Trump Presidency emboldens racists and fascists to commit hate and terror attacks
Saturday’s ‘Unite the Right’ far right protest in Charlottesville brought together white supremacists, racists and fascists to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederacy’s top general, Robert E. Lee – a monument to white supremacy and a symbol in support of slavery.
This violent protest through Charlottesville resulted in tragedy – with a far right terror attack targeting a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist protesters, killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.
Trump initially refused to condemn this act of terror of the far right. Instead he rather sinisterly equated the violent far right protest with the peaceful anti-fascist counter-protest. Having been eventually persuaded to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo Nazis and racist, Trump has returned to condemning ‘both sides’ and so again is shifting the blame away from the far right. Trump’s prettification of the racist, violent protest and the far right movements involved is emboldening racists in the US and elsewhere.
Many of the participants of the ‘Unite the Right’ march are Trump supporters – a number of photographs have emerged of protesters wearing Trump t-shirts and caps. Trump’s racism, anti-immigrant rhetoric and attempts to introduce a ‘Muslim ban’ is feeding bigottry. At the same time, his inability to resolve the US economic crisis and his own domestic policy difficulties will foster growing bitterness among the far right.
The shocking event in Charlottesville is not an isolated case. Hate crimes against Muslims in the US are up 91% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. That reflects the impact of Trump’s Presidency with regards to boosting racism.
The US is escalating its attempt to overthrow the democratically elected socialist government of Venezuela. Last week Trump announced that military intervention in Venezuela was an ‘option’.
The hypocrisy is staggering – threatening military action in support of ‘democracy’.
Trump’s threat was met with criticism throughout Latin America, including from the governments of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, many of whom are far from allies of the Venezuelan government.
In addition Trump is threatening to impose more extensive sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry which would cripple the economy and cause a humanitarian crisis.
All supporters of genuine democracy and human rights, and all socialists, will oppose any US effort to deny the right of the Venezuelan population to determine their own future.
Violence against girls and women is a vile and endemic feature of British society as a whole. Claims that the sexual abuse and rape of girls and women are the particular preserve of British Asian and Muslim men, as has been suggested by some in response to ‘Operation Sanctuary’, are not based on fact but are racist myths.
‘Operation Sanctuary’ has led to the conviction of 17 men and one woman for their involvement in a child sex network targeting girls with rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution.
This operation has shone a light on an horrific level of systematic violence against women and girls in British society. Each year across the UK 3 million women experience gendered violence including domestic violence, rape, stalking, sexual exploitation or trafficking, with Home Office’s data indicating that almost half of all adult women in England and Wales have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Violence against women and girls affects women and girls of every age, socio-economic class, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or belief or ability.
The overwhelmingly majority of perpetrators of sexual crimes are men that the women and girls know or are in a close relationship with such as family members, neighbours, friends or colleagues.
Following the convictions of the 18 people there has been a vile outpouring of racism and Islamophobia.
This renewed offensive included the Sun’s columnist and former political editor Trevor Kavanagh writing that Islam constitutes the ‘one unspoken fear’ which unites Britain, and claiming that Britain is consumed by a ‘Muslim Problem’ – language that echoes the anti-Semitism of the 1930s and the far right.
The article has been strongly condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell Mama and Faith Matters UK.
Plus more than 100 politicians from a number of parties have signed an open letter attacking the column in The Sun for ‘using Nazi-like language’ about the Muslim community in Britain.
Labour politicians conceding to this racist campaign are also attacked in the letter which says: ‘Thanks to former equalities chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham’s Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.’
Champion, in an article for The Sun, had written: ‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls… For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up. No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.’
The facts about these sexual crimes in Britain are contrary to what Kavanagh et al suggest.
Statistics collected by Sheffield Hallam University show the majority of sex offenders in the UK are white, at 81.9% and that 5.6% of offenders are of South Asian Heritage (2007).
What is true is that when the perpetrators of sexual abuse and violence are Asian or Muslim, this is the issue that grabs the headlines. In cases where the perpetrators are white or Christian, such as Jimmy Saville, the focus of the story is not the ethnicity or religion of the abuser but on the crimes themselves. The question is never posed as an issue with the ‘culture of white men.’ Likewise, child abuse in the Catholic Church and elsewhere, is not presented as an issue with ‘white or Christian culture.’
The singling out of Asians and Muslims for blame avoids tackling the real problem that exists. The ‘common denominator’ in the overwhelming majority of cases of sexual violence against girls is not ethnicity or religion, but the fact that the abusers are men. Women and girls are abused and oppressed by men of all ethnicities and religions. It is a sickness that is endemic throughout society.
Using these appalling crimes to stir up hostility against Muslims and Asians avoids dealing with the real serious issues that need addressing and provides no defence to women and girls. Even worse it distracts from the most important task.
The Tories’ austerity offensive is making matters worse by cutting vital support services for the victims of gendered violence and taking resources away from the police to uncover these criminal activities.
Important steps in tackling the enormous level of sexual exploitation and abuse in society would be the restoration of funding to support services such as rape crisis centres and women’s refuges, alongside more resources for the police to investigate such crimes.
There must be no demonisation of Muslims in a racist campaign and instead there should be unity in the fight against sexual exploitation and violence.