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The Indy100 Article, “Fury as Afua Hirsch calls out Britain’s racism and Nick Ferrari asks: ‘Why do you stay in this country?’” This article is not alone in condemning Nick Ferrari some would like LBC to ditch him. The Indy say that, “A resurfaced clip of a debate between two commentators about racism has caused outrage online. In the clip, white LBC presenter Nick Ferrari is seen asking black colleague Afua Hirsch why she ‘stays’ in Britain after she presented a segment on ‘problematic figures’ glorified by memorials across the country. Originally airing in 2018, the clip is taken from Sky News panel debate show The Pledge.”
In reality, how many of us would seriously consider leaving the country rather that outspokenly protesting an issue that bothers us? What should concern us all, is why any presenter felt that it was appropriate to ask this question of Hirsch as if she didn’t belong in the UK. The Indy100 report that, “In the two-minute video, the author and presenter begins by discussing New York removing the statue of a doctor who “tortured” enslaved black women before going on to cite other examples of countries removing or defacing monuments to individuals with racist pasts. Hirsch mentions Bristol’s Colston Hall as an example, which originally promised to change its name in 2018 and has only now committed to the pledge.” Referring to his grossly inappropriate suggestion she might consider leaving the UK they say that, “As Ferrari is speaking, Hirsch looks visibly shocked and upset” and they note that, “The clip’s re-emergence amid the renewed Black Lives Matter movement has prompted many to condemn Ferrari’s words.”
Another iconic bigot at LBC has been toppled from his white supremacist vantage point for inciting hate. The Guardian report that, “Nigel Farage is to leave the radio station LBC ‘with immediate effect’, the company has announced.” They said, “Nigel Farage’s contract with LBC is up very shortly and following discussions with him, Nigel is stepping down from LBC with immediate effect.” The station’s Managing Director, Tom Cheal, in a message to staff wrote, “We thank Nigel for the enormous contribution he has made to LBC and wish him well.” …In his next nationwide campaign of hateful unadulterated bigotry no doubt! The Guardian wrote that, “Farage has been a vocal critic of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and sources at the station pointed to internal fury over his comments earlier this week comparing protesters who destroyed the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol to the ‘Taliban’,” and that “Farage has yet to comment on his departure, but his LBC producer tweeted to say he had learned the news via social media.” The LBC presenter James O’Brien tweeted: “We got our station back.” One more heave and they might ditch Nick Ferrari!
In Afua Hirsch’s recent Guardian Opinion Piece, “The racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain” she commented that, “This is not just ‘horrible stuff that happens in America’. Black people know we need to dismantle the same system here.” Hirsch goes on to explain how, “The headlines are now describing the US as a nation in crisis. As the protests against the killing of African American George Floyd by a white police officer enter their second week – curfews in more than 40 cities, the deployment of the national guard in 15 states – there is a far deeper, more important message. Because the US is not, if we are honest, ‘in crisis’. That suggests something broken, unable to function as planned. What black people are experiencing the world over is a system that finds their bodies expendable, by design.”
Afua Hirsch elaborates on the numerous missed opportunities where black people in America rose up in protest against systemic inequality and injustice or when the atrocity of another obscene act of police brutality took an innocent life and sparked riots. The protests have extended far beyond the US to the many places where racism still scars civil society. She reminds us that, “In the UK, black people and our allies are taking to the streets as I write to wake British people up out of their fantasy that this crisis of race is a problem that is both uniquely American, and solvable by people returning to the status quo.” We certainly cannot allow that all too pervasive opinion to remain unchallenged; we absolutely cannot betray these fellow citizens once again by permitting this Tory Government to return to the same unjust, exploitative position of the past: we must demand a new normal!
Hirsch quotes Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said on behalf of Britain: “We want to see de-escalation of all of those tensions.” She comments that, “If he had bothered to listen to black British people, he might have discovered that many of us do not want de-escalation. We want protest, we want change, and we know it is something for which we must fight, because many of us have been fighting for this all our lives.” What should the response have been? According to Hirsch, “The British government could have had the humility to use this moment to acknowledge Britain’s experiences. It could have discussed how Britain helped invent anti-black racism, how today’s US traces its racist heritage to British colonies in America, and how it was Britain that industrialised black enslavement in the Caribbean, initiated systems of apartheid all over the African continent, using the appropriation of black land, resources and labour to fight both world wars and using it again to reconstruct the peace.”
From reading Hirsch’s Article I learned of a few pertinent facts about the Prime Minister’s pick for the Tory Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch. Hirsch documented that, “On ‘institutional racism’ – a phenomenon that affects minorities in Britain – she has been reported as saying that she doesn’t recognise it . On former mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic campaign? She helped run it. On the black community? She doesn’t believe that it really exists. On American racism? ‘We don’t have all the horrible stuff that’s happened in America here,’ that was what Badenoch said in 2017.” Despite the pure convenience of fitting the required profile in terms of sex and ethnicity, Badenoch would appear to be a far less than ideal choice for the role. However, she is well suited to the task of ignoring rampant Islamaphobia in the Tory Party and helping to facilitate widespread acceptance of Boris Johnson’s racist leanings and obnoxious insulting remarks.
Afua Hirsch concludes with a solemn warning to us all saying, “We are also telling you that as long as you send all children out into the world to be actively educated into racism, taught a white supremacist version of history, literature and art, then you are setting up a future generation to perpetuate the same violence on which that system of power depends. We are telling you that we need to dismantle, not to de-escalate,” she is imploring us all to, “Pay attention.”
Afua Hirsch’s recent Guardian Opinion piece is entitled, “Why are Africa’s coronavirus successes being overlooked?” After my own extensive travel throughout the developing world, I was seriously concerned about the impact of Covid 19 on creaking Healthcare systems already overwhelmed due to our morally bankrupt scavenging of Medical personnel who they could ill afford to train. Afua Hirsch’s piece acknowledged that, “There was deep anxiety about what it would mean for countries with lower income populations, dominant but harder-to-regulate informal economies and far fewer healthcare facilities than the UK or Italy.”
A few of the rapid and innovative responses should have gained a lot more attention. Hirsch reports the encouraging news that, “…many African nations, realising early on that large-scale, expensive testing and hospitalisation was not an option for the populations, had no choice but to take a more creative approach. Take the two African countries I have called home – Senegal and Ghana. Senegal is developing a Covid-19 testing kit that would cost $1 per patient, which it is hoped will, in less than 10 minutes, detect both current or previous infection via antigens in saliva, or antibodies. It’s hard to know exactly how this compares with the price of Britain’s tests, but many of them use polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, to detect the virus, and cost hundreds of dollars. And I can testify that a leaflet that came through my door in London this week offered me a private testing kit for £250.”
Afua Hirsch continues her piece by explaining that, “Senegal is in a good position because its Covid-19 response planning began in earnest in January, as soon as the first international alert on the virus went out. The government closed the borders, initiated a comprehensive plan of contact tracing and, because it is a nation of multiple-occupation households, offered a bed for every single coronavirus patient in either a hospital or a community health facility.” In comparing the outcome she documented that, “As a result, this nation of 16 million people has had only 30 deaths. At every single one of those stages, the UK did the opposite, and is now facing a death toll of more than 35,000.” She adds that, “Ghana, with a population of 30 million, has a similar death toll to Senegal, partly because of an extensive system of contact tracing, utilising a large number of community health workers and volunteers, and other innovative techniques such as “pool testing”, in which multiple blood samples are tested and then followed up as individual tests only if a positive result is found. The advantages in this approach are now being studied by the World Health Organization. “
Hirsch rightfully points out that, “The African continent has a stellar history of innovating its way out of problems – just look at how mobile money and fintech has turned it into one of the most digitally savvy regions in the world. It has been well documented how a patronising attitude towards east Asia is what allowed European countries to be caught by such surprise at the spread of this disease. Now a similar mindset seems set to ensure we don’t learn the lessons Africa has to offer in overcoming it.” It’s true to say that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” but it would be equally realistic to recognize that the African continent has the mother-load of necessity! It is this incredible creative, pragmatic resourceful and innovative spirit that excites me when I visit countries in Africa. Before I departed on my last tour of sub-Saharan Africa a British Anaesthetist told me to “prepare to be humbled;” he was extremely impressed by the skill and ingenuity of the Medical practitioners he encountered on his humanitarian trips to the region.
Hirsch says, “Across the African continent, the lack of access to expensive pharmaceutical products, not to mention a well-founded historic lack of trust, has fuelled interest in whether traditional herbal remedies have anything to offer. One plant in particular – Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, which belongs to the daisy family – is drawing particular attention…” In a recent Max Planck Gsellschaft Press Release, “Artemisia annua to be tested against coronavirus” the Max Planck Institute who are looking into the potential expanded use of this Chinese herb report that, “An international collaboration will conduct laboratory cell studies with plant extract.” They elaborate that, “Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), are now standard treatments worldwide for malaria. Artemisia annua extracts show very little toxicity and artemisinin-based drugs are widely used to treat malaria even in newborns.”
Unfortunately, less costly options are often overlooked or deliberately discredited by Pharmaceutical giants who are always eager to establish another lucrative gravy train based on human misery. Hydroxychloraquine, a cheap widely used anti-malaria drug, was pulled from the global trials over safety concerns despite the huge body of evidence regarding its current fully approved uses that also include not just Malaria, but also Lupus and Arthritis. It didn’t help when Trump weighed in with his unscientific endorsement that let to uncontrolled random use in the US and elsewhere which depleted stocks. In reality Hydroxychloroquine has a respectable safety profile when used appropriately, which should not exclude it from inclusion in trials; thankfully the WHO have now reconsidered as reflected in the StatNews Report, “WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine study for Covid-19, after reviewing safety concerns.”
The potential benefit from these relatively cheap, widely available, alternatives has the ability to liberate the developing world from the huge financial burden of far more costly medicines designed to generate massive profits out of the Covid crisis. This will make any affordable option a threat to US Pharma monopolies that they will fight tooth and nail. The race to create a vaccine has the potential of becoming a race to lock in the biggest profits and exclude the developing world; the “Black Lives Matter” protests must demand that any vaccine or treatment we develop must not reinforce this divisive Capitalist policy of racial discrimination. Tories prioritize money, they couldn’t let a crisis go to waste; there were obscene profits to be made, wealthy Tory benefactors all wanted a cut, centralized programs went to the usual Corporations local community expertise be damned, those Nightingale Hospitals were a great money spinner, PPE provision made dismal profits, NHS staff were expendable so just offer to give them a badge!
If the Tories do mange to remain in power despite their catastrophic handling of Covid 19 that has decimated the elderly, the most vulnerable and the frontline key workers, especially in BAME communities, it will be because we did not do enough to pry them out of power. The Tories have proven that with them in Government “no lives matter” as their policies have proactively led to huge loss of life among segments of society they have deliberately targeted. The Tories will try to agitate among the protesters so that they can then resort to violence, crack heads and talk of law and order while they cling onto and protect Dominic Cummings and several other Tories from accountability for callously breaching the lockdown everyone else throughout the country made huge personal sacrifices to adhere to for months on end. We must demand their removal and hope that when Cummings is fired his last vengeful act will expose inside information to support a full investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Fear of infection will not stop the protests while Tories treat people like “cannon fodder” in Johnson’s genocidal “Slaughter of the Sheeple!” DO NOT MOVE ON!