"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Thursday, 4 November 2010

What Constitutes Racism in Britain?

Meet John Woodward, pictured above.

He's a veteran of the First Gulf War who now drives a taxi in Cheshire. Being a self-described patriotic Englishman, John got a friend who writes signs to make him one for his cab.

It says "British by birth, English by the grace of God", and is based on several in the same vein he saw being displayed by Welsh lorry drivers whilst on holiday.

John had to remove the sign, however, after two separate members of the public complained to the council claiming it had "racist overtones".

Whilst the council and the taxi licensing body now refuse to rule on whether or not the sign is racist, John has been forced to remove it because he - gasp - didn't get permission from the council to display it on his own vehicle in the first place.

I think John sums up the situation very well:

“There’s nothing racist about this slogan at all. It is just a statement of fact by a patriotic Englishman. We should be proud of our nation, especially in times like these, but for some crazy reason we’re not allowed to display that pride.”

He added: “I have served Queen and country and I’m very proud of my nationality and heritage. I don’t see what is wrong with that. I got the idea when I went to Wales and saw one that said ‘British by birth - Welsh by the grace of God’, so I thought I’d adapt it. My friend is a sign writer and he did it for me.

“To say I’m racist is a massive allegation against someone. The fact is I fought for my country and I’m proud to be British.”

All very interesting. The council have as good as admitted that they see displaying such a sign as wrong:

A spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council’s licensing enforcement office said: “The authority has received complaints from two different members of the public who felt that Mr Woodward’s sign was racist. The council has not made any decision on that allegation but it accepts that Mr Woodward did not intend any offence and that he regards his sign only as a reflection of pride.”

He added: “However, as a Hackney cab driver he is not allowed to display a sign without applying for permission and was asked to take it down only on that basis.”

Good of them, I'm sure. However, in my part of the world, it is very common to find Sikh, Hindu and Muslim taxi drivers who display some symbol of their nationality or faith in their vehicles, normally by hanging it from the rear-view mirror.

I wonder if they get permission first?

The story neatly sums up the madness of the times we currently live in, and the culture of denounciation which successive governments, egged on by the people who actually run the country from Brussels, have create with politically correct legislation.

I thought it served more as a useful point of comparison, however.

Back in April, a chap called Tohseef Shah (below) appeared in a British court. He's 21 and was born here.

In December 2009, he decided to spray vile insults all over a Staffordshire war memorial. The graffiti included the line "Islam will dominate the world", as well as glorifying Osama bin Laden and calling for the death of then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

For this act, an outrageous slur on those who have given their lives to defend this country, and a clear attack on its heritage and values, Shah walked free from court with a two year conditional discharge and a £500 fine.

Why did he walk free? Because the CPS decided that his actions did not constitute a "hate crime"; i.e. inciting racial or religious hatred, i.e. our dreaded old foe racism, i.e. the one thing our "justice system" actually considers to be serious. They explained:

The CPS said Shah's offence could not be charged as a hate crime because the law requires that damage must target a particular religious or racial group.

It said: 'While it was appreciated that what was sprayed on the memorial may have been perceived by some to be part of a racial or religious incident, no racial or religious group can be shown to have been targeted.'

Quite. He obviously just did it for a laugh, and it has no connection with his race/religion and his contempt for this country. Nothing to see here, move along.

To add insult to injury, Shah didn't even show any remorse, as his defence counsel helpfully explained:

Defending, Mumtaz Chaudry said Shah did not hold extremist views. 'This is nothing to do with his religious beliefs, his family's beliefs or his cultural beliefs,' he said. 'He is just an ordinary guy.

'He is remorseful, but at the time of his interview he was simply answering questions and didn't realise that was the right time to show remorse.'

Yes, those seem like the actions of an "ordinary guy"; I can't tell you how many people I know who have inadvertanty sprayed "Islam will dominate the world" on something without quite knowing why.

To show what an "ordinary guy" he is, Shah appointed a Muslim spiritual leader called
Abdullah Ibn Abbas to speak on his behalf after the court appearance. Abbas had this to say:
'It really doesn't concern us how the British people feel about the graffiti he wrote - the real outrage should be about the thousands of Muslims who are being killed and butchered as a result of British foreign policy.'
Now I see it clearer than ever - absolutely no political message was intended in this man's actions, nor was it in any way an act of racial/religious hatred or contempt for the country he was born in...

It's just worth noting - the great and the good see one of these two individuals as a nuisance who needs to start thinking along the correct lines, and the other as an upstanding citizen who ignorant people are making a fuss about for no good reason.

The only problem is, they've got it completely the wrong way around.

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