The recent racist attacks in Six Counties against migrant workers are an indictment of the status-quo which thrives on blaming minorities for the problems inherent in capitalism. It is the political class and sections of the tabloid press who constantly provide the ammunition for racist attacks.
The Islamophobic outburst by Peter Robinson the first minister of Northern Ireland needs to be seen in a context from a rise in the far right across Europe to western military occupations abroad to a local administration riddled with everything from sectarian bigots, xenophobes, and homophobes to sexists to those who believe everything stems from Adam and Eve.
Peter Robinson’s public defence of Pastor James Connell who described Islam as ‘satanic’ and ‘heathen’ going on to say he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or devotees of Sharia law; but would trust Muslims ‘to go to the shops’ provides a green light and convenient justification for the ongoing racist ethnic cleansing of newly arrived migrants by loyalist paramilitaries in mainly working class communities across the North.
His public comments are another echo from the distant past whenever shades of unionism including his former master Ian Paisley frequently engaged in sectarian outbursts against Catholics and homosexuals helping to sow a climate of conflict and fear for decades and like his forefather this needs to confronted root and branch.
Peter Robinson’s half arsed private apology to so-called ‘Muslim leaders’ and token concern from their junior partners in Sinn Fein is another example of the entire system being rotten to the core built on sectarian bigotry.
While last Saturday’s rallies organised across the North are an important first step, we need to be building firm foundations in communities and workplaces’ where these racist attacks are continuing and not pandering to the reactionary ideology of loyalism which does not represent ‘protestant working class communities.’ The contradictions of this message was clear on Saturday whenever a platform was provided to a PUP (Progressive Unionist Party) representative yet according to the PSNI its armed militia the UVF are involved in most of the attacks in South and East Belfast. (1)
In recent years we have witnessed governments utilise racist sediment from scaremongering over ‘asylum seekers’ to a ‘roma invasion’ none of which has come to fruition. This is the deliberate whipping up of fear and division to divert our anger away from the real causes of their problems. Problems such as poverty, housing shortages, and unemployment have all been blamed on immigrants - rather than those really responsible such as landlords, property developers-capitalism.
Anarchists believe in equality between all people regardless of where their ancestors may be from, what colour their skin is, or where they were born. We all have an immigrant history in one way or the other. We want a world with no borders, where people are free to travel the world and settle where they wish – this is not a freedom that should be only be available to the rich and imperialism.
In confronting racism and sectarianism we need to build class unity based on common class interests, fighting for a better standard and quality of life for all while respecting our rich diversity and intersectionality of struggles from abortion rights to environmental campaigns. These symptoms must be tackled where in all areas of our social life, rather than appealing to our politicians or calling for tougher legislation or even simply a problem of ‘bad education’ as some liberals want you to believe. All this is a distraction from the root cause of the problem.
We need to expose and attack the institutions which are legitimising racism in our society; we need to stand up against racist bullies and fascists carrying out attacks on migrant workers. Central to this is the need to physically and ideologically confront fascism and racist gangs wherever it raises its ugly head and the building of opposition to the system of wage slavery and exploitation which promotes racist scapegoating and the criminalisation of immigration.
Racism is motivated and perpetuated by greed, promoted by those in power. It festers in ignorance and misplaced fear. Our alternative is social equality and freedom for all.