Newsnoted 1999 03

Notes on the News

by Gwydion M. Williams

Rivers of Bloody-Mindedness [Race and Police in Britain]

Legal convolutions [Stephen Lawrence case]

America isn’t working [US Race Relations]

Selective Holocaust memories

Rivers of Bloody-Mindedness [Race and Police in Britain]

Police are thugs in the service of the taxpayers.

‘Institutionalised Racism’ is a piece of sociological gibberish, what does it mean? At best, it is a roundabout way of drawing attention to a racist culture. A culture in which racism is as normal as drinking. Not all policemen drink and not all are racist, but not many of them see it as a problem.

The ‘canteen culture’ is not wholly a negative. Compared to other police forces around the world, our police are fairly honest and efficient, and not particularly corrupt. If your face fits, they will be reasonable. But not if you had a black face, not even if you were an impeccable middle-class and orderly taxpayer.

Police classed all Afro-Caribbean as Criminal Underclass, and other blacks as unwanted. This was not an unreasonable interpretation of government policy under the Tories. Mrs Thatcher said the right things on occasions, but gave no convincing proof she meant it. Police saw blacks as part of the problem, and not as part of the civilised order they were supposed to be defending.

It is not sensible to randomly attack the ‘canteen culture’, it would be difficult to uproot, and might be replaced by something much worse if it were uprooted. But it needs to be educated that this is a multiracial society. ‘Rivers of blood’ are not going to happen, and ‘rivers of bloody-mindedness’ from the official guardians of the law will just make things worse for everyone.

But how to get this through to the ‘canteen culture’? If I was doing it, I would entrust anti-racism to the sort of rough ambitious bastard whose strongest prejudice is in favour of his own career. On no account leave it to liberals.

[Back in 1987, at the time of major riots in Broxton, I said that it would come to nothing much. This proved correct.]


Legal convolutions [Stephen Lawrence case]

Whatever else they did wrong in the Lawrence murder, the police did find the right people, and try to put them on trial. But the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute, not rating it a good enough prospect for a win in the odd ritualistic world of English law.

In part, this attitude comes from the silly attitude of the press. In most cases – thought not of course the Lawrence murder – if the accused are found Not Guilty, they are then held up as the victims of unjust or silly prosecution.

There used to be a saying that it was better to let ten guilty people go free than to convict one innocent. If you took that literally, you should convict if it is at least 91% likely they did it. Most accused are guilty, but the unofficial rule of thumb is that it should be 10 to 1 probable before they can be condemned and punished.

Of course the law never says anything this rational. It plays the ancient philosophical game of pretending that formal logic will lead you to certainties. The mediaeval world order, which was driven out of science after it was confirmed that the Earth did indeed go round the sun. Discredited in religion, after rival theologians produced contradictory opinions on almost everything. But which lingers almost unchanged at the heart of English philosophy of law.

To anyone not schooled in the Legal Mysteries, it seems like a semi-random process of releasing people who were most likely guilty, and often guiltier than those who do get convicted.

It’s semi-random because having a good lawyer definitely helps.


America isn’t working [US Race Relations]

Tony Blair puts us behind the US in the struggle against racism. Like his belief that Europe needs to learn from US economics, throw away the lessons that have almost closed the gap since the 1940s, this opinion is almost entirely fact-free.

On limited issues, black faces in the police and army, there are some points of merit. Merits that are a legacy of 1960s liberalism, when integration was actively pushed and imposed. And it was also the integration of a much older back community, one that has been in North America longer than the ancestors of most of the white populations.

In the USA, the police force integrated. Meaning that mostly that they are part of the pattern of black-on-black killing in a society that remains racist. It remains racist because 1960s liberalism was defeated, first by Nixon and then by Reagan. The Reagan system especially relied on a delicate mix of attracting racist Democrats while not repelling other potential Republicans who would never vote for an openly racist party..

Colin Powell, the US Chief of Staff, is one of the minority of black people who make a nice career our of supporting a party that quite intentionally taps into white racist votes. Colin Powell was also born in the West Indies, where racism was always weaker. More by class than race.

In Britain, the Afro-Caribbean population is mixing in with the general population. Between one third and a half of British-born are married to or living with white Britons. Which is indeed typical of the whole society. Britain has a successful melting-pot. Britain’s Jewish population also marrying out and merging. People act as individuals, not members of any particular community.

In the USA, talk of individualism is just talk, and not many can truly function as autonomous humans doing what they see as best. There are just 2% Black-White marriages in the USA, the black middle class remains firmly black and mixture is rare. That battle was fought and lost in the 1960s and 1970s. Formal segregation has ended but popular pressure and popular terrorism keep a strong separation.

[I wasn’t aware of how many unarmed blacks the US police were shooting, which has become a major issue in 2014 and 2015.]


Selective Holocaust memories

For the duration of the Cold War, anti-Fascism was confined to those who had not made a smooth switch over to the Anglo-American side. In principle, anyone associated with what had been a lawful and elected government of Germany was criminal. Though not Tories who supported Hitler much as later Tories supported Pinnochet. Those who cheered Hitler when he was a right-wing racist thug and anti-Semitic tyrant are OK, if they switched when it became clear Hitler threatened British interests. And even those who still supported Hitler when he threatened British interests could be forgiven, if they then opposed the Soviet Union when it too threatened British interests.

Only when the Cold War was well and truly won was the formal position taken seriously. Only then did campaigns begin against people in France, Germany and Switzerland, who had previously assumed that their position on the winning side was secure. Whereas anything that indicates Anglo-American guilt – ignoring or aiding Hitler when he could easily have been stopped – is minimised or ignored.

It is now being assumed that everyone who knew anything about deportation of Jews is criminal. Even French railways who were mealy doing ‘business as normal’ under enemy occupation – and who did bravely sabotage the network when the Allies landed and resistance became slightly less than suicidal.

It is only vaguely remembered that Britain rounded up and shipped off its own refugee Jews as ‘enemy aliens”. Few protested, it was well known these were victims and enemies of Hitler, but also they were not wanted. It was also Britain that chose blockade and mass starvation against the Germans and all their subject peoples – and it was obvious that Jews in Europe were going to suffer most. And the possibility that Germany might have been willing to let them go was carefully not explored – to let them go to Palestine would have angered the Arabs, whose position was always uncertain.

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