By MICHAEL BLACKBURN.
As predicted, the prospect of lifting lockdown has inspired the usual gaggle of malcontents to emerge into daylight and return to hacking away at the foundations of society. Greta Thunberg, the gurning gnome of environmental doom, has smartly intersectionalised her eco scam with the Black Lives Matter scam, saying in a BBC interview:
It feels like we have passed some kind of social tipping point where people are starting to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things. We cannot keep sweeping these things under the carpet, these injustices.
Young Thunberg must have been living under a cabbage if she thinks these issues are only just beginning to be addressed. Even more ludicrous is her claim, made in the same BBC interview, that there are people trying to silence her. Yes, indeed, dark forces of injustice are out to stifle our Greta. If only it were true: more silence from Ms Thunberg would be a pleasure.
Unfortunately we’re no more likely to get any rest from the eco-loons than we are from the race-baiting hustlers who have also made hay while the Covid panic rages. The Marxist grifters at Black Lives Matter have hit paydirt with the death of George Floyd in America, activating trouble across the country and into Europe. The madness initially took the rather unexpected form of targeting statues. A mob of concerned citizens in Bristol decided the democratic process was not up to scratch in removing a statue of Edward Colston, a slaver and philanthropist after whom various institutions are named, and took direct action, pulling down his image and rolling it into the river.
Television historian, David Olusoga, a citizen of Bristol, defended the action, saying, “this statue should have been taken down and it should have been a great collective day for Britain and Bristol when the statue was peacefully taken down and put in a museum which is where, after all, we remember history properly.” It now seems de rigueur for historians to give us the benefit of their political judgements, whether it’s Schama with his anti-Brexit, anti-Trump sniping from across the Atlantic or Mary Beard trying to convince us that Britain has always been a multiracial country.
Reinflating the hysteria that blew up four years earlier, the useful idiots of the revolution renewed their demand that the statue of Cecil Rhodes be removed from Oriel College in Oxford. This time they seem to have cowed the local council into submission, though whether the college will suffer a backlash from its donors if it agrees is yet to be seen.
For a moment it also looked as if the statue of Baden-Powell was under threat, when the council, hearing that a list of targeted monuments had been made public, decided to remove it for a while for safe keeping. A group of locals turned up to form a protective ring around the statue and prevented it being taken away. So far the threat of removal has disappeared. Poole obviously does not have enough BAME and Antifa types in its citizenry to keep the pressure on.
In the USA, of course, things took a more extreme turn and statues started coming down right, centre and strangely, left, as well. Confederate figures were obvious figures but then the mob decided that all statues were equally guilty. In Columbus, Ohio, a statue of Christopher Columbus was discovered to be vile. In San Francisco Antifa and its acolytes pulled down Ulysses S Grant, 18th president of the States and the man mainly responsible for winning the Civil War. In Philadelphia, a statue of abolitionist Matthias W. Baldwin was force-fed paint by anarchists who had never heard of him, but instead judged him by his metallic skin. Being on the right side of black history didn’t seem to mean much in these cases.
The fact that he had been a slave himself did not do Cervantes any favours, either: he qualified for “Bastard” being painted in red across him. Must have been the Spanish name connection with Columbus that sparked something in the wasted wits of the daubers. Meanwhile, in Washington, a mob is threatening a statue of Abraham Lincoln proclaiming the emancipation of slaves.
The mania was not without its hilarious moments. In Virginia, a Confederate statue fell onto the head of a protestor. I honestly do not have the heart left to feel any sympathy for such people. If only more of them were dinged by the debris of their own destructiveness.
As the mass histrionics continued, a bunch of BLM and Antifa activists took over a district of Seattle to create their own mini state, which they have named CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone), later renamed CHOP. No police, no civil authority. Inside the zone only the usual orgy of group and individual conflicts over hierarchies, plus violence, rapes and shootings. It’s reminiscent of the way hippies used to set up communes only to see them collapse in recrimination and ineptitude — except this time they’ve got guns and things are being driven by radical leftwing agitators. As usual, when something terrible happens they scream for grown ups to come and help them: after two people were shot in an altercation, the ambulance service, quite rightly, refused to enter the zone after being met by a mob of the virtuous. Even the police in riot gear couldn’t get to the injured. Some “bros” instead had to take a wounded “bro” to a hospital outside the zone, where he died.
Capitalist corporations this time have eagerly joined the virtue fashion parade, pledging their support and sometimes handing over cash. Lego promised to donate $4 million to “organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial inequality.” Someone described this as “cringe money” – presumably these companies think they can curry favour with young people and activists by doing this but it strikes me it is more like paying Danegeld. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a brilliant con pulled by the mobsters, getting capitalist businesses to support violent anti-capitalists.
Even the humble tea merchants got in on the genuflections. Yorkshire Tea rebuffed a tweeter complimenting them on not supporting BLM with the rather unbusinesslike reply, “Please don’t buy our tea again. We’re taking some time to educate ourselves and plan proper action before we post. We stand against racism.” They were soon followed by PG Tips.
This storm in a digital teacup came only four months after Yorkshire Tea had been embroiled in another social media spat. When the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, posted a tweet of himself with a bag of the tea, his favourite brew, an irate Twitterer called Sue took umbrage that an austerity-supporting, mass-murdering Tory should be seen “advertising” the brand. Cue the usual pile on by riled-up lefties. The best response was someone tweeting back, “Sue, you’re shouting at tea!” Now it seems the company itself (or its PR department, no doubt staffed by young lady graduates with recently acquired humanities or social science degrees) has started its shouting back as well, this time at its own customers.
The stress of lockdown has no doubt played a part in generating some of this behaviour, but the sad truth is that however ephemeral each outburst, whether it’s statues, misgendering, climate panic or whatever, the underlying political movement to destabilise society is as strong as ever. But one thing we’d forgotten in this litany of insanities was good old Islamic jihadism. A reminder came from a lone Libyan asylum-seeker cut loose in Reading and stabbed three men to death in a park. The police followed the standard drill of denying this had any connection with terrorism then within a day reversing their statement and saying well, it had. End of story as far as the media were concerned, apart from the obligatory tributes to the dead and the lack of outrage at the fact that the refugee, who has been living at our expense, was “known” to the security services and had already served time in prison. Back to BLM and racism in the UK. Fake news is always better than real news.
Not that everything is grim. Boris Johnson blustered through the final coronavirus press briefing (thank God that’s the end of them) by announcing the end of lockdown on 4th July. Regrettably this will be attended by another slew of pointless, annoying guidelines for the re-opening of pubs, restaurants and whatnot, and the relaxation of the two-metre rule to one metre. Not really the end, then, just the beginning of the end. How we danced in the streets at this news.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.