Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Panorama - Undercover - Hate on the Doorstep

This is a very disturbing documentary for, amongst others, the following reasons (from most to least obvious):
  1. Racism is alive and punching in the UK
  2. The abolition of corporal punishment has proved disastrous
  3. Islam is an incredibly destructive force
The BBC1 documentary follows two British Muslims who go undercover for eight weeks, posing as an Asian couple in a Bristol housing estate. They are constantly abused, harassed, sworn at, racially slurred, sneered at, subject to missiles of glass and brick, threatened, mugged, reduced to tears and actually physically thumped. It makes one sick to be white and British, and stiffens one's resolve (if it needed any stiffening) against the BNP and Nick Griffin's slippery attempts to sanitise its inalienably racist platform.

Firstly, then, the most obvious conclusion is that racism is not dead in the UK, despite Trevor Phillips' assurance that nobody has a problem nowadays living next door to someone of a different ethnicity. Mancunian reporter Tamanna Rahman finishes the programme with a beaming smile on her face - because she is so relieved to be leaving the hell-hole she's spent only two months in. In that time, she avers, she experience more racist abuse than the rest of her life put together. The programme itself is an almost tediously ceaseless litany of hidden-camera clips of her and her on-screen husband getting attacked by nasty little oiks.

But this takes me to the second point: corporal punishment. The programme exposes not just that people are racist in Britain. It also shows the rather obvious point that undisciplined and unoccupied youngsters will latch on to any distinguishing feature of someone 'other' and attack it, like starving piranha. Skin colour is the most obvious distinguishing feature and laziest way of creating a 'them and us' dynamic, which can then lead to the cheap thrill of defeating someone weaker in an artificially constructed competitive scenario. Which is to say - it's easy to bully a brown person because they're brown than to work hard at Maths which you've never really been too good at, and you've never had much help with. Now, obviously, the broader point is that some of Britain's schools are failing to engage and motivate their students. But I posit that the removal of the cane has been a pulling out of the linchpin of school management. The children and young men in the documentary are entirely without fear of reprisal. They delight in creating terror and panic in the poor Asian couple. I cannot avoid the conclusion that if they had experienced the thwack of birch against their fleshier portions they would not be so greedy to terrorise those they label 'terrorists'. Humiliation in both senses of the word is radically underrated, and scrapping the cane has done this: that is, the burning shame in both face and buttocks of having been found out as a nasty little boy, as well as the humbling of soul and the pause for thought every time future temptations to be a racist bully present themselves.

On the terrorism theme, we consider, thirdly, the effect of Islam on both its adherents (radical and moderate) and the nation as a whole. Islam in its rarefied, Koranic form incites religious and racial violence. It is a religion of the sword, and now the bomb. To the moderate Muslim majority, Islam's sword is two-edged. Vilified as compromisers by the Wahabis, moderates are blessedly unfaithful to the violent tenets of their own faith, and mercifully ignore the Qu'ran's 'rise up and slay them' suras. However, these dear people are often the ones who bear the brunt of white Britain's confused fear of the terrifying and bloody excesses that Islam daily produces around the globe. It is interesting how the ill-informed and ill-mannered kids on the estate nevertheless constantly employed the semantics of 'the war on terror' in their bullying tactics. It wasn't just 'Get out P*ki'; it was 'Don't bomb me!' and 'Iraq's that way' and so on. While Al-Qaeda are flying planes into towers and coercing Down's Syndrome females to blow themselves up in crowded markets, normal, ordinary, assimilated, pleasant, decent, hard-worker, British moderate Muslims are taking the flak. But this is not the worst of it. Islam does not just slay the infidel, it slays its own followers. Many who die in extremist attacks are themselves Muslims, including 9/11 and 7/7. And yet this is still not the worst of it. Mohammed evacuated the gospel of the Cross, and left no way for his poor followers to find a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. Islam is Christianity with the Cross replaced with a sword. The most truly loving thing to do for a Muslim is to show them the love of Christ and help to them to escape from the prison of Islam.
Watch the documentary, fight racism in all its forms, discipline your kids (spare the rod, spoil the child and everyone around him), and love your Muslim (or otherwise) neighbour with the gospel.

1 comment:

londonlad said...

Yes, I’ve never really warmed to Panorama: it is quintessentially polemic, satisfied only with showing extremes and using a fairly syllogistic logic to arrive at its conclusions. The gist of the program seemed to be ‘evil white working class are racist and ignorant,’ while poor Asians are the victims of their violence and hatred. This kind of program presumes racism is the property of white people against black people. In truth - speaking as someone who has worked in both inner city London and Manchester – racism is endemic in human nature: many Britains of Pakistani origin hate those of Bangladeshi origin; those of Afro-Caribbean origin hate those of African and Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin and likewise, those of African origin hate those of Afro-Caribbean and Asian origin. Of course I am being simplistic; there are plenty of people of diverse ethnic and cultural origin who get on with anyone. But to think racism is a white vs. black issue involves immense naivety or stupidity.

Having grown up on estate like the one used in the Panorama documentary (see my last blog post 30/10/09) I can understand how intimidating such places can be. Though I would suggest that if a white middle-class couple moved onto the estate they would probably encounter similar hostility - as would a white working-class family placed on a des res estate, though of course, as is the case with the middle-class it would be more subtle. We are all tribal at heart and exhibit hostility (from subtle to explicit) to those who venture onto our territory.

It is also interesting to note that if white working class communities got the same amount of money poured into them as many of our ethnic minority communities. On saying that a change in the benefits’ system where self-reliance and subsistence are rewarded would better the lot of everyone.

As for Islam being inherently violent, I think you are forgetting Christianity’s history! The majority of Christians are not saints in the putative sense of the word. Many, in the name of Christ, have inflected terrible atrocities on people of other faiths and (alas) on fellow Christians. I do not, for one minute, condone those who commit violence to Christians, but I can understand hostility towards Christians, particularly in Pakistan, where the history of Christianity itself is hardly a noble one. I have no doubt that much anti-Christian feeling in the Islamic world is bound up with anti-Western feeling; yet I am also convinced that ‘As you sow, so shall you reap...’ and that anti-Christian feeling has its roots in the errors of colonialism and the arrogance and insensitivity of many Christian missionaries in the colonial and post colonial era.

That said, Muslims appear much better at killing each other so I wouldn’t get too hung up on those FEW Muslims who practice violence. The terrible car bomb in Peshawar the other day illustrates this well – it was parked outside a mosque during prayers. It is just man’s inhumanity to man – religion is a nice, ideological smoke screen by which it is dressed up as something else.

Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc. have been slaughtering each other for centuries; the conceit of the believer is enough to make that believer think they are being singled out as a victim or warrior, as ‘special’: it is the inverted pride so endemic in religious belief. In reality, people are just very good at doing bad things to each other... Religion just allows them to do it with their god’s blessing... And suffer it with their god’s fortitude and to his glory...

As for corporal punishment, it was widely practiced in the 19th century and before and yet crime was still widespread. I’d suggest you read a few histories of Britain, or even delve into Mrs Gaskell or Dickens to find out that even when children were strapped and whipped, they still grew up to be criminals. I was caned as a child – it achieved nothing! ‘Do as I say or I’ll hit you...’ As you sow, so you shall reap...