Who’s country is it anyway?

Anyone who’s read my blog recently will know I’m very concerned about the political shift to the far right. Neo-Nazism is rearing its ugly head all over Europe and the US. Footage hasd emerged of Richard Spencer, leader of white supremacist group the National Policy Institute, giving a speech at a rally, roaring ‘hail Trump’. This was met with celebratory Hitler salutes from the audience. Spencer used the German word ‘lügenpresse’ to describe the media, which is lifted from the Nazi era, meaning ‘lying press’. This is one of many Nazi references Spencer alluded to during his speech. Despite this, white supremacists in America have tried to rebrand themselves as the Alt Right (which sounds like a keyboard shortcut), in an effort to normalise their extremist ideology. It’s important to call them out for what they are; shameless racists and neo-Nazis. Once again, I’m anxious to stress that I do not believe that all Trump voters are racists, but racists voted for Trump. He has spoken to the bigots in American society and they feel emboldened by his victory.

On both sides of the Atlantic, there have been phrases repeated by politicians that allowed casual racism to slip in through the back door. ‘Make our country great again’ is one that sticks in my craw, as it fetishises some mysterious bygone era that never existed. To me, the message is clear; the golden age was before the ‘foreigners’ descended on our shores, sullying our supposed greatness. This is absurd as we’ve always been a mongrel nation, and we’re stronger and more interesting as a result, in my opinion.

Another motto that’s been uttered time and time again is ‘take your country back’. I’d pose the question, who took it from you? The devil bureaucrats in Brussels? The amorphous blob of otherness, known as ‘the immigrants’? I’m pretty sure that when Trump and the crew of Brexiteers said ‘take your country back’, they weren’t addressing immigrant communities who have settled here, worked hard and contribute to society. They are talking to white people. Farage and Trump may protest otherwise, but the white supremacy festers within these slogans.

My family tree on my dad’s side can be traced back for five generations. The Hoskins’ were working class people who lived in Finsbury Park; my ancestors were builders, labourers and the occasional cheesemonger. One might argue that I have deep, racial and indigenous roots in this area of North London. But ethnicity and historic ties do not entitle one to ownership. As such, I have no intention of goose-stepping my way down Stroud Green Road, claiming the place in the name of Hoskins. The insidious undercurrent of racism that has infused recent political discourse, and it’s helped to normalise the current wave of intolerance.

I’m very aware that many people would include me in the ‘liberal elite’. This is perhaps true, I do live in a bubble where people are generally respectful of one-another, regardless of sexual orientation, race or gender. I’m not suggesting London is a colour-blind utopia, it isn’t. However, my lefty-liberalism doesn’t mean I’m wrong. There are problems and injustices in the country, which need to be addressed with calm, rational government. As history teaches us, blaming ‘the other’ solves nothing and sews the seeds of enmity and discord.

Feature image from Twitter.