Socialist Worker

Rulers try to regain ground over racism

Issue No. 2285

Just days after two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers were sentenced, the main issue of race dominating the media was black Labour MP Diane Abbott’s tweet.

That is outrageous.

Abbott received a “severe dressing down from Ed Miliband” for a comment on the website Twitter that referred to “white people”.

Some denounced Abbott’s “racism” towards white people. But this misunderstands what racism is.

Racism is systematic oppression that exists within all the structures of capitalist society.

Miliband’s guru Maurice Glasman promoted a disgusting vision of a Labour Party “that involves those people who support the EDL” last year.

There was no public outcry or private reprimand then.

The outcry over Abbott shows the establishment is fighting back after the popular response to the Lawrence verdict.

The police hoped that they would be able to say they were finally beyond “institutionalised racism”. Instead their limitations are firmly back in the public mind.

It’s good that the police have been forced to take racism more seriously. But the problems are not in the past.

Cressida Dick, who led the PR offensive over the Lawrence case, gave the order to shoot Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005.

Last summer’s riots were sparked by the shooting of a young black man, Mark Duggan, in Tottenham.

Racist stop and search and police harassment of young black and Asian people have risen in recent years, not fallen.

The Daily Mail trumpeted its anti-racist credentials this week. Yet it printed photos of black people at Mark Duggan’s funeral waving him goodbye, as the priest requested, and said they were making “gangster salutes”.

The establishment is trying to use racism to distract attention from the crisis.

The danger of a resurgence in racism can be seen in recent incidents on football pitches.

But racism sickens the majority of people.

Militant campaigning by Doreen and Neville Lawrence and their many supporters eventually led to the conviction of two of Stephen’s murderers.

Challenging racist ideas loudly and publicly is the way to push back and isolate them.

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What We Think
Tue 10 Jan 2012, 19:50 GMT
Issue No. 2285
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