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By Jason Michael

No comment on Humza Yousaf on the yoon-stream ever lacks some open or veiled reference to the colour of his skin or to his religious or cultural background. There appears to be something poisonous in the unionist imagination.

In our house the snow day snowball fight used to always begin with our papa jokingly telling us to “mind and no eat any yellow snow.” That was great advice, but it seems every snow day has its wee patches of yellow snow and today was no exception. It was predictable. Not content simply to heed the warnings to avoid all unnecessary travel and stay at home and enjoy the wintery wonderland the “beast from the east” has brought us, the British nationalists were out in force; directing the ugliest racist abuse at Humza Yousaf the Transport Secretary.

Yousaf’s parents came to Scotland in the 1960s; his mother from Kenya and his father from Pakistan. Humza Yousaf is brown and, in spite of the British nationalists’ claim that Scottish independence supporters – the very people who vote for Yousaf – are “nasty Natsis,” those who don’t like his politics, the moment they feel justified, get straight to the racism. The moment the first flurry of snow fell independentistas all over Scotland began the countdown and, of course, this was exactly what happened. It happens every single time. They can’t help themselves, they are nationalists.

In the early days, more especially around the time of the 2014 referendum, such attacks were absolutely transparent in their racism, often employing the horrific and vile British racist slur “Paki.” Since then, however, and because even most of their fellow unionists are disgusted by their open racism, these lowlifes have discovered ways of coding their racism – much like the Alt-Right has in Trump’s Ameri-KKK-a – into “jokes” and “edgi” memes. In the US the creators of these coded memes will ask: “How is a drawing of Barack Obama eating a watermelon racist?” It’s only a man eating a piece of fruit. Offence is taken, not given.

But the image of the “nigger” eating watermelon has a long and ugly history in America’s racist discourse, so the reproduction of this stereotype as a statement on the United States’ first African American President is sending a loud signal to those who understand it. This is the art of the “dog whistle,” and it is not absent from similar jokes and memes directed at Humza Yousaf.

No government minister with responsibility for the transport infrastructure anywhere in the world has godlike power over nature. Rain, hail, and snow happen. This cold snap we are experiencing has brought transport services and traffic to a standstill all over Scotland, Ireland, and parts of England. Humza Yousaf, like his counterparts in Ireland and England; Shane Ross and Chris Grayling, has no control over the weather, and sometimes things do go wrong. Sometimes ministers make mistakes. It’s no surprise traffic on the M80 slowed down, and if Yousaf got it wrong then, fine – tell him he got it wrong. I’m pretty sure that if that was the case he already knew.

But rather than commenting that perhaps a mistake had been made, that the traffic was maybe bogged down in heavy snow and poor visibility – as sometimes happens, the racists – feeling emboldened – came out from under their rocks. Their criticism of him was not that they felt he had made a blunder, but that he was like Ali Hassan al-Majid (“Chemical Ali”), the former Iraqi Minister of Defence under Saddam Hussein. Defending his use of this racist meme, “Graeme From IT” asked: “Can you show me what language I have used is racist?” and added that “if you see racism in [this] you’re the racist.” It was interesting that Jill Stephenson, the often racist and bigoted former University of Edinburgh History lecturer, liked this comment.

Well nothing that Graeme said was racist. He’s playing the game. His racism, like the racist watermelon references across the water, is encoded in the image. Chemical Ali – or “Comical Humza Yousaf” as Graeme labels this image – is a symbol of Middle Eastern tyranny, and as such plays on the white supremacist trope of the Crusades – a symbol also used by the Nazis. It is a holophrastic reminder in that it is a visual cue pointing to a whole package of meanings. This is the enemy; the dark skinned Muslim enemy who poses a threat to “our heroes” – our white, Western, Christian, crusader heroes. There is no mistaking why this image was selected. Why would a brown skinned Muslim Transport Minister remind these people of Chemical Ali? Why does it have to be a military leader of an Arab country Britain has illegally invaded, defeated, humiliated, and occupied? Of all the available blunderers, why this one?

Well, no, it is not racist to point this out. We see what you did there Graeme From IT. We get it! Yet when Jeff Dugdale – Kezia’s independentista dad – called it out Graeme screamed back: “It was a JOKE!” Aye, everything racist on the internet is “a joke” – just a joke. But “the joke” too, like the coded racist meme, has a long history – as we all know – of being a conduit of racist opinion, a method of abuse, and a means of building racist communities. A Google Scholar search for “racism as a joke” produces no less than 78,000 academic papers on the subject of describing racism as a joke. So we can be quite confident to call these people out for their racism.

This, once again, cuts right to the heart of what British nationalism is all about. This is a hate-filled ideology built on a sick and distorted memory of what Britain was in the past. The use of this totem of Britishness now by these racists is a claim to legitimacy. They are trying to legitimise their attempt to dig the corpse of old Britain up from its grave and relive the glory days of good humoured British imperial white supremacism and racism. What else can explain the popularity of the picture of Alf Garnett as a profile image in the British nationalist online community? Well, like Warren Mitchell – Till Death Us Do Part – that Britain is dead, and long may it rot.

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Vintage British Racism


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7 thoughts on “Unionists: Scotland’s Racist Snowmen

  1. This is spot on. The old ‘where have I said anything racist?’ is just tedious. The thing that frustrates me about so many of these people who genuinely think they are being smart is their delusions of adequacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure where to draw the line in cases like this, sometimes drawing attention to eejots just makes things worse. I agree that the man’s origins and background have nothing whatever to do with how well or badly he’s doing his job, they’re completely irrelevant in this case as far as I can see, and so entirely unfair. But …

    I don’t see how calling someone a Paki, if that’s actually what they are, is any worse that calling a Scot a Jock or an Irishman a Paddy, a US citizen a Yank etc. etc. Humza’s parents chose to give him a distinctively foreign name, even after they were settled in the UK. And he as an adult chose to retain that name and thereby identify with his Pakistani origins. This, unlike his skin colour etc., is something he could have changed if he’d wanted to blend in better.

    Now go ahead and call me a bastard? In fact that is exactly what I am; I have a birth certificate to prove it; it’s just something I have to accept. Call me a bastard, or Humza a Paki and neither of us have any legitimate defence, both statements are entirely factually true in and of themselves … but have nothing whatever to do with anything else, like our efficiency, morality, honesty etc.

    Like

    1. Maconatrix your comment is appalling. ‘Blend in’ and ‘even after they were settled in the UK’. Wow. Would you expect a French, or German national ‘even after settling in the UK’, to change their given name, to ‘blend in better’? If you go to live in France, or Japan, or any ‘foreign’ country, should people of that country expect you to change your name, if it was not usual to that country, say, Hamish, so you would ‘blend in better’.

      The term, ‘Paki’, is not acceptable these days, and hasn’t been for some time. If you call someone a ‘Paki’ in the street you could be done for racism, and rightly so.

      Yes, Jock, or paddy is offensive, and is used to demean and humiliate, but that does not make it ok to call someone a ‘Paki’.

      Using terms like, ‘blend in’ is downright racist and disgraceful. 1960s, Humza’s parents came to the ‘UK’, who knows what they left behind, but we know what the Brits left behind in India and Pakistan, as well as many other countries, and it was a disgrace.

      Not much more to say really, except very disappointed at the language in your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article deconstructing the ‘it’s only a joke mate’ racism that’s all too often ignored. It is a sham to hide behind and this kind of exposure is uncomfortable for the perpetrators and valuable for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I sit here reading this not with anger but absolute sadness. I am ashamed that I live in a country with such arrogant ignorant people. They either have no regard to history or the events that have caused so much harm thought the world. To comment that this was a joke and not racism only highlight the stupidity of some.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m torn between two of the comments above. A lot of what Marcotronix said is just horrible, but some of it makes sense. I agree wholeheartedly with hettyforindy’s rebuttal of it, and yet…
    In it’s origin ‘paki’ is nothing more than an abbreviation of ‘Pakistani’ and is no more offensive than calling me a ‘scot’. Through ignorance it has come to be used to describe all Asians and in that way is as annoying to some asians as I find calling me English. The difference, of course, is that the former is a matter of ignorance and the latter is a matter of suppression and appropriation. That racists use it as a pejorative term is an issue. It is an issue, though, that I think is not helped by shying away from using an inoffensive term that is being corrupted.
    Unlike ‘nigger’, a phrase only ever used to be demeaning and discriminatory, stopping using a word in its proper context because of offensive misuse only favours the abuser. Take ‘special’ as an example. It was used to replace terms that had come to be seen as abusive rather than descriptive of products with mental and/or physical disabilities. It took no time at all before the new ‘neutral’ term was being used in jokes and as an insult. Soon it was as offensive as the terms of was supposed to replace and it did nothing to prevent those being used anyway. Go through the terms for homosexuals and you’ll see the same thing, phrases that community are once happy to use as self-descriptors are soon corrupted to became insults and were soon as taboo as the epithet they replaced. Any word can be used as an insult simply by altering the tone of voice in which it is uttered.
    I don’t claim to know the best way to deal with this, I just feel that continuing accurate use in the face of the haters’ misuse is better. If a term, for the majority, its used as neutral it takes the sting out of the misuse because it won’t be seen by most as being insulting.

    Liked by 1 person

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