#BrusselsAttacks Are Not an Excuse for Arresting an Idiot

As many of you will be aware earlier this week a group of crazed jihadists brought death and destruction to the streets of Brussels. They killed over 30, injured hundreds and damaged important infrastructure.

After incidents of this nature emotions often run high and some people react in stupid ways. One example is Matthew Doyle from South Croydon who supposedly confronted a Muslim women and asked her to explain the attacks. He allegedly posted to Twitter…

I confronted a Muslim women yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said “Nothing to do with me”. A mealy mouthed reply.

As a result, according to the Daily Mail, he has been arrested, charged and held in custody…

A talent agency boss alleged to have posted a controversial tweet about confronting a Muslim woman over the Brussels terror attacks has been charged with inciting racial hatred.

The tweet, said to have been posted by Matthew Doyle, 46, from south Croydon, sparked social media outrage and countless parodies after it went viral in the wake of Tuesday’s atrocities in Belgium.

Doyle, who attended private Wellington College, was arrested on Wednesday, and police today said he had been charged with with publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred, under the Public Order Act.

A spokesman said he was being held in custody, and was due to appear at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.

There is little doubt that My Doyle potentially posted something stupid, some may even find it deeply offensive — it’s certainly something I wouldn’t do. However it is an outrage that this man has been arrested and charged.

It seems that there is no actual evidence that he did what he said he did in his Tweet, which explains why he has only be charged with making “racist comments”. Quite how someone can be charged with “racist comments” when the target of his idiocy was a global religion is beyond me though. Remember there over 1 billion practicing Muslims worldwide and the country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia. It is a non-racially defined religion just like Christianity.

But enough quibbling, the true outrage is that we have a law that can be used to lock people up for “publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred”. The important point here, and I’ve stated this before, is none of these things are objective, they are all subjective and open to interpretation.

What someone finds threatening, abusive or insulting is entirely down to them. When a drunk man in a pub recently called me a “boring ginger bastard” it didn’t particularly bother me, I was more concerned that he was harassing my friend’s wife. I certainly wouldn’t want to see him locked up for a drunken remark. I just wanted him to F the F Off…

This sort of law places untold power in the hands of the prosecutor, AKA the state, as it could be applied to almost any scenario. For example, imagine I shouted at someone in the street, “F*** off you McDonalds eating pleb!”. Is that not insulting or abusive? Yes it is. Should I be locked up for it? In a free country, no. Under this law though I probably should be, because associating someone with McDonalds may be very distressing…

It seems a little pointless to me to claim that the ‘Free World’ is fighting the scourge of Barbaric, Anti-Freedom, Salafist Jihadism when the ‘Free World’ criminalises certain forms of Free Expression. Even if that Free Expression is completely idiotic. In a free society you allow society to deal with the idiotic, not the state.

As one Twitter user proved, social ridicule is often the best ointment for the idiotic…

Confronted a self-service machine in Tesco, Asked it to explain Brussels. It said “Please place items in bagging area”. Mealy mouthed reply.

Update 2016/03/26: It would seem the CPS have seen sense and forced the police to drop the charges. The fact that the police have the idea that they can arrest people for this sort of thing is very worrying though.

Some Thoughts on Racism

It seems that calling someone a racist these days is one of the fastest ways to discredit that person’s opinions. That is why, for a lot of people, “playing the race card” is nothing but an ad hominem attack. It is the attempt to beat someone in a debate without actually having arguments. And indeed, there are people who use this strategy. Often it is used by political groups that explicitly label themselves as anti-racist or anti-fascist. These groups usually themselves follow a very much totalitarian ideology that is only on the surface different from fascism. They really have more in common with fascism than not. The hope seems to be that labeling oneself anti-fascist somehow will distract people from their totalitarian agenda and make them good people. Well, they are not good people, but their distraction strategy, at least in the past, seems to have worked better than one would have hoped. But is it fair to say that everyone labeling another person as racist is just playing dirty tricks or are there maybe some people who really deserve the label?

How unpopular the label racist is became clear to me when years ago I stumbled upon a propaganda video of the Ku Klux Klan. In the video a KKK member complained that the Klan was viciously slandered in the media as a racist organization. According to him, the Klan loves all races that god has created. But they should not live in America next to the white man.

This is hilarious I thought. The poster-child organization for white supremacy racism in the US rejects the label racist. This seems nonsensical. But in order to understand why this is indeed nonsense we need to have a closer look at what racism is all about.

What is racism?

Different people have different opinions on this. The so called left for example often uses the word to label any kind of attack on an ethnic minority group that they think is underprivileged. This idea of racism is not very coherent. It is hypocritical and really just a form of totalitarian special interest politics.

For a more systematic theory of racism we first need to clarify the meaning of the word at the heart of it, which is race. On the face of it, it seems to refer to distinct genetic differences in a group of people that result in distinctive physical characteristics. This is how a biologist would define the word. However, these days, the word ‘race’ in racism usually means something broader. It refers to differences in ethnic groups. It therefore has a lot to do with culture and not so much genetics.

This broader interpretation makes a lot of sense. The opposition to biological races and the opposition to culture really appears to be politically the same thing. Is white supremacism really different in principle from anti-semitism? I would doubt that people ever really were opposed to genetics. What people have always objected to is culture. Those savages were praying to the wrong god, had strange traditions, spoke strangely sounding languages and were eating the wrong food. The different looks of people were only used as a possible explanation and identification. And as we know today, non of the things people objected to really have a lot to do with genetics. They are cultural. If this is true then objecting to another person’s culture really is politically the same things as objecting to someone’s race.

Until this point, I am willing to go along with racism. I do believe that there are different cultures in the world. I do not believe that all of these cultures are equally good. I am not referring to trivial things like food. I am a libertarian. I believe that the best way for everyone to live anywhere on this planet is to live in liberty. A lot, in fact most if not all, political cultures that we find at the moment disagree with me on this. One could argue that makes me an extreme racist, as I am in conflict with all ethnic groups, including my own. Alternatively, one could argue that I am a consequent anti racist, as I am equally opposed to all of them.

More seriously though, simply acknowledging differences between cultures is not really a racist ideology. Maybe there are some extreme egalitarians who really believe, or want to believe, that there are absolutely no differences between peoples. But even when I talk to people on the so called left they seem to be very aware of such differences. After all, a lot of them are practicing their very own form of ‘non-racist’ racism, by constantly blaming the evils of white, male culture for everything.

However, traditional racism, as a political ideology, does more than just acknowledge differences. I would argue that at the heart of political racism is and has always been the thesis that certain cultures cannot live in the same society together as equals. If they do live together, there needs to be a clear domination of one over the other. This can take the form of one overwhelmingly outnumbering the others, a legal division into first and second class citizens or can even go as far as an outright master/slave relationship, as we have seen in US history. The other alternative is to physically separate cultures from each other, at best geographically if possible. Abraham Lincoln, who famously freed the slaves in the US with very questionable means, continued till his death to work on a plan to deport all blacks back to Africa. That is exactly what racism is all about. The idea that societies can only work if they are culturally homogenous.

Racism has earned its reputation

It is no accident that this ideology has such a bad reputation. It has earned it throughout history. Wherever we see racist societies emerge, they come with a great deal of violence. It can go as far as an outright genocide like the Holocaust in Germany. This was another classic attempt to remove one ethnic group from a society. Of course not every racist society has ended in such an excess of violence. But violence is very much baked in the cake when it comes to racism. Given that racism cannot give everyone the same rights, there are groups of people that need to be suppressed. And suppression simply does not come peacefully. The preferred front line for racist violence in our time is the border of the nation state. Thousands of people die every year by trying to break the brutally enforced national segregation. Despite that you can still hear the racists scream that the state is not using enough force to keep the unwanted ethnic groups out.

Oh, but I hear the racists object. It is not racism that is causing the violence, it is multiculturalism. After all, good fences make good neighbours. This is of course nonsense. Good neighbours make good neighbours. You only need a good fence if you are living next to a socially incompetent asshole. The violence that racists predict from multiculturalism is a self fulfilling prophecy. If it wasn’t for racists disturbing the peace, there would be no problem with multiculturalism. So it is the racists that are the problem. And by racists I mean all of them. The Imam that preaches that western culture is evil and Muslims should fight it just as much as the members of the English Defence League.

Social incompetence seems to really be a problem of racists. Britain First is another one of those organizations that pretends to be only concerned citizens instead instead of racists. In this video you can see them systematically harassing and antagonizing people. Around 12.45min in the video they cause a confrontation with random people in the street. It almost ends in a fight. The spin that the Britain firsters have on the incident is that they are being threatened in their own country. But really what is going on is just a simple tit for tat strategy which is social skills 101. They antagonize people, so they get a hostile reaction. Their idea of a sociably acceptable behaviour seems to be that they have the right, as Englishmen in England, to not show any tolerance and don’t make any compromises when it comes to the lifestyle of the people around them. In return for this intolerance they expect a complete willingness to compromise and be tolerant from the other side. Of course that is causing trouble.

Political strategies of racists

Given my explanations, I think it is very fair to say that calling organizations like Britain First or the KKK racist organizations is not an ad hominem attack. However, that these organizations are uncomfortable with the label ‘racist’ shows that even hard core racists have realised that they cannot win political battles with it. That is why they are trying to make the word meaningless. The idea is to reverse the ad hominem attack. Anyone who labels anyone else as racist automatically disqualifies as an honest person who is seriously interested in a debate. That is because assumingly everyone knows that there could not possibly be such a thing as a racist movement in our times. Only some totalitarian left-wingers would call another person racist.

Of course this strategy can only work, if they manage to organize racist political ideas under a new, more acceptable label. The most popular label seems to be nationalism. Since most people still accept the idea of nation states, and also the rather strange underlying assumption that there is such a thing as a clearly identifiable nation, nationalism cannot be as easily discredited as racism. It seems perfectly acceptable to physically separate people according to nations. Every state on the planet has laws in place attempting to do just that. This reality seems to give the nationalist agenda a lot of legitimacy. The problem for the racists however is that, at least in the west, the central planning of migration increasingly does not serve to separate cultures from each other. It is just a more or less arbitrary bureaucratic machinery, which distributes visas to all kinds of people from all kinds of cultures. So it is not doing what the racists want it to do.

There are different attempts to deal with this. The most common one is to fight for the concept of the nation. Given visas to members of the wrong culture is simply a mistake. It is betraying the country and therefore treason. Another attempt however seems to be, to change the label again. Unfortunately, more and more of these people think that maybe libertarianism is a good alternative label. There are a number of reasons for that. Libertarianism is not in any form associated with the old racism. It is also anti-establishment. The establishment is perceived to be left wing. Therefore, although libertarianism really is neither left nor right, it can easily been portrayed as right wing. Libertarianism is all about individual, interpersonal liberty. And as it turns out, in order to have liberty, individuals need to have certain private property rights, that allow them to be left alone. To be left alone is nothing else but to be able to exclude people from your life. And here comes the wrong twist in this idea that suddenly makes libertarianism seem attractive to racists. Since individuals can exclude people, groups can do the same. In fact, so the claim of people like Hans Hermann Hoppe, not only can they, but they will. Naturally, so the argument, if you have private property, you will end up in some kind of voluntary segregationist society, in which every culture is living in their very own little harmonic and homogenous communities. And these communities will be big, even as big as a nation.

In principle, I don’t mind people preaching the virtues of private property. But there is a problem when you do that in order to support a false theory. The theory that private property will lead to some kind of culturally homogenous society seems false. Although it seems true on an individual micro level that birds of a feather flock together, all the evidence that we have suggests that this is not what is happening beyond the micro level. Whenever we see people being free to move where they want on the basis of private property they seem to mix up fairly quickly. There are huge economic benefits from doing that. That is why segregationist societies always had to be protected with the full power of the state. There goes the illusion that you can somehow have a harmonious racist paradise without the violence of suppression. And that is the problem with these racist allies of libertarianism. If you have a wrong theory about reality, you can either change the theory or try to change reality. The latter however is not very practical. And that is where the state comes in. The state pretends to be some higher being that can change reality according to an ideology. So the question is, will racists go along with liberty or try to use the state to make reality fit their wrong theories? I think the current migration ‘crisis’ has given us a good hint of what the answer is. Racists are very unreliable allies in the fight for liberty.

By the content of their character

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Martin Luther King

This dream is today accessible to anyone with the good sense to practice it. With the good sense to know and understand the people around them by what goes in inside their heads, for it is that which really defines us. As animals, rational or otherwise, we are mostly similar. The pigmentation of our body’s final barrier against the elements makes very little difference to the direction of our lives, for as long as we have the autonomy to set that direction. That barrier, impervious to water, should not obstruct the exchanges of words neccessary to establish “rational, or otherwise”; and it is that basic distinction that is primary for me in all decisions and judgements of people.

However, just as we should not be blind to the radiant glow of coffee coloured complexions on a summer evening, or to the richness of art and cuisines of other cultures, we should not be blinded to any aspect of the people we choose to deal with. Superficial differences will continue to drive our guesses about whether people are worth talking to, and at this precise moment in history those predispositions remain somewhat justified, for as long as you are happy to generalise. In future people will be less happy to generalise, and their generalisations will be less accurate and people will quickly learn that they are missing out and will make different guesses. This is less to do with skin pigmentation, or genetic stock, as it is to do with large numbers of people coming together and learning from each other, and about each other too. Accepting those generalisations for what they are – efficient approximations – is one thing, but as we learn about each other there will be some kinds of people we learn not to like, and we will learn to identify those people by their words and symbols, and learn what those things mean about the ideas that form the content of their characters. We should be free to reject and ostracise those people as long as we obey the obligation we owe to ourselves not to create new generalisatons that replace the old ones. Those people may be adherents of unseemly religious views, Guardian readers or Labour voters intent on stealing from you, or social authoritarians intent on crushing your lifestyle choices, it doesn’t matter. The freedom to ostracise bastards is equally necessary as the freedom not to be put down by them.

Today, the BBC has recreated Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. In which he dreams that his children will “not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. One has to ask if the BBC realises that this criteria, once the dream of one set of minorities, is just as likely to cause the ostracisation of other minorities, and that it should.

Burka Ban Bites

So UKIP are furious that they got called racist and two of their members were therefore not selected as the permanent foster parents for ethnic minority children. UKIP have been bundled together with the BNP quite unfairly for ages, not least by Baroness Warsi whom many would suppose to be well informed on the issues facing ethnic minorities, so for one moment I was ready to leap to their defence. Then I remembered the Burka Ban, the one objectively observable fact about UKIP that does suggest a whiff of racism is that they wanted to discourage Burkhas.

As Julie Borowski reminds us in her latest video, the public want to vote for social liberals. She’s talking about Americans but I believe it to be true here also. Social liberty is in fashion just as economic liberty is moving beyond the pale, and the answer for confused right of centre political parties is to discard personal taste as a matter of politics and move to a consisently libertarian position politically. If you really feel abortion or whatever is a major issue, join a campaigning church group. Surrender your outmoded social views and fight the neccessary political battle for economic liberty. In a way UKIP are paying the price for ideological inconsistency, not necessarily in actuality, but in terms of confused PR messages and branding. In the main, that works for me. Silly ideas should be punished, its the one thing we can choose to change.

The problem is that the original policy was technically well formed. If I recall correctly, becuase it merely clarified the right of property owners to ban burkas on their land –  a right they should properly possess. The war must be faught for property rights of that kind, that put racist idiots in charge of their own fate and put difficult subtleties such as security issues under local, rather than centralised control. You just can’t seem racist while doing it, and the public are so poorly educated about such principles that some blue water is required between UKIP and the BNP before they should have tackled that one.

The smear has worked, but UKIP can fight on by clearly articulating the ideas they have adopted in their constitution.

UPDATE
So I said above that discrimination based on ideology is something I’m okay with. I am okay with that, but as Graham Stuart MP (via ConservativeHome) points out the council has abused it’s power in this case. I don’t blame the workers involved for being ignorant about what membership of UKIP really implies but political institutions should not indulge in discrimination, that is an attack on political freedom. Another reason that democratic institutions should not be involved in such a broad range of activities.

The BBC eventually covered the story, but most impressive is Michael Gove who also did well to show that this is not good for the children.