SUTR rally March 2019 credit Mark Thomas

Hate vs Hope: The threat of right wing nationalism

To mark Black History Month, Cameron Matthews, chair, black and ethnic minority members committee, explores the current context of right wing nationalism. “If you are silent in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu.

Across the globe we are seeing an undeniable and disturbing rise in the sinister ideology of right wing nationalism. An ideology that seeks to sow division and fear in our communities.

As we bare witness to mass murders by right wing terrorists in minority communities, the threat to human life is at a dangerous and increasing level.

In the UK, both race and religious hate crimes have exponentially risen over the last few years. This is in combination with a doubling of hate crimes against people who are LGBT+, and a trebling of hate crimes against those in the trans community.

But is it any wonder we have moved towards such a dystopian reality given the incendiary narratives that occupy so much of our traditional media outlets.

Many individuals are radicalised by online commentators. The combined use of rhetoric around racism, dog whistle politics, scapegoats and false tropes are weaponised, both subtly and overtly, to push the extremist nationalist narrative.

More disturbing still is when you scratch below the thin patina to reveal the sinister funding streams of many of these right wing online media outlets, you reveal that they are funded by elitist, anti-worker, anti-trade union, dark money. Money earned from and utilised for, the exploitation of working people.

This is why it’s crucial as trade unionists we are alive to this real and present danger.

FBU officials, as leaders, have a duty to continue to uphold our union’s proud tenets and ensure we robustly tackle hate, wherever it raises its ugly head.

Due to the insidious nature of this menace, it is crucial we keep ourselves informed and alert. We must not fall into the trap of defending the indefensible, because we don’t have access to, comprehend or appreciate the full information and as a consequence neglect our core values.

Our fire and rescue service is proudly a humanitarian service. Firefighters help people in our communities regardless of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. The FBU is an extension of those principles. Our communities put their faith and trust in us to safeguard and support them.

As a cadre of principled FBU firefighters we must see right wing nationalists for what they are – rotten apples intent upon decaying our comrades and our society.

We must step up and oppose nationalist ideology whether inside or outside the fire and rescue service that seeks to sow hate, division and terrorise people.

We must be champions of a strong progressive society based upon peace, equality and collectivism. Living up to our reputation as one of the guardians of our communities.

As the Battle of Cable Street shows us, the British working class has a long history of tackling the nationalist right. We’ve done it before. We can do it again. And the principled firefighters of the FBU, so often lauded for their bravery throughout history, will be there again when we do.

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