Back in early 1980s England the coal industry was fundamental. And if you lived rurally and got a job in a coal mine, you were pretty much set for life. Of course, the dangers of that job could’ve meant for a very short life, but the job paid well and the unions looked out for you. Naturally, the conservative government hated that and tried to take power away from the unions. The unions hated that and so they went on strike. For a year. Basically, the unions were like, “You want to reduce our power? OK. How about we shut down the entire bloody industry?”
But then Margaret Thatcher, prime minister at the time, was like, “Oh, you want to shut down the entire British coal industry? Fine. Fuck you forever.” She then proceeded to let the entire industry die. And just like that all of those economically secure jobs for life were gone.
As time passed those high-paying, secure jobs were replaced with low-paying bullshit jobs without any security at all. And of course, as is traditional in western societies, a fair amount of those jobs ended up being done by immigrants. Rural England felt tossed to the side, but they also gained something from that struggle: a hatred of conservatives.
Three-and-a-half decades later, along comes conservative dumb-shit Boris Johnson. He’s running to continue his career as prime minister, campaigning primarily on the racist-ass Brexit ticket. At the time, most people thought it’d either be close or he’d get stomped. But it went the other way and the world was shocked. How’d that doofy motherfucker flip all those rural, conservative-hating districts? Pretty easily, as it turned out.
All those open-minded, liberal areas? Well, you never would’ve guessed it, but there’s something they hated more than conservatives: immigrants. That’s right! All lil’ Boris had to do was walk into those towns, point at the immigrants doing those low-paying bullshit jobs and say, “Look! Someone stole your jobs!” and open his arms to widely embrace the landslide that was his victory.
Speaking of places that suffer on a molecular level from xenophobia/racism while ignoring it deliberately and completely, we’ve got an election coming up right here in the good ol’ US of A and we sure could learn a lot from the UK’s current predicament.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not confident we will, though. The Republicans are all in lock-step and every time I turn around I seem to hear Democrats talking themselves into another four years of 45. Last week I got into an argument with someone who said “I gotta hand it to him, he’s good at marketing!”
I turned to this person and said in a voice that was just a little too loud to be backstage at the show we were at, “No he’s not. Do you think he’s running around a room full of executives manically scribbling on a white board, expounding on constituent analytics? He doesn’t know a fucking thing about marketing. Or anything else. You’ve never met anyone as stupid as that guy. He thinks windmills cause cancer, ffs.”
Rightfully, a little shocked at my tone, they responded, “I just mean he’s persuasive.”
Unintentionally upping my volume, I continued, “No he’s not! He couldn’t convince shit to stink! What, do you think there were just a bunch of voters marching up to the voting booth thinking, ‘You know, I never hated Black or brown people before, but listening to that tiny-handed, piss-skinned imbecile from that dumb-ass reality show lie about Obama’s birth certificate for five years really brought me around!’? Fuck no! There’s just a whole lot of racists who’d felt shamed into silence right up until a Black president got elected. Then it was time to take a stand!”
That’s when I noticed that everyone else backstage had been shushing me for a while, so I stopped. But had I continued I would’ve made the point that the systems that are America are now and have always been dependent on racism. And I mean since the beginning. For example, did you know that just prior to the Revolutionary War, the colonists didn’t really care whose flag they were under? It’s true and one of the ways the founding fathers convinced the population to get behind the war was to start a false rumor that England was planning to enslave the colonists. “Enslavement” was the word they used and you bet your contemporary ass that every single person moved to action by that word said, “I ain’t no nigger!” as they loaded up their rifles.
I always feel like this American apple hasn’t fallen very far from that English tree. I hope November proves me wrong, but either way, you know what to do.
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