Sneaky, sinister and bigoted: The Independent stirs up racial hatred.
If lord Reith is right and “news is the shocktroops of propaganda” (Taylor 1999:336), then newspapers are the propagandist’s armoured divisions. Last autumn three well-publicised shootings in Nottingham, Hoddesdon and Leicester, undermined police stereotype of Jamaicans as being responsible for firearms related homicides.
In November in its article “Mobile, anonymous, lethal: the Yardies penetrate Britain” (1), the Independent newspaper unleashed its propaganda blitzkrieg aimed at reinforcing the stereotype.
Before looking in detail at the Independent’s article, it is useful to outline the context within which it appeared: the Metropolitan police Big- lie, a Nazi inspired propaganda campaign that defines gun-crime as a Jamaican phenomenon.
As with Nazi propaganda such as “Jewry is organised criminality” (Hiemer 1942), the Metropolitan police use race to stereotype Jamaicans as criminals. For example, race is one of four defining characteristics of gun-crime (Smith, 1984a & 1984b). Another is illegal cocaine importation and the trade in crack cocaine. The nature of black communities also characterises gun-crime. Brixton, a south London black community, is characterised by the Metropolitan police as “a 24-hr crack supermarket”(2). Finally, violence is central to gun-crime.
Gun-crime’s violent characteristic underpins a key propaganda technique used by the Metropolitan police: fear. According to Huxley the propagandist who appeals to human “impulses”, especially fear, has three operating principles (1954:74-84). First, he creates or mobilises widespread public fear. For example, as a label “gun-crime” puts in a nutshell two common fears: fear of crime in general and fear of violent crime in particular.
Fear of crime is heightened when violent crimes become life threatening because they involve the criminal use of guns. As a weapon, the gun causes automatic fear of death because its sole purpose is to end life: hence the underlying principle of “gun” in gun-crime.
Police propagandists use fear of guns to enhance another British phobia: fear of foreigners, especially if they are black. A recent Mori survey found “four out of 10 white people do not want an Asian or black Briton as their neighbour” (3). Research by British Social Attitude reveals 35% of Britons admits to being racist (4). Such attitudes reflect the success of police propaganda in stirring up racial hatred.
By mixing racial hatred and fear of crime, gun-crime conjures up a demon, the Jamaican of the Independent’s “Mobile, anonymous, lethal: the Yardies penetrate Britain”. In other words, the Jamaican now embodies public fear about crime. He is public enemy number two "after international terrorism” (5), the demon to keep the public in a “state of outraged terror” (6). That such a demon exists is a measure of the Metropolitan police success in acting in accordance with the first of three principles of propaganda identified by Huxley: mobilise public fear.
Linking that fear to a particular message is the propagandist’s second operating principle. The propagandist mobilizes fear in order to make the public suggestible to his message. Police message behind gun-crime is black people in general and Jamaicans in particular are making Britain an increasingly violent place within which to live.
Police then translate their message into a policy of less Jamaicans equal less violent crimes. If the public want less fear of crime, Jamaicans should be stopped from entering Britain. Furthermore, where Jamaican-born British citizens break the law, they should be striped of their citizenship and deported back to Jamaica. That is the policy linked to the Metropolitan police use of gun-crime to mobilise fear.
In propaganda terms, the policy is divided into two phases. Phase-one was the campaign, between 1999 and 2003, to stop Jamaicans entering Britain. Phrase-two centres on deporting them.
Phase-one of the policy is complete. Since the 1999 Macpherson report, the Metropolitan police have mobilised fear of crime in order to win political support to stop Jamaicans entering Britain. As a result, according to Home statistics, the number of Jamaicans refused entry into Britain has risen from 425 in 2001 to 2,635 in 2002 (7). In January 2003, the home secretary, David Blunkett, made obtaining a visa compulsory for Jamaican visitors to Britain.
The ongoing use of gun-crime to mobilize fear is geared towards winning political support for using section 4 of the Asylum, Immigration and Nationality Act 2002 to deprive Jamaican-born British citizens of their citizenship before deporting them back to Jamaica. Such a policy derives from the propagandist’s principle of linking fear to a particular message.
The propagandist third operating principle is to offer the public a vision of the future free of the fear he mobilises. To portray that vision, police propaganda points to the future by referring to a time when Britain was racially homogeneous: white.
In May 2003, Chris Fox, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), blamed post-war immigration for a “whole new range of crimes” (8). In other words, Fox is saying offences defined by the police as black-only crimes such as carjacking, mugging, drug dealing and gun violence did not exist in Britain before the arrival of non-white immigrants (Goldstein 1984).
Furthermore, gun-crime will not exist in the future, as it did not in the past, because Britain will be Jamaican free. This is the vision police offer the public: the future is crime free; the future is white.
As with Nazi anti-Semitism, police propaganda uses race to mobilize fear. Gun-crime encapsulates fear of crime and foreigners. Such fears are exploited in order to make the public suggestible to the message: “Jamaicans pose a danger to society”. In exchange for a promised crime free society, police seek public support for a black free Britain. Phase-one of the policy is complete, stopping Jamaicans entering Britain. “Mobile, anonymous, lethal: the Yardies penetrate Britain” appeared in the context of phase-two, their deportation.
After several shootings by white gunmen, the article was one of several attempts by the police to refocus public attention on the stereotype of gun related violence as a Jamaican phenomenon.
The first of such attempts followed the fatal shooting of Marian Bates, a 64-year-old jeweller, in Arnold, Nottingham on September 29, 2003. To differentiate her homicide from other similar shootings, Chief Supt Richard Johnson described it as “basically an armed robbery that went wrong” (9).
Jeremy Alford, Assistant Chief Constable of Hertfordshire, made a similar attempt to distinguish gun-crime from the homicide of David King, 32, in Hoddesdon on October 03, 2003. Mr King was killed and two of his companions injured in a drive-by shooting, which Alford described as a “targeted killing” with an AK47 assault rifle (10).
By the time of Amratlal Damoder Kanaber’s death, the third homicide by a white gunman in ten days, police attempt to maintain the stereotype of gun violence as a black phenomenon was beginning to read like the fiction it has always been. Mr Kanaber, 60, was shoot following a chase from Nottingham to Leicester on October 8, 03.
With police “shocktroops”, news, weakening rather than strengthening their propaganda, by November the time had come for them to coordinate liberal newspapers, the propagandist’s armoured division, to re-imprint the Jamaican demon in the public memory. The Independent was the paper of choice to lead the blitzkrieg hence “Mobile, anonymous, lethal: the Yardies penetrate Britain”.
The pretext of the article is news about the findings of “a secret report” regarding “Jamaicans and Afro-Caribbean criminals”. Produced by Chris Fox’s ACPO, the report was one of two “unpublished analysis” or “secret report” “seen” or “obtained” by a liberal newspaper in three months (11) (Smith 1984).
In essence, the “secret report” reveals the following. Jamaican violent crime, copied by black Britons, is identified “as one of the biggest public order threat facing the police”. Such crimes are widespread; 36 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales have “encountered organised ‘Caribbean’ criminal groups”. Jamaicans and their British-born offspring are involved in the cocaine and crack trade. Both share “the same attitude to easy use of violence and firearms”. In particular, they love guns, the more powerful, the more prized. Finally, the report produces “no national figure” for the size of organised black crime. But instead, it offers an estimate of “25 groups of Jamaicans”.
The report’s synthesis of what had been said separately by the police in previous months illustrates two textbook Nazi propaganda techniques: repetition and appeal to science.
The repetition runs as follows. First, with regards to Jamaicans as “the biggest threat to public order”, in a Guardian interview in June 2003, John Coles, head of the Metropolitan police anti-black Operation Trident, claimed Jamaicans pose a public order threat second only to terrorism (5).
Second, in respect of Jamaican “easy use of violence and firearms”, Tony Thompson, the Guardian crime correspondence, seems to suggest Jamaicans and their offspring are natural born killers in his article “Without a gun your, you’re dead” (12).
The report’s appeal to science takes the form of presenting its findings as the result of applied scientific methods to the investigation of organised crime. Yet the report presents “no national figures” on which its findings are based.
To make up for such shortcomings, the “report” authors rely heavily on the liberal kudos of the Independent to bolster the racist claims they make. The superlatives used by the Independent to describe the report reinforce this point.
According to the Independent, this “confidential report” is “the most authoritative and detailed analysis” and “the most comprehensive study” of the “alarming rate” of Jamaican infiltration of Britain. The only authoritative or “comprehensive” thing about the report is police power to make such alarmist claims via a supposedly anti-racist newspaper.
Such Nazi inspired propaganda serves to stir up racial suspicion. Take the use of “anonymous” in the article’s title. Its chief purpose is to make the public wary of each and every black person. For example, the Independent identifies Jamaican foreign students and touring musicians as undercover gangsters infiltrating the country to ply their trade in drugs and violence.
The impact of stereotyping Jamaicans as “mobile, anonymous, lethal” is blacks face a further obstacle when applying for education, job, housing and healthcare: they must prove they are not gangsters. How do they disprove a negative? The fact is they cannot.
The upshot is a situation where whites view blacks through a prism of fear. Precisely the situation the police seek to create in order to make the majority population susceptible to the policy of deporting blacks, gun-crime raison d’etre as a propaganda device.
Gun-crime is only effective in causing fear when it is at the forefront of public consciousness. Repeating the link between Jamaicans and firearms related violence refreshes people memory about who is responsible for gun-crime.
Repeating the link is especially important at times when events undermine the stereotype. Such events occurred in Autumn 2003 with a series of shooting by white gunmen. The Independent article aimed to reinforce the stereotype of gun-crime as a black phenomenon hence its repetition of earlier claims made by police propagandists.
The article illustrates the point that not only must the propagandist control the ‘spin’ on events but he must also “shape the media agenda” (Taylor 2000:334). When news fails to act as the propagandist shocktroops, he must order in his armoured divisions, newspapers such the Independent, neo-Cons masquerading as anti-racist (13).
winston smith © Blaqfair 1984
Taylor P (1999) Propaganda: political rhetoric and identity 1300-3000 Sutton Publishing
Hiemer, Ernst (1942) “When will the Jewish danger be over” Calvin Education
Goldstein, Ezra (1984) “A6 Murder, Britain’s first carjack murderer” Blaqfair
Smith, Winston (1984) “The Guardian of big lies” Blaqfair
(1) Bennetto, Jason (03/11/03) “Mobile, anonymous, lethal: the Yardies penetrate Britain” The Independent
(2) Thompson, Tony (23/06/02) “Brixton? Right now it’s a 24-hr crack supermarket” The Guardian
(3) Dodd, Vikram (19/01/04) “Four out of 10 whites do not want black neighbour, poll shows” The Guardian
(4) Carvel, John (9/12/03) “Media blamed as racism increases” The Guardian
(5) Hopkins, Nick (14/06/03) “Drug gang warning by police” The Guardian
(6) Cohen, Nick (18/01/04) “Where be monsters?” The Observer
(7) Harris, Colleen (15/12/03) “Britain stops black relatives coming in” New Nation
(8) Ahmed, Kamal (18/05/03) “Immigrants ‘behind crime wave’ – police” The Guardian
(9) Askill, John (1/10/03) “Robbed of life” The Sun
(10) Editorial (5/10/03) “Boot in mouth” The Telegraph
(11) Hopkins, Nick (14/06/03) “Drug gang warning by police” The Guardian
(12) Thompson, Tony (21/09/2003) “Without a gun, you’re dead” The Guardian
(13) Alibhai-Brown, Yasim (26/01/04) “The left’s shameful
betrayal of immigrants” The Independent.