On Monday (8 June), in response to a question from Labour MP Florence Eshalomi in the House of Commons (”Black lives matter, and we need to see the Government doing something about that”) Home Secretary Priti Patel said “I am really saddened that she has effectively said that this Government do not understand racial inequality. On that basis, it must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki in the playground; a very different Home Secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career; and a different Home Secretary who was recently characterised in The Guardian—if I may say so, Madam Deputy Speaker—as a fat cow with a ring through its nose, something that was not only racist but offensive, both culturally and religiously. “
There was absolutely no need for a response to this but look what happened ….
The following day (9 June) Brendan O’Neill wrote an excellent column castigating the ‘woke Left’ for their response to Patel: ‘The Labour MP Nadia Whittome shamefully stirred up racial antagonism by accusing Patel of using ‘her identity as an Asian person to silence Flo Eshalomi as a black person’. So when Eshalomi speaks about racism it is genuine and important, but when Patel does it, it is opportunistic and distracting. Whittome is getting very close to saying that Asian people’s experience of racism matters less than black people’s experience of it. …. In recent years we have seen very clearly that the supposedly anti-racist left has a serious problem with both Jews and Indians.’
On Thursday (11 June) Patel received a horrific letter from 32 mostly BAME Labour MPs.
They accused her of ‘using your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by Black people and communities across the UK’. (Gaslighting refers to the act of psychologically manipulating someone into doubting their own experiences). They suggested that she had tried to ‘silence’ Eshalomi in particular and black people in general. Both accusations are patently ludicrous. The deeply unpleasant truth is that these Labour MPs do not accept that a Conservative can be a victim of racism, especially a Hindu, and that they are supported in this lunacy by many in their disproportionately high Muslim electorates.
As O’Neill noted (before he had seen the letter) ‘In recent years we have seen very clearly that the supposedly anti-racist left has a serious problem with both Jews and Indians.’
Maybe even O’Neill felt the heavy hand of political correctness on his shoulder, because the truth is that the letter reflects additionally the hostility of Muslims towards Patel, who is a Hindu. 41% of the signatories are Muslims. Relations between Labour and the Hindu Community became strained after the 2019 Labour Conference passed a motion criticising India’s actions towards Muslim-majority Kashmir, though Keir Starmer has changed this policy. There are other tensions too, reflecting tensions in India. 30 of the 32 MPs have a larger than average proportion of Muslims in their constituency; the average is 18.1% versus the overall GB average of 4.5%. Only Claudia Webbe (Leicester E) has more Hindus than Muslims – for most of the 32 MPs, the Muslim proportions are much higher than their Hindu ones.
Source: 2011 Census
But here’s the nub. O’Neill writes ‘In recent years we have seen very clearly that the supposedly anti-racist left has a serious problem with both Jews and Indians.‘
Here’s the tarnished record of 19 of the 32 as regards Israel-based antisemitism:
Racism is racism, whether it’s against Muslims, Jews or Hindus. There’s no hierarchy of racism.
To quote O’Neill again ‘My experience of oppression takes precedence over yours – that’s what was really being said in this bizarre outburst of the Oppression Olympics we witnessed in the aftermath of Patel’s comments in the Commons.’
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