WING(E) ACROSS THE WATERS
(From a Facebook thread regarding my witnessing of 3 racist attacks in Oxford, England within one 6 week period before my departure from the UK and the continuing focus my English friends have on my account of those incidents that transpired back in late March, 2014.I answer one such detractor in the following thread reproduced here wherein I analyze the character of the English and why they are so insecure and yet defensively aggressive when it comes to their national identity).Although I dispute about a third, of what you [the critic] assert and I resent your implication that I have been ‘evolving’ or embellishing my accounts as you are clearly accusing me of misleading my readers; I assure you, that I am reporting the truth of what I experienced.I worked for 5 years as a foreign correspondant for Pacifica News Wire in Paris and trust me, I know how to report a story as well as how to fact check.You may take issue with my conclusions from my experiences or the generalisations about the English character that I am self aware of procuring from those experiences, but if you doubt the veracity of my accounts, then we really have no progress to make here.As with Dennis Harrison and Sarah Gallespie, your focus is on the refutation of my integrity as a way of dodging the content and conclusions I am suggesting. This is really a form of cultural self-denial and national defensiveness.You feel attacked by my logically and factually derived generalizations, so you attack the witness rather than debate his conclusions.But what really gets a rise out of me; as with Dennis and Sarah:YOU WEREN”T THERE and I WAS.Opinions do not have the same rhetorical weight as first hand accounts.Unless of course the English have alos derived different rules for rhetoric. Perhaps one in which only English people have the right to pose an argument and the rest of us are inhibited by our foreign handicap.Those who deny the evidence of my own eyes and would prefer to cast aspersions on my integrity and reliability as a witness to my own experience rather than either confront the conclusions I derive from my experience or even logically refute them are disingenuous and self-deluding. They mistake their own opinions for facts and confront the reporting of facts as if they were a matter of opinion.So much for English education.The reason I bother to write this at all, is that inspite of the nationalist, reactionary reflex I have provoked, I do detect some attempt to at least appear to weigh the evidence, and my conclusions about the evidence, against your own sense of Englishness and England. It is through that dark, narrow opening of self consciousness that I attempt to pass through with a flash light, trying to shed a little light and appealing to submerged English traits of a desire for fairness, justice and the desire for the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it turns out to be.In witnessing of all 3 racist incidents, all within the same 6 week period prior to my departure from Oxford, corroborated by witnesses, the other targets and the police; I had no choice but to conflate the 3 different events into one pattern meaning. The UK has grown much less tolerant and much more aggressively resistent to foreigners. Anyone who has passed through Heathrow immigration recently can tell ou that. I’ve been passing back and forth for over 30 years and it used to be a 5 minute mini interview as a tourist with a one way ticket in.Then when I achieved permanent residency, the time would be 10 minutes because the immigration official wanted to know HOW I had received permanent residency. In the past 7 years the time I spend at Heathrow immigration, WITH a permanent residency stamp is closer to an hour and at least 40 minutes as untrained, quite stupid immigration officials carry out the government’s policies as supported by the Daily Mail to harrass and dissuade foreign residents from coming into the country.I have had to on 3 occasions resort to asking the pompous immigration official to call my lawyer in the UK as their inane and unwarranted detention was compromsiing my metting my daughter or my freinds at the alloted time. In each and every case I have been admitted into the UK but not until after I have asserted my rights loudly as a citizen and a foreign resident. Shyer people than me are not so lucky and that is why I shout: for those who cannot. That is why I raise my voice: for those who are to timid or scared to. My voice carrys. It is loud and my bellowing is always heard. Yes, it irritates, it annoys, it’s the kind of voice that makes the neighbours look to move; but my voice serves a purpose that your politesse can’t even fathom.The only people who have cast doubt on my integrity and the accuracy of my accounts in the past 4 months are white English people who weren’t actually there and as I said, have other nationalist fish to fry. They don’t like hearing foreigners complain about ANYTHING English. This is in sharper contrast with say, the French (a country I lived in for 8 years), in which MY EXPERIENCE was that if you ever complained about some aspect of French society, either social or political, a French person who inevitably utter a deep sigh and respond ‘man, you don’t know the half of it!’ and proceed to inform you of even more flaws and weakness in their own society. This reflects a more Cartesian, Gallic interpretation of ‘fact authentication’.The French think in categories of experience, where as the English like to establish rules and then follow them. The English have a much more black and white means of evaluating their phenomenal experience: things aren’t in different categories; rather, things and events either follow certain prescribed rules or they are wrong and must be rejected. This is in no small part due to the English culture and character. The English split the Anglo/Gallic distinction even finer by separating themselves from their ideological cousins, us Americans. Americans share with our cultural cousins, the French the trait of complaint. Americans and the French complain whne something’s not right; that’s how we get things done, we draw attention to an inconsistency, a flaw and injsutice and we complain loudly to the persons responsible until they are made aware and then do something about it. If they become aware and still do nothing about it, we take the streets and protest and if there’s still no response we storm the palace and cut off their fucking heads.The English do not like to complain. Within their rigid social conformity it’s considered rude to complain and remember, in England, being rude is tatmount to child molestation. Actually based on the evidence of recent public criminal information; pedophilia amongst the great and the good is much more acceptable than rudeness; even the Queen tolerates child molestation, having had tea with a pedophile or two, between the blood drinking despots she regularly entertains with her subjects’s purse.What the English do instead of complain is whinge. (definition: complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way: stop whingeing and get on with it!) The English whinge because that is acceptable within their social stratification. Why one and not the other? Very simple and this points like a bull eye to the inequity inherent in the English social scheme and also reveals exactly why I have been the target of such rapid hostility. The difference between whinging and complaining is that complaining mandates that you register your complaint with those you deem responsible for your complaint: the waiter or chef in the restaurant, the bureacrat, the supervisor, the government official. But whinging on the other hand, as practiced by the English means that you only complain to your friends, your family your colleagues; people who can do nothing about your complaint. So there you have it in a nutshell: the English notion of politnesses, of what is rude or what is acceptable and unacceptable in their ‘polite’ society is rigged to reinforce the most ineffectual behaviour and actually discourage effective social behaviour that might actually do something to improve the circumstance.This is how social politesse and conformist demeanour undermines the needs of people.The suffragettes were rude, the abolitionists were rude, the Jamaican immigrants were rude, the Brixton rioters were rude, the Muslim ummigrants are rude because they’re not Christians and some of their women cover their faces. How rude!The English society reminds of the famous cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker depicitng a man running into a crowed theatre that we can see is on fire and shouting ‘Fire!, Fire!’ while a ‘posh’ bejewelled lady with her back to the man and the fire, proclaims “How rude!”That’s why I find the critics of my reports so amusing: they sit with their backs to thier own society and merely whinge at my ‘rudeness’ for bringin attention to what’s surrounding them. What morally pathetic cowards they are.I am targeted for what is often very personalized disdain, because I do not follow English rules, either socially or rhetroically.You may not like my fiction or poetry but what does your judgment of thier worth have to do with the assertions I make about your culture, (Sarah?). That’s why the accusation of ‘rudeness’ (which I often get), is much worse than calling someone a ‘motherfucket’ in England. ‘Rude’ means you’ve stepped out of the prescribed rules of social strastification which frames the argument to begin with. I think I’ve pointed out here what is fundamental to the Anglo-Gallic divide. Many of my ‘English Friends’ any possible value or empathy for me in my unpleasant experience, because my conclusions contradict your social decorum. I break your rules and are therefore ‘rude’ or my accounts are suspect. Then there’s the constant comparisons to America or other places, such as you contribute. What on the Earth does my witnessing of 3 racist incidents in England within 6 weeks have to do with the demographic of the American prison population?Tu Quoque is a Latin term for the kind of debate you find in children’s schoolyards and my threads on English racism:A type of ad hominem argument in which a person turns a charge back on his or her accuser: a logical fallacy. From the Latin, “you too”
Wilma: You cheated on your income tax. Don’t you realize that’s wrong?
Walter: Hey, wait a minute. You cheated on your income tax last year. Or have you forgotten about that?
Walter may be correct in his counter-accusation, but that does not show that Wilma’s accusation is false.”
This is th level of debate that I have encountered with my ‘English friends’ on this subject. In fact, I should thank them for helping me to emerge the definition of ‘English Friends’; those who will smile to your face and claim comraderly common interest until they stab you for breaking their social codes. Not in the back, btw, sometimes in the side.The fact that Americans have more guns or that American police can often be more brutal and injust than the The British is a Tu Quoque argument; a false conscience. I’m talking about your country, man; things that have happened to me in your country for which there are corraboarating witnesses. But because your English society and its deeply imprinted class system; you will not believe or sympathise with my plight. Instead I threaten your class system, therefore I must be rejected, discredited and in some extremes called names and vilified. In many ways, this is precisely the kind of ‘flushing out’ of non racists I wanted to achieve. I wanted to expose how injustice operates: not on the unjust (or insane) actions of a few, but on the social complicity that implictly sustains their actions as more legitimate, because of their birthright, simply because they are English and I am ‘other than’ . This is what unties my opposition and connects you, Dennis, Sarah Gillespie and others (otherwise bright, articulate human beings), who cannot help themselves in their nationalist, knee-jerk response because they feel that fundamentally, I challange and take issue with their way of life, their social ontology.Which of course, I do ;~)This was exactly what I wanted to demonstrate in spending all this time rendering my accounts, and I believe successfully have done so, at least for my American and European readers, who are literally gobsmacked that I would be the victim of a racist verbal assault, that I would be repeatedly called “a Jew” in a public English space and that my white English friendds would then take more issue with me than the perpetrator.This is epitomised by the other principal accusation being hurled at me: that I am arrogant, that I suffer from a blinding arrogance.This is hilarious: English people accusing someone else of arrogance?!? The English who’s cultural arrogance is almost universally identified as an English trait?My American friends find this the most amusing aspect to this unmasking of English character. In contrast, all of the British support and sympathy I have received, by mainly private DM, have been from a non caucasion, British demographic: (afro carribean, asian, east asian, arab).All of whom have expressed sympathy for me because they have shared being on the receiving end of similar racist attacks from nice, polite, English people and have empathy for my upset. They reassure me that not all white English males are shits and that it’s best to suck it and move on. But I’m a writer and social observer who has worked and lived in 6 different countries in my life, in England for the longest. As an outside, I have an outsider’s point of view. I compare English society and reactions to others I have had in other countries. But your mistundersanding of my vantage point is underlined when I am accused of American jingoism, asi if! I left my own country over 35 years ago in no small part due to the leel of social and political injustice there and moved to socialist France under Miterrand …..
It was in a much freer France that I cultivated both a politcal progressiveness and a Cartesian mode of rhetorical expression. Likewise, I embraced the republican, revolutionary ontology (society’s must be actively changed in order to be inproved), which was both in line with my own American post revolutionary values and a direct contradiction of the general English conservatism, desire to preserve the past, hang on to the present and dismiss the possibility of progressive change. My real sin here is not being American, not being a (for chrissakes!), a Jew or even being a foreigner who was never going to be accepted by the English; it’s being a PROGRESSIVE. Believing that social change must be instrumented; that the status quo need be challanged in order to change for the better. A belief in ignoring or breaking the rules when they become irrelevant or in need of change.That’s the real reason I am targeted for discredItting by white, English men and women:I tell them things about themselves that they don’t want to hear.Too bad.As to internal mapping, you only need to look at the recent loss by the GOP of the last Presidential election to understand what I mean: the GOP banked on winning an election. They were honestly shocked that Obama was re-elected because they had lost sight of who the voters were now. They were stuck in a recent, but now displaced worldview that saw America as largely white, male and Protestant. The problem was that America was not. America had beome largely Hispanic and empowered female; very different subcultures cultures than white Anglosaxons.That’s why the GOP lost, they didn’t know who their buyers were anymore, much less what they wanted to buy.
Now look at the current British cabinet, opposition and Mayor of London, in the same light: people who all went to the f*****g high school ! No wonder the British government no longer represents the people of Britain: they are different people. Change in Britain for the better will come fromand it will led by immigrants and the children of immigrants. It will not come from the caucasion Anglosaxon, no matter how educated they think they are; because their investment is in the past, not the future.As long as there are British people in power who operate on the basis of manipulating a nostalgia for the past rather than a look towards the rapidly arriving future, there will be social problems, as in the rise of overt racism I have borne witness to. 4 incidents in six weeks is not an anomaly, it’s a pattern.Racist incidnets and attacks are on the rise in Britain, statistically and from anyone’s observation. To deny that fact or to attack the veracity of those foreigners who inform you of the fact is a nation of ostriches hiding their heads in frakked ground. It is an insult to the legacy of British rationalism to pretend that your problesm are really just the fantasies of a narcissistic, arrgant attention seeker, who just want to disturb your English idyll of watching cricket on your suburban green. Perhaps you need to be disturbed from time to time, eh?Complacency is its own quiet, comfortable prison.This is my experience and the conclusions that I draw. To think that otherwise educated, compassionate Brits would come to the defense of white, institutional racists by focussing on discrediting the response of their targets as the object of derision, speaks volumes. The contributers on this thread have done more to prove my points with their jibes, name calling and attempts at personality assassination, than I ever could.Exposure is the best form of refutation; we can let other observers judge for themselves.