The village of Almondbury near Huddersfield has, overnight, become not so much famous as infamous, thanks to the actions of one pupil at the local Community School last month, although the news has only just been put out there. Put directly, a teenage Syrian refugee, already nursing a broken limb from a previous attack, was kicked to the ground and then subjected to an amateur waterboarding-style stunt. He managed to get away.
While he shares responsibility for attacks like this ...
Someone was foolhardy enough to video the incident, which has highlighted the bullying this teenager, and apparently his sister, have suffered since arriving in the UK after fleeing the now-destroyed city of Homs. The attacker has had his address published (not acceptable, folks) and had threats of retaliation made against him and his family (also not acceptable). But those who brought us to this point have remained silent.
In any case, the Police are now involved, as the Guardian has reported. “West Yorkshire police are investigating a report of a ‘racially aggravated assault’ against a 15-year-old boy after a violent video was shared on social media … The victim, with his arm in a cast, is seen to be dragged to the floor by his neck before his attacker says ‘I’ll drown you’ while forcing water from a bottle into his mouth”. Where did he get that idea?
The Independent gives us a hint. “On social media, people from Huddersfield identified a 16-year-old they said was the attacker. His Facebook page showed far-right links, support for Tommy Robinson and backing for Boris Johnson’s refusal to apologise for saying women in burkas look like letterboxes”. He had, apparently, shared at least one video from Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson.
... don't forget that he did the groundwork ...
So what has Lennon told his followers about the incident? So far, nothing at all. He’s more interested in whipping up support for his “Brexit betrayal march” in London next month. But he needs to say something: after all, he denies any involvement, but is widely considered to have been a radicalising influence on Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park attacker.
No doubt when the media catch up with Lennon, he’ll be screaming “Fake News”, calling them all liars, and threatening legal action for the heinous crime of asking him questions. But what he likes to call THE TRUTH is that he has had a part in spreading anti-Muslim prejudice and bigotry. His persistent frightening of his followers has an inevitable end point, and that is what has now happened in Huddersfield.
... and he helped to mainstream hatred
Nor is Lennon the sole contributor to this incident: today, the Daily Mail and Sun have feigned outrage, but they too have peddled Islamophobic drivel for years. Who can forget faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh discussing “The Muslim Problem”? Who can forget that the Sunday Sun gave a platform to Katie Hopkins? And before then, it gave a platform to the equally strident and dishonest Louise Mensch.
Yes, Stephen Lennon needs to be called out for his part in demonising Muslims. But the mainstream press has been at it longer than he has. The roll of shame includes the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, as well as new media outlets like Breitbart. None of them have clean hands. They have facilitated Stephen Lennon [The alleged attacker has now been charged with assault and will appear at Leeds Youth Court].
In turn, he has facilitated and normalised Islamophobia. I’ll just leave that one there.
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The point about this kind of hatred is that it grows through a gradual cultural osmosis.
In the British case it has many centuries-old roots. But the current main root dates unquestionably to the Awful Eighties and the Thatcher gang. Who can forget, for instance, the bitter face of rancid Norman Tebbit and his ludicrous "cricket test"?
Add in appalling corporate media far right propaganda and weasel words framed by weasel employees and it's easy to see how a population was duped en masse. As it was before 1914.
One of the predictable results is a minor symptom like the pathetic figure of "Tommy Robinson". Another is this attack by a plainly deeply disturbed adolescent. Yet another is the political assassination of Jo Cox.
The cumulative result is a nation sinking further and further into greed, corruption, yet more social division and impoverishment and wilful ignorance. All of it overseen by a ruling class intent on nothing more than self enrichment even if it means the ultimate insanity of nuclear war. Nothing is beyond their psychotic evil.
Neither failed corrupt politicians (tories, New Labour and LibDems) or corrupt media front men and women will ever have the courage to admit their culpability. Which is why the outlook is so bleak.
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