Following the Rise revelations, Munira Mirza has been rushed into action with an article for Comment is Free. Titled ‘Doing anti-racism for real’, it appears to be a poorly veiled attempt to discredit its promotion.
The article is in quotes and my comments are bolded.
“To give some background: in 1996 the Trades Union Congress and various political groups organised Respect (later renamed Rise), intended as a festival against racism. One of the organisations involved was the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR). In 2000, the then newly-elected Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, effectively nationalised the event by giving it large sums of public money. Several of Ken’s key aides at City Hall had links to NAAR, including Lee Jasper.”
Note the association fallacy represented by the reference to Jasper.
“Over the years, Rise was proclaimed by Ken & Co as a key weapon in the fight against racism and fascism. In reality, it became an annual jamboree for Ken’s favourite political activist groups, many with no clear link to anti-racism. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Socialist Workers Party and CND, among others, brought in their armies of volunteers to man stalls, hand out leaflets, sell newspapers and rattle donation buckets.”
This is an obvious straw man argument. The presence of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign compromised the anti-racism message of the festival, Mirza argues, and therefore overt anti-racism must be abandoned.
“The “community” area of the festival looked more like Sussex University freshers’ fair circa 1970. Not without good reason did Rise become known as “Kenstock“.”
So widely, indeed, that the only valid references to “Kenstock” found on google were in Mirza’s article and on this weblog.
“The deterrent effect of this highly politicised atmosphere should not be underestimated. Although the event was supposed to be inclusive and attract people from ethnic minorities, the GLA’s own research (conducted while Ken was mayor) shows that 65%-70% of attendees in the last two years were white. That is disproportionately whiter than the population of London. It seems reasonable to conclude that the political baggage and relentless sloganeering was actually putting people off.”
Here Mirza attempts to remove the stigma of opposing anti-racism by suggesting that ethnic minorities disliked it as well. The statistics used to support this strange assertion are wilfully obscurantist. 71.5% of Londoners classified themselves as “white” in the 2001 Census, and there have been no official studies since.
“They don’t need to be hectored about why racism is bad or accosted by activists explaining why Castro is a hero. We don’t have anti-racist fireworks on New Year’s Eve and we don’t need to organise an anti-paedophile concert to prove our moral credentials on the issue.”
With these jests, Mirza deploys the appeal to ridicule fallacy, while also aligning the promotion of anti-racism and support for Fidel Castro.
“Sectarian political festivals are not the way Londoners want their money to be spent.”
Note that, while at the beginning of the article Rise consisted of anti-racism and sectarian politics, the former has now been expunged. We can conclude, then, that Munira Mirza is calling overt anti-racism ‘sectarian’, as well as committing the bare assertion fallacy in claiming that Londoners do not support it.
“Londoners voted for change on May 1 and the new Rise is part of that change. Out will go the political sloganeering and heavy-handed propaganda but by bringing Londoners from different backgrounds together to share their love of music Rise will be doing anti-racism for real.”
And yet, it was not mentioned before the elections. Thus, this is an entirely meritless appeal to an invalid popularity.
Throughout this article, Munira Mirza attempts to slander overt anti-racism – associating its promotion with criminals, sectarian politics and apologists for tyrants. Elsewhere, she dispenses logical fallacies, showing herself to be incompetent as well as her arguments invalid.
Last week, Richard Barnbrook asked Boris whether he could “confirm if this festival will once again be a political ground with active campaigning against the British National Party as in previous years?” Today, he is bursting with pride as “it would seem that my efforts have not gone unnoticed“.
A tip of the hat to the Tory Troll..
“Over 5% of London voters selected a far right racist candidate for mayor. The BNP has councillors across the country, and has received well over 100,000 votes in local elections. In some areas it has received stupendous majorities. And it’s not just the BNP. The National Front, more explicitly Nazi than the BNP, made five digit votes in London. This is all in the context of a rising arc of racist violence in the UK. If militant paedophiles had garnered this level of support in the context of a surge of child-molestation, would there be carnivals in the park with a subtle, non-too-explicit message against raping children?”
Rob, in the comments, points out that The Fall gigged at a mysterious Kenstock! in 1984. Time travel is implausible, but after all these years who could doubt Mark E Smith of anything.
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