UKIP’s “integration agenda” is impractical, dangerous, racist, and paedophilic.

PaulNuttallUKIPParty leader/leading berk, Paul Nuttall

In its local election manifesto, UKIP says it is bringing “a breath of fresh air” to British politics. While most of us would insist that it’s not fresh air we smell, but rather the sweaty funk of proto-fascism, UKIP is nonetheless coming into this election campaign to remind us that it’s a serious party full of serious people with serious policies, rather than the party crammed full of paedophiles, white supremacists, and animal abusers that it was two years ago.

Who knows, maybe a leopard can change its spots. Let’s see what flavour of “fresh air” party leader Paul Nuttall wants to waft across Britain, shall we?

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Well, that’s certainly one way to spearhead your campaign. While the rest of the political parties bother the airwaves with such trivial matters as the future of the NHS and the issue of low wages, UKIP is courageously breaking the mould by targeting people for the clothes they wear.

In an interview with Sky News, Nuttall suggested that garments like the burqa are a security risk in places like banks, since the perpetrator cannot be properly identified. There is exactly one recorded incident of a person robbing a British bank while wearing a burqa. Clearly a national emergency.

Deputy party leader Peter Whittle also claims that full-face veils are a “deliberate barrier to integration”, but UKIP isn’t very clear about what constitutes integration in the first place. I hate football, couldn’t care less about fish and chips, and haven’t watched the X Factor for years. Have I failed to integrate too? Can we trust people who wear tweed to properly judge what is and isn’t acceptable dress?

In all seriousness, burqa bans are both ineffective and dangerous. Reports from France, which banned full-face veils seven years ago, suggest that the ban hasn’t stopped women from wearing the burqa in public, and many pay the fine but continue to dress the way they want as an act of defiance. The ban has also produced a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes in cities like Paris, where women are assaulted on the streets for wearing Islamic clothes. The ban has not “integrated” anybody, but rather put them at risk of violence.

So, it’s clear that UKIP is just wasting everybody’s time with its proposal for a burqa ban. But it does take the grave issue of female genital mutilation seriously, at least. The party now offers us an integration agenda to peruse on the issue, so let’s see what well-measured, sensible and Muslim-led policy UKIP has to stop the spread of FGM:

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In case you’re staring at your screen in bewilderment, I’ll spell it out for you: UKIP wants to force “at risk” schoolgirls to undergo an invasive medical exam on an annual basis to make sure they haven’t been subjected to FGM. Girls who travel abroad would also be subjected to an additional exam of their genitals when they return to school too, and if a girl is found to have been mutilated, UKIP would automatically prosecute the parents.

No parent in their right mind would willingly subject their children to such abuse. Were I a Muslim parent, I would seriously consider taking my children out of the state school system if such a policy were passed. That leaves either homeschooling or faith schools, the latter of which would be extensively monitored by a UKIP government too. The party essentially wants to keep Muslim girls under the watchful eye of the state at all times.

It is no surprise that a party which repeatedly nominated paedophiles and sex offenders during the last general election doesn’t think it’s wrong to forcibly inspect young girls’ genitals.

The final noteworthy tale in this saga of “holy crap are they serious?” is a policy targeting child groomers. The policy does not actually do anything to prevent child grooming, but rather offers an inconceivably racist change to sentencing. According to UKIP Education Spokesman David Kurten:

“In cases where the victims of grooming gangs are of a different racial or religious ­group than the offenders, the CPS should cite this as an aggravating feature of the ­offence when prosecuting, opening the way ­to a longer sentence”

UKIP genuinely wants to create a two-tier criminal justice system which factors in a person’s religion and skin colour when charging them with a crime. But harsher sentences for groomers who happen to be different from their victims means lighter sentences for groomers who happen to be the same as their victims.

Why does UKIP want to let off white groomers? Why are they not deserving of harsher sentences too? Child grooming should be a crime, full stop, and there is no possible way being the same colour as your victim makes the crime less severe or worthy of a lighter sentence.

Thankfully, this insistence on persecuting British Muslims is offending just about everybody, including top members of UKIP itself: MEP James Carver recently resigned in protest against the “integration agenda”, describing it as “vile” and “misguided”. “No one has the right to dictate what people should wear”, he added.

The party’s finances continue to be in absolute ruin (ironically, thanks to Brexit), and many of those who voted UKIP in 2015 have deserted the party and returned to the Tories. The party is bleeding badly, and if it thinks inspecting children’s genitals will rescue it and restore it to national glory, it is even more stupid than I initially thought.

Letters to my MP: The anti-gay pogrom in Chechyna.

This letter concerns the ongoing anti-gay pogrom being committed by the Chechen government and was sent via WriteToThem.

Dear Cat Smith,

By now, you have probably heard of the news coming out of Chechyna, where the government is rounding up gay men and putting them into concentration camps. At least a hundred men have been rounded up so far, and many of those who have escaped the pogrom have now become refugees in their own country. Within these camps there are allegations of horrendous living conditions, torture, and summary execution. Both the Chechen government and the Kremlin deny the allegations, but that is of little surprise.

Today, I urge you to use your public voice to demand that the Russian government take the situation in Chechnya seriously, and to raise this issue of anti-gay violence in whatever capacity you can. This starts with demanding that Theresa May make a public comment on the fledgling genocide and reaffirm her commitment to treating all LGBT asylum seekers with the respect they deserve. May must make her position to the British people absolutely clear on this issue.

As a Labour MP, I also urge you to get in touch with Jeremy Corbyn so that he can make his voice heard on the issue, and to provide us with more details about his plans to reform the LGBT asylum seeking process in the UK.

Yours sincerely.

Cat Smith, Labour MP: Replied same day.

Thank you for your email sent on 11th April regarding the persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya.

I was horrified to hear the reports coming out of Chechnya. Sadly this is an all too familiar story in many parts of the world. I agree the United Kingdom should be making an unequivocal statement condemning this abhorrent persecution and reiterating our commitment towards equality and eradicating homophobia. I also agree a fair and humane policy towards LGBT asylum seekers must be central to this.

I will write to the Foreign Secretary putting your points to him and request that he respond to them. I will also keep your comments in mind in discussions which I have with Shadow Cabinet colleagues on this matter.

I will write to you again once I have received a reply from the Foreign Office however in the meantime if you feel I can be of any further assistance on this or any other matter please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely.

George W. Bush murdered journalists. Don’t you dare rehabilitate his image.

Bildschirmfoto-2017-02-27-um-21.35.57.pngFormer President George W. Bush speaks to Matt Lauer on the TODAY Show.

Trump’s first press conference was a bizarre experience. Rather than addressing the concerns of journalists and speaking frankly to the nation, Trump used his platform to lambaste the free media, whom he accused of dishonesty, bias, and even criminality. A particular low point was when he browbeat a BBC journalist over the Muslim ban. By all accounts, it was not a “presidential” display, whatever that means.

At the end of February, Trump told CPAC crowds that the press is “the enemy of the American people”, vowing “to do something about it”. Hours later, the crackdown began: News outlets that have run critical stories on the President were barred from an informal press gaggle by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and three days later, Democratic Governors also found themselves on the receiving end of the White House’s ire when they were barred from meeting with the President or attending his Governors’ address.

Under Trump, the survival of the free press will be put to the test. But while any critique of this authoritarian disdain for an independent media is welcome, there are certainly some people who deserve more of our attention and admiration than others.

Rather than listen to the sobering words of people like Jeremy Scahill, an investigative journalist for The Intercept whose podcast, Intercepted, deals with these issues in great detail, liberals have lined up to heap praise on none other than former President George W. Bush. No, really.

The rehabilitation of Bush comes after his recent interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, who once stood in the Oval Office and grilled the then-President on government torture. Lauer’s deferential interview with Bush this time, which happened on the same day Democratic Governors were kicked out of the White House, was a radical departure from his aforementioned acidic and principled stand-off in the Oval.

Bush had this to say when asked about how he viewed the press during his time in office:

“We need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power”

Sycophants were quick to kiss the ring: ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum called Bush “a voice of reason”, Mic.com dreamily remembered the Bush era as a time when “Islamophobia wasn’t conservative”, and The Guardian “applauded” and “welcomed” his return to public life.

YouTube comments were equally asinine:

  • “As a Democrat, I may not have agreed with his policies, […] but you know what, he seems like a decent, good guy. I don’t see any hatred or malice in his heart. He’s humble and not arrogant – compare that to who we have now”
  • “I will never say he was a good President – he wasn’t. But he genuinely did try and care about the nation”
  • “I never voted for Bush, but in a lot of ways, he’s redeemed himself since being President.”

Did Bush praise journalists who held him to account during the waterboarding program, the Iraq War, the NSA surveillance scandal, the ban on foreign aid to groups that offer support to women who’ve had abortions, the gutting of the Safe Drinking Water Act, or the inaction over Hurricane Katrina?

No. Quite the opposite, in fact. When the New York Times broke the news that the U.S. government was spying on its own citizens without any judicial oversight, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted to have the publication tried under the Espionage Act for “criminal activity”.

But this is nothing compared to the actions the government went to to silence outlets that criticized the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. During the early stages of the wars, the Bush Administration went to extreme measures to silence Al Jazeera, whose reporting on the war efforts was regarded as “anti-American”. Since they questioned the rationale for the wars, they had to go.

In November 2001, during the coalition invasion of Afghanistan, the Al Jazeera office in Kabul was hit by a U.S. missile, though nobody was hurt. Managing Editor Mohammed Jasim al-Ali tells press that the U.S. knew the coordinates of the office, and therefore knew what they were firing at.

Two years later, in April 2003, another Al Jazeera office in Baghdad is hit by a U.S. missile during the invasion of Iraq. Reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in the ensuing fire, and another employee was wounded. Mohammed Jasim al-Ali informs press that he sent the coordinates of the Baghdad office to an Assistant Secretary of Defense two months earlier, which means that the U.S. government knew what it was bombing yet again.

The government’s hatred of Al Jazeera was no secret. In February 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told European journalists that the outlet’s reporting is “outrageous” and “inexcusably biased”. Conspiracy theorist and former Pentagon adviser Frank Gaffney (who partnered with Rumsfeld on a neo-conservative think-tank) also wrote a Fox News opinion peace entitled “Take out Al Jazeera” a few months earlier, in September 2003.

In 2005, British newspaper The Mirror breaks a story on an unpublished memo between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2004, in which the former expresses his desire to bomb Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar (a neutral country) due to the outlet’s reporting during the First Battle of Fallujah. Al Jazeera was on the ground during the battle, chronicling the actions of the coalition forces in close detail.

The bombings and propaganda campaigns against Al Jazeera during the Bush Administration led to the death of one person, and severely hampered the organization’s ability to hold the government and the military to account.

If you’re the sort of liberal who cares nothing for the lives of people in other countries, you should know that Bush and his cronies targeted and harrassed American journalists for years too.

Our story centres on James Risen, an investigative journalist for the New York Times who helped blow the lid on the monumental cock-up known as Operation Merlin, a Clinton era CIA attempt to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons programme by giving it faulty blueprints. Oblivious to the scheme, the nuclear scientist delivering the blueprints corrected the faults, effectively speeding up Iran’s nuke development, not hindering it.

Risen would also reveal how the Bush Administration used the Afghanistan War to turn the country into a narco-state, though he was on the government’s radar since he started looking into Operation Merlin.

Under pressure from Condoleezza Rice, Risen’s editor at the New York Times delayed his story on Operation Merlin. When he finally got his story published, alongside his book about Bush and the CIA, the government spied on him repeatedly, even obtaining his bank records and phone logs.

When he succeeded Bush, Obama continued governmental persecution of Risen. In fact, Attorney General Eric Holder issued and then renewed a subpoena against Risen in an effort to force him into testifying against his source on the Operation Merlin story, Jeffrey A. Sterling, who had been tried under the Espionage Act, not by Bush’s Department of Justice, but by Obama’s. This subpoena renewal led to a seven year battle that Risen finally won, though he was threatened with jail during this fight.

Obama and Holder did not stop with Risen, however. The DOJ came under increased scrutiny from journalistic watchdogs and human rights groups for routinely gathering private data from Associated Press journalists in 2013, after it emerged that they had hacked 20 AP phone lines during a two-month period that year alone. The idea was to catch the AP with its trousers down over some covert business with al-Qaeda in Yemen, something the Obama Administration didn’t want to get out.

It was a crusade against the free press masquerading as a national security issue, with the intent of making sure the AP was not in communication with people who could expose corruption, stupidity, or illegality within the Obama Administration.

Earlier in his term, Holder also personally signed off on spying on Fox News reporter James Rosen (not to be confused with Risen) by monitoring his emails and phone records, labelling him a “criminal co-conspirator” for speaking with Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who served 14 months in prison for telling Rosen that North Korea was planning a nuclear bomb test. Holder’s DOJ argued that such information was a national security risk because it let the North Korean authorities know that the U.S. had intelligence on them.

In the final days of his tenure, Holder backed down on aggressively browbeating journalists, arguing that putting them in jail for communicating with whistle-blowers would not be “wise policy”. But his actions betray his words. The DOJ under Holder had previously argued that journalists have no legal right to protect their sources, and should face criminal charges if they refuse to give them up or testify against them. Holder also prosecuted more journalists for leaks in his term than all of his eighty-one predecessors combined, though with limited success.

Risen, Rosen, and other journalists are living proof that Bush and Obama both aggressively hampered the press’ role as a public watchdog. That we now look to one of their persecutors for inspiration is not just laughable, but an insult to the whistle-blowers and investigative journalists the world over.

By using Bush as a weapon to bash Trump over the head with, or using Bush to reminisce about some iteration of “the good old days”, we do a tremendous disservice to those persecuted by past Presidents.

If your concern for an independent and unbridled media is contingent upon whether you like the guy in the White House, you are of no use to the whistle-blowers and journalists of the world who are being chased by the people that are supposed to protect them.

If it takes a stream of consciousness verbal assault on the press to make you care about the media as a watchdog, one can safely assume that you won’t be much use when a Democrat steps back into office and defers to the charm and style of people like Obama. In short, if you only care about words, not deeds, you’re no use to the persecuted and the chased.

It’s time to get a spinal cord.

In defense of punching Nazis.

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Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer is punched in the face during the inauguration protests.

The first few days of the Trump Administration have realized many of our worst fears. So far, America’s Il Duce has declared a National Day of Patriotic Devotion, revoked federal funding for pro-choice NGOs, put a financial gagging order on his own departments, archived White House pages on human rights, prosecuted journalists for covering the inauguration protests, suspended visas from many Muslim-majority nations (while bombing those same nations), started a weekly publication of crimes committed by “aliens”, and threatened to invade Chicago.

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