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Reaction to Labour’s Suspension of Trevor Philips Reinforces Hierarchy of Racism

The Labour Party have suspended Trevor Philips after accusations of Islamophobia, Philips having had a long history of making comments that have been seen as racist and Islamophobic. However, the reaction from commentators and the media reinforces the hierarchy of racism where hatred against Muslims is seen as a none issue.

The so-called “anti-racism campaigner” is under investigation by the party for historic offences, some said to date back several years.

The BBC article on Philips suspension not only features a video of Philips rejecting the accusations against him but quotes the accused at length, with a single line of comment from Labour. As high as the third paragraph Phillips is quoted as calling Labour a “brutish, authoritarian cult”

No actual Muslims were quoted or asked for comment for their article.

BBC.co.uk, March 9 screenshot

In comparison, the BBC’s article on the suspension of Chris Williamson under an allegation of anti-semitism from 2019 contains a video of Williamson denying the charge, yet also features a video of Margaret Hodge speaking against the former Derby North MP, comments against Williamson by Wes Streeting, Mary Creagh and Stephen Kinnock plus an analysis by Iain Watson for the BBC where he called the suspension ‘Swift, but not swift enough’.

Meanwhile, the editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson was invited to comment of the matter, calling the suspension a “thought crime test”.

Fraser Nelson has a long personal history of publishing articles which have been described as “clearly racist”.

Even the reaction of the “left-wing” Guardian is telling.

While The Guardian rightly calls the allegations against Phillips “alleged” as he hasn’t been found guilty, the same courtesy was never offered to either Chris Williamson or Jackie Walker, with headlines before the conclusion of any investigation being definitive without any mention that the claims were simply allegations. The shared article focuses on Phillips “dismay” at his suspension. Language matters.

The disparity in the reaction between suspensions for alleged “antisemitism” and the Trevor Phillips case shows that the public is being conditioned to believe that Islamophobia is an acceptable and lesser crime than antisemitism, that anyone taking a stand against this vile form of bigotry is the one who is being unreasonable. This hierarchy of racism, based on a perception of racial value, is classic supremacy.

Hundreds of examples of Islamophobia from members of the Conservative Party have been widely shared online and reported to the Conservative Party, yet even when members are suspended, they are frequently allowed back into the party. Indeed, many receive the backing of Tory ministers.

Such is the scale of the problem that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate the “systemic and widespread” Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, submitting a dossier of allegations against 300 members of the party to the Commission, double the number of complaints that were submitted in an initial report handed to the commission in May last year.

Yet, the media and MPs barely utter a comment.

While the likes of the BBC and other right-wing outlets continue to downplay the threat of Islamophobia and Islamophobic discourse, not only platforming those views but actively promoting them, it is hard to say that a clear anti-Muslim agenda is not at work. By pushing the number one racist issue in Britain today down this invented hierarchy of racism, those promoting this agenda are making it abundantly clear that not only is Islamophobia an issue they are uninterested in dealing with, but the value they place on the opinions and lives of Muslims is significantly less than others.

The message that Muslims are second class citizens who are not as worthy as protection as other groups leads to a view that abuse and anti-Muslim policies from the government are acceptable. This enabling of bigotry creates a short slope from verbal racism to street and terrorist violence that is seen as justifiable and sanctioned by the perpetrator and elements of the public alike.


Main Image: Trevor Phillips | CC-BY-SA Stephan Röhl / www.boell.de | via Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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