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In light of the Home Secretary’s attempt to ban ‘hate marches’, a question on the minds of many across the country of late is, what exactly is a hate march?
In a recent episode of the News Cast, Emily Maitlis posed this question to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley who ping-ponged the question in Braverman’s direction, stating we ought to ask her for clarification.
In rather than ask “what is a hate March?”, we ought to asking why this term is being used to redefine an otherwise centuries long practice of peaceful protests, and what is, and remains a fundamental human right.
The Israel Gaza war has enabled us to all witness and experience the unfolding of events in the palm of our hands like never before. Even though the Iraq war took place in many of our life times, the technological development we have twenty years on from Iraq, has provided new meaning to spectatorship of the realities, and brutality, of war.
Public opinion has matured with the availability of diverse media forms. If the BBC News and Sky News do not show the results of violence in Gaza and Israel, Tiktok and Instagram will. As a result we are witnessing a turning point in the vulnerability of governments in that they do not hold power way in the way they once did.
In this age of information, public awareness of events is less tied to schooling and education. Governments can no longer simply expect people to express their view at the ballot box on election day, limiting their choice to one exercised once in four years under the name of democracy.
Divide and Rule
If the age of information has made readily available the injustices committed with this Government’s (and its opposition’s) endorsement, people will not wait therefore, to make their views heard at a general election, at a time and place the government will determine. The significant numbers on the street is an alternative expression of electorate in the absence of an election where voters numbers can be easily calibrated.
Crafting such expression and exercising of views as hate marches is not only taking an authoritarian approach to governance, as it forces people within the confines of the election system, which is easily controlled by the government, but it also delegitimatises the expression on the street in significant numbers as something that should not be verified in relation to the governments “orderly” way of expressing views.
The politics of fear has long been deployed to divide and conquer, and in crafting “hate marches” is a way to divide and conquer the electorate, the nation. It’s an easy way, a tried and tested way at holding onto people who will vote for them, by identifying and casting a whole group of people through “us” and “them” narratives, sowing the fear of a mob, of a people who are fundamentally not aligned with British values of “tolerance” as they stand for “hate”.
We know this all too well from the long history of employing the media as a tool to dehumanise British Muslims in a post-9/11 context.
This redefining of protest as hate marches signals the vulnerability of the Government – a desperate attempt to govern and control from top down. Protests are a form of bottom up governance, the grassroots transmitting their power upwards to reshape the make-up of the select few at the top, or at least place pressure on the way in which they behave.
We have also witnessed in recent days the Prime Minister’s stance towards protests taking place on Armistice Day and remembrance Sunday. This is yet another example of placing the history of one people or nation above that of other histories, peoples, nations, in order to desperately hold on to power.
Power can only be held onto, justified, and exerted, if those justifying their use and possession of power are the most sizeable and at the height of the hierarchy. Without this positioning, the power starts to dissipate and ultimately is lost. The current rhetoric can be seen as an attempt to continue to elevate Britain’s colonial rule and Britain’s place in the world, it’s military – a sign of power = and it’s sacrifices in wars of the past.
Crafting participation in “hate marches” on Armistice day or Remembrance Sunday as offences, effectively criminalises those who the Government view as undermining their position either domestically, or internationally, and in relation to countries who are still subjugated.