Imran Clouds

As always there is a lot going on in the world. Where does one start in trying to make sense of any of it? For this blog post I have decided to focus of Boris and his burka-based bumbling: there is a short but interesting article from Labour MP Rupa Huq, followed by just a few of the readers’ letters sent to the Guardian, and then we have the fiercely satirical Daily Mash making a rather relevant point about the crazy scare mongering surrounding the whole British burka debate.

This is then followed up with a humorous anecdote involving former Pakistan cricket captain and now prime minister Imran Khan. I end with some quotes from the last two episodes of the weekly TV show Real Time With Bill Maher and, surprise surprise, my arch nemesis old Trumpy McTrumpFace gets a mention. I remember a few years ago there was a period of several months when the Metro newspaper could not go a day without mention Cheryl ‘Nations Sweetheart’ Cole, and it seems I am the same with El Presidente. Anyways, please be aware that there is a wee bit of bad language in some of the quotes below, so you have been politely warned. Enjoy!

Boris Johnson Is Leveraging Hatred And Racism In His Desire For Power

Rupa Huq, 11 Aug 2018,

His calculated remarks about burqas fuel the flames at a dangerous time for ethnic minorities

I remember the first time I was called “Paki”. It was 1978 at primary school in Ealing, west London, now my constituency. I was quite startled. My playground tormentor had to explain the etymology of the term to me. I retorted: “Actually, East Pakistan has been liberated into Bangladesh since 1971; it’s an independent country”, which shut him up.

I was born in Hammersmith the year after Bangladeshi independence and recall the racism of old. In those days, “the host community” saw the likes of me and the two kids in our school with turbans (brothers) as “Asian” – the shorthand “Paki” overlooking different nationalities. The subtitles of religion had not reared their head. The Satanic Verses and 9/11 changed that when the badge “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” was produced, signalling a disaggregation of Asians. Race broke down into religion.

When asked on TV about Boris Johnson’s recent calculated outburst, I found myself doing his voice and gestures. “It was like being in room with him,” Krishnan Guru-Murthy later commented on Twitter. But I fear that the lovable rogue act is wearing somewhat thin. He cannot be trusted: his flippant words endangered Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s life; he wrote two columns on staying in Europe (for and against) and plumped for the latter, on deciding it played better among the Tory membership for his leadership bid; and, as my impression hinted, his private life has been “colourful”. I don’t have a vote in the contest and am not a burqa fan, but in his not very veiled attempt to assume the crown, the damage is already done. It would be a tragedy if he became PM through leveraging hatred against the most visibly different UK community who are already vulnerable and under attack.

It’s not enough to excuse his likening of burqa-clad women to letterboxes and bank robbers as eccentricity when it fuels Islamophobia. As an MP, you’re de facto a magnet for abuse – for me, usually with a Muslim twist, sometimes for speaking about justice for Palestinians, or even the dangers of leaving the EU. This spring, I received an Islamophobic package, containing a “Punish a Muslim Day” warning letter doused in a mystery substance. It resulted in police cordoning off my office as a crime scene and one of my staff being taken to hospital for examination – it was the week after the Salisbury attack. Every time a pronouncement like this is made, women have hijabs ripped off, grandfathers are attacked on the way to mosque and mosques have pigs’ heads left on their doorsteps. Such flippancy has consequences.

At the most dangerously rightward tilting moment in politics since the 1930s, Johnson’s intervention is fuelling the flames of the deplorable rise of all forms of hate crime in our society. With the ransacking of a radical bookshop and rebirth of rightwing thug Stephen Yaxley Lennon as folk hero Tommy Robinson, anti-racists should stand as one against Islamophobia, homophobia and antisemitism. The climate we have in our post-referendum divided nation has disinhibited the hate-speakers. The fate of my late friend and colleague Jo Cox, murdered in cold blood when doing something I undertake weekly – my advice surgery – is a reminder of where these sentiments can lead.

In the meantime, I have no idea what became of my infant school abuser. I’m not going be pursuing him for an apology 30 years on, but wherever he is I hope he’s a reformed character. Sadly, all the evidence on the ground is that racism is taking a more pernicious tone and Boris Johnson has just made it worse.

Rupa Huq is Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton

What Muslim Women Ought Not To Wear Isn’t A Matter For Boris Johnson

Letters, 08 Aug 2018,

Readers respond to the former foreign secretary’s comparison of Muslim women in burqas to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.

I think Boris Johnson looks like a baboon’s bottom with a haystack on top. That might be charming if he were a decent human being, but given the malevolent nature of his interventions it would be a blessing to all if we were spared the sight and sound of him, and of his camp followers. He is no joke. Every woman without exception has the right to wear whatever she wants, or nothing at all, without fear of abuse or persecution. – Sally Griffin, Brighton

Lest people think that laws that ban covering the face do wrong only to highly strict Muslim women, please think about the increasing use of cameras with face recognition that can track everyone’s movements around the city. Until we have strict laws that prohibit the systematic practice of face recognition, except using the faces of court-designated criminal suspects, in any areas where the public is admitted, the only way we can protect our privacy is by covering our faces. We must defend our right to do this. I am neither Muslim nor a woman, but these laws attack my rights. They attack yours too. – Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation

It appears that Boris Johnson regularly follows two of President Trump’s principles. First, never apologise (even when you know you are wrong); second, get your name in the media as often as possible (even if you have to do it by expressing insensitive or extreme views). – Alan Bailey, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Burqas Apparently Biggest Issue Facing Family Of Twats From Nantwich

08 Aug 2018,

Mash Burka

Islamic women’s clothing is somehow having a terrible effect on a white, mostly atheist family in Cheshire. The Sheridan family are angry and upset about a small number of Muslim women wearing burqas, particularly when reminded by politicians and the media.

Mum Donna said: “You could wear a burqa to rob banks. It immediately draws attention to you and there are probably better disguises, but I can’t sleep at night for thinking about it. As a family we’ve got our own worries. It’s hard making ends meet and our son Mark can’t find a job after university, but these women wearing strange outfits in other places are making our lives hell. I worry that people might think they’re post boxes and put letters through the eye slot so they don’t get delivered. That’s never actually happened, but what if it was your car insurance?”

Daughter Jennifer said: “If everyone wore burqas I wouldn’t know if I was talking to my mum, a teacher or a paedophile. My GCSEs would be bound to suffer.”

Dad Steve Sheridan agreed: “It just doesn’t feel like your own country anymore when women aren’t showing plenty of flabby midriff in ill-advised lycra tops. We’re not racist because we worry about all sorts of religious clothing. I’m always fretting about vicars getting dangerously hot under their big cassocks.”

Immy’s In His Prime And Ready To Make A Lasting Impression

Derek Pringle, 30 Jul 2018,

Imran Khan’s ascent to the prime ministership of Pakistan in the country’s recent elections reminds me of the time he first showed a keen grasp of international relations.

The occasion was the dinner on the eve of the 1992 World Cup. England and Pakistan were the finalists and therefore the guests of honour, though it didn’t feel that way when our Australian hosts unleashed a Queen impersonator as part of the evening’s entertainment.

Disgusted by what they saw as jokes in poor taste, Graham Gooch and Ian Botham — staunch patriots both — stormed out, leaving the rest of the England squad at the bash.

Looking on with interest from the next table was Imran, who suddenly pointed at us and said: ‘Look team, it’s only the bloody colonials who are left.’

He had a point. There was Allan Lamb, born Cape Town; Robin Smith, born Durban; Graeme Hick, born Harare; Chris Lewis, born Guyana; Phil DeFreitas, born Dominica; Gladstone Small, born Barbados; Dermot Reeve, born Hong Kong; and me, born Kenya.

It was an amusing observation but one which would have been perceived as a cruel slight back then had it been uttered by a politician and not a cricketer.

Nowadays, with Donald Trump making nasty the new normal, Immy, as we used to call him, will be ready to trade insults — those sledges learnt on the cricket pitch excellent preparation for the challenges that lie ahead.

Real Time With Bill Maher

This week Trump held two of his hillbilly Nuremberg rallies. It’s scary to people in this profession. He calls the media “the enemy of the people” except, of course, for Fox News. They are so far up his ass they’re the enema of the people. From now on collusion is not a crime but journalism apparently is. We live in a country now where reporting reality gets attacked because it threatens the fantasy world created by the cult leader. – Bill Maher, 03 Aug 2018

I think every American needs to be passionate about this. The free press in this country was enshrined in the Constitution and it predates the Constitution. It is one of the things that makes America different, that makes America special, and that makes America great. And when we have people like the president, with the power of the presidency, trying to whittle away at that, to attack not only the truth sayers but the truth seekers, including the investigators, anybody seeking the truth he attacks. Once you are removed from truth, anything can sprout into that desert. – Charles Blow, 03 Aug 2018

Fear is a contagion in a democracy. Trump uses fear and he is exhausting the opposition. When you are in a fight, you can win two ways. You can bring your opponent to submission, think Germany and Japan after World War II. Or you can break their will to fight, think the United States in Vietnam. And the degree to which Trump and his lies and the constancy of the craziness, it breaks people’s wills. It checks them out. They become exhausted by it. And I think that there is some evidence in the polling to see that’s happening, so 95 days from an election, which I would argue is the most important midterm election in the history of the United States of America, everybody out there has a job to do, and it’s to vote and make sure your friends vote. Because there must be a check on this lawless administration or we’re down the road 10 miles into Trumpistan looking at the United States of America in the rearview mirror. – Steve Schmidt, 03 Aug 2018

This is a new level of political corruption because it’s a corruption of ideas. We’ve always had ways of trying to get at the money corruption, and we pay a lot of attention to it, but what happens when the ideas of a party or a group of political actors are completely corrupted? And that’s what we are seeing. – Lawrence O’Donnell, 10 Aug 2018

It’s always funny when I hear the immigration debate, like I see white supremacists saying “We want our country back.” We didn’t take a cruise here on purpose. We didn’t go “Oh, they’re hiring in America? Get on the boat!” It’s so ridiculous. We’re here because you wouldn’t do the shit you needed us to do. People also say dumb shit like “Slavery is a choice.” So if slavery is a choice I guess Harriet Tubman was just a travel agent. It really is this: this country is getting browner and browner and darker, and that’s just the way it is. So instead of Republicans trying to fuck over poor people, they should get to fucking. I don’t understand that. They should have at it. – D L Hughley, a black comedian, 10 Aug 2018

America hated the Kenyan so much, they gave her to the Kremlin. They hated Obama so much that they’re willing to do whatever to have white supremacy. Listen, Obama was what we aspire to be, Trump is who we are. – D L Hughley, a black comedian, 10 Aug 2018

We had a porno star say she had unprotected sex with the president. If you’re not worried about gonorrhea, how the fuck are you going to help us with North Korea? – D L Hughley, 10 Aug 2018

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