Tag Archives: exceptionalism

Performative Oppression – George Monbiot

[The so exceptional, white, Christian west shows its true colours. European Nazism wasn’t defeated. It hid, morphed, recouped and here it is, rising up as surely as it did in the 1930’s and what will confront it and challenge it this time? There is nothing and hardly anyone left with a working conscience to be found. The western world has succumbed to the lowest common denominator of schadenfreud. – my comment.  Sha’Tara] 

Performative Oppression

Posted: 15 Nov 2019 10:37 AM PST

The government proposes the cultural cleansing of the Romani and Traveller life from Britain.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 13th November 2019

This is how it begins: with a theatrical attack on a vulnerable minority. It’s a Conservative tradition, during election campaigns, to vilify Romani Gypsies and Travellers: it tends to play well on the doorsteps of Middle England. But what the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, proposed last week is something else. It amounts to legislative cleansing.

The consultation document she released on the last day of Parliament aims to “test the appetite to go further” than any previous laws. It suggests that the police should be able immediately to confiscate the vehicles of “anyone whom they suspect to be trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it”. Until successive Conservative governments began working on it, trespass was a civil and trivial matter. Now it is treated as a crime so serious that on mere suspicion you can lose your home.

When I say “you”, obviously I don’t mean you, unless you are a Romani Gypsy, a traditional Traveller or a New Traveller. If you’re on holiday in your caravan, it does not affect you. It applies only if you have “intent to reside” in your vehicle “for any period”. In other words, it is specifically aimed at travelling peoples. It is clearly and deliberately discriminatory.

It’s true that some people have sometimes behaved appallingly, damaging places, leaving litter and abusing residents. But there are already plenty of laws to prosecute these crimes. The government’s proposal, criminalising the use of any place without planning permission for Romani and Travellers to stop, would exterminate the travelling life.

The consultation acknowledges that there is nowhere else for these communities to go, other than the council house waiting list, which means abandoning the key elements of their culture. During the Conservative purge in the late 1980s and early 1990s, two thirds of traditional, informal stopping sites for travellers, some of which had been in use for thousands of years, were sealed off. Then, in 1994, the Criminal Justice Act repealed the duty of local authorities to provide official sites.

Over the past few weeks in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, local people have been debating the merits of the council’s proposal for an official transit site for travelling people. According to one of the councillors, there have been threats to stone, bottle and petrol bomb anyone who uses it, if planning permission is granted. For centuries Romani and Travellers have been hounded from parish to parish, suffering prejudice and bigotry as extreme as any group faces. Now the government is stoking it.

Patel’s proposed laws belong to the most dangerous of all political categories: performative oppression. She is beating up a marginalised group in full public view, to show that she sides with the majority. I don’t know whether she really intends to introduce these laws, or whether this is empty electioneering. In either case, she is playing with fire. Already this month, three caravans in Somerset have been torched by suspected arsonists. Travelling peoples have been attacked like this for centuries, and sometimes murdered. In 2003, a 15-year-old Traveller child, Johnny Delaney, was kicked to death by a gang of teenagers. One of them is reported to have explained to a passer-by, “he was only a fucking Gypsy.”

I asked a traditional Traveller how Patel’s legislation would affect her. Briony (not her real name) told me she has ploughed her life savings into her motorhome, which she parks out of people’s way, beside roads within easy reach of her children’s school. She has good relations with local people, many of whom know her and see her as part of the community. But none of this will help.

If this proposal becomes law, “the police will have the power to kick my door in, take my home, arrest me and take the children into care. We won’t get them back because we won’t have a home. Because of my work, I can’t afford a criminal record. When I walk out of the police station, I will have no home, no assets, no children and no career.” It would also leave her without state protection. “Sometimes we’ve had to call the police when we’re on the receiving end of hate crimes. This legislation would mean we had to go under the radar.” Understandably, she is terrified.

She has nowhere else to go. “There’s one transit site half an hour away, but you can stay there only for 28 days a year. So my only option is roadside. Roadside is our cultural heritage.” Stopping by the road has already been made extremely stressful and precarious by existing laws. Patel’s proposal would stamp it out altogether. It would end a migratory tradition that’s as old as humanity.

As Briony points out, this is collective punishment. “The majority of us are minding our own business. We’re providing our own housing, not relying on the government. But everything I do that’s positive is lost in people’s minds. Most people I meet have no idea I’m a Traveller. We’re invisible until we do something wrong. Then people notice we’re Travellers.”

A week before Priti Patel launched her consultation, the Weiner Holocaust Library in London opened its exhibition on the Porajmos: the genocide of Roma and Sinti people carried out by the Nazis. It shows how ancient prejudices were mobilised to destroy entire peoples. I’m not saying that this is how the situation will unfold in this country, but the exhibition shows us the worst that can happen when the state sanctions the demonisation of an outgroup. First they came for the Travellers …

http://www.monbiot.com

 

Exceptionalism is not just an American sickness, it’s a collective madness rising as a world destroying tsunami. More and more groups vying with others to make their voices and concerns heard and the louder they get, the more chaos ensues. Hyperbole? Observation says no. It is a fact of “tidal waves” of people sensing the serious unease of the times and honestly having no idea on how to deal with it except by regurgitating old concepts, the favorite remaining war and it doesn’t matter much against whom, or what just as long as there is fighting going on.

Earth has a major problem and it’s called mankind, the pseudo-intellectual species that chose, as a collective, to re-make Earth and its environment into its own image. It’s that simple and that devastating because the only way it could have worked is in the exact opposite direction: man should have known, when a much younger species, to adapt itself to its world. Its intellectual hubris drove it to chose exploitation and oppression over cooperation. The big “Wrong Way: Do Not Enter” sign was torn down and used to make crosses and scaffolds for those who insisted on teaching a better way.

Man chose wrong. A long time ago. The choice, once made, could never be countered because the creature’s body over time kept adapting to non-natural ways of engaging nature, i.e., life. The choice was irrevocable and would begin a string of horrible consequences a few are just beginning to recognize and admit to. The final consequence: the destruction of the planet insofar as the life-sustaining aspects of it goes.

As an environmentalist, as an activist, as an elder, as an observer and as a self empowered individual without any agenda, not even of personal survival because I don’t need that kind of pretend comfort, I’m going to state this as clearly as I can.

I know there is no survival, that all are born to die and that the only thing that matters, if anything does, is what one does in between that beginning and that end. To that I can add with certainty that “man” will continue to run from the stick and after the carrot: there is no longer any choice; there never was any choice once the wrong turn was chosen. Those who thought they could return to nature and choose a different path have been all but eliminated as genocidal fuel for civilization.

As a species man is done for. There is no possibility of turning back the tide of exploitation and oppression because that is the very thing that fuels his civilization. That is what must be understood and admitted to: that oppression, in particular, is the fuel that feeds civilization. Therefore, as should have been obvious since inception, this civilization (as were all preceding civilizations) is an unsustainable concept.

Therefore it should be obvious that any proposed solution based on tried and failed concepts are the re-running of old black and white movies: when you walk out of the theater, nothing has changed: your world did not change into a black and white Pleasantville.

As an intelligent and quite able to reason species, man should have never gotten upon this road but the temptation was just too great to resist. Man adapted itself to pillaging, raping, destroying and killing, all the while thinking it was building ever-after empires.

Man built his cities, his monuments to pride, exploitation, control and the resultant smog (literally, morally and spiritually) spreads over the planet like the fumes that poured out of Mount Doom… but there are no mighty men, no dwarves, no elves, no Hobbits, no wizards and no Ents to extinguish this volcano.

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(Vancouver, May 12, 2019 – from 2000 feet – photo by Sha’Tara)

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein