Sunday, 22 June 2008

A message from Oxford Love Music Hate Racism

Lethal Bizzle helped build the national march and carnival on 21st June by meeting with local MC's and rappers including Mr ShaoDow, Provokal, n-zyme, MC Muzzy Blax and some DJ's from OX4fm. 

Our music is living testimony to the fact that cultures can and do mix. It unites us and gives us strength, and offers a vibrant celebration of our multicultural and multiracial society. Racism seeks only to divide and weaken us. Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) was set up in 2002 in response to rising levels of racism and electoral successes for the Nazi British National Party (BNP). 

We use the energy of our music scene to celebrate diversity and involve people in anti-racist and anti-fascist activity – as well as to urge people to vote against fascist candidates in elections. LMHR has helped to mobilise against further BNP election victories, in the tradition of the Rock Against Racism (RAR) movement of the late 1970s. 

There have been now been over 400 LMHR events, from large outdoor festivals to local gigs and club nights. Top artists who’ve performed at LMHR events include Ms Dynamite, Hard -Fi, Babyshambles, Akala, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Estelle, The View, Lethal Bizzle, Roll Deep and Basement Jaxx. Just as important are the up-and-coming bands, DJs, MCs and their fans who have performed at or organised their own local LMHR nights. 

We want to create a national movement against racism and fascism through music, so it’s vital everyone gets involved however they can. 

Dozens of bands and DJs from across Oxfordshire have already helped us raise funds for the national carnival and to spread the message. 

Over 60 people went on the LMHR subsidised coach to the 100,000 strong carnival to celebrate diversity and to oppose racism. Photos of the carnival can be found at 

The fascist British National Party’s London fuhrer, Richard Barnbrook, has managed to con a small minority of Londoners into voting for him, to scrape onto the London Assembly via the cross-London party list - largely through votes won in outer London boroughs like Barking & Dagenham and Havering & Redbridge . Without the anti-fascist campaigning prior to the election, and particularly the 100,000 strong Love Music Hate Racism Carnival, the BNP would undoubtedly have gained more seats in London. The Carnival showed the mass audience opposed to racism and fascism which can build the bigger united anti-fascist movement that can stop the Nazis. The BNP gained a further ten seats nationally, though this is far less than their target thanks to consistent campaigning against them. 

The BNP represent the politics of hate and division. BNP members like David Copeland have been involved in planting bombs in London. Only last month BNP Nick Eriksen one of the BNP candidates in London was forced to withdraw his candidacy, after he was exposed for writing sexist, racist and offensive comments on a blog in which he uses the name “Sir John Bull” visit for quotes from his blog. 

Barnbrook must not be allowed to settle comfortably into his ill-gotten office, but must be resisted at every turn. Our aim must be to prevent the BNP from turning their assembly win into a respectable platform for spreading racist poison in London. 

Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism said: “Several members of BNP have convictions for racial hatred this includes the leader of the BNP Nick Griffin. In the past other fascists leaders have use the democratic freedoms in order to destroy everybody rights and freedom of speech. ” 

Drew McConnell, of leading LMHR-supporting band Babyshambles, said: “Multicultural Britain should be celebrated. Immigration is not to blame for unemployment or housing problems, and does not negatively affect the economy, but the BNP tell us this is actually the case. We want them to know they’re not fooling us. Everyone knows the BNP are a Nazi organization, and they can’t hide behind their suits forever.” 

We still need artists to join us and play gigs in Oxfordshire to help us raise funds and spread the word. We also need volunteers to put up posters and handout leaflets at gigs. Contact us if you can help


Respect goes West- Mike's Letter from America #7

What ‘liberal media?’

Those of you nursing bruises from last Sunday’s demonstration against Bush’s visit to the UK will be surprised to hear that it never happened. I know this thanks to National Public Radio’s ‘White House Correspondent’ Don Gonyieh, who assured us that there was ‘not a single protestor’ on the streets of London. The fact that (a) this was not true and (b) that if had been, it was only because the march had been banned, seemed to have been totally lost on Gonyieh. Clicking on the BBC website left me little the wiser (no change there). Eventually, thanks to the English-language news on Germany’s Deutsche Welle TV (which we get thanks to basic cable) I was finally able to see footage of non-existent policemen whacking non-existent demonstrators with non-existent truncheons.

The U.S. media is notorious for its insularity – the first time I visited America, I watched CNN’s ‘World News Hour’ in the hope of finding out what was going on outside the 50 states. It turned out that the main item of ‘world’ news was American troops being sent off to some foreign country (I think it was Bosnia that week). But you would expect better of National Public Radio (NPR). This is, roughly speaking, the equivalent of BBC Radio 4, but with a far smaller budget. NPR and its TV equivalent PBS are publicly funded through a mixture tax dollars from Congress, and listener or viewer fund-raising drives. This gives it an editorial independence lacking in the corporate networks, and most of the time, NPR is excellent in a ‘BBC circa 1950’ sort of way. It has more overseas correspondents than any other network; it has in-depth news coverage that goes beyond sound-bites; it caters for those Americans who do not think music starts and ends with soft-rock; it hosts quirky shows which would never see the light of day on bottom-line-driven networks.

All of this means that NPR and PBS are targets for inevitable accusations of liberalism and elitism from the Right, and clearly public broadcasting should be defended unconditionally from those who would like to cut off its (pitifully small) funding. However, its supposed liberalism is debatable. When I first came to the US, my initial reaction was ‘thank God, something intelligent on the radio’. However, over the weeks I began to notice how, like the BBC back home, NPR’s ‘balanced’ news reflects the orthodoxies of US politics. So coverage of Venezuela always focus on Chavez’s ‘grandiose’ gestures, not on the substance of the country’s politics, while coverage of Iraq too often sounds like warmed over Pentagon press releases. I’ve no desire to defend Vladimir Putin, but why was his last speech as president described as ‘typically bombastic’, when NPR would never dream of calling one of Bush’s speeches ‘typically rambling and incoherent’?

Of course, NPR is way ahead of Rupert Murdoch’s cretinous Fox News, which quite unashamedly peddles conservative propaganda under the laughable banner ‘Fair and Balanced’. I occasionally turn on Fox News just to see how long I can stand it before switching to another channel; (record so far – about 15 seconds).  It would take hundreds of blog entries to catalogue all the shocking, offensive, or just plain daft examples of Fox’s pushing the Republican agenda – check out the film documentary Outfoxed or all Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them To take just the most recent example, one Fox news anchor claimed that a fist-punch gesture made by Barrack Obama and his wife was a ‘terrorist fist jab.’ Fox News is an extreme example, but networks such as CNN paved the way for it by focusing on style above substance, trivia before real news. Readers who are my age will probably remember CNN’s reporters at the start of the 1991 Gulf War crowing that Baghdad was ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’ by allied bombing.  It is one of the ironies of the modern media that we have 24-hour news networks, but less real news reporting.

Despite all this, the right constantly cry ‘liberal bias’ against the media – a rather ridiculous accusation in the circumstances. The writer Eric Alterman rightly chose the title What Liberal Media? for his book on right-wing bias in the news. For that matter the ‘liberals’ in the media aren’t even particularly left-wing – for example, Al Franken’s book is a great read, as he rips into the lies of right-wing commentators while also being funny, but at times it reads like a hymn of praise for the Bill Clinton administration, including its armed interventions in Haiti and the Balkans.

So are there any rays of hope? As in the UK, there are plenty of left-wing periodicals, blogs, and indymedia sites, but in the mainstream media, the popularity (especially among younger people) of satirical shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report shows that there is a big audience for political programming that lays into Bush and his cronies. Both shows use humour to make serious points about politics and the media, and it’s significant that a poll showed that viewers of the Daily Show (which bills itself as ‘fake news’) were better informed about the news than those who watch the ‘real’ news on Fox.

I’m not sure whether that is encouraging or depressing…