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Black Lives Matter UK: "How symbols are re-fuelling racism"

ICONOCLASH: White supremacists gather under a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville on August 12

LIKE MANY eruptions of white supremacist violence, whether from the police, armed forces or fascist organisations, recent events in Charlottesville were shocking, but unsurprising.

The position of the white nationalist protester has been magnified around the world in recent years, fuelled by party political rhetoric.

Black activists in Africa began the domino effect we see surrounding the removal of white supremacist monuments with Rhodes Must Fall. This led to similar campaigns taking place in the heartland of white supremacist colonialism with Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford. Take Down NOLA was the first successful US city, backed by a direct action campaign, to remove statues that represent state-sanctioned racism. Black organisers, activists and their allies struggled to rid public spaces of the symbols of white supremacy intended to terrorise their communities during enslavement, racial apartheid, and beyond.

Like burning crosses and nooses hanging from trees, the statue of Robert E. Lee being torn down in Charlottesville wasn’t a historical relic, but a potent symbol of racism’s present. These actions aren’t about erasing the past, but enabling our communities to reflect a collective history, rather than the remembrance of a racist white man.


ATTACK: A smoke bomb is thrown at a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, August 12

Trump’s administration has courted white nationalist allies from across Europe, and the events in Charlottesville will embolden these factions. We are prepared to see an increase in white nationalist and white supremacist response. While far-right groups patrol the Mediterranean in search of ships of Africans and Arabs fleeing the conflict and climate change caused by consumption and militarism of Europe and North America, fascist forces and attacks are growing in Greece and other southern European nations where migrants often come ashore.

In Britain, the recent arrest of a ring of child sex offenders from the north has been used to fuel further racism in the streets and Westminster. The endemic child abuse which has gone on for decades at the BBC, the Conservative Party, the Catholic church, elite private schools and many of Britain’s children’s homes are treated as isolated incidents. The sexual offences of those recently arrested in Newcastle is explained through their culture, religion and race. Leading the charge in this racist moral panic isn’t just the far-right, but also the liberal left of the Labour Party, who joined the fascist S*n newspaper in condemning an entire religion, a range of ethnic groups, immigrants and ultimately, anyone identified by the state or white nationalist groups, as Muslim.

COMPLACENT

This is why we cannot accept the Twitter storm of condemnation of Trump and the Charlottesville racists, from liberal politicians and pundits here in Britain. Too many of them point the finger at Trump, while remaining blind to their own complicity in the racism taking place among Britain’s press, politicians and borders.

While we rightly celebrate the Battle of Lewisham, an anti-fascist confrontation which forced white nationalism into retreat from one of south London’s most diverse boroughs in 1977, we cannot for a moment become complacent. The fascists will use this upsurge and presidential support of hatred to mobilise, particularly in Muslim and immigrant areas.

While our Prime Minister literally holds hands with Trump, the Queen keeps his State visit an open invitation and the liberal Labour Party find their voice among the fascist tabloids, it is up to black, Muslim and allied communities to join and lead the struggle against the white nationalism which threatens us all. When the liberal politicians try to court our communities, we will remember this moment. When the fascists march on our communities, they will be stopped in their tracks. And if Trump visits Britain, he can expect to get nothing less than the fascists in Boston: a total shutdown.

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