The Nasty Party MkII

It’s short story time folks so buckle up and let’s delve into a dystopian world in which violence against animals is fully endorsed by the British Prime Minister. One where human life is categorised as ‘low value’ and ‘high value’ and where the working class mindlessly dig their own graves with ballot papers. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Wait, hold on a minute…

With one fell swoop Theresa May has solidified her place as the new Margaret Thatcher – in that I mean truly hated. In scenes reminiscent of a TV political satire, she utterly baffled millions of British voters by openly endorsing the practice of riding around fields in southern England, dressed like an idiot and mutilating animals. Her comments supporting the reintroduction of fox hunting are deplorable, but sadly, nothing out of the ordinary from the Conservative Party.

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Conservatives and their harmless ‘traditions’.

The notion that the Tories had changed, that they were no longer the ‘nasty party’ is false. Earlier this week Iain Duncan Smith spoke of other human beings as ‘low value’ – Comments that bear harrowing similarities to the Nazi ‘untermenschen’ concept of the 1930s. (Video link below)

 

https://twitter.com/bbcnewsnight/status/861835198648004608

It’s not new though, is it? Under the previous government, NHS workers were demonised to such an extent that you’d think they’d been forcefully euthanising patients. The European Union was portrayed as a tyrannical regime hellbent on the destruction of everything British.

So, basically fish ‘n chips and England fans trashing European city centres.

Now Theresa wishes to bring back a barbaric practice that is largely reserved for their own ilk. I can’t imagine your average Joe Bloggs battering animals to death, what is it about the Tories that makes them like this? Were they raised by psychopaths? Brought up around them? Even pigs aren’t safe.

Sadly for Iain Duncan Smith, the possibility of hunting these ‘low value’ human beings with hounds is out of the question for now. However over the years the Tories have tried their best to degrade and harm defenceless creatures through other means.

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Post-Brexit fox and working-class hunts look all the rage.

Whether it be the disabled or miners and steel workers, low-income families and students, foreign nationals and NHS workers, the Tories just love to prey on the weak, demonise foreigners and convince the working class that the source of their problems are other working class people.

If fox hunting once again becomes commonplace then it merely serves as a platform for the Tories to satisfy their insatiable lust for cruelty. I wouldn’t pin your hopes on them stopping their systematic destruction of the working class though, it’s just another way to vent.

Focusing on the opposite side of the spectrum, how can one even fathom the thought of not voting for Labour, the SNP, or Liberal Democrats? Admittedly they all have their faults; Petty nationalism, inner-party conflicts and past discrepancies. Yes we know Labour allowed banks to run riot and near bankrupt an economy, the Lib Dems jumped into bed with David Cameron at the first sniff of power, and the SNP have been blurting out calls for a referendum ever since…well, since the last one.

One thing that can be said however, is that the alternatives they offer to the Conservatives are clear.

Increased wages, adequately fed children, protection of civil and human rights, a secure – and crucially – well funded National Health Service and ensuring that large corporations actually pay their share of tax in the U.K.

Furthermore, all of the above have stated their intention to take a moderate stance with the European Union. The Tories are firmly grounded in their belief that Britain has a god given right to a good deal. After all, we saved Europe, didn’t we? Bloody Germans telling us what to do.

Make no mistake, the Tories are not the people’s party that they paint themselves to be, and every vote cast in their favour is an endorsement of a leader and a party that holds life in all forms in complete contempt, as well as your full support of an obviously failing system.

But y’know, those foxes won’t hunt themselves.

Echo & the Funny Men

The Trump administrations’ latest in a seemingly never ending line of gaffs has been to prevent certain news organisations from White House briefings. CNN, BBC and the New York Times have been singled out  and banned for…well, reporting the news. This news of course, is actual news, and not the fake news Donald Trump so often reminds us of.

Or is it fake news? At this point (31 days into his presidency) I’m honestly not sure. The lines between reality and dystopian sci-fi nightmare were already blurring as state results were swinging in his favour last November, so you can forgive me for not having a clue what he’s on about half the time.

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The maniacal nature of this presidency is anxiety inducing, tear-jerking and terrifying – it is everything you want from a Sunday Netflix binge. Sadly however, it is real, and in and amongst the cringe worthy interviews, satirical slaughtering of Trump, his staff, and support, along with the occasional bursts of ‘wow did he just..?’ there is a suspicious undercurrent of authoritarianism.

News organisations such as the BBC are often accused of bias. Ask a broad range of Scots and you will likely be met with an unequivocal rejection of this idea, or, an extended explanation as to how the BBC influenced every sentient life form in Scotland during the run up to the 2014 independence referendum. Brexiteers also followed this route, lambasting the BBC and main stream media for portraying their cause in a negative light…whilst they lied through their back teeth about NHS budget increases.

The BBC has its flaws, its shortcomings and its scandals, but it is a fantastic and informative service to the public,  the same can be said about their co-conspirators in this diabolical MSM propaganda campaign, it is a disgrace that they have been cast out.

Since his election, there has been no shortage of news to report from Washington, and the air time reflects this. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s just getting boring now, but the fact of the matter is that everything the press has reported thus far has either been announced by the White House, or proclaimed loudly by Trump himself (most likely on stage, in front of numerous other news organisations who also publish and broadcast his statements).

We are of course talking about news here, stories as they unfold, not opinion or punditry. Nonetheless, the media has a right to air or publish content such as this, if the White House can’t handle an opinion piece, then do they have the ‘stamina’ that Trump so boldly declared he had?

How can the White House exile these organisations in good conscience?

Wait, let me rephrase that…

How can the White House now morally or legally justify exiling them?

Hang on, I’ll try again…In fact no, no I will not try to rationalise this.

The reality of the situation here is that the Trump administration is desperately clambering to control the narrative, and by refusing to engage with news organisations critical of the government, branding them ‘fake news’ or biased, they think they can maintain this control through their own channels – They are gravely mistaken. With each passing threat toward the media and with every day they are locked out, the Trump administration loses what little reputation it even had in the first place, and places the ball into the court of the opposition and the press.

A fundamental aspect of any democracy is a free press and a transparent government. These two are delicately entwined and have been for decades. To restrict the press from carrying out its role of informing the public, and holding power structures to account, is an insult to the system itself and those living in it. Furthermore, it is a stain on the legacy of the idols they revere; Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln Et al

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In the alt-right echo chamber that Trump, his supporters and puppet master Steve Bannon exist, they feel safe and secure. After all, if you disregard opposing beliefs and ideologies, viewing your own as superior and everyone else as a cuck or snowflake, then it’s easy to understand why you’d be so eager to suppress everything else, you’re doing the world a favour. It would also be nice to imagine a world where nobody disagreed, where everyone conformed to the same thoughts and beliefs. (if you’d like to read more about this I’d suggest George Orwell’s ‘1984’.)

If your sources of information are through news outfits such as Breitbart, known for its sensationalist and often offensive content, or InfoWars, led by a man who believes the upper echelons of the Democrat Party are part of an inter-dimensional, vampiric paedophile ring* – I’m being serious here – then I imagine your life would be pretty peachy. After all, ignorance is bliss as they say.

A real democrat however would relish the opportunity to see debate flourish, political engagement rise and a population elevated. A true patriot would welcome a stronger democracy, and in turn a stronger nation. The golden boy of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, would have rolled his sleeves up and slugged it out in a manner befitting of the office, he wouldn’t run away and scream 140 characters worth of bile onto social media.

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Trump is none of the above, and seeks to restrict those things, instead relying on ignorance and intolerance to control, through marginalising large parts of the populace and de-legitimising the pillars of democracy. We have seen on a number of occasions in the past century where a free press is portrayed as an enemy of the people, and these have largely been in totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China – Is this any way for the President of the United States to act?

For a man and a movement that so often squeals about freedom of speech, he doesn’t seem too keen on ensuring it works both ways.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a real democrat, century’s old but still frighteningly relevant:

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

* For more on Alex Jones’ mind boggling statements see: Joe Rogan Podcast episode 911

Image Credits:

Gage Skidmore (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

Chris Christian (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode)

 

 

 

The ‘F’ Word

The term ‘fascist’ is thrown around so nonchalantly today that the word itself is beginning to bear next to no meaning. Its overusage dilutes the term to the point where anyone on the authoritarian spectrum could be by our definition, a fascist. When one imagines fascism, we conjure images of Mussolini, Franco, Hitler. We imagine the bald-headed, brainless Neo-Nazi thugs that demand Shariah Law be abolished in Britain – despite it having never been imposed. We imagine the horrors of Nazism and the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

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Credit: Gage Skidmore @ Flickr

Some may say the fascists of today do not wear brown shirts, they wear crisp suits, ties embellished with American or British flag pins, they cast their votes out of anger and they read Breitbart or watch Fox News.I have my own views of the political right, continually we witness the deregulation of social services & the financial sector, policies regarding personal choice that are deeply detrimental to women’s health, and populism that ultimately breeds division and petty nationalistic viewpoints. His policies bear all the signs of fascism, however to brand an entire demographic as fascist, or sympathetic toward this ideology, is equally as damaging and divisive.

With Donald Trump’s first two weeks as POTUS, he has followed through on many of his absurd campaign promises. The pinnacle of this being the immigration ban that affects the citizens of multiple Middle-Eastern nations. Lets be honest with ourselves, this is a blanket ban applying purely to Muslims, enacted under the auspices of ‘keeping America safe’ – It is not. It is purely an act of symbolic gesturing, made in a petty effort to ensure the great ignorant masses of the US and the West that Trump is doing something, anything, to prevent hypothetical and unlikely bloodshed on our streets.

The reality is this however, nations such as Iraq, Iran, Somalia, all have radical groups & individuals, they all have their issues – Ironically, many stem from US imperialist meddling. But if one were to truly tackle the issue of Islamic Extremism, hateful ideology and the threat to supposed Western values, then Trump would have included Saudi Arabia on this list. He has not, and I am sure you are aware as to why he hasn’t included a nation that still mutilates criminals, beheads apostates and prevents women from accessing the basic human rights and dignities that we all enjoy.

Trump is displaying inherently fascist tendencies thus far in his time as POTUS, we can all agree on such. Plans to introduce a weekly ‘list’ of crimes committed by immigrants bears harrowing similarities to tactics employed by Nazi Germany. Breeding fear of the unknown, the different coloured men, those whose prayers differ from ours, it’s all there, in plain sight. His ludicrous wall is nothing more than an effort to prevent the influx of Latin American immigration, in an attempt to limit cultural and societal integration, and perhaps in the long-term, restrict his political rivals from a share of a vital voter demographic.

The White House press team are ever striving to control the flow of valid, factual information. Throwing out ‘counter facts’ to stifle the press’ ability to report, and in their following, we see the perfect weapon to delegitimise the press. Droves of mindless social media users, frighteningly uninformed and brainwashed to 1930s standards, who cry ‘fake news’ as often as leftists cry fascist or thereabouts.

Opponents of the Trump presidency are too quick to cry ‘fascist’ in my opinion however, and their doing so but merely fuels the fire that burns through the Trumps followers. During the election campaign cries of racism and bigotry merely solidified Trump’s voter base and encouraged an ‘Us versus Them’ mentality. People (somehow) voted for Trump for these reasons, and will likely continue to support him for carrying out his campaign promises. Make your voices heard, organise and resist, but more importantly, remember to engage with the opposition and encourage debate. Change their minds and allow them to see the madness unfolding, utilise the free press and factual information. Do not bombard the airwaves with insults as relentlessly as they do.

For the purpose of objectivity, one need look no further than Obama administration for the hallmarks of fascist behaviour.

Under Obama mass surveillance was established and even so much as accepted, those who outed these blatant infringements upon civil rights were ostracized, imprisoned or continue to be hunted by the US Government. Execution of US citizens without due-process or trial was seen as the norm through Drone strikes (See: Anwar Al-Alwaki for more) and thousands of civilians have been needlessly killed in Pakistan and other Middle-Eastern countries, all under the auspices of maintaining American security.

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Credit: Stephen Melkisethian @ Flickr

The closure of Guantanamo Bay was promised during an arduous election campaign, it was not, and continued the summary torture of prisoners, many of whom had received no legitimate trial or due process. Finally, let us not forget that Obama utilised the executive order, at times with such haste, that it rendered government pointless.

Are these not the actions of an inherently fascist regime? Abandoning the judicial processes of the state and preemptively attacking without concern for civilian casualties or the political consequences? 1930s German acted in a similar fashion, annexing states under the guise of liberating German minority demographics without a moments thought for the diplomatic ramifications, the indefinite imprisonment and torture of political prisoners, the introduction of secretive, clandestine surveillance measures. These are all comparative and all fascist in nature.

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Credit: Medill Dc @ Flickr

Barack Obama was known as the ‘Deportee in Chief’ and under his government, the levels of deportation were nine times that of the decade previous to his government. Obama also introduced a temporary travel ban for Iraqis. By my recollection, there was no such level of rage, no mass organisation of protests, no Twitter campaigns or popular online petitions. Did we not see this at the time, or did we simply ignore it for the sake of having a government that acted on behalf of many?

This is not intended to be a tit for tat, they did this, they did that post. But for the sake of maintaining some sanity I felt it was worth pointing out that under successive governments we have seen increasingly fascist tendencies. American’s supported the Patriot Act a decade before this, and the British public followed suit, we have allowed successive administrations to lay the inevitable groundwork for the dissolution of democracy and we here in the UK have done so the same. Laying the blame for this culture of division and rash policy making at the feet of one man is as absurd as it is forgetful – This is all on us.

Allowing individuals such as Trump to even be considered as candidates, through outdated voting methods and democratic structures, also on us. Wholesale reform is required and I am not the man to suggest how, but it is obvious that the way to achieve this is to use your vote to elect those who will truly represent the people, not corporate stooges and yes men.

If people took the time to engage and involve themselves in politics before it arrived at this point, and if governments were continually held to account, rather than the selective ire that we see once every so often, then governments would act purely on the consensus of their voters and ludicrous travel bans would not be in place. Perhaps if western imperialism and world policing were halted then we would not see the failed states that supposedly threaten us, if we simply educated our working classes, offered them the chances in life they have been promised and stopped belittling them, then they wouldn’t follow demagogues and liars who claim to represent them.

Keep protesting, it is heartening to see such unity and it is what the left does best, but try and remember you allowed this before, and probably will again.

 

 

Image Credits: Stephen Melkisethian (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode)

Gage Skidmore (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

Medill DC (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

Why Do You Care?

There seems to be a culture of questioning why one should care about issues far from their doorstep. Social media brings out the worst of this, “Why do you care?” “What difference will this make?” “Focus on your own issues”. Are we restricted to caring about one issue at a time? If that were the case, would anything change?

In the weeks running up to Donald Trump’s inauguration, there have been protests around the world, and today Edinburgh, Scotland, has seen a protest involving dozens of people in the city centre. The public response to news articles covering this varies from support, to indignation, and some go so far as to question why, say, a Scottish student would protest the inauguration of the new US President? The answer is quite simple; We are all in this together.

I would say that focusing on every issue imaginable would be equally as stifling to progress as focusing on one at a time. However to ignore the realities that will be affecting other human beings, purely because they’re living in another country, is ridiculous and shows a complete lack of empathy, compassion, and interest in the lives of others. Furthermore, showing an interest in American politics and society does not equate to a lack of interest in the ills that affect those in other nations, or their own, it merely proves that our world and societies are interconnected, vibrant and strong.

Stop chastising people for caring, it is your right to protest regardless of where the issue takes place, or whom it involves.

The Fake News Debacle

The ‘Fake News’ debacle is not one to be taken lightly. Although many social media users are capable of identifying legitimate news sources, it seems the lines are becoming increasingly blurred on what is considered news. Furthermore, the use of this phrase is allowing the public, and governments to ignore issues or deny wrongdoing.

The Pizza Gate affair – the details of which I will not delve into – has shown the influence that social media has upon the spread of information , factual or false. In light of this, Mark Zuckerberg has assured us that Facebook will begin introducing precautionary measures to filter out falsified news stories, this is a good start. Twitter is following suit.

The situation is very, very dangerous. If a fake news article is read and subsequently shared by thousands of people online, then the risk of damage to character is very real, as well as merely proliferating an ever-growing culture of misinformation in the ‘post-truth’ society we find ourselves in.

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The political left and right should be united in their attempts to clamp down on slanderous material. However, like with virtually every other issue, they are growing further apart. Each side profit from having the public misinformed on the activities of their rivals, no doubt. However is this really the society we wish to live in? One that rejects legitimate news reporting for mere conjecture?

In 2016 we witnessed a so called ‘rejection’ of conventional news sources, the dreaded and dastardly Main Stream Media. The menace that has allegedly plagued the people’s of the western world for decades, and promotes the far more feared ‘PC’ society – One where people simply can’t spout racial or religious hatred (Ridiculous, right?). Trump supporters and Brexiteers alike share the common idea that the MSM cannot be trusted, and instead place their undying devotion in the hands of the demagogues they follow, relying on their leaders to inform them and rejecting objectivity entirely.

Whilst browsing social media on Saturday, I happened across several articles posted by The Guardian and Independent. The response to these articles was astounding, with several individuals accusing the publications of posting ‘fake news’ – using the term in the form of a hashtag. These were genuine news articles, not garbage. Actual pieces focusing on current issues and upcoming events, one of which was the arranged women’s march in Washington DC (Article can be found here)

Upon scrolling through the fake news hashtag, it seems this was plastered all over posts by news organisations and individuals. A common theme was that these were pieces critical of Donald Trump or the alt-right. Now the issue of impartiality in news coverage is an entirely different conversation, and I do not have the time, nor the statistics to look into air time, number of negative articles etc, so I’ll avoid it.

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However to me it appears that many on the right of the political spectrum are using this tag as a means to de-legitimize genuine news articles and stifle discussion. After all, why have an in-depth debate on an issue when you can simply ignore your opponents or write them off as the pawns of a political conspiracy? It almost appears to be encouraged by the PEOTUS as well. Upon hearing of claims that a dossier contained information pertaining to Russia’s involvement with Trump – and the dangers of this – he took to social media to castigate those who had published the information, deeming it to be fake news, and claiming that Buzzfeed was a fake news organisation.

This is a highly volatile situation we face, if this document leak was false (there are claims and counter claims), then it is the responsibility of the media to acknowledge this, and any publication of it is wrong. However, on a fundamental level, if information critical of government can be suppressed through making this claim, then we linger dangerously close to the edge of a society found only in the works of George Orwell.

I tried engaging with one user and asked him why he had deemed this to be fake news, but was met with the response of “Coming from the side that cries racist”.

Now there is no denying that many on the political right are met with unjustified claims of xenophobia or racism, and that is equally as deplorable and counter-productive to debate as what we discuss, but this gave me a terrifying glimpse into the world of online discussion. A future in which one side screams, and the other refuses to acknowledge that the scream itself was legitimate.

If we continue down this path, then press freedom, accountability of government, and civilised debate will become things of the past. This cannot be allowed to happen, but what is the solution? Can we truly expect society as a whole to be equally well informed? People will believe what they want to believe, I suppose it’s up to the rest of us to not go insane dealing with the madness many spout.

Featured Image Credit (Original): Freepress.net [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/]