As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to have a disproportionate effect on black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities across the country with immigrant and minority NHS staff continuing to die in their droves, you’d think that the British public might finally turn away from the racism that has long infected the country…
Of course not.
Taking merely a single event for a sample, the comments that appeared in reaction to Health Secretary Matt Hancock simply commenting on Ramadan was telling of a wider picture of abuse.
On April 23, Hancock thanked Muslims for staying at home and highlighted that the holy month will be difficult for a period normally associated with family and prayer.
One of the top comments states that “they should’ve stayed home in their own craphole countries”, the comment has received 129 likes.
There were the usual accusations of terrorism.
More orders to “go home”
And of course the suggestion that no Muslim can be British.
The comments continue with numerous suggestions that Hancock hadn’t treated Christians the same way at Easter. This deliberate whattaboutry plays into the “white genocide” trope where those from BAME communities receive preferential treatment from the government as a plot to wipe out white people. No, really.
These are undoubtedly the same sort of people who are currently stockpiling Dettol as a COVID-19 miracle cure.
However, as easy as it is to mock, this is a key tactic of the far-right, with the claims playing into a readers existing prejudices and with few willing to actually investigate their veracity.
If they had done they would find that Hancock did just what they’re asking on April 11th.
These comments come from a single Tweet and a mere highlight of the 515 replies that were received. Despite Twitter now having a hide reply function, they continue to appear on the BBC News Twitter.
They are the mere tip of the iceberg where online abuse against Muslims and other members of BAME communities are concerned, abuse that has in no way relented during the coronavirus crisis and, given the extra time many have to utilise social media, has likely only increased.
The Times has released statistics that show that mortality rate of COVID-19 per 100,000 people across Britain is 23 for those who are white British, 27 for those from an Asian background and an astounding 43 for black people.
Over 80 frontline NHS workers have died during the crisis, including amongst many others consultant Medhat Atalla from Egypt, Grant Maganga, a mental health nurse, Sadeq Elhowsh, an orthopaedic surgeon, Ate Wilma Banaag, a nurse, Manjeet Singh Riyat, the first Sikh to work as an A&E consultant in the UK and Grace Kungwengwe, a healthcare worker.
The government’s WW2 style propaganda claims that Britain is “all pulling together” is dangerous, erasing the abuse that is being dealt out on a daily basis. While the far-right absurdly claim that they stand against terrorism and sharia law, a brief look at their words and actions betray the truth that their hatred is fact reaching alarming levels of pathological obsession.
Ready to ignore even Muslims, black people and immigrants sacrificing their lives for Britain, the country needs a serious and urgent conversation about the pre-existing infection that it was suffering from, that being obscene levels of Islamophobia and racial hatred.
Given that the Conservative Government have just appointed Trevor Phillips, a man suspended from Labour for Islamophobia, to examine whether people from BAME communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.