In the Land of Gods and Monsters

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I don’t tend to write blogs about politics (I save that topic for long, rant-like, Facebook statuses), but recently I’ve become more and more politicised (in other words, I’ve become really pissed off with the Government). I’ve been reading lots of articles about the new laws/policies that the Conservatives are trying to bring in, and I can’t help feeling that this country is being dragged, unresisting, towards its own miserable demise.

Since coming into power, what has this Government done? Proposed the removal of the Human Rights Act, attempted to bring back fox hunting, cut many benefits, scrapped student maintenance grants, and proposed a ban on foreign students working in the UK. How can we respect a government which doesn’t respect us? The argument is that countries such as the USA can cope with extreme austerity measures, and that they can survive in worse-off conditions than this government expects us to live by. But I don’t think that that argument is the answer. The UK is in a huge amount of debt, but no matter the extremity of austerity, that debt cannot be paid off by this generation, or the next, or the one after that. Cutting benefits will not get the country out of debt; it will only increase the number of families in poverty, and therefore sabotage the future of the next generations.

If the Conservatives were to privatise the NHS and continue with the cuts to benefits, we could end up living in a country not dissimilar to the state of Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Russia at the moment, the vast majority of people live in poverty, with all the industry lying in the hands of 26-or-so billionaire oligarchs. Because the wealth of Russia belongs to so few, the state does not have money to provide a free/cheap healthcare service (as they did during the Soviet period), meaning that illness, addiction, HIV/AIDS, and early death are rife. In addition to this, the industry that Soviet Russia relied on was artificial, reliant on a lack of imports from other countries, meaning that there are now not nearly enough jobs for such a large population. Although Britain is only the smallest fraction of the size of Russia, it could face the same problem. Britain also relied on artificial industries, which we no longer have need for. The coal-mining industry has disappeared, as have textiles, ship-building, etc. We rely on the imports of foreign goods in order to survive, but we are ruled by a Government which is coming across as more-and-more nationalist and opposed to foreign intervention in any form.

Another area in which the government’s actions are counter-intuitive is the vilification of Muslims. You don’t tackle extremism by hyping it up, and putting it as the headline on every major newspaper. The quickest way to expand an issue is to give it attention, to blow it out of proportion. Furthermore, the “anti-terror” laws, which will give teachers a responsibility to report on any pupils they believe are becoming “extremists” are only going to worsen the problem, not solve it. We, as a country, need to stop treating all Muslims as guilty for the crimes of the few! Islam is NOT an extreme religion, and extremist groups such as ISIS are NOT representative of Islam as a whole. Extremism is not about religion, it merely uses religion as a tool. Why do we not blame all Christians for the Ku Klux Klan, or the Medieval Crusades? Why do we not blame all Jews for the Israeli treatment of Palestinians? Because, in those cases, we know that the actions of some people are not the actions of all of them. So why do we, as a society, have such a blind spot when it comes to Muslims? Why do we strive so hard for segregation, why do we strive so hard to turn them into The Enemy? Why is it more desirable to condemn millions of people for the extremism of a few, than to recognise that the views of individuals are not the views of the many? Why do we need a scapegoat? Why do we need someone to blame?

If we believed everything we read in the news, it would be natural to think that we live in a land of Gods and monsters. The government rules us, it makes laws that we believe we have no power over. It is a cruel god, an omnipotent god, and an omniscient god. And this God, this government, is turning many religious/ethnic/national groups into monsters, turning them into scapegoats in a way reminiscent of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. I know that that is the example so often dished out, but that is because it bears a vast amount of truth. Next time you hear someone saying something anti-Islam, replace the word “Muslims” with “Jews” and hear that person sounding scarily like Adolf Hitler. Racism is a social disease, and it is a disease that continues to spread. If we cannot care for our fellow humans, what hope do we have as a species? The more we allow ourselves to be poisoned by racism/sexism/homophobia, the closer we come to self-destruction. What hope is there for a species which tears itself apart?

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