I have recently become very angered by captioned pictures, posted on social media by far right groups, of those who fought and died in world wars, or of Enoch Powell, and conflating these with the horrific tragedy in Manchester. I find this abhorrent.
It is, in my opinion, hugely disrespectful to the memory of those who fought AGAINST the far right and fascism to use their images to promote neo-nazi bigotry.
As for the claim that Powell was right, I disagree. I suspect many who refer to the Rivers of Blood speech have never even read it in full, nor fully grasped that the quote from Virgil was a reference to his sense of foreboding, not a literal prediction of violence. Immigration is not the root cause of terrorism and those who quote from Powell to imply it is are misrepresenting his speech.
We created terrorists, by our actions in the Middle East. Bush and Blair are the ones responsible for terrorism, not the man in the kebab shop. They are the ones who made up lies to justify invading countries, stealing their resources, changing their leadership to suit our needs, regardless of what a state it left the countries in.
We have killed thousands of civillians, including children, and sent our own soldiers to their deaths, and for what? For weapons of mass destruction that were never in Iraq, for Osama Bin Laden who was never in Afghanistan? So that we can leave Saudi Arabia, where Osama and several of the 9/11 bombers came from, and Pakistan, where many of the terrorists trained and where Osama was in fact hiding, alone? So that the actual places responsible for much of the terrorist suffering can be apparently our allies? For a war on terror that has created a whole new generation of terrorists?
No. Enough. We are the reason there are so many refugees, because we have been bombing their homes. We claim to be liberating countries but leave them in greater chaos, we claim to be stabilising the Middle East but it is more unstable than ever before. We are the ones selling arms to Saudi Arabia, where ISIS get them. We are bombing Syria, where the government is fighting against ISIS (originally named the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) but bizarrely we are attacking the Government instead.
ISIS did not even exist before we invaded Iraq. Our military action in the Middle East does not protect us in the slightest from Islamic extremism. It causes it. To quote David Bowie, we are “putting out fire with gasoline”
When the French fought back against Nazi occupiers we called them the Resistance. When those in the Middle East resist and retaliate against our occupation of their countries we call them insurgents and terrorists.
Our military strategy of the past 20 odd years has been a total failure that has benefitted only our arms and oil dealers, while everybody else suffers. And who do we blame all this on? Not our warmongering leaders, who caused it all, but instead, fuelled by a media that likes to stoke discontent and division, we blame immigrants.
Powell was wrong. Immigrants have contributed massively to the UK economy in the past 50 years. People who settled here in his time became our doctors, our nurses, our bus and cab drivers, our teachers, our lawyers, our shopkeepers, our co-workers, our neighbours, our business customers, our trading partners.
We are a nation of immigrants and have been for centuries. The Scots came originally from Ireland and interbred with Scandinavians (Vikings), the English came from Germany. The Welsh have been here longest, but mixed with several other Celtic tribes from northern Europe. Our cultural diversity is our strength, not our weakness. Immigration does not undermine that, it affirms it. It is who we are. We are a mix of cultures and backgrounds and always have been.
What happened in Manchester was terrible and despicable but it was not our immigration policy that caused it, but our military policy. We created a generation of young people who think like Salman Abedi. It is time to stop creating more of them.
Islam is not the problem, and never was. Muslims in the UK and abroad have condemned the atrocity. Many Muslims were in the thick of the rescue process. ISIS are as representative of Islam as the IRA were of Christianity. They have abused and twisted it and the division and mistrust this has sown is exactly what they want. They are not a Muslim group, but a terrorist group. Those two terms are absolutely not synonymous.
We got it wrong. Badly wrong. Everybody has suffered because of past mistakes. Now is not the time to make it worse. Now is a time for change. This is not about political correctness or fear of offence. This is about moral correctness.
Agree with me or not, it is up to you, but please don’t disrespect the memory of those who served in the military in the world wars by abusing their sacrifice to make your own political points, especially ones so at odds with their struggle.
At around the time of Powell’s famous speech my father, who was ex RAF, was a bus driver in a large city and had colleagues from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and other countries. This was when most of those who returned from WW2 were still of working age. None of his work colleagues who were born in other countries were any threat to him, nor to me. He neither feared nor hated them.
Until a few years ago I worked for a multinational company that had people from 50 countries working in one building. I don’t know what religion they all were, as I never asked. it wasn’t important. It made no difference to how we did our jobs.
I strongly dispute any suggestion that my father or those he served with fought to protect me from them or how he would be upset that they are here.
I like to think they fought for a better world. Whether they got one or not is open to debate.