Islam, Europe & neoNazi politics

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There are just over 2 billion practicing Muslims worldwide. Can you imagine the global impact of 2 billion far right neoNazis like Britain First, BNP or the EDL? And they tell us that Islam is the biggest problem.

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There are, of course, good reasons to distrust all religious groups, especially the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaeism & Christianity) but let’s keep it in perspective. Secular societies such as we have in the European Union keep religious bigotry at bay, just as Europe also keeps nationalism & xenophobia at bay.

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The very things that Nationalist groups oppose protect us from the theocracies that they claim to fear the most.

But the European convention on human rights (ECHR) doesn’t just prevent religious theocracy – it also prevents governments based upon discrimination and Nazi ideology. No wonder far right groups from UKIP and the BNP to the EDL & ‘Britain First’ want the UK to leave the union.

What could possibly go wrong with the Master Race in charge?

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Who ate all the pies?

Pies and racism to go!

I really like Gregg’s food. That probably goes some way to explaining my ‘none too slender’ physique. Yes, I admit it – I’m a fat bloke.

But maybe I’ll be getting thinner from now on. I won’t be buying any more steak bakes, or indeed anything else from Gregg’s unless they can satisfactorily deal with their racism problem.

Today the English Defence League went to Rotherham in yet another failed attempt to “take back our streets”. Needless to say they didn’t succeed. But they did get a few free pies from Greggs – courtesy of Rotherham Gregg’s racist counter staff.
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Today I Emailed Greggs customer service dept:

“Today in Rotherham one of your employees gave away free food to racist demonstrators from the English Defence League because she apparently “loves” the EDL. Whilst I’m sure giving away free food to hatemongers is not official Greggs policy the buck must stop with the employer.

“Consequently I must advise you that I will forego my regular supply of Gregg’s steak bakes until your organisation makes it clear that you do not support this behaviour.

“I look forward to your response which I will publish on my blog alongside this message.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Sorensen”

It’ll be interesting to see how they respond. I can’t imagine Greggs PR dept will be too happy. If it was only theft of their product that might not be so bad (although it is generally grounds for summary dismissal). But stealing from your employer just to feed a pack of racist thugs (because you “love” them) adds a whole new perspective.
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You can contact Greggs here. Let’s do all we can to ensure that UK culture offers no quarter to racist bigots such as this.
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UPDATE

Today (May 12th 2014) I received the following response….

“Dear Stuart
Thanks for getting in touch about our Rotherham Shop.
We are aware of this matter, and it is now the subject of an internal investigation. We are not therefore able to comment specifically.
However, we can confirm that Greggs does not have any political affiliations whatsoever.
Yours sincerely,
Christine Bond
Customer Care Team”

To which I replied…..

“Hi Christine,
Re reference number F1570963
That’s all I wanted to hear. Beyond that, it’s completely your own affair so far as I can tell.
Thankyou for the quick response.
Cheers,
Stuart”

Looks like steak bake is back on the menu.
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Brilliant response to UKIP’s scaremongering

Last night Nigel Farage made yet another appearance on BBC Question Time. Whilst there are some very interesting questions surrounding this man’s remarkably frequent QT appearances (given the fact that his party holds precisely no UK parliamentary seats) that’s not my point here. Instead I just want to reproduce this brilliantly succinct comment from last night’s TV audience.

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Well said that man. This nationalistic shift toward the right in UK is precisely what happened in 1930s Germany.

For those who need more evidence of Farage’s fascist nature have a look at this letter expressing extreme concerns about him from the master of Dulwich college.
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More bigotry from UKIP candidates

Meet Harry Perry

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This is the UKIP MEP candidate for Stockport who thinks Pakistan should be nuked, homosexuality is ‘evil’ & thinks the EDL would be worth voting for if they entered politics.

Basically he’s just another UKIP bigot who thinks he can win votes through discrimination and scapegoating minorities.

With views like this it’s hardly surprising that he wants the UK out of Europe. How else could UKIP’s bigotry get a foothold in UK?
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If you hate fairness, human rights, workers’ rights and Johnny foreigner then vote UKIP. If you believe in fairness, equality, rights and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work then don’t.

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Freepost politics

The UK’s wonderfully right wing racist party, UKIP are asking people to mail them using FREEPOST so they can continue their fight against Johnny Foreigner. There’s even a campaign to help them by donating a brick to the racist cause. Well – it was a fairly stupid thing to do to give out a freepost address to all and sundry when they have so many enemies.

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After all, when they abandon human rights – you know, this stuff …..

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… and privatise the NHS
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…we’ll all be well stuffed.

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So people are planning to send them a brick or two for the cause, to help them keep those nasty foreigners away from the white cliffs of Dover.

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Don’t ever believe UKIP’s racist, elitist, privileged nonsense. They’re like the EDL & BNP except that some of them are just a little bit cleverer so they package their nationalist, sectarian bigotry a little more acceptably. But they’re equally divisive.
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An Experiment to Analyze Hate Against Muslims

Stuart Sorensen:

22 people did nothing and that’s the biggest problem by far. We can’t just choose not to get involved.

Discrimination and bigotry will harm us all because it damages the fabric of our society as a whole. And it’s not just an issue for the USA. Racism, intolerance and sectarianism is on the rise all over the world.

Would you speak out?

Originally posted on No Offense:

Take a few minutes to watch this alarming hidden camera experiment featured by ABC news, who casted actors to display a real life issue about discrimination against Muslims here in the United States. The responses of bystanders were heavily evaluated. How would you have reacted?

Both the Muslim woman and the worker behind the counter are both actors who sought to present a real life circumstance to  inflict emotion. “Get back on the camel and go back to wherever you came from,” said the clerk. “You’re no American, you’re a terrorist.”

Put yourself in this woman’s shoes. How is this something to ignore? Imagine you’re one of the customers witnessing this act of injustice at a local bakery. Would you be one of the thirteen who stood up for the victim? One of the six who sided with the clerk? Or, one of the twenty-two who stood there and said…

View original 212 more words

And he will be missed

My morning began much like any other. The sun rose, the alarm clock chimed its morning message and slowly I opened my eyes to greet the world.

Like so many others in today’s world I use my smartphone in lieu of an alarm clock and so my first task (after silencing the electronically generated morning cacophany) is to use it to check the morning news online. It wasn’t the best start to the day.

Within minutes of opening my eyes I heard the awful news….

Tony Benn is dead. This world will be a poorer place without the wisdom and eloquence of this fine old man of the left. Tony Benn wasn’t just a politician, he was a gentleman. And he will be missed.

He was eloquent and insightful with an almost uncanny ability to boil down apparently complex concepts into the simple fundamentals that grunts like me can understand. Consider for example his five questions for those in authority.
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I wonder how the unelected Tory government would respond to these questions. After all if it wasn’t for ‘Kingmaker Clegg’ there would be no tory government to represent the interests of the wealthy at all.

Tony Benn wasn’t just wise – he was compassionate too. Tony Benn wasn’t just a campaigner – he was a guru of the left. Tony Benn wasn’t just a politician – he was one of my heroes. And he will be missed.

Even well into old age he continued to campaign. I first heard him speak at a CND rally in the early 1980s. He was captivating. More recently he could be found demonstrating against the rise of fascism in UK and neoNazi groups such as the BNP and the EDL.
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Tony Benn didn’t just believe in equality and human rights – he dedicated his long life to their attainment. And he will be missed.

Tony Benn was happy to rock the boat when morality demanded it.
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And he respected those others who did the same.
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And he will be missed.

Fallacies 14: Shifting the burden

“We must baptise dead people who didn’t believe when they were alive or they will not be saved. I know this to be true!”

“Can you prove that?”

“Can you disprove it?”

“No – it’s impossible to disprove.”

“Then it must be true.”

By the way – I haven’t made that stuff up. It’s part of doctrine for a very well-established worldwide religion. Devotees of The Church of Jesus Christ & Latter Day Saints (LDS) really believe that. You may have heard of this religion before. It’s more usual name is Mormonism.

Mormon missionaries don't always know about the racist beginnings of their church

Mormon missionaries don’t always know about the racist beginnings of their church

I use this example because of a discussion I had with a couple of Mormon missionaries who knocked on my door in an attempt to convert me to their way of thinking. They didn’t particularly want to talk about baptising the dead as it happens. It was one of a long list of topics they like to avoid with new ’prospects’ including:

The need to wear protective underwear (temple garments);
The belief that black people are unworthy;
The belief that black people can become “white and delightsome to the Lord” if they lead a good life;
The belief that women should be subservient to men.

There are many more unsubstantiable beliefs I could have listed but it isn’t my intention to pick on Mormonism particularly here. The LDS doctrine of post-mortem baptism is just an illustration to demonstrate how weak an argument becomes when the only way to support it is to show that others can’t disprove it.

The philosopher, Bertrand Russell illustrated this beautifully when he asserted that there was a silver teapot orbiting the earth and invited people to believe in it without evidence. To the best of my knowledge nobody did (not even Russell himself) precisely because there is no reason to believe in it.

Interestingly Russell’s assertion that nobody could disprove the existence of his teapot didn’t cut much ice with most people. I suspect that even Mormon missionaries can see right through that line of argument when it suits them.

Not being able to disprove something is no reason to assume it must be true. There needs to be positive evidence, not merely the absence of the negative.

But let’s not worry too much about religion here. Let’s face it, we’ve covered that enough in this series already. Instead we’ll turn to some other equally disreputable uses of this same tactic. The example I’m choosing here is used by various religions (including LDS as it happens) but I’m much more interested in its secular use right now. It’s the idea that white people are superior to other races.

Racism on the agendaThis idea has been around for centuries and is still a major blight on human society. Racism, like sexism and a host of other discriminatory ’isms’ makes no sense to the critical observer. B for those whose grasp of evidence and the nature of reality is at best tenuous it is convincing enough to prompt violence, even murder, segregation and a whole host of atrocities that are too well documented elsewhere to need much repetition here.

Of course most people don’t spend too much time thinking about racism. At least most people I know don’t. Race just isn’t relevant to many people. It’s reflects hereditary differences that are no more significant than eye colour or the particular shape of an individual’s chin.

Unfortunately though, the acceptance that race is irrelevant may not be enough. Maybe, just maybe those of us who aren’t directly affected by racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism etc should be more prepared to stand up and be counted in support of our peers (our very clearly equal peers) who are.

For those of us who do attempt to have reasonable discussions with racists the conversations are extremely illuminating. Admittedly such conversations don’t tend to teach us much about race but they do provide valuable insights into the way that many racists think (or perhaps more accurately don’t think) about what they believe.

A typical conversation goes something like this…

“White people are the best”

“How do you know”

“It’s obvious.”

“How is it obvious?”

“We just are.”

“I don’t think so. I’m white but I don’t think I’m particularly special.”

“You’re a traitor to your race.”

How can I be a traitor to something that doesn’t really matter?”

“But it does matter.”

“Can you tell me why it matters?”

“Because it does.”

“But can you tell me why?”

“Can you tell me why it doesn’t?”

wpid-1374337096.jpgOf course – it’s not actually that hard to illustrate that race doesn’t matter a jot. There are plenty of illustrations that can be used to show both the highest and the lowest forms of human behaviour and achievement from across all racial groups. But that, of course, can be reduced to anecdote and so dismissed by the racist. And in fairness I have some sympathy with that process. Anecdote isn’t proof of anything.

But then I don’t have to prove that race is irrelevant. I’m not the one making the claim that it matters. The burden of proof is on the racist to convince the rest of us that they have a point and that means provide some proper evidence.

If you want my agreement – you need to give me a reason to believe you. It’s not enough just to assert that I can’t prove you wrong.

Typically at this point the racist will trot out an anecdote of their own about some Asian bloke who looked at them funny or a black woman who didn’t say thankyou when they held the door open for her. But that’s just as weak as every other form of anecdote. It proves nothing that can be generalised to an entire race of people.

Whenever I point this out (and the fact that they are using the same sort of argument they quite rightly declared invalid when I used it earlier) they almost always resort to the shifting the burden argument.

“You can’t prove that black people are as good as white people.”

And of course, they’re right, I can’t. I can’t prove that there is a silver teapot orbiting the planet either but that doesn’t mean it’s really there.

The principle is simple. If you want others to believe something, be it racism, religion, scientific conclusions, claims about therapeutic treatments or anything else, then you need to provide a convincing argument for that belief. That is your responsibility. The rest of us don’t have to disprove your ideas. You need to show why you are right.

If the person trying to convince you of their point of view has no argument beyond “You can’t prove me wrong” then I’d strongly suggest you take that as evidence in itself. They have just demonstrated how weak their assertions probably are. They have, in fact, almost (but not quite) proven themselves to be wrong.

After all – when they have no evidence to support their argument what other conclusion are we expected to reach?

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 12: The false dichotomy

Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

The false dichotomy argument (AKA Black & white argument, false dilemma argument, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a favourite of a range of manipulators from quacks and politicians to clerics and snake-oil salesmen. It is a tactic used to convince the other person that there are only two possibilities when in reality there are more. For example…

The English Defence League claims to defend England from what it regards as the ‘Islamification’ of the Western world. You may have heard that argument before. It’s the one Anders Breivik used to justify his terrorist attacks in Oslo last year.

The argument is depressingly simplistic, allowing for only two possibilities….

‘The Muslims’ will take over the world
or……
We will stop ‘the Muslims’ from taking over the world

It’s not hard to see that there are many, many more possibilities than this. Other possibilities include…

People can learn to live harmoniously together.
Many parts of UK are peacefully integrated.
‘The Muslims’ is no more an homogenous group than ‘The Christians’ is. There are ‘good and bad’ in both religions.
The extremist antics of the EDL and other far-right neoNazi organisations is a bigger threat by far to our society than the presence of people whose creed or colour differs from the stereotypical ‘Aryan Christian’ ideal.
All people, regardless of race, colour or creed have equal rights.

And yet, by creating a false dichotomy this divisive group of neoNazis have managed to convince themselves that standing around in car parks and attacking anyone who looks a bit foreign somehow constitutes defending the nation.

An equally silly false dichotomy involves the political nonsense that led David Cameron and Theresa May to inform us that the UK’s only options were:

Scrap the Human Rights Act
or
Watch the collapse of the British economy.

Dale McAlpine preaching

Dale McAlpine preaching

It’s true that the British economy isn’t doing particularly well right now but there’s much more to the argument than workers’ rights and a legal system that protects minimum wages and opposes unfair dismissal. Reducing tax for the highest earners, destroying the public sector and using tax payers money to boost private profits might have something to do with it too – not to mention the global financial crisis.

One of my least favourite false dichotomies came from a West Cumbrian, Christian street preacher who kindly informed my autistic, teenage stepson that he had only two options…

Convert to fundamentalist Christianity
or
Burn in Hell for all eternity

As you may imagine I was sure to point out a range of options to that preacher when I saw him in the street some time later.
And yet the narrow focus of the false dichotomy continues to influence people and can actually sound quite convincing if we accept their assessment of the situation at face value.

So I’ll set up a little dichotomous argument of my own. You can judge for yourself whether or not you consider the dichotomy to be a false one……

When you are presented with only two options ask yourself if
there may be more things to consider

or
Remain vulnerable to these manipulators and their superficial assessments of reality

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

The Convention 13: When Islamophobia goes unchallenged

I purposely avoided focussing upon the English Defence League’s antics in the last entry on article 9. That was because ‘The Convention’ series aims to remain relevant for longer than the EDL’s limited lifespan. Let’s face it, like all such paranoid groups they will break up as infighting and internal mistrust takes over. This is already happening and the group probably won’t last for too much longer.

But then I came across this report on today’s EDL rally in Dagenham:

It seems that a limited police presence has given these anti Muslim ‘demonstrators’ a chance, once again to show their true nature. So far 3 Asian youths have been hospitalised and ‘HopeNotHate’ photographers have also been assaulted. This event is continuing as I type. Who knows what the final toll of violence will be by the end of the day.

It may be that the lack of police presence is due to the Islamophobic EDL’s recent decision to exclude police from the planning stage of their demonstrations. This is unlawful in itself and based upon today’s events it’s easy to see why. Peaceful demonstration is one thing. Violent discrimination is quite another!

Update from HopeNotHate blog:

“I’ve just spoken to one of our people on the ground. He confirms that three Asian teenagers were attacked, one seriously enough to require urgent hospital treatment. We do not know how badly this lad was attacked but there was a lot of blood.”

Here’s a photo of the assault itself.

Racist EDL mob violence in Dagenham

Racist EDL mob violence in Dagenham


Members of the EDL, of course, deny that any violence occurred at their ‘peaceful demonstration’.
And here’s an interview given by one of these young Muslim men (from his local hospital’s A&E department) following the EDL mob’s attack: http://bit.ly/mvLlMQ

HopeNotHate blog continues….

“We’ve also received more information about the police operation. It seems that Dagenham police were prepared and had 12 vans waiting for the EDL march as it was to enter their borough. The problem, it seems, was in Redbridge, where the march began. The only police presence was a community support officer on a bicycle and he did not intervene when the three lads were attacked. Apparently the police in Redbridge had no intention of diverting any resources to the EDL demonstration.”

About ‘The Convention’

This series of posts first appeared on Stuart’s blog in June 2011. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or even particularly authoritative reference guide to the ECHR. Rather it is a brief introduction to a much larger and infinitely more fascinating subject. You can download the entire series in PDF format here: http://stuartsorensen.wordpress.com/amj-freebies-downloads-and-services/

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