Shamlessly cross-posted from facebook because this is important. I shouldn’t be updating because I feel panicked and totally unprepared for the reading tomorrow. But I took a few minutes to tell the Associated Press that the next time they update their style guide they need to rethink their policy on the use of the term ‘illegal’ as a way to describe undocumented immigrants. It’s the kind of term that English-speakers take for granted as a neutral descriptor of a person who is not a citizen of this nation; I know that I did when I was younger. But it is not neutral, and it is completely insensitive to the complexities of immigration and citizenship, of the way constructed national borders create destructive hierarchies, and the way language is used to dehumanize people. Tell the Associated Press that no human being is ever ‘illegal’, and that it is fucked up to say so.
It’s really time to Drop the I-Word- please raise your voice!
"I think protesting is something you, on the whole, should do on two feet, rather than lying down - in some cases in a fairly comatose state."
"The idea of establishing tents in the middle of our city, I don’t feel is particularly constructive. I don’t think it’s particularly constructive in Parliament Square and I don’t think it’s particularly constructive at St Paul’s."
You don’t get to define what the tactics people protesting against you should be using; that’s like a boxer saying you have a right to get in the ring with him, so long as you don’t hit him in the face.
Whether you like this particular government or not, I think it’s not unreasonable to say that protest marches are generally pretty easy for governments to ignore; see the protests against the last UK government regarding war with Iraq for a crystal-clear example, or even the smaller (but significant) student fee protests this year. As Malcolm X said, someone who does something to you you don’t like knows perfectly well you don’t like it, so just marching and waving signs tells them nothing. Cameron (and most other politicians) know this perfectly well, and so they make sure to encourage people to use their “right to protest” in only the most ineffective ways. An ongoing campaign with more flexible tactics is harder to ignore, and that’s why anything resembling that will be criticised and discouraged at every turn.
[As an aside, the much-quoted and much-recommended by the powers that be (nowadays, after he’s gone) Gandhi made use of of the sit-down protest to great effect. It was also used in the US Civil Rights movement of the 50s/60s.]
And Prime Minister? While in your amazingly condescending done, you blithely say that pitching tents ‘isn’t constructive,’ there are plenty of people in this country that don’t even have a tent to sleep under, yet your government doesn’t seem to think that’s a priority compared to cutting the top tax rate, or insisting on spending billions to offer “choice” (read:commercial involvement) in things which we want to just work properly, everywhere. I’d argue that your government has yet to do much “constructive” for those who really need it.
If the protestors just marched up and down in London for a day, no matter the numbers, the whole thing would be quietly forgotten by now. As it is, they’re at least keeping the discussion alive. They may not all be physically standing up (indeed, some of them are disabled, PM), but that doesn’t mean they’re not putting anything on the line to be there.