Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Friday, 4 March 2016

T-shirt legend

From photos taken at National Secular Society meeting in October 2012:

The delusion of pure Englishness

From Another Angry Voice by Thomas G. Clark:

The rise of hate-fuelled Facebook pages like Britain First and the sheer number of extreme-right ranters who see any online discussion thread as a suitable vessel in which to spew their noxious anti-immigrant bile makes it seem that Britain is becoming a more intolerant place, where people like racists, fascists and xenophobes feel ever more empowered to spread their hateful ideas.

An awful lot of the people who hold these extreme-right views seem completely impervious to stuff like facts, logic or critical analysis, thus simplistic tropes like "close the borders" or "send them back to where they came from" become their easy answers to all of societies' ills.

Stupid policies

Take Britain First's proposal that the word "racism" be completely banned from the English language. Not only is the idea of completely banning a word bizarrely impractical, it also reveals a severe authoritarian streak. These people are so dictatorial that they want to control people's thoughts and ideas by restructuring the English language to proscribe any term that could be used to criticise their own ideology.

Their thinking is that if people accuse them of being racist, they can solve the problem by banning the word racism! Thus, if anyone accuses them of being corrupt, incompetent or fascistic, they will simply ban the words "corruption", "incompetence" and "fascism" too.

The idea of a fascistic political party attempting to ban words from the English language is like some kind of George Orwell inspired satire, except that it's not a satire, it's a real ideology that well over a million people follow on Facebook!

Pure Englishness
It's not just the policies of the extreme-right that are laughably incoherent, a lot of their ideology is nonsensical crackpottery too. This article is about the ludicrous extreme-right concept of "pure Englishness".

In one discussion on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page someone made the point that there is no such thing as "pure Englishness", because if any English person looks far enough back in their ancestry, they're going to find an immigrant in there somewhere. Maybe an Irish migrant worker, a French Hugenot, a Norman lord, a Viking warrior or someone from some part of the Roman empire.

I thought that pointing out the fiction of "pure Englishness" was a good point to make, but a counter-argument was raised by a "Pure English" ultra-nationalist. This was his argument:

"I checked my family tree. I am english. Pure english. My family were here before the nation state of england existed as were many other families."

This might seem like a fair claim on the face of it, since there were indeed many English families living in England in the 10th Century (when the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms unified into the kingdom of England), however the slightest amount of sensible consideration shows this statement up as utterly delusional nonsense.

Any genealogist will tell you that the further back you go, the harder it is to find all of your ancestors, because the number of them doubles with every generation. We have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great great grandparents and onwards in an exponential growth pattern.

If we add the generations together we get this sequence:

1 generation (parents) = 2
2 generations (parents + grandparents) = 6
3 generations (parents + grandparents + great grandparents) = 14

4 generations (parents + grandparents + great grandparents + g. g. grandparents) = 30

The formula for this progression is x = 2n+1 - 2 with n being the number of generations and x being the total number of ancestors to be checked for Englishness.

It's difficult to know how many generations to go back to measure this claim of pure Englishness from "before England existed as a nation state", but since the Kingdom of England came into existence in the 10th Century, 1,000 years seems a fair estimate. Genealogists tend to use 20 years for a familial generation for historical periods, and 25 years for the modern era, so a claim to be "pure English" since the 10th Century suggests that something like 50 generations must have been thoroughly checked.

If we put the number 50 into our genealogy equation it turns out that our right-wing "pure English" fellow is claiming to have checked somewhere in the region of 2,251,799,813,685,246 ancestral connections and found them all to have been English born. The idea that our "Pure English" right-wing nationalist has checked all of two quadrillion ancestral connections and found every single one of them to be English is utterly absurd. If he spent just one second checking each of his two and a quarter quadrillion ancestral connections for Englishness (without any breaks for sleeping or eating), the task would have taken him 71,404,103 years to complete!

What our "pure English" nationalist is expecting us to believe is that he has spent millions of years checking all of his quadrillions of ancestral connections, and that every single one of them was English born!

Even if we let him off with such an obvious exaggeration, and reduce the magnitude of the task from fifty generations to just ten generations, that still leaves a huge number of people to be checked for Englishness (2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 128 + 256 + 512 + 1,024). So in order to prove that you're "pure English" for ten generations, you'd have to research 2,046 ancestral connections and find conclusive proof that every single one of them was English born.

Extreme xenophobia

One branch of my family tree has been traced back for hundreds of years to a small village in Yorkshire. I was also born in Yorkshire, so I feel like if anywhere is my home region, it is Yorkshire.

On the other hand it doesn't take me many generations at all to find ancestors who were born outside of Yorkshire, and outside of the United Kingdom for that matter.

Does the existence of non-Yorkshire ancestors make me any less of a Yorkshireman? Of course it doesn't.

The only way it could ever make a difference is if I was such a xenophobic nationalist that I loathed myself for the fact that some of my ancestors were born overseas, rather than being fascinated, as I am, by my family heritage.


The idea of ethnic purity is absurd enough in its own right, but the idea of ethnically pure Englishness is staggeringly delusional given that the English people derived from a mix of various pre-Roman cultures, people from all over the vast Roman empire, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Normans and countless other waves of migration.

I pity anyone who is xenophobic enough to think that "pure Englishness" is a trait to be proud of, and delusional enough to think that it's even possible to prove "pure Englishness" beyond a few generations.

It's easy to feel sorry for people who suffer this kind of warped xenophobic delusion of their "pure Englishness" on an individual basis, but as George Carlin once said, it's important to "never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups".

Monday, 29 February 2016

Frightening the fash

From ebfblogger:

They’ll tell you they go where they want.
They’ll tell you they’ll never surrender.
They’ll tell you they’re not scared.
They’ll tell you they’re popular.
They’ll tell you all sorts of silly things but the truth is embarrassingly different.

Today saw the culmination of literally months of hard work and undercover ‘espionage’ by British fascists trying to fool Antifa about their whereabouts.

It was a strategy with only limited success. On the one hand they managed to fool several of their own number who turned up at the wrong venues in pathetically small numbers…

They went to Newcastle

They went to Manchester…

They went to Walsall…

All this misdirection backfired on the fash who might have managed to double their turnout to something approaching 150 if they’d been more honest. The problem with paranoid groups like these is that they can’t even trust their own members enough to tell them the truth. The result was obvious.

Fortunately for them the Antifa information was more accurate and so the opposing forces (that the fascists were so unafraid of) turned up at the right place, after all. Once again the courageous patryoots were surrounded and terrified in Liverpool.

These brave fascists who go where they want (as long as nobody minds) were thoroughly terrified by the Antifa, who apparently don’t scare them a bit. They stayed safely behind police lines whilst the opposing numbers grew until several hundred Antifa made it clear just what they thought of them.

Their cowardly cowering surely didn’t impress the handful of Polish Nazis who had made the trip in solidarity with their British counterparts. Apparently the spirit of solidarity doesn’t stretch both ways as the fine, brave British boys left their Polish mates to get a really good kicking from Antifa. The cream of English white trash were too busy hiding behind Liverpool’s genuinely brave police to offer their international comrades any assistance. NFSE, eh? We think not!

Where were the Biffers whilst all this was going on? You may well ask. They were in several places.

Their illustrious leaders began the afternoon in Bromley police station where they were required to answer bail. Of course, they’d much rather have been in Luton but the law is the law and they’re getting more and more frightened of breaking it. So much for their oft-asserted disregard for the corrupt rules of an Islamist British establishment!

Then they moved to an undisclosed location (not too far away actually) to direct proceedings in Luton where the rest of their ‘band of brothers’ were causing trouble out of uniform. They’re scared of breaking the law too.

They might not have been all that scared though. Apparently Pieman Lewis has been arrested for assaulting a woman. The news of his arrest is still unconfirmed and it may not be true but it’s plausible enough.

He has a history there, as do all the Biffers. They’re much more likely to have a go at women than men. It was Lewis, after all who bravely intimidated a tiny, middle-aged anti UKIP activist in Margate last year. It was Lewis who thought nothing of attacking a group of mainly female performance artists in London and it was Lewis who bravely surrendered the original Britain First banner to male Antifa in Trafalgar Square. These brave white folks really are impressive, aren’t they?

The really interesting thing about the Biffers in Luton today is the lack of political uniform though (unless you count a Smurf costume as ‘uniform’). The transparency is obvious to everyone except the Biffers themselves who still seem to think this sad handful of ‘paytrioots’, now stripped of even their cherished uniforms are actually doing something constructive. In reality they’re just as scared as the rest of Britain’s racist, fascist groups.

Bloody entertaining though!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

50 Shades Of Grey VS Nigel Farage

From usvsth3m by Rob Manuel:

50 Shades Of Grey VS Nigel Farage – which bear makes you feel sexier?

Capitalism is a wonderful thing, answering our basest needs with products we didn’t know we needed until we saw them advertised.
50 Shades of Grey bear:

Yep, this is a real product.

Nigel Farage bear:

Again. We are not kidding, it's a real product.

But which do you find sexier?

Friday, 26 February 2016

EDL - a spent force

From Exposing Racism and Intolerance online

The pathetically small turnout to the EDL rally in Preston last Saturday, 20th February

Photo by National Police Air Service Warton, Lancashire

Thursday, 25 February 2016

So let's get this straight -

The #OscarsSoWhite debate raises the question of who gets to be human

From New Humanist by Reni Eddo-Lodge:

Each film and TV race controversy shows that we are nowhere near a “post-racial” society.

This article is a preview from the Spring 2016 edition of New Humanist. You can find out more and subscribe here.

It was April Reign, a former lawyer, who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag back in January 2015. That year’s Oscar nominee shortlist revealed each acting category consisted solely of white actors and actresses. Reign’s hashtag caught on quickly. This was the year after Steve McQueen’s incredibly powerful 12 Years a Slave won three Oscars on the same night, after being nominated in nine categories, and the difference in diversity between the two years was palpable.

Fast forward one year, and the hashtag, accompanied by widespread debate, has resurfaced. The academy, noted UCLA academic Darnell Hunt, is 93 per cent white, 73 per cent male, and has an average age of 63. His research showed that films with diverse casts tend to make more money at the box office. As well as being narrowly exclusive, an overwhelmingly white accolades list is counterintuitive to the money-making nature of Hollywood. This year, there was one key difference in the conversation. Whereas, in 2015, some of the industry’s most revered actors and actresses had stayed largely silent on the issue, in 2016, everyone seemed to be scrambling to have something to say on the topic. Former Oscar nominee Viola Davis said that the problem was less to do with awards and more to do “with the Hollywood movie-making system”, whilst 2016 nominee Charlotte Rampling revealed her ignorance when she told French radio that the #OscarsSoWhite debate was “racist to whites”.

Prompted in part by this swath of opinions, the academy’s first black president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, announced big changes to how Oscar voting will work from 2017. Measures include limiting voting terms to 10 years, in comparison to the current lifetime voting rights. The academy also pledged to run a targeted campaign to recruit new members in a bid to increase the diversity of voters.

The #OscarsSoWhite conversation speaks to an imbalanced tug-of-war happening across the entertainment industry in recent years – one that involves actors, writers, directors, producers and the all-important audience. Neither group has a monopoly on either side of the rope. Politically, there has been a push from audiences over the past few years for protagonists that aren’t mired in sexist and racist stereotypes. Some filmmakers have responded positively. The Bechdel test – which asks audiences to interrogate whether the women characters in a film ever talk to each other about something other than a man – successfully shamed the industry into recognising its marginalisation of women. But, as some creators have moved away from whiteness and maleness as a “relatable” default, they have been angrily confronted by audiences and critics who are so used to seeing themselves represented in all media they consume that they have had trouble coping with new presentations of what counts as “normal”.

When the cast of the upcoming play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was announced in late 2015, it was a shock to many that the grown-up Hermione would be played by black actress Noma Dumezweni. Such was the fervour, anger and confusion that JK Rowling herself came out to support the casting decision, tweeting “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.” When the much anticipatedStar Wars: The Force Awakens saw black British actor John Boyega cast as a main character, some angry people on the internet encouraged sci-fi fans to boycott the film, calling it “anti-white propaganda”.

The idea that casting black people as lead characters is inherently controversial reveals a political struggle over who gets to be human. This affects every area of our lives. Although movies are fiction, each film and TV race controversy shows us that we are nowhere near a “post-racial” society. A diverse set of characters can bring greater meaning to stories, both old and new.

With a strong and complex female protagonist, Netflix’s recent series Jessica Jones was a superhero story not just about Jones’s predictable superpowers but also about her building up emotional strength after an abusive relationship. A black or mixed-race Hermione Granger suddenly throws the Harry Potter books’ language of “Mudbloods” and “pure-bloods” into a politically uncomfortable new place, providing young readers with a crash course in understanding fascism.
The beauty of embracing difference is that it reveals our fundamental sameness, while introducing perspectives that have the possibility to expand narrow horizons. That, in itself, can never be a bad thing.

This article was brought to you by New Humanist, a quarterly journal of ideas, science and culture.  Support New Humanist, share this article with friends  -  Twitter    Facebook

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

"Islamophobic" claims carry no water

Four years ago I was called an "Islamaphobe" for arguing for free speech on Hay Hill. even though the crazed cleric concerned was insulting me as a secularist as well as insulting numerous other religions besides Islam. 

Hay Hill, Norwich Photo B. Suzuki
My argument for tolerating a certain amount of insults in the name of Free Speech (and Care in the Community) was seen by Islamophobia Watch as defending a "democratic right to incite hatred against Muslims".  

It's true Clifford was handing out leaflets that contained some vile insults.  For example Clifford wrote in "Season's Greetings" in December 2008:
The West especially is threatened by all that denies the unique wonder of the authentic biblical revelation of God in Christ - atheistic secularism, self-indulgent & debt-driven hedonism, ethical relativism, Islamic jihadism, pseudo-Christian Roman Catholicism and anaemic, effeminate charismanic evangelicalism. 
So Clifford insulted secularists, atheists, people in debt, hedonists, Roman Catholics, Islamic "jihadism", and indeed many other religions but his own. 

No, wait a moment, he also insulted those within his own religion for their "anaemic, effeminate charismanic evangelicalism"!  

Clifford also insulted thLGBT community, the local council, and the government, and was probably going right off Spot, the neighbour's terrier.

Islamophobia Watch called me an Islamophobe for supporting Clifford's right to peaceful free expression that did insult Islam, but dishonestly failed to mention that the Reverend Clifford was a serial insulter, a generous insulter, an indiscriminate insulter, a cornucopia of insults.  Who can deny his capacity to insult?

I wrote in my Hay Hill article: 
There is literally no limit to the number of things that give offence to someone or other, and are we then to complain to the council about each and every one of them? Is this the way grown-ups in a secular democracy behave?
Islamophobia Watch concluded:
The explanation for this disgraceful position can be found on Suzuki’s Facebook page, which shows that she is an active supporter of the National Secular Society, an organisation that staunchly defends the right of racists to attack Islam – not least because a number of prominent NSS members share their views.
This is an outrageous insult to the NSS, but as far as I know the NSS did not respond and certainly did not form a "Secularphobia Watch" website to whine about it in retaliation.  

And now I read Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate, the anti-racist organisation that prompted the start of this blog, has himself been called an Islamophobe! 

Nick Lowles of HnH in 2010 Photo B. Suzuki
Nick writes:

My crime, it seems, has been to repeatedly call on the anti-racist movement to do more to condemn on-street grooming by gangs and campaigning against Islamist extremist groups in the UK and abroad.

I make no apology for either position. We need to be consistent in our opposition to extremism - from whatever quarter it comes - just as we need to be more vocal in our condemnation of child sex grooming.

These accusations of "Islamophobia" are becoming so common and indiscriminate they are losing all meaning.  However, there is no doubting the intent to hurt and damage the person being so singled out. 

There is an irony in all this.  Isn't calling someone an Islamophobe also a vile insult designed to invoke hatred?

My unexpected consolation prize for being insulted was a mention in Rational Wiki.  Now that was a real honour!  You deserve as much and more, Nick Lowles, for your years of work combating fascism from the far right, from the far left, and from religious fanatics alike.   

Norfolk group of anti-fascists at HnH HQ in 2010 (photo B.Suzuki)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

From Norfolk LGBT Project, Hate Crime & Reporting:

Hatred is a strong phrase that goes further than causing insult or resentment.

It is easy for us all to say no to homophobic abuse but how do you do it and what does it involve?
The only way to begin to tackle homophobic hate is to report every incident, if left unreported; the individual may suffer further attacks which could also result in serious hate crimes amongst the LGBT community.

What is the difference between hate crime and hate incident?

Hate crime is any offence committed against a person or property which is motivated by the offender’s hatred of people because they are seen as being different. You don’t have to be from a minority community to be a victim of hate crime.

A hate incident is any incident which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

As part of their commitment to the LGBT community, Norfolk Constabulary have dedicated Gay Liaison Officers, the role of the Gay Liaison Officer (GLO) is a voluntary position which is open to all officers and Police Staff across the organisation. Currently the Force has 11 volunteer Gay Liaison Officers from a diversity of operational and support roles, including Diversity, SNT, Special Constabulary, Investigation, Road Traffic and Contact & Dispatch.
The role of the Gay Liaison Officer is twofold:
To liaise with LGBT communities, support groups and organisations to increase confidence in the police and reduce the fear of crime, and to encourage the reporting of hate incidents/crimes.
To promote internal awareness of the needs of LGBT people, and act as a point of reference for the rest of the Constabulary on any related issues.

Officers and Staff carry out their duties in a variety of different ways committing a percentage of their duty time each month to this work. Some GLOs work primarily with the victims of hate incidents/crimes supporting individuals through the sometimes difficult and traumatic experience of reporting it. Other GLOs offer advice on policing services to members of the LGBT community on the Police Service in Norfolk. All engage with the LGBT community in a variety of ways, attending gay and gay friendly venues and events and through the local Gay Press.

To contact a Gay Liaison Officer please call our non-emergency number 0845 456 4567 (remember in a emergency always dial 999).

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Barely-veiled anti-migrant racism

From the Friendly Atheist by Lauren Nelson

"Islamic Rape of Europe” Magazine Cover Highlights Racism Behind Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

The Syrian refugee crisis prompted many European nations to open their doors to those displaced by the raging civil war. Though most regarded the influx of refugees with compassion, there were others who responded with intense anti-Muslim bigotry and xenophobia. There has been pronounced opposition to the resettlement of refugees across Europe, with protests in Germany, Denmark, Greece, and beyond.

Riding this wave of vitriol, ultra-conservative Polish magazine wSIECI, or The Network in English, released a deeply disturbing cover for its latest edition, featuring a distraught young white woman draped in the flag of the European Union being groped by three men with brown skin. The headline reads, “Islamic Rape of Europe.”

Behind the incendiary cover were even more outrageous stories. With headlines like “Does Europe Want to Commit Suicide?” and “The Hell of Europe,” authors lambasted the refugee policies of European nations as a death wish for Western civilization. As Breitbart (yes, Breitbart) reports:

Outlining the fundamental differences between eastern Islam and western Christianity — “culture, architecture, music, gastronomy, dress” — the editorial explains these two worlds have been at war “over the last 14 centuries” and the world is now witnessing a colossal “clash of two civilisations in the countries of old Europe”. This clash is brought by Muslims who come to Europe and “carry conflict with the Western world as part of the collective consciousness”, as the journalist marks the inevitability of conflict between native Europeans and their new guests.

To be fair, it cannot be denied that large influxes of refugees can and do present security concerns for their host nation. Massive brawls in refugee camps and reports of crime sprees linked to refugee populations have become common stories in the media, generating no small amount of concern among citizens living near camps. On New Year’s Eve, these concerns were amplified by a shocking number of attacks and thefts carried out by 73 men in Cologne, mostly migrants of North African and Arab origin. When reports of these attacks were met by Muslim groups blaming perfume for sexual assault and calling for a ban on alcohol to prevent additional crime, outrage reached a fever pitch.

That said, the headlines are more disturbing than reality. The vast majority of refugees are peaceful and law-abiding. The actual scope of crime committed by migrants relative to total migrant population in a given area is consistently tiny, but that’s not how it’s been portrayed. For instance, though a good deal of the discussion on the Cologne attacks has been couched in criticism of Syrian refugees, only three of the attackers that night were of Syrian origin. Three.

How many Syrian refugees has Germany accepted? Roughly half a million.

The response to what is a relatively small amount of criminal activity is, quite frankly, far more disturbing. Consider the spike in arson and other vicious assaults against perceived refugees, the vigilantes roaming Sweden targeting North African and Arab children, and the rise of political parties with roots in the neo-Nazi movementwho call for bans on mosques and rail against the “threat” of multiculturalism. And there’s something truly unnerving in the video of thousands of Germans chanting nationalist slogans in a square that used to be named after Adolf Hitler.

Yes, the magazine cover presented by The Network drives home just how out of control the backlash against refugees has become, but it also reveals just how racially charged it is. The opposition to refugees may use language condemning Islam and extolling its incompatibility with European culture, but when you hear comments from political leaders like, “We want Sweden to stay Swedish,” it becomes clear that this battle has more to do with how people look than how they pray. The invocation of anti-Muslim bigotry has rapidly become a placeholder for overt white supremacy, and these tactics illustrate that in pointed fashion.

The depiction of the dark-skinned man ravaging the light-skinned woman, as seen on The Network‘s cover, is not new, nor is it unique to Europe. Indeed, throughout history, the caricature of men of color as the “brute” has been used to foster fear and discrimination. In America, this characterization was justification for racism and violence against black men in particular. As Dr. David Pilgrim, professor of sociology at Ferris State University, explains:

The brute caricature portrays black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive, and criminal — deserving punishment, maybe death. This brute is a fiend, a sociopath, an anti-social menace. Black brutes are depicted as hideous, terrifying predators who target helpless victims, especially white women. Charles H. Smith (1893), writing in the 1890s, claimed, “A bad negro is the most horrible creature upon the earth, the most brutal and merciless”(p. 181). Clifton R. Breckinridge (1900), a contemporary of Smith’s, said of the black race, “when it produces a brute, he is the worst and most insatiate brute that exists in human form” (p. 174). George T. Winston (1901), another “Negrophobic” writer, claimed:
When a knock is heard at the door [a White woman] shudders with nameless horror. The black brute is lurking in the dark, a monstrous beast, crazed with lust. His ferocity is almost demoniacal. A mad bull or tiger could scarcely be more brutal. A whole community is frenzied with horror, with the blind and furious rage for vengeance. 
The “terrible crime” most often mentioned in connection with the black brute was rape, specifically the rape of a white woman. At the beginning of the twentieth century, much of the virulent, anti-black propaganda that found its way into scientific journals, local newspapers, and best-selling novels focused on the stereotype of the black rapist. The claim that black brutes were, in epidemic numbers, raping white women became the public rationalization for the lynching of blacks.
Lynchings were necessary, argued many whites, to preserve the racial purity of the white race, more specifically, the racial purity of white women. White men had sexual relations — consensual and rape — with black women as soon as Africans were introduced into the European American colonies. These sexual unions produced numerous mixed-race offspring. White women, as “keepers of white racial purity,” were not allowed consensual sexual relations with black men. A black man risked his life by having sexual relations with a white woman. Even talking to a white woman in a “familiar” manner could result in black males being killed. 
There were black rapists with white victims, but they were relatively rare; most white rape victims were raped by white men. The brute caricature was a red herring, a myth used to justify lynching, which in turn was used as a social control mechanism to instill fear in black communities. Each lynching sent messages to blacks: Do not register to vote. Do not apply for a white man’s job. Do not complain publicly. Do not organize. Do not talk to white women. The brute caricature gained in popularity whenever blacks pushed for social equality.
Lovely, right? But it didn’t have to be a black man for the sexually deviant brute caricature to feature in white supremacist rhetoric and campaigns. Any man existing outside the sparkling white racial ideal was portrayed as dark and dangerous, particularly in relation to white women. For example, during World War II in the U.S., propaganda showed what was supposed to be a Japanese soldier with a menacing look preparing to assault a white woman. It described the man as a “horror.” But despite the implied nationality, the man was still portrayed with dark skin and many of the features associated with the archetype of the black brute.

Across the ocean, fascist governments invoked similar imagery to support their own causes. As folks on Twitter were quick to point out during the firestorm that followed The Network‘s cover release, their depiction had more in common with Italian and German war propaganda than it did anything remotely resembling civilized discourse.

It’s easy to look at magazines like The Network and the spreading violence in Europe and speak in tones of consternation, but the reality is that these battles are not confined to the continent. We’re living in a time when a presidential front runner in the U.S. has built his support upon similar sentiments.

It’s easy to say this is about opposition to a problematic religion while tying that faith to terrorism or assault, but the reality is that this verbal wrapping paper cannot hide the ugly racism behind current anti-refugee sentiment. Though millions of Muslims around the world are what people refer to as white, they are not the ones being targeted by street gangs or blamed for nonexistent widespread crime.

It’s easy to soothe ourselves with assurances that these hateful opinions are not the norm, but the reality is that their popularity is increasing. And even a small portion of a population can do a great deal of damage to a nation and its people.

This is about more than Syria. This is about more than Islam. This is about whether or not society gives in, once more, to a politics of fear driven by skin colour.

About Lauren Nelson:  Lauren Nelson is an advocate and aspiring ally focused on intersectional justice. When she's not gabbing on social media or chasing after her precocious seven year old, you'll find her researching and writing extensively on the subjects of politics, policy, culture, neurodiversity, and faith for The Friendly Atheist and Rethink the Rant.