posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 January 2017, 17:32
In exactly 24 hours Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. I’m sure, like me, you are horrified at the thought and scared about the future. You are not alone: 58% of Britons think the world will be a less safe place, while only 4% think it will be safer.*
Many of you might be tempted to sit at home with a box of chocolates or hide under the duvet. But some of you might want to show your opposition to Trump by doing something more pro-active, instead.
Here are six suggestions to survive Trump’s inauguration:
1. Post this up on your Facebook and Twitter pages
Hey @realDonaldTrump, did you get the message?
#HOPETrumpsHate Please share
The inauguration of Donald Trump makes our world an incredibly dangerous place. But it should also start of the fightback. A fight for hope, not hatred.
If you believe another world is possible then let’s get through tomorrow and let’s make it happen
* Polling carried out by YouGov for HOPE not hate
Posted: 19 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Akeela Ahmed | on: Wednesday, 18 January 2017, 11:13
2016 was unfortunately marked by dog whistle politics, the rise of the Far Right, and an increase in hate crimes against women and minorities. We are living in increasingly challenging times, and when I speak to everyday grassroots women, they often tell me about their fears for their safety, anxieties about what the future holds, and report a sense that the most divisive elements of society have been emboldened on the back of political campaigns which have been dogged by xenophobic rhetoric. I was keen to participate in the Women’s March, so that I could mark the beginning of 2017 with positive action, which would unify and bring people together, irrespective of their background or views.
The Women’s March is taking place in many cities all over the world, on the 21st of January 2017, the day after President-elect Trump’s inauguration, and will be a global show of strength and solidarity of diverse communities marching for equality and the protection of fundamental rights for all. As a passionate believer in listening to and promoting diverse women’s voices, I couldn't wait to get involved with and support a global movement for everyone, organised and led by women. Women’s voices are fiercely needed now more than ever before, as during the US elections we have seen how women have been demeaned, patronised and are expected to put up with routine sexual harassment. Moreover, we are now living in a world in which for many women of colour and especially Muslim women, physical assault, verbal abuse and anti-Muslim hate attacks, are not only on the increase but have become a daily norm. Thus it is vital that women’s voices of all backgrounds, including minority groups, are meaningfully heard, and their experiences which are often intersectional in nature - that is they face multiple challenges such as racism, misogyny and ablism - are acknowledged and amplified.
We may not all agree on all issues, but when faced overwhelmingly with the prospect that our fundamental rights to exist are being threatened, it does not matter. Critically, many unified voices will be much more effective and powerful in sending a message to those who would seek to divide, that we will not allow a climate of fear and hatred to overcome us. And our message is clear: walls will not be built to separate us from our neighbours, Muslims are equal citizens and justice (social/political/economic) is a fundamental right for all.
It would be too easy to focus on the negative consequences of the new era of divisive politics that we now find ourselves in. This would however, only lead to despair and hopelessness, which in turn leads to fear, and this fear is exploited by the far right and other xenophobes.
It is my hope that by coming together in solidarity, across all boundaries of sexuality, ethnicity, race and religion, we will demonstrate that a united and just society is not a far away dream but a very real and tangible possibility. Change will happen when we join together to stand up to and fight for justice against misogyny, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred, taking our negative feelings of despondency and channeling them into positive affirmative action. So let’s come together to march on London, not in protest but in celebration of diversity, equality and peace.
There are further marches taking place elsewhere in the UK, including:
- Bangor, Gwynedd
- St. Austell
For more information on the London march see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-march-on-london-tickets-29951554907?aff=es2
Posted: 18 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 16 January 2017, 14:07
Today is Martin Luther King Day.
It is a time when much of America, and the wider world, celebrates the brave commitment to peace that drove Dr King throughout his life – and, indeed, cost him that life.
During King’s era of the Civil Rights struggles America was a divided country. Today it is more divided than ever.
Donald Trump is about to take office. He has talked about ‘making America great again’, yet his rhetoric has not often matched such lofty ideals.
Just two days ago, the President-elect launched a disgusting attack on veteran civil rights hero John Lewis, tweeting that he was “all talk”, after Lewis said that Trump was not a legitimate president.
A long-serving Congressman, John Lewis is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King.
He was savagely beaten by state troopers during the historic 1965 march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Like several other politicians, he has announced that he will not be attending Trump’s inauguration this Friday.
The UK, too, is grappling with division.
Economic anxieties, worries about immigration, our future relationship with the European Union, pressures on housing, the NHS and social care are all rising. Communities face unprecedented pressures.
Politicians from the radical right have leapt in to the void, seeking to exploit these fears for their own political ends. The rise of such right-wing populism has shaken the political core of Europe.
Its politics is deceptively simple and based on the ‘blame game’: pointing the finger at the elites, at the media, ‘liberals’, immigrants and minority communities, seeking to turn the clock back to a mythical “better age”.
Don’t give in
As with Dr King’s time, it can be easy to give in to despair. There were those who lashed out against change then. Who responded with violence to the call for equal rights.
To opt for the easy choice and turn on our neighbours is a fool’s quest. It is a race to the bottom.
Yet it can be easy to feel cowed.
Now more than ever it is important to remember Martin Luther King and redouble our efforts to challenge prejudice and hatred; to build a society fit for everyone.
So as we prepare to witness the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, I want you to reflect on Dr King’s famous words:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
2016 was a difficult year; 2017 will be a challenging one. But it will also be a year of hope.
Posted: 16 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 31 December 2016, 10:02
In a year dominated by the Brexit vote, the murder of Jo Cox and the election of Donald Trump, HOPE not hate has been busier than ever. To celebrate our work, we have put together a few of our highlights from 2016.
As the year draws to a close, we would like to thank you all for your continuing support and look forward to working together to meet the challenges of 2017.
Happy New Year
Nick and the HOPE not hate team
Our now annual State of Hate report gave the most detailed and accurate assessment of organised hate in the UK and was widely covered in the media. For the first time our report also covered Islamist extremism.
Our research led to many violent neo-nazis getting imprisoned after Nazis ran riot in Dover.
Five years after the first Fear & HOPE report, we commissioned a new study exploring the views and anxieties of the English. Read more.
HOPE not hate brought together hundreds of people for a community event in Birmingham in response to the launch of the new anti-Muslim group Pegida.
Our instant research on the Pegida demo helped destroy the movement before it began. Watch the video.
HOPE not hate joined forces with ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s to run a voter registration campaign amongst young people in London.
Over 300,000 anti-UKIP leaflets and postcards were distributed in Wales ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections. While UKIP still won seats on the Assembly, it was not as many as polls predicted.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the International Brigades who fought in the Spanish Civil War, HOPE not hate collaborated on a celebratory beer. Read more.
Ahead of the EU referendum, HOPE not hate joined forces with Bite the Ballot to run a huge voter registration campaign which saw hundreds of thousands of people registering to vote. Find out more here.
JULY & AUGUST
In response to the murder of Jo Cox, HOPE not hate organises 120 #MoreInCommon meetings across the UK. Thousands of people volunteer to get involved and dozens of new groups are set up. Read more.
Five thousand people attended a Unity Rocks gig at Brixton Academy. Headlined by the Libertines, proceeds from the gig are going to a new anti-racist Educational Project we are launching in 2017.
Over 100 people attended our four-day 2016 HOPE Camp to learn anti-racist and community organising skills.
Welsh football manager Chris Coleman joins hundreds of local people at a friendly football game between local Polish and Portuguese migrants and Merthyr league team Quar Park Rangers organised by the local HOPE not hate group in memory of Jo Cox. Watch the video here.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the battle of Cable Street HOPE not hate produced a special website. See it here.
HOPE not hate produced the most indepth and detailed report into Anjem Choudary’s links to the Islamic State. Read more here.
HOPE not hate’s research led to the cancellation of what was due to be Scotland’s largest ever nazi gig.
To coincide with US elections, HOPE not hate produced a special 56-page magazine, which included an undercover operation inside the most extreme KKK group. See it here.
HOPE not hate brought hundreds of people together at a community event in Watford as part of our on-going campaign to bring different communities together around what they have in common. read more here.
HOPE not hate takes a stand against Farage’s lies and is backed by thousands of its supporters. read more here.
Posted: 31 Dec 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 December 2016, 18:41
When Nigel Farage used a radio interview this week to publicly attack Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, he lashed out in the most unbelievable way. Just six months after Jo was murdered by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, the former Ukip leader attempted to pin the extremist tag on Brendan Cox because of his association with the organisation I head, Hope not Hate.
Even by his standards, Farage’s comments were disgustingly offensive. Many were outraged, not just us.
After we demanded an apology from Farage, his most loyal supporters leapt in. Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who bankrolled Ukip and the Leave.EU campaign, took to Twitter to call us a “vile organisation”. He outrageously claimed we had “organised a mass confrontation” against Farage.
Raheem Kassam, the British editor of the US far-right website Breitbart, and Farage’s former chief strategist, began crowdfunding to finance research on us. We have also received thousands of abusive and threatening tweets, Facebook posts, emails and phone calls.
This is how these people operate. They attempt to vilify, abuse and bully their opponents into silence. Whether it is Farage in the UK or Donald Trump in the US, they think they can demonise their opponents without any thought for the damage it causes or the anger and hatred it incites in their supporters. And it’s a David v Goliath struggle, where the other side portrays itself as the underdog yet in reality is backed by an online army and millionaires in the wings.
Farage dislikes us because we have shone the spotlight on Ukip and played a part in stopping him getting elected in Thanet. He and other Ukip elected officials and party members responded by calling us names and abusing us.
We began targeting Ukip in 2013 as it started adopting a more anti-immigrant stance, specifically whipping up scare stories with claims that 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians would come to the UK. Events since have proved we were right to do so.
When we tried to meet the party leaders to discuss the issue of its growing extremism, they failed to turn up to their own meeting. Not only that, the party’s conference then passed a motion banning any Ukip member from supporting Hope not Hate.
Over the next few years we exposed their racist and homophobic councillors, the strongly anti-Muslim views of some of its MEPs, as well as links to European far-right parties, and highlighted the lies and exaggerations in its election leaflets.
Of course Farage and supporters such as Kassam conveniently ignore the community campaigning we carry out across the UK. We rely on a network of thousands of volunteers up and down the country, bringing together tens of thousands of people to celebrate a shared sense of community across apparent cultural and religious divides.
From family fun days, picnics, food festivals and encounters between those of different faiths and none, we have enabled people to celebrate all that they have in common. Part of this work was our national #MoreInCommon campaign, launched in response to the murder of Jo Cox (with the support of her family) and to counter some of the negativity surrounding the EU referendum campaigning. We hosted 85 events across the UK, bringing communities together.
Earlier this year we stood fast with Birmingham’s Muslim community, creating a unity pledge with all the city’s main leaders, in response to a threatened far-right demo by Pegida UK.
Last summer we did the same with the Jewish and other community members in Golders Green, north London, dressing the entire area in gold and green ribbons, before a neo-Nazi march. In Merthyr Tydfil we organised a football match between the local team and Portuguese and Polish migrants as a bridge-building exercise.
As we have seen so graphically this year, the lies of the populist right have consequences. They toxify debate, bully people into silence and whip up an angry base. That’s why it’s time to draw a line in the sand, and why we have demanded a retraction and an apology from Nigel Farage. He cannot keep getting away unchallenged with his lies any longer.
But this issue is far bigger than just the words Farage used against us. It is about the politics of hope and hate. As Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So if you are horrified by the rise of the far right, whether that be rightwing populists or more traditional fascists, then we urge everyone to do what they can to support those, like ourselves, who want to protect communities from further division and hatred.
Posted: 23 Dec 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Imran Awan/Irene Zempi | on: Friday, 16 December 2016, 21:43
Our report into cyber hate speech following Jo Cox’s murder and the Brexit vote was split into two parts and published on HOPE not hate’s website on Monday 28 November.
Part 1 covered cyber hate speech on Twitter responding to Jo Cox MP’s death. Part 2 looked at cyber hate responses on Twitter to the Brexit vote in the EU Referendum.
This was a qualitative study* (analysis of a snapshot of views) rather than a quantitative study, which ’number crunches’ data to produce an empirical analysis.
The study was based on a sample of 53,000 tweets. Among the search terms we used to identity tweets were #refugeesnotwelcome; #defendEurope; #whitepower; #MakeBritainwhiteagain; #Stopimmigration; #DeportallMuslims; #Rapefugee and #BanIslam.
Despite the statistics regarding an upsurge in such hate incidents, we wanted to explore a sample from within our overall data set, regarding the language used over social media during this difficult period in the summer.
Our report provides a snapshot of these (qualitative) views, taken from among a selection of sampled tweets during June and July this year. Among the data captured were tweets which may now have been removed or deleted.
‘Deserved to die’
One of the themes we identified in our sample was the claim that Jo Cox had ‘deserved to die’ because she supposedly supported so-called ‘rape gangs’, and had been a ‘traitor’ who ‘got what she deserved’.
As far as the second part of our report highlights, looking at cyber hate responses to Brexit, we pointed out that experiences of xenophobic hostility led to communities feeling a sense of fear, insecurity and vulnerability. We also noted how social media was used to report offline incidents of hate.
Cyber hatred was also linked to an increase in offline incidents, and ‘trigger’ events (reactions to Jo Cox’s murder and the EU Referendum process) seemed connected to a rise in xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia on social media platforms.
The language of hatred online
As we have stated, our study wanted to explore the language of social media users at a crucial time in the summer, when decisions were being made about Brexit and an MP had also lost her life.
We make no apology for the way we studied this type of language and we feel we have clearly demonstrated there are links between offline hate and online hate speech, and the role users play online. We are proud of the fact that we have been able to highlight and shed light on the way in which some users, including the now-banned neo-Nazi group National Action, had celebrated and glorified Jo Cox’s death.
What’s also important to note is that there were many solidarity campaigns in relation to Brexit and Jo Cox (such as #MoreInCommon), but it was not part of our remit to focus upon these. We are confident that upon reading the full report people can examine our findings and understand the points we were making.
Initial media coverage
Some early media reports incorrectly stated that our report claimed there were 50,000 tweets celebrating Jo Cox’s death or praising her killer, sent by 25,000 users. We would like to clarify that our report did not make such a claim.
This claim was linked to one media story, based on an early and erroneous draft of a press release (which was corrected and updated shortly thereafter), sent during discussions with a journalist. A full copy of our report had previously been provided to this journalist.
All media, including this one, were subsequently sent a revised and corrected press release upon the report’s launch the following day. We later contacted the outlet to suggest it alter its original headline.
We recommend everyone to study our published report, to verify for themselves what we have found: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/cyber-hate/
Dr Imran Awan is a Criminologist at Birmingham City University | Dr Irene Zempi is a Criminologist at Nottingham Trent University
*What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research methods are primarily exploratory. The main idea behind qualitative research is helping social scientists gain an understanding of underlying causes and motivations behind specific areas. It’s important to note here that qualitative research methods use a small sample size, to help with more in-depth understanding.
Conversely, quantitative research methods are used to quantify a problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. As we have stated throughout our report we have focused on those qualitative interpretations and not numerical data sets. You cannot ‘compare’ the two, as they employ different data collection and data analysis methods.
We used a range of social science-based research methods, including automated monitoring and crawling of social media platforms. Data was coded and exported to provide a select sample of screenshots based on the samples studied. As the report was qualitative in nature, no mention of numbers (apart from among the 53,000 tweets used as a sample size) was discussed.
Drilling down through our sample size, we looked at Twitter users’ direct quotations in order to illustrate the themes emerging from the analysis, and provided evidence for these interpretations.
Posted: 16 Dec 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 13:35
At HOPE not hate, we spend much of our time reacting to issues - be it responding to community tensions, provocative far-right marches or preventing extremist candidates winning elections. This is vital work but it also leaves us frustrated that we don't have time to tackle long-term divisions in communities.
Now HOPE not hate is piloting a new initiative to do just that. We are calling it the 'Post-Industrial Communities Project' and it will see us work in areas where hope has been lost and local people feel left behind and ignored.
We are planning to run four initial projects across the UK which, if successful, can be rolled out as a model to other areas.
We've put in an initial bid to The Big Give who accepted us onto their Christmas Challenge and will match funding to anything we raise over the next 72 hours.
Support our project and see your donation matched:
Communities in 'post-industrial' areas have increasingly abandoned hope in mainstream politics. Towns which have lost their industry have also often lost their identity. Where once there were large industrial employers, strong unions, sports and social clubs, there are now fractured communities where people no longer know, or care for, their neighbours.
Going into these communities with 'myth-busting' anti-racist narratives does nothing to change the levels of anger and mistrust. Often it just reinforces a sense of being patronised and treated as ignorant.
Our new project addresses the underlying concerns of local communities: economic insecurity and the sense of being powerless. And only through improving people's lives can we really hope to break down racism and division.
Please support this essential work:
Today is Giving Tuesday, and our pilot project in Merthyr Tydfil has been entered into The Big Give's Christmas Challenge, so for the next 72 hours every penny you donate will be matched.
In fact, The Big Give donors have pledged up to £13,000 to our project so if we can raise £13,000 over the next 72 hours then HOPE not hate will receive £26,000.
This is just too good an opportunity to miss. So, if you are able to make just one more donation to us this year please let it be for this. Your donation will be worth double and you will be contributing to a really vital and exciting initiative.
Posted: 29 Nov 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 23 November 2016, 17:25
With today's guilty verdict, Thomas Mair has been revealed as a brutal killer and far-right terrorist, inspired by violent fantasies of race war.
In carrying out his murder of Jo Cox MP, a noted civil rights and human rights campaigner, Mair was influenced and inspired by race hate and theories of violent race war which entered Britain in the 1990s.
In 2000, he bought bomb making manuals from the neo-Nazi National Alliance in the United States, a group whose leader inspired Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber in 1995, and David Copeland, the London nail bomber in 1999.
Paul Jeffries, the UK leader of the National Alliance, lived a little over a mile away from Mair until his death a few years ago. It is difficult to believe that he wrote off to the American organisation without having contact with its UK leader who lived just down the road.
The US theory of race war and leaderless resistance, whereby individuals and small cells act autonomously, also inspired British neo-Nazi gang Combat 18 (C18) and the the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in Germany (which killed 10 people and carried out several bombings plus numerous bank robberies between 2000-2011).
In targeting a British MP, Mair was following a growing list of British nazi terrorists who believe that they are at war with the system. This ideology, which sees the state - and in particular liberal politicians - as more of a target than minorities, became dominant among UK nazis in the 1990s and remains a strong pillar of their thinking today.
Nor was Thomas Mair unique. There have been at least 48 other far-right activists/supporters who have been convicted of terrorism/terror-related/murder/extreme-violent acts in England and Wales during the past 16 years. One of these was Terrance Gavon, who was sentenced to 11 years in 2008 after police found explosives and an arms cache in his house. Gavon lived three miles from Mair.
The Mair case highlights the ever-present threat of far-right terrorism in this country, a threat HOPE not hate still believes the authorities are not doing enough to tackle. While Thomas Mair pulled trigger, neo-Nazi propagandists must share some responsibility for fuelling and directing the hatred and violence inside him.
While the authorities have certainly increased their awareness and monitoring of potential far right terrorists – and that is to be applauded – not enough is being done to shut down the peddlers of hate: those people who are inciting the likes of Thomas Mair and pumping their heads full of racist conspiracy theories.
Far-right activists and groups regularly get away with threats of violence and racist incitement which we believe would not be accepted if they were Muslim extremists. There is a danger that extreme race hate, left unchallenged, will continue to inspire the likes of the Thomas Mairs to commit acts of terrorism and racist violence in the future.
While Britain’s far right might be numerically smaller than in the past, it is becoming more violent and dangerous.
Posted: 23 Nov 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: David Lawrence | on: Monday, 14 November 2016, 14:09
In his first staff announcement of his coming Presidency, Donald Trump has appointed Breitbart Media’s executive chairman Steven Bannon to the post of “chief strategist and senior counsellor” to the White House. Bannon, a key figure in the world of online white nationalism, will now have the ear of the most politically inexperienced President in history. This makes him one of the most powerful people in America.
Under Bannon, Breitbart has provided a key online resource for the loose collection of ultra-conservatives, neo-nazis and internet trolls calling themselves the “Alt Right”. The term originates with Richard Spencer, who founded AlternativeRight.com in 2010, and now heads the National Policy Institute (NPI). The NPI is considered one of the most important “academic racist” organisations in the world and remains the intellectual centre of Alt Right thought. Mobilised by Trump’s campaign, activists recently gained media coverage following the appalling racial harassment of actor Leslie Jones.
Ben Shapiro, Breitbart’s former Editor-at-Large, has written that Bannon “openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right” and has actively pushed “white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness”. Shapiro has described Breitbart’s comment section as “a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers”.
For example, following the racially-motivated massacre of nine worshippers in a South Carolina church last year, Breitbart published a piece entitled “Hoist it High and Proud: the Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage”. The site has published articles such as “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?” and “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy”.
Since Trump’s election success last Tuesday, Breitbart has announced its plans to expand its US offices by hiring more journalists and producing podcasts and videos. Bannon’s reactionary media organ also seeks to further its influence in Europe.
Breitbart has already gained a toehold in British politics through UKIP and the Brexit movement. Breitbart’s London offices are run by Raheem Kassam, the controversial former UKIP leadership candidate and erstwhile advisor to Nigel Farage.
Farage himself has written 50 articles for Breitbart, and the assumed next leader of UKIP, Paul Nuttall MEP, who has written over 30 articles, some of which are flatly demagogic. Other authors include UKIP’s influential financial powerhouse and Leave.EU head honcho Arron Banks.
The result has been that the pernicious ideas of the Alt Right have taken root in UKIP’s youth wing. The official “Young Independence” facebook group is frequently inundated with wildly antisemitic and racist posts, interspersed with Alt Right memes.
Breitbart intends to make new inroads into the European far right by launching sites in France and Germany. Breitbart has been a vocal supporter of Marine Le Pen’s xenophobic, authoritarian Front Nationale, and will seek to replicate its successful Trump campaign by influencing the course of the French Presidential elections in April in her favour.
Breitbart’s German site is also expected to campaign to exploit anti-refugee sentiment in Germany by supporting the openly anti-Muslim Alternative for Germany party (AfD) ahead of the German Parliamentary Elections in September 2017.
The ascension of Bannon, a man once compared by Breitbart namesake Andrew Breitbart to Nazi propagandist Leni Reifenstahl, from the political fringe to the Oval office is the most resounding legitimisation of the “Alt Right” imaginable. It is also a further sign of the dramatic shift to the right that has befallen the Western political landscape in recent years.
As Breitbart plans to extend its reach ever further, today’s news also underlines the necessity of challenging the racist, sexist and homophobic ideas promulgated by the likes of Bannon and his followers at every available turn.
Posted: 14 Nov 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 10 November 2016, 11:31
I switched off yesterday. I had had no sleep the night before and I was tired, but really I just couldn't bear to watch or read about Trump's victory in the United States.
I just shut it out of my mind, hoping it was just a bad nightmare from which I would wake. Sadly – and frighteningly – it is reality.
Today I have set off to work with a spring in my step, determined to do what I can to fight back. We are living in deeply worrying times. Trump's victory, following so soon after our own Brexit vote which unleashed a wave of racism and intolerance, is encouraging the far right to be bolder and more aggressive. We are likely to see a further increase in racist violence and bullying as the haters feel more confident and legitimised.
We are also likely to see growing support for far-right parties across Europe and with forthcoming elections in Austria, France, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – to list just a few – we could also see far-right parties/politicians increase their representation and even enter government.
More worryingly, has been the adoption of far-right ideas into the political mainstream, so that even if the parties fail to win power their ideas will.
We can shut ourselves away and get depressed. We can huddle together in our little progressive circles and social media echo chambers and moan about why people can't see the truth – or we can get organised and do something about it. And that is what I intend to do.
But the very fact that far-right ideas are appealing and gaining traction should make us rethink our own approach. The fact that they are winning and we are not should make us accept that we are doing something wrong. Our ideas and tactics are clearly not resonating.
We must reassess how we do politics. We need to figure out how we can have a modern economic system that doesn't throw whole communities on the scrap heap. But the Left also needs to rethink how it engages with white working class communities so as to express genuine empathy and understanding. We need to understand the need of communities to their tradition and culture, and not appear to be meddling outsiders sneering and insulting their way of life.
Opposition to immigration and multiculturalism might be the prism through which people are increasing expressing their discontent, but accepting that should not get us to ignore genuine grievances and anxieties. We cannot condemn everyone who raises concerns about immigration as a racist. Some clearly are, but others have genuine concerns.
Our Fear and HOPE report shows that the numbers of people with strident anti-immigrant views are declining. Many more though have concerns about the pace of change and the pressures on public services and society's infrastructure. Whether we agree with these concerns or not, it is vital we don't dismiss them without a second thought and write off these people as racists.
I – like most other people – celebrate Britain's multicultural society. But let us not kid ourselves that everything is perfect, because it is clearly not. Our cities might not have the planned segregation of the US and racism might not be as open and acceptable as in some European countries, but too many communities live parallel lives. There is too little interaction, understanding and empathy between communities. Rather, there is suspicion, fear and distrust. And this is not just the fault of government, public policy or racists, but accepted and encouraged by communities themselves.
I say all this because if we are to really defeat the forces of hate we have to address real problems and concerns. We need to engage with people where they are and not where we would like them to be and we have to do more to bring people of different cultures and views together to discuss and resolve the difficult issues. And yes, that means involving people who have sharply different views to our own and finding common ground where everyone has to give a bit.
HOPE not hate will start this process by calling a weekend of action on 3/4 December. We will go into communities across the UK to begin a process of engagement. And we will keep going back into these communities, building links and establish trust. Over time we will seek to address local issues and bring divided communities together. It might not provide the instant self-gratification of going on a demo or or denouncing the right on our social media echo chambers but it is far more important work. In fact, it is the only work that is going to make any real difference in the long run.
We face a really difficult and painful few years but if we get organised, develop better policies and engage people in a more mature and non-lecturing way then we ensure that hope wins out over hate. If we fail to do this then we have only ourselves to blame.
The far right are on the ascendency but they do not own the future.
Please help us spread a message of hope and join our weekend of action – signup here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/weekend-of-action-2016-12
Nick Lowles is chief executive of HOPE not hate: @lowles_nick
Posted: 10 Nov 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments