Imran Shah is a political blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @ImranShah884
Political blogger Imran Shah says that Muslims who demand equality in western societies will be faced with the huge obstacle of “Political Whiteness” and need to learn how to counter it.
For a long time now anti-racism movements in the West have struggled to explain to white people that people of colour aren’t asking for any favours from this society, but just the same equality and privileges that fellow white citizens have.
Despite this being a century-long manifestation, this phenomenon has only recently been coined as “White Privilege.” Muslims have to contend with this all the time but to do this effectively we must understand how White Privilege works and how power systems use it to their advantage.
Perception is everything.
For the human being, perception is everything.
So whether it is about white and black, rich and poor, male and female, the privileged are so privileged that they are oblivious to the woes of the world and mainstream discrimination.
A level playing field is then assumed and advocated by the downtrodden. As a result, demanding equality will undoubtedly feel like prejudice. People being lazy, uncivilized and inferior suddenly becomes a legitimate argument. This Buzzfeed video illustrates this reality perfectly.
Power structures know this all too well, especially when it comes to parts of the media that support the Establishment. They know that it’s not so much about managing the facts and figures, but more about managing the perception of people to sustain and leverage power. For white supremacist systems it is more about invoking feelings of jealousy, anger and unfounded notions of injustice than creating informed objective opinion to create solutions.
This is nothing new for the West. Many an ex American slave’s autobiography reported how “free” white workers would take out their impoverished, unemployed state on black slaves that were upskilled by their slave masters to do what normally would be free people’s occupations.
Slave holders would do this out of pure greed with no care of putting their fellow white workers out of jobs. Despite the cause of the problem being the white slave-holding elite, the system created a culture that made the white working poor verbally and violently take out their frustration on black slaves who were powerless to change anything.
Before this – from the era of Crusaders to the end of Empire – discrimination was on the broader basis of cultural supremacy (a language that Britain First and PIGEDA talk in now). Back then they hated everyone equally.
Towards the end of the American Slave Trade narratives solely based on race and ethnicity were deployed in society and used as a buffer for the elite to avoid accountability. The manifestation of this was eventually coined as “racism” and long persisted after slavery and it has never gone away.
Today, so relentless is this pursuit to preserve this dynamic that even left wing media end up only talking about their noble principles in the frames set by established racists.
Fenced into a position of being social orientalists at best, the Tommy Robinsons, Douglass Murrays, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph etc, are mechanized in their role to direct white people and divert their attention from those in power who oppress them.
Consequently, the oppressed and impoverished white man and woman invests in taking a path of racism and bigotry instead of taking on the people that actually created and imposed their conditions on them. They are just as much slaves to the system as any person of colour, in fact more so by being convinced about doing the very thing that will keep them poor and enslaved.
At least the person of colour seeks betterment and emancipation. This is where we start to understand, what I call “Political Whiteness” and the “white racist slave mind.”
To be clear, “Political Whiteness” is the use of established background notions of white supremacy, racism and cultural-religious hatred and is deployed by power structures to direct and distract the mass white working poor from holding the elite to account.
In today’s language, white people are being radicalized into racists, bigots and extremists. White Uncle Toms (such as the names and the media outlets mentioned above) have a role to ensure that poor white people “know their place.”
A clear testament to how oblivious we are to this is how even anti-racism campaigners simply assume in times of socio-economic distress that racism and cultural-religious hatred will spike in the West. This is a lie. Whilst this has long been a dynamic of the Western White World, it makes it no less manufactured by the system today as it did during the slave trade.
This simple dynamic has defined the history of domestic racism and bigotry in our societies for over the last century and more. And anyone who is at the final receiving end of that social engineering and resists it by demanding equality in the face of it all, will be hit with a barrage of smears and demonizing, asking for “special treatment” and ironically labelled as “supremacist.” Especially us Muslims.
Those people of colour who share their same level of ignorance, as their fellow white citizens, are also susceptible to these same arguments too and also very prone to bigotry, self hate and division. That includes our own. In fact the ruminants of colonial India are a testament to the great economic inequality, sexism, racism and Islamophobia that were largely non-existent before the British Raj.
The same dynamic occurs when it comes to western foreign policy. So wholly ignorant is the general population about the horrors of empire (and even more so of the current exploits of proxy terrorism and proxy colonialism by the same elite who oppress their own population) that those who hold power can easily sell narratives that suit their agenda.
It all comes down to one beautiful lie that is peddled and is still pervasive from ordinary British people to the likes of Hilary Benn in his speech urging the bombing of Syria: “The UK (like all western nations) are a force for good in the world.” Despite the fact that their entire history illustrates the polar opposite!
Again, from ignorance, the same mindset of white privilege still exists: “They have been free for ages now, what excuse do they have?” or my favorite: “This is just how humanity is and how the world works.”
Many Muslims will go back to sleep when, and more importantly, if Islamophobia is significantly dealt with. And in doing so, they will sell out the “dream of global freedom” for a “tolerable nightmare” at home and “perpetuating escalating horror” abroad. This will happen, unless our Good Fight is more than just about us.
Yes, our ability to defend anything is firstly defined by our ability to defend ourselves, but in a system that has persistently used everyone as a piece on its chess board, our equality and freedom is not just defined by our equality and freedom alone, but the complete dismantling of Political Whiteness and the White Slave Mind.
We cannot just talk about “White Privilege” without talking about the mechanisms that the Establishment use to mentally enslave white people. Nor can we simply settle in thinking that these concepts can be subdued, until there is dismantling of the system that propagates and profits of it.
If this system is dismantled, the source of the majority of injustice around the world will be gone and the possibility of authentic freedom and equality becomes real.
Imran Shah is writing here in a personal capacity. You can follow him on Twitter @ImranShah884