Stolen valour, stolen lives
20 Oct 2009 by CST
The Nothing British About the BNP group has launched a terrific campaign today, enlisting veterans of our armed forces to reject the BNP's hijacking of British symbols for their poisonous politics. There is a booklet here, and a video which gives a flavour of their message:
A letter signed by some of Britain's most senior former military leaders in support of the Nothing British campaign makes things very clear:
We, the undersigned, are increasingly concerned that the reputation of Britains Armed Services is being tarnished by political extremists who are attempting to appropriate it for their own dubious ends.
We deplore this trend for two reasons.
First, the values of these extremists - many of whom are essentially racist - are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military such as tolerance and fairness. Commonwealth soldiers, who comprise about 10% of the Services, represent an invaluable contribution to the success of Britains military, both in history and the current day. Many have won the highest awards.
Second, the reputation of our Armed Forces was won over centuries of service in some of the most difficult areas of the world. Political extremists should claim no right to share in this proud heritage.
We call on all those who seek to hi-jack the good name of Britains military for their own advantage to cease and desist.
General The Lord Guthrie GCB, LVO, OBE, DL
General Sir Mike Jackson GCB, CBE, DSO, DL
General Sir Richard Dannatt GBC, CBE, MC
Major-General Patrick Cordingley DSO
Anyone who doubts the reality of racism in Britain today and the effect it has on its victims should watch last night's Panorama, Hate on the Doorstep, in which two Asian journalists lived for eight weeks on a housing estate in Bristol, with hidden cameras to record their experiences. The depth and frequency of the verbal and physical racist abuse they suffered, virtually every time they left their house, was shocking. The two BBC reporters knew that they only had to put up with this treatment for eight weeks; it is hard to imagine what it must be like to live with it every day. One of the reporters, Tamanna Rahman, noticed the inevitable impact it had on her:
One of the worst effects was the lack of trust I felt towards anybody and the sense that I must always be on my guard - even if it was just popping to the shops.
There is little sense of a mixed community in Southmead and the longer I stayed the more I realised why. The more abuse I received, the less I wanted to go out. The more racism I faced, the less I wanted to talk to anybody. I do not think that I was alone in my feelings.
This kind of racist abuse is sometimes referred to as 'low-level', but as Panorama showed, it ruins lives and destroys communities. Not everybody that the reporters met during the programme was racist, or unfriendly; but the racist thugs polluted the estate for everybody.