Philosophy Politics

Momentum, autonomy & censorship

I feel as if the Black Lives Matter protests have started to make some real advances in a relatively short period of time. This is the third week of protests & so far, for the first time in history, the defunding, demilitarisation & eventual disbanding of the police has entered mainstream political discourse. Several states have agreed to it in some form, even if not completely. The main thing is that it’s currently being negotiated & that would have been unthinkable a few short weeks ago.

Another positive step taken in this last week is the widespread disgust at statuary of rich, white men who participated in, & became rich from, the Transatlantic Save Trade. Confederate statues across the states were either torn down or defaced by protesters or removed by concessions made by local authorities. On Monday, the statue in Bristol, UK, of vicious slave trader (& Tory MP) Edward Colston was pulled down by protesters, defaced & thrown into the river. Across Europe more statuary was taken away by local authorities, who finally acknowledged the offensive & insulting presence these monuments to brutality had in the first place. Right-Wing freaks & headbangers waste no time accusing protesters of “erasing history.” You can’t help but wonder where their love of history was when the Tories were closing Libraries & Schools, defunding museums & generally wreaking havoc with our societies cultural fabric.

We’ve also seen the debate about the legitimacy of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill as a figure of worship. This came about after some protesters sprayed “was a racist” beneath his name on a statue of him. Many on the right worship him & attribute defeating Nazi Germany directly to him. There is also a mass cognitive dissonance in people saying things like: “I know he was a racist but he was still a great man.” When speaking to rational people, this is easily countered with teaching about the many failures (Gallipoli) & war crimes (Bengal Genocide, Black & Tans etc.) he was responsible for. Another common counter is that Alan Turing should be the one worshipped this way, & perhaps the Churchill statues should be replaced with Turing states.

Back in the States, the sport of NASCAR announced that it would be banning the Confederate flag from its events. This is the flag flown by soldiers fighting to the death for the right to profit from human misery. The flag of a defeated upstart nation which failed to survive past its formation. A failed nation. A flag of failure. Racist fans, & even drivers, came out on social media decrying the decision. “Well done for ruining the sport,” said the detractors. Well, fuck them. They’re racist.

One of the most exciting developments is the formation of Free Capitol Hill, or the Seattle Autonomous Zone. After ten days of clashes with protesters, the Seattle PD abandoned their East Precinct & quit their barricades around the neighbouring streets. Protesters wasted no time in turning around & reinforcing the barricades, closing off a large area in the heart of Seattle & declaring it the Seattle Autonomous Zone. We are a few days into this now & it is unclear how it is going to pan out, but so far it has remained peaceful & communal. Trump has made some rumblings on Twitter, but WA Governor Jay Inslee told him, figuratively, to fuck off. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also told Trump to “go back to your bunker.”

This situation is obviously on a knife edge & no one is quite sure how it is going to be resolved but the protesters in the Autonomous Zone are, according to The New York Times, in talks with the Mayor. Its a beautiful omen, & more than a coincidence, that it has remained peaceful since the Police have left the protesters alone.

The final point I wanted to make is about the various TV programs & movies which have been removed from streaming services over racist or racially insensitive material. The reactionary right-wing, & so called liberals, have erupted in apoplectic fury at this. Screams of “freedom of expression”, “free speech” & “Stalinist censorship” have reverberated around social media. Going under the block were the slavery glorifying Gone With The Wind, & several British comedy shows which have used blackface insensitively. Raging right-wingers & closet racists are demanding, literally demanding, to be told why the blackface in unfunny sketch show Little Britain is racist but the comedy movie White Chicks (which features two black actors playing undercover cops disguised as white ladies) isn’t. Never mind that the show’s creators have admitted to the insensitivity & stand by the decision to pull the programs. I’m hearing that League Of Gentlemen & The Mighty Boosh have also been pulled.

An overlooked issue with this is the right-wing complainants sense of entitlement. They have become so used to having what they want to watch at their fingertips, at the push of a button, for so long that they’ve become incandescent with fury over this decision. Questions of censorship & freedom of expression are moot unless you completely disregard the streaming services right to choose what they do & don’t want on their services. These streaming services regularly rotate shows out of their lineups anyway, so there was no guarantee that any one show would be available to stream permanently. Suck it up, act like an adult & watch something else. If you absolutely must watch Little Britain, buy it on fucking DVD, you entitled pricks.

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