In a country utterly obsessed with woke cancel culture, with media outlets like the BBC and the guardian facing daily callouts on it’s factionalisation of the transphobia row, where racist events like the euro cup are fully expected by POC and their allies and where anti LGBTQIA sentiment is slowly burning backwards- can we really claim surprise that those pushing for tolerance are getting happier and happier to claim the weighty mantle of “radicalised” against the other side?
Here’s an excerpt from an email I’ve just sent my long time friend Pam: “People will literally twist themselves in knots to avoid actually confronting their implicit biases cos they cannot admit that we might be in the wrong and have work to do to make the world a better place; It’s up to everyone else to take the blame, it’s everyone else’s job to do the work to make the world better. The second you say hey so maybe our country is racist its IT IS NOT PEOPLE ARE JUST SENSITIVE CANCEL CULTURE WOKE SNOWFLAKE… it’s literally more work to cling to your rhetoric than just admit it and work on yourself.”
I often laugh when I read the endless epithets I’m gifted online by the supposed anti woke brigades: woke, weak, snowflake, SJW. What’s thrown at me as an insult, I wear with pride. If it’s woke to care about others, weak to be offended by hate speech, snowflakey to demand racists are held to account then I am the SJW you so angrily proclaim me to be, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
I’m also not quite sure what a “radical leftist” is, and why they are apparently so dangerous. I hardly plan to break into the houses of parliament and force Boris Johnson to respect people’s pronouns at gunpoint. It just so happens that I’m very much frustrated by injustice and therefore, loud about it’s removal from a society that has the means but not the wherewithal.
Easy as it may be to rest in your ignorant shell, there comes a time where those with any moral fibre become embroiled in the fights that may not directly involve us and suddenly become aware of the impact we can have just by standing shoulder to shoulder with others.
I can’t tell you how many times a month I’m asked if I’m trans because I defend my trans brothers, sisters and enby folk. I’m not trans, and I can scarcely imagine their struggle- but imagine I have, to the best of my abilities. But you shouldn’t have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to empathise with their plight.
As a white (as fuck- I am roughly the colour of fresh milk) cis man, I will never understand even a corner of the struggle that POC face in a country with such blatant systemic racism oozing from every crack in it’s wall of ignorance- but that doesn’t mean I can’t empathise fully with those who suffer from it, and want to do what I can to chip away at that wall, to expedite the drainage of such disgusting pus that festers in the wounds of every heart it infects.
Today, as is par for the course, my insistence that a man who tweeted the N word, blaming the POC players for England’s loss at the Euros led to me being compared to Nazis. This comparison always confuses me: Nazi ideology was based on only the able bodied arian white folks being the cream of society, able to live on the backs and deaths of anyone who was other, on the subjugation of those seen as lesser- and the weakness of a mind who compares a demand for consequences to that is beyond the stupidity I can muster the energy to comprehend.
Nazism is the most abhorrent system of thinking that’s been widely accepted and known to humanity- so for internet weaklings to compare holding people to account for their own actions, to conflate holding people to account for refusing to absorb the simple truth that racism is appalling and only believed by fools and willing bigots- should be, but is not, laughable.
The invective that right-wing aligned people throw at the supposed “woke” always misses the fundamental hypocrisy that nazis were… far right politically.
As right wing populism grows underfoot, as it snakes into the houses of parliament, the left are further demonised by a press monopolised by right wing punditry: from Rupert Murdoch’s empire to what I can only equate to “tabloid-lite” papers like the daily mail, England in particular is beset by bigotry at every turn, and every word carefully selected by journalists to toe the line and maintain the fiction that England isn’t steeped in the blood of the people of colour who were dragged here to build it, manufacture for it and better it at their own expense, is another brick in the wall mentioned above- as one falls out, another journalist who believes the rhetoric that white people could ever truly understand daily racial abuse will simply slide another block in.
Is it any wonder…
That leads me to the whole point of this post: Is it any wonder that, as this system propagates itself even in the face of it’s own hypocrisy, as it grows and maintains itself even under growing calls for it’s examination, it’s dismantlement, it’s replacement with equity for all who share this land, that those who have patiently or impatiently watched it’s sinuous twisting of the truth for it’s own benefit, have grown tired and become, to use the descriptor the right so love- Radicalised.
I’m not quite sure what reaction right wingers expect from me when they call me a radical lefty. “Yep” is usually it. I am. They see the moniker of radical as a terrible thing, because of course they equate it to the oft-disparaged, even in their own rags, far-right.
Here is the difference.
On the far left we have people willing to fight for equality, equity and fairness in a system that’s always been kiltered to cater to the few instead of the many.
On the far right? Literally nazis.
The Myth of the “Tolerant Left”
It’s been said before many times but it bears repeating that the tolerant left is a myth.
Do we “tolerate” (a word anyone who follows my video posts will know I detest), or as I prefer to call it, accept people whose needs and wants are different to our own? Absolutely. Do we try to cater for those who need different requirements than us to exist with dignity and prosper in a world that caters to homogeny? We do, or we try.
What we don’t, won’t and can’t tolerate under our wide arching but moral beliefs, is bigotry.
If you think we should accept that people have a difference of opinion on whether tomato soup is the best soup, I can cope with that. Accepting that you think gay people are disgusting, that POC are lesser than you with your white skin etc, that’s quite another thing.
To tolerate the existence of beliefs that mean others should suffer for their existence when it harms no one and is as normal as any other is the cognitive dissonance I feel the right are well known for in leftist circles.
There are many right wing arguments I’ve gone to pains to debunk over the years, including:
Gayness is not a choice, but even if it was it’s still not unworthy of respect in a democratic society, hiring practices that prioritise people of colour are not “biased” in a country where POC are underrepresented in many workplaces and specialities, trans women are not comparable with cis men.
But as time goes on I’ve realised that all I’m doing is recycling talking points to shut right wing mouthpieces up when they begin their usual ignorant sermonising. You can not change the mind of someone who has willingly immersed themselves in bigotry, even if it’s more work to continue to cling to and push said bigotry- because the terrifying reality for these people is that they would have to question themselves, realise that the bias is with them, that they are in fact in the wrong, and they’d need to do work on themselves to improve- so the choice comes to continue to cling to bigotry over questioning their own internal bias and ask whether it’s worth keeping that ignorance alive, or letting it die and becoming something else.
The war on woke is essentially a bunch of people claiming that they’re fighting for their freedom – their freedom to remain ignorant in a world filling, daily, with information that proves their choice to stick to ignorance makes them part of the problem.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’m told that the fact I’m not willing to compromise and have calm discourse with racists and bigots and scumbags, oh my, is the reason for their continued ignorance- so let me spell this out for you:
We are not your mothers. We are not here to teach you. The resources exist in the world to help you- you need only stop knee jerk reacting with your fragile emotions towards the changes that keep happening, and listen to POC, listen to minorities, read the books that are written about these topics- and realise that when you simply start to address those inner biases you’re doing the same thing we did to become your most terrified title: woke.
So Many Causes, not Enough Time
One of the strangest things someone said to me recently is that they’re surprised I have enough time to work when I’m so busy being a “woke warrior”.
The short answer is: if you care about black oppression, trans rights disinformation or the other glaring issues you see daily – you’ll make time. I’m surprised people have all the time in the world to watch a 1 hour and 20 minute football match which includes kneeling for BLM, LGBTQIA representation and a hugely diverse set of players and still miss the point of the hilariously mistitled “gesture politics” that take place. Again as I’ve argued with someone recently, if you see these things as gesture politics you’re probably likely to not have ever needed to see that representation and therefore are incapable of understanding how much it means to those who do. If you think a rainbow armband or taking the knee are unnecessary then please tack on the words “for you”. Because for those it represents, many are thankful to feel like we’re cared for by others who may or may not be like us.
The mental gymnastics involved in decrying kneeling against racism, only to go on and leave so many racist comments a 19 year old player for your country’s team that he deletes his social media, or to give the usual tired bleating of “the gays forcing it in our faces!” but say nothing when a gay man walking down the street in liverpool is assaulted so badly he’s convinced he is about to die, is quite something to watch play out in real time.
It may be easier to simply start questioning why these things are being introduced to you, why they please those they’re for and why they annoy you so- simply because you’re suddenly made aware that the world does not cater to you exclusively, and that others deserve the same basic experience of existence without conflict that you have.
This blog was essentially a place for me to write down my thoughts as I grow more frustrated with the country I’ve been raised in, to get to grips with my own frustrations when it comes to politics. It’s become one of the few things I have that allows me to vent my anger at a world so screwed up that I willingly paid for it to be hosted. I don’t even really care if others read it. I just wanted a space that was mine, where I could write down my thoughts and explore my ideas out loud.
A few people have said they appreciate it and I’m very glad of that. It’s becoming more isolating to hold moral views- I’ve tried to reason with people I grew up with who refuse to let of of bigotry, I tried to gently explain that I’m allowed to exist as a gay man with people who think gay sex is worse than murder, I’ve tried to gently express hope that I’ll be accepted- no more.
It seems that as we’re accused more and more of being extreme, so we have to become that. The country takes drunken lurching step after step to the right, and as we dig in our heels, lean back and pull on the tautened rope we’ve thrown around it’s neck, we become more tired and less capable of patience.
Blamed constantly for “radicalisation”, I’d like the right wingers who throw the labels I’ve brought up in this blog post to ask the question: do you blame us? Do you take ownership for your own part in our radicalisation, as we have to become louder, more indignant, more insistent to work to counteract your hateful rhetoric? Or is it, as is always the right wing way, our own fault: no one is responsible, it’s a hum dinger, clearly people are just magically becoming radicalised by… I don’t know, society, music, drugs, instead of the appalling behaviours of our fellow man- otherwise known as you.