By Gilad Atzmon
2nd part of two – In this part I explore the misleading role of Jewish politics (both Zionist and anti Zionist) within the 'anti racist' campaign.
To read the 1st part click here.
Racism is a big word with some very bad connotations. Being accused of racism is one of the most hurtful and potentially damaging labels around. And yet, how many ‘racists’ really think in ‘biological determinist’ terms? How many ‘racists’ out there really think in terms of ‘genes,’ or even ‘skin colour’? I guess not that many.
While acknowledging that racism had a significant cultural, and politically lethal impact between the late 19th century and the middle of the last century, in today’s politics, the word ‘racism’ is often misused, mistakenly used, or in some cases, consciously used to mislead and even to silence.
Though discrimination against minority groups is unfortunately common and totally unacceptable, it is not necessarily always motivated by crude racism. Islamophobia, for instance, is commonly regarded as a contemporary manifestation of racism but I would challenge such an understanding. Islamophobia, I contend, is not driven by racism, but rather, it is actually a crude symptom of intolerance -- xenophobia manifested as hatred, bigotry and discrimination. My English Muslim convert friends are often subjected to abuse by Jewish campaigners (both Zionist and ‘anti’ Zionists) and the English Defence League -- but not because of their ‘genes’, ‘biology’ or the colour of their skin, but rather because they are ‘different’; because they challenge Western value system and because they oppose Israel and its lobbies. Clearly, they are perceived by some as a 'public enemy' but that reaction cannot always be understood solely as ‘racism’ per se.
Similarly, it is beyond doubt that it is not easy to be black in ‘multi cultural’ Britain. Being a jazz musician I see first hand how my black friends are often treated in this country and I see plenty of evidence of institutional anti-black bigotry. I read about black youngsters being stopped and searched by police between one to four times a day. This is unacceptable and clear evidence of discrimination.
But is this really always about racism? Is it driven solely by ‘biological determinism’? Is it really about ‘genes’, ‘blood’ or ‘skin colour’? This is indeed an open question and obviously I would not rule out the possibility of anti- black (biological) racism. However, I tend to believe that in contemporary multi ethnic societies, most cases of anti-black bigotry and discrimination are various manifestations of deep, thuggish xenophobic feelings mixed with some examples of deep, and sinister cultural intolerance. In other words, often enough, the contemporary bigot is not concerned at all with biological matters but rather with social constructs and culturally driven symbolism(1). This is surely a matter of serious concern, and in some case it is driven by murderous inclinations and it must be dealt with, but it isn’t necessarily (biological) racism per se.