Monday, August 21, 2006

JON PIKE: THE LEFT'S COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACISM

Spotted a great article over at the Engage Forum - Jon Pike reminiscing about his time in Glasgow some time ago and the response from fellow Leftists to the appearance of racist graffiti:
One day we discovered that the local mini-market had been covered in racist graffiti - “Pakis out” “White Red Road” and all the rest of it. It was a few hundred yards around the corner: it was personal – a personal affront, a personal challenge, not a matter of theory, my neighbourhood.

I did what you are supposed to do: gathered together some pals - members of the left wing group that I belonged to in Glasgow, some from the Militant, but also some anarcho-syndicalists, some people from a group called Red Action who were good at this sort of thing. We did a pretty decisive spray out (late at night, wearing black, feeling noble) as Red Road Anti Fascists or RRAF – and we established a basic minimum – there wasn’t going to be any racist graffiti around our scheme.

We kept that up. The local racists knew that they were opposed, that their slogans weren’t going to last long, that if it came to any kind of ruck, they would find foes. We never found out who they were, - it was just a little bit of low level combativity. I’m quite proud of RRAF – though all it took was a few phone calls and a few forays.

Fast forward to the summer of 2006. I’ve moved on, down south, to salubrious Hove. But some things change and some remain the same. Here’s something that remains the same: there is racist graffiti around the corner. This time it says “Nuke the Jews, You’re next” – it’s on the Progressive synagogue, yards from where I live. It doesn’t come as a surprise. I’ve seen similar graffiti around Brighton recently - “Free Palestein, fuck Israel” (sic) on a bus shelter just north of Preston Park in Brighton. (Yes, that’s similar). And it’s local. It’s personal - a personal affront, a personal challenge, not a matter of theory, my neighbourhood.

Now, I confess, I'm more likely to phone the council than take direct action, but, still, I worry about who I would call. It’s no longer obvious.
Engage is one step in the right direction: its journal and forum both provide essential material to pass onto friends and foes alike who doubt the recent resurgence of antisemitic arguments parading as anti-Zionism within liberal-left circles and beyond. And the odd poem, funnily enough.

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