HOPE not hate

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Engaging Left Behind Communities

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 29 November 2016, 13:35


Photo: Geoff Harris

Photo: Geoff Harris

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:

https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/projects/view/25835/

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:

https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/projects/view/25835/

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

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Thomas Mair: Far-Right Terrorist

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

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“Alt-Right” White Supremacy Ascends to the White House

posted by: David Lawrence | on: Monday, 14 November 2016, 14:09


Steve Bannon on Fox News

Steve Bannon on Fox News

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”.

An Alt Right meme depicting Donald Trump as Pepe the frog, re-tweeted by Trump

An Alt Right meme depicting Donald Trump as Pepe the frog, re-tweeted by Trump

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.

Antisemitic Alt Right memes posted on the UKIP’s Young Independence facebook group

Antisemitic Alt Right memes posted on the UKIP’s Young Independence facebook group

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.

The President Elect, Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore

The President Elect, Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore

 Posted: 14 Nov 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The far right is on the ascendency but it does not own the future

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

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C18 gig in East London

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 8 November 2016, 17:43


C18 leader Will Browning showing off his thick lip

C18 leader Will Browning showing off his thick lip

There was a C18/Polish bonehead gig in Dagenham last Saturday. It seems that some London causals took exception to some of the Poles and there was some punches thrown. One of them on the receiving end was C18 leader Will Browning (pictured showing off his thick lip), whose band - No Remorse - performed.

A full insiders report of this gig will appear in the next issue of HOPE not hate.

 Posted: 8 Nov 2016 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments