Grenfell Tower, mobs, and Justice

At least 30 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire. That is the highest number of deaths in a single incident in the UK since the 7/7 attacks (55), a number it seems likely to surpass over the coming days. That would leave only Hillsborough (96), the Aberfan Disaster (144), and the Lockerbie bombing (270) as higher totals in the last half century.

The Daily Express has asked if EU regulations resulted in the choice of cladding which encouraged the spread of the fire. The answer is no – the cladding is banned in Germany. A little bit of investigation would have told the Express reporters the idea they were suggesting was untrue.
The Daily Mail has printed a story drawing attention to the individual whose fridge apparently started the fire.
The premise of the Daily Mail’s article overlooks the fact that the fire would have remained small in scale had there not been more systemic issues, and risked turning residents’ anger towards an ordinary man who will probably be suffering with extraordinary trauma.The story will have had to pass through a number of editorial and legal staff, there is no way that none of them know how a fusebox works.

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A Quick Thought on Culture

A common argument made by right-wingers – supporters of Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders and many others – is that western society is under attack like never before. Whiteness is often conflated with westernness in this argument. But what is ‘our’ culture?

To focus more specifically on Britain, a lot of what’s considered fundamentally British are relatively recent adaptations. The first Indian curry house was opened in Britain in 1809, curries dipped in popularity in the early 20th century, only rising towards their current level of popularity in the 1970s. Christmas trees didn’t become popular in the UK until the 1840s, when the German-born Prince Albert imported the tradition. It was the middle of the 17th century before tea became common in the UK. Potatoes, tobacco and chocolate didn’t come to the UK until the latter half of the 16th century.

Imagine you found yourself thrust back in time into your nation’s past, along with another time traveler. Your fellow time traveler tries to prevent a melding of cultures which resulted in the culture you know being formed. Would you assist them? If not, why would you do the same today?

If you think ‘they’ are diluting ‘our’ culture, what exactly is it that you want to protect? Which version of your nation’s culture is the pure version that you’re trying to uphold? If you object to parts of ‘their’ culture, do you object equally as strongly to similar practices in ‘our’ culture? If you object to halal slaughter of animals, do you object as strongly to abattoirs? If you’re outraged by Muslim paedophiles, are you as strongly outraged by the Catholic church’s systematic cover-up of abuse?

The argument is less clear-cut for for more abstract cultural changes, but essentially the same. There is, and never can be, a pure, undiluted version of a society. Change, one way or another, is inevitable. Obviously that’s scary while the process is ongoing, but change enriches us, makes our culture stronger.

Corporate Capitalism, Morality and Public Relations

Capitalism is an amoral system. That doesn’t necessarily mean that capitalism is immoral (actively against morality) but morality doesn’t play a significant role in corporate decision-making. What matters within capitalism is whether a product or person is profitable or unprofitable for the larger company. Public relations (the public perception of whether someone is moral or immoral) is important, but morality itself is not.

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Stoke Central: Labour vs not-Labour

The Stoke Central by-election is a conflict between Labour and Gareth Snell on one hand, and not-Labour and Brexit on the other.

paul-nuttall-by-euro-realist-newsletter-2009-09-04The specifics of UKIP and Paul Nuttall will drag down the latter – being a pathological liar and a party of clowns will not be attractive qualities anywhere in the world. Nuttall seems to be aware of this, not having attended either of the last two hustings for what is probably the biggest contest in the party’s history, and taken down his website for ‘routine maintenance’ just a week before voting.

Despite these specifics, Nuttall still has a chance of winning. In Stoke Central, 69.4% voted for Leave in the European Referendum, and there is the feeling among a lot of working class voters that neither Tory nor Labour can be trusted to make Brexit happen. This is part of a broader sense that parties don’t listen to voters.

It’s easy to laugh at Nuttall and UKIP. But as Donald Trump proves, just because a politician is ludicrous, we shouldn’t underestimate their ability to take advantage of a sense of abandonment.

 

What We’ve Read this Week – Donald Trump and The Chinese Trademark

As always Donald Trump has dominated political news this week, so he’s dominated our political reading.
Scott Pruitt: Poacher turned inside man?

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The post-truth nature of Arron Banks’ Hillsborough response

A major story in the run-up to the Stoke by-election has been UKIP leader and committed fantasist Paul Nuttall pretending to have lost a friend at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Major donor Arron Banks seems to have decided that this hole wasn’t deep enough so dug deeper by attacking victims. He’s argued that the preventable disaster and cover-up of police failures which took 27 years to overturn have been treated as “some sort of cultural happening“.

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George Soros’ Professional Protestors

A common claim of the alt-right is that anti-Trump protests are fake movements, financed by the Democrat-supporting Jewish billionaire George Soros. This claim solidified in November 2016 with the claim that protestors were being hired via CraigsList. Politifact define the trustworthiness of the story as ‘pants-on-fire’; Snopes as ‘false’ and Media Bias Fact Check define it as a ‘blatant lie’.

One of the most prominent articles supporting this claim is a focus on social media posts showing that a woman who is part of a campaign group also attended a protest in her free time.

The woman in question is an employee of the ‘New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice’. The group’s Facebook page (which has just over 1500 fans) describes them as being “dedicated to organizing workers across race and industry to build the power and participation of workers and communities”. Three of the eleven reviews are 1-star, one of them because “this is the group who attempted to disrupt democracy”.

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