fuss over the street furniture.

      Brothers and Sisters – get real! Do not get distracted by a load of pea-brained propaganda and gawd-awful gaslighting from racists! You know better than that!

      Focus on the important stuff!

    3. Why would a Future of Truth, Justice and Anti Racism, be something to fear!?
      Why would opening History and teaching children what racist bastards Nancy Astor, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, et al were along with any great achievements they MAY have achieved!? ALL of History needs to be revised it is entirely written from the elites viewpoint and a great deal has been covered up by/for corruption and greed!
      The PEOPLE are shaking their chains they are waking up and the establishment are shitting themselves! Look at how many protests are not being reported in MSM, Down Town NY, Yellow Jackets, they know it will not take a fat lot and the 1% are Toppled and Powerless!
      Britishness is not about being White Racists! We can not cling on to the lies of the past, expose them, there are many Great Brits to celebrate who were not Racist, Plundering or Pirate Bastards!

    4. It’s just a matter of time before this terrible comic ends it’s life. The bigoted racist let’s make Britain great again are all on the way out of this life and will take this rag with them,
      The only difference is their final resting place’ ! Some will no doubt reside where love and peace are the norm, I suspect the Daily Fail And it’s owners contributors will be going somewhere a bit warmer !!

    5. Actually, it shows the opposite. The Mail is trying to stir up these protests by provoking outrage among both black and white people.
      The Mail and their government bosses calculate that if the British people are fighting among themselves, they will not be united enough to hold to account the billionaires who have crashed the economy.
      I’d urge people of all ethnicities not to rise to the bait.

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