Xenophobic Tory MP Nadine Dorries blames immigrants for recent UK floods

Nadine DorriesConservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries lived up to her reputation as an entrenched xenophobe when she appeared on BBC 1’s Question Time last night.

In the context of answering a question about whether racist rhetoric will stop now that the wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants has failed to materialise, Dorries thought it appropriate to imply that immigration is responsible for British citizens being flooded out of their homes over Christmas and in recent weeks.

After raving about David Cameron’s lack of power when it comes to setting immigration targets and accusing the European Union for its open door policy: “We have no idea how many people are going to come, but we do know how many millions of people have the right to come if they want to” says Dorries, clearly a woman who lives in constant fear that her back yard will be flooded with immigrants any moment now. Perhaps that is why Dorries next swerves incomprehensibly into the issue of flooding: “Now most, a large part of Britain this week has seen – well over the last few weeks and over Christmas – has seen flooding. One of the problems with flooding is we’re building on our flood planes, and so we have less and less area of the country were water can drain,” and then uses this to appeal for people to vote Conservative in the next elections in order to pull Britain out of the EU and stop immigration.

She made me feel so proud of being British. Not.

As fellow panellist, Daily Mirror ‘Fleet Street Fox’ blogger Susie Boniface said “The question about whether the racist rhetoric will end is plainly NO.” Like Boniface, “Frankly, I find the way we have discussed the migration issue utterly appalling, completely disgusting, obnoxious, offensive and very un-British.”

From what I have seen so far on British TV – including, disappointingly, the BBC, from what I have read in the papers and online, I have come to the conclusion that instead of taking the lead on promoting British values such as fairness, tolerance and open-mindedness, the Conservative party is caught up in a race with the UKIP for “Xenophobe of the Decade Award” with the likes of Nadine Dorries MP at the forefront.

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Shades of Grey

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Nina Kaytel

“I always felt omitting race would be more inclusive to the every reader. It is the one detail they can fill in themselves. Does that mean I have ‘white by default’ syndrome? By not including race in my stories am I helping to spread racism?” White by Default

Race_FINAL_shea_walsh_web

Race is a slippery concept, a phenomenon rooted in political struggle, yet commonly believed to be a fixed characteristic of human beings. We come across it in everyday life. To the majority of us it may appear as omnipresent and real, but the idea of race is riddled with obvious contradictions. A biological fiction, nonetheless, race is regarded as a social fact.

Race is not something one is born with. It is something one learns. You may disagree. I’m aware that my views on matters of race, gender and difference are not necessarily part of the mainstream, so let me explain.

There are differences of ethnicity and skin colour, this I do not deny. However, the way we think those differences is not “natural” but rather socially conditioned. In addressing any concept, I always start with a definition, yet when it comes to race no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists.

I was unaware that there was a perceived difference between the latin and slavic “races” or ethnicities until I was put in my place by those “in the know.” The slavs were the newcomers, the conquerers and therefore viewed themselves as superior; my own ethnicity, underlined by language, religion and culture, came short of the desirable ideal in my country of birth. I was different in the wrong way. 

It was then – at the age of six – that I realised for the first time how negative connotations are attached to skin colour and bone structure, to language and culture, to anything that may be regarded as difference. This difference was used to oppress, to make one feel inferior for being “other”. I refused to accept this. Years later, when I had the chance to research the issue in some depth, the truth of that instinctive rejection of race as “natural” was confirmed.

Race is not biologically real – it is socially and politically constructed through law, public policy and social practices.

How was race first constructed? It emerged in human history as a social structure aimed at instituting systemic hierarchies where Europeans or “whites” were awarded privileges and rights over non-Europeans, “non-whites”. White supremacy went global and structured all societies, social relations and practices to reinforce those social, economic and political privileges.

Here are some snippets of the history of this systemic racial profiling of the world, inscribed by men, not nature: In 1856, Ralph Waldo Emerson delineated the significance of race. In 1899 William Z. Ripley wrote The Races of Europe, where he aimed to fix racial difference through head-type. In 1901, Two years later, Edward A. Ross wrote The Causes of Race Superiority, using the perceived differences between the Arab and the Jewish “races” to make his point. This was only the beginning and much more was written on the matter since – all attempts to create a theory of race that may justify discrimination.

When I say that race is a social construct, I mean to indicate that race is rooted in the social history of humanity, not in its biology. It only has biological significance because we have spent centuries giving it that significance.

No one would claim nowadays that there is any racial difference between Greeks and Romans, Saxons and Franks, because our narrative has moved on to creating a story of “white” and “black”, with many theorists doing their best to clothe an idea with “evidence” so that it may be accepted as fact.

This to me is the context in which Nina asks her question: “I always felt omitting race would be more inclusive to the every reader. Does that mean I have ‘white by default’ syndrome?”

And this is why I feel secure in giving a straightforward answer.

We tell stories about human beings and their lives. If racial discrimination is not a part of those characters lives – something they have to resolve for themselves and for the world which they inhabit, then the idea itself becomes superfluous. When those stories come from a place of honesty about the human condition, then the colour of one’s skin will not change the response of the reader. They will make the story their own.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

You Are Not White Enough!

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Jezebel

“Good news, ladies! Society has discovered another new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the colour of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherf***er. Bleach it right now!”

I must’ve knocked my head and woke up in some parallel dimension universe where the world has been taken over by the Racist Vagina Police. This is a hoax, surely?!

Did you know about this? Not to worry. If you didn’t, you will now.

I’ve searched the blogosphere to see whether any of you have written about the latest in demented “fairness” trends.

The burden of guilt lies of course with the female population of this planet. Apparently, fair ladies, you have come short in one key area. Your privates are not white enough!

This is no joke. Serious stuff. It threatens the very survival of the human species. So take note and do something about it. Pronto.

Ever wonder why your boyfriend or hubby has been giving you a wide birth lately? Or perhaps it’s your “friend with benefits” who is a no show yet again? I’m certain that after the last half dozen “headache” excuses for a distinct lack of in-between-the-sheets action, you must have questioned it.

Experts to the rescue! It turns out it is not them. It is you. Or to put it bluntly, your vagina has lost its allure. If you are still in doubt, watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tx9vVVMWw0

Disgusting, right? I really feel for the man. I mean, come on.

They sit down for their morning coffee. It’s another beautiful day in whiter-than-thou heart of India. But something is very very wrong.

You can cut the tension with a hatchet. The poor guy can’t even bear to look at her. It is all too much. The HORROR. After everything he’s had to put up with, and now THIS?

How could she let him down like that? Go and scrub that thing, girl! He looks like he’s about to retch. Can’t you see what you’re doing to his coffee? It’s all ruined. So brown. Just like your… Too much of a gentleman to bring up the subject, mind. Although he’s clearly all cut up about it.

But! She has a secret weapon. Lo and behold! Enters: Clean and Dry Intimate Wash. Can’t expect the sexy times to roll without putting in the effort.

Now look at him smile. Oh. Yeah. Result. She was only one wash away from being beautiful, sexy and confident. That’s what a light-reflecting labia will do for you.

Phew. Divorce papers shelved. Disaster averted. She’s definitely getting some tonight. Humanity lives to see another day.

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I admit. I’ve known for a while that there is a hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. It seems insane to me that this should be the case, but then India, despite being the world’s largest democracy, also happens to be amongst the most unequal. It is not just about an inequality of wealth and social standing, it has to do with the cast system. And yes, skin colour is a big part of that.

Darker-skinned Indians are encouraged to avoid direct sunlight and bleach their skin with products like Fair & Lovely. Should we be troubled by this?

Consumer capitalism seems determined to make us question everything about our bodies, looks, scent, invading the most intimate parts of ourselves for one reason and one reason only: to sell us things we don’t need, at prices we can’t afford.

All I can say is this. Don’t go there. There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle, and if there is… Someone who expects you to change your body in order to be with them, is so not worth it. Honestly.

Just say no.

This article was inspired by http://jezebel.com/5900928/your-vagina-isnt-just-too-big-too-floppy-and-too-hairyits-also-too-brownfrom whence comes the above pic too.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

On Race, Gender and Difference.

On Race, Gender and Difference.

NB: Below you can read my reply to a Project O’s fellow-contributor. Click on the link above for her article.

Dear Tee,
Thank you for a great post. I enjoyed the sarky undertone too. It suited the piece I think.

     Regarding race. May I be so bold and agree with your PolSci prof? I don’t know what arguments she brought forward to support her position, but this is how I see it. Yes, people’s skin colour differs. It differs from person to person, region to region, continent to continent; and if there are humanoid aliens out there, perhaps from galaxy to galaxy too. We are not blind to those differences, and the French I think proved quite well that state-ratified attempts at such blindness fail to bring about equality of treatment.

      However, I do believe that race is a social construct. To think in racial terms is not a ‘natural’ occurrence. The doctrines were invented by those who sought to justify rapacious private and state-led enterprise outside the limited confines of European territories. It is easier to rob peoples of their possessions if you do not think of them as your equals. You don’t need to come to terms then with your own failings as a human being or society.
Before that happened, attitudes did not differ towards people whose skin colour differed any more than they differed towards people using different hair-grooming products.

      Race is a social construct in the same way in which gender is. Yes, there are two basic sexes: male and female, with many nuanced in-betweens when discontinuities between biology and psyche occur. But other than the strict biological differences that can be observed, all else is invention. It took two world wars to show Europe that at the end of the day there are no differences between what men and women can do work-wise, that equally well educated men and women are equally capable of rational argument, that politically engaged citizens are militant no matter what their sex.
However, I am also painfully aware that the above does not change on-the-ground realities. Just because something is imagined or invented, if it is adhered to, then it is as real as it can get.

      I count myself fortunate in that I have always seen difference as an inherent good. I am fascinated by it, not in a “let me inspect you as if you’re some museum piece” fascinated, but as toddlers find the world around them new and wonderful and exciting, and everything they have not encountered before is another adventure: an explorer’s dream. Every person I meet, irrespective of background, gender, skin colour, nose shape and whatever-have-you, is to me a new world I am eager to discover. I wish it was the same for everyone.

     Sadly, I know that not to be the case. But I hope that what you shared in your post will make at least one person think twice before they make another racist joke thinking ‘big deal’.

     Thank you again. Look forward to more of your writing x

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Should you like to peruse my original contribution to Project O, follow this link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/ or alternatively, you can find it on Project O’s home-website at: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/03/project-o-article-12/

For more deeply held opinions, there is an interview with vicbriggs and OpinionatedMan coming up in October. Watch this space!

And thank you for stopping by 🙂

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Women In Journalism

A thoughtful and informative article about the struggles women endure in their attempt to get their voices heard, their pen-woman-ship read.