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Editorial: This new anti-racist movement has our rulers worried

THE reason why hundreds of thousands of people in Britain have taken to the streets to affirm that Black Lives Matter is not simply in solidarity with the movement in the United States.

It is because racial discrimination generally and, in particular, the culture of impunity which isolates the coercive apparatus of the state from public accountability is an offence again humanity and reason in this country, as in many others.

When police officers visit unjustified violence upon the citizens whose rights they are supposed to protect, it contradicts the official myths which policing in class society necessarily entails.

The demonstrations taking place in recent days are a big worry for our rulers, and for the army of opinion-makers employed to explain these events to us, it presents a very considerable challenge to their conventional liberal thought.

Donald Trump’s subversion of the conventional niceties of US politics, his open encouragement of right-wing militias, his crudely constructed axis of opinion which puts evangelicals, white rural Southerners, arch-conservatives, racist cops and right-wing billionaire nutjobs against normal folk is alarming for the more thinking elements in a US ruling class that includes — in its arc of big business, bankers and state bureaucrats — the Democratic Party establishment.

With millions of North Americans now unemployed and thus without medical cover, the intensity of the political and economic crisis means that any event has the capacity to ignite a rebellion.

And with fissures in the fabric of conventional political thought and action another myth about the “Land of the Free” dissolves.

Some 59 per cent of black American men say that they have been unfairly stopped by the police because of their race or ethnicity.

In the US, as in Britain, these mass mobilisations mostly involve young people, including wide sections of working-class youth who have a different take on the police to older generations.

The people who today sang Oh, Jeremy Corbyn are joined on the streets by their younger siblings.

It is clear that despite the coronavirus crisis, they have made a calculated decision to demonstrate, wearing masks and gloves and where possible, maintaining social distancing, but demonstrate nevertheless.

The latest report which reveals that Theresa May’s “hostile environment,” now managed by Priti Patel, has blocked BAME and migrant people from accessing healthcare during the coronavirus, is just the latest indication that 21st-century capitalism reproduces the virus of racism with the same facility that Tory policies allow Covid-19 to spread.

Keir Starmer tweeted: “76 years ago today, British troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight for freedom. They began the liberation of Western Europe from fascism. We remember those that fought for that great cause.”

This is most unsatisfactory. Let’s hope it was issued without his oversight by some warmed-over cold warrior inserted into his media operation.

First, it is not accurate. If the liberation of western Europe from fascism started anywhere, it was at Stalingrad in February 1943 when Hitler’s Sixth Army surrendered to the Red Army.

Second, in focusing only on the undeniably important role of British troops, it undermines our understanding that the anti-fascist alliance was a multinational operation and that D-Day involved many US and Canadian soldiers as well as Australian, Belgian, Czech, Polish, French, Greek, Dutch, Norwegian and Rhodesian combatants.

On this day in 1944, US parachute troops were holding a 15-kilometre bridgehead inside France and Soviet troops had advanced 900 miles west of Stalingrad and were poised to commence Operation Bagration, designed to support the D-Day operation.

You would think a QC might choose his words more carefully.


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