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Callwood at the Cooler #21

Don’t let the bastards grind you down, part 2…

As I write this column, the people of Great Britain are engaged in the general election that will see them (us actually—I’m a Brit) choose between Conservative leader and current Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. There are others of course, as in the States. Representatives of parties such as the far-right UK Independence Party, Green, and so on. But also like the States, we know that we’re choosing between two. Labour is the left-wing party closest to the Democrats, while unsurprisingly, the Conservatives (or Tories) are closest to the Republicans. There are differences—British people, even Tory voters, generally care little for how Christian and/or devoutly religious the Tory politicians are. But you know, that’s the vague guide.

Much like France a few weeks ago, the British people have a choice here. They can concede to hate and fear in the wake of violently awful terrorist action (twice—Manchester and London), or they can stand firm. Keep calm and carry on, as the coffee mug reads.

London pride…

What happened in London was horrific. Like Manchester, we saw cowards disguised as noble religious followers indiscriminately killing innocents. We saw real heroes stepping up to help those that need it. And, in the aftermath, we saw devout Muslims condemning the murder. A story in the London Evening Standard detailed the many Muslim groups that were speaking out.

Jehangir Malik, CEO of London-based charity Muslim Aid, said, “As British Muslims and members of other faiths or none, our staff are united in our disgust and condemnation for the perpetrators of the recent utterly tragic events in London Bridge and Manchester. We totally condemn acts of violence such as this, and are horrified at the targeting of innocent civilians.”

If the racists favor you, you’re doing something wrong. Really, it’s as simple as that. If the KKK, or the skinhead nazis, or the “alt-right” [read: white supremacists] or the Confederate flag-wavers, or the people who use words like “snowflake”—if those guys want you to win, I don’t.

It’s worth remembering that London mayor Sadiq Khan is a Muslim himself, and his reaction to the terrorist action has been noble, despite the Tweets of President Trump. Don implied that Khan was being insensitive when he told the people of London that there was “no cause for alarm.” The full statement in fact said that there would be an increased police presence in the capital, but that there was no cause for alarm. He was being a leader, and Trump chose to pick the statement apart in order to imply weakness. Which is nonsense.

Now, in all fairness, Theresa May is nothing like or as loony as Marine Le Pen. May and the Conservatives edge more to the center than the French National Front. But I live my life by a simple code, and it has served me well as I’ve witnessed the French election, the U.S. election, and the Brexit vote: If the racists favor you, you’re doing something wrong. Really, it’s as simple as that. If the KKK, or the skinhead nazis, or the “alt-right” [read: white supremacists] or the Confederate flag-wavers, or the people who use words like “snowflake”—if those guys want you to win, I don’t.

The following day…

The people of the UK voted and, after all of the kerfuffle, the result still wasn’t clear. There are 650 seats up for grabs, and for a party to seize control of government, they need to have the majority: 326. The Conservatives had more votes than anyone else, but they don’t have the majority thanks to a surge in Labor voters since the last election. This means that, to retain No. 10 Downing Street, Theresa May has to proverbially get in bed with another smaller party to accumulate enough votes to reach that magic 326. And they’ve chosen the Democratic Unionists. The right-wing Northern Irish party was formed by fundamentalist protestant Ian Paisley in 1971, and these are the people who believe that evolution shouldn’t be taught in school, they’re anti-choice, anti-gay—all of that terrible stuff. They’re also associated with the Orange Order, a protestant political organization in Northern Ireland. Leading to the obvious joke—the USA has one orange man, but look what the UK just did.

Theresa May didn’t have to push this general election forward. She did it in an arrogant attempt to solidify her hand as she negotiates the treacherous Brexit waters ahead. She was convinced that it would be a landslide, and the fact that Labor surged, even though the party didn’t win, is heartening and positive because, similar to the events in France, it means that fear and loathing didn’t triumph. This election is a stunning failure for the Conservatives, with Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn transforming his overall public perception from “commie loony,” as tabloid rage such as The Sun and The Daily Mail would have you believe, into a man well capable of leading a nation with strength and compassion.

After witnessing debates in the US and UK over the past year, I have started to question the worth of them. Clinton wiped the floor with Trump three times, while May pretty much declined the opportunity. And yet the public doesn’t seem to care too much. The debates used to be seen as a valid gauge of the candidate’s intellect and ability to perform in public under pressure. Now, they can duck out of them or fail the test completely, and nobody blinks. It’s a shame because, as we are seeing from Trump now, keeping calm and restraining one’s tongue and Twitter account when the criticism is flying is vitally important.

Theresa May will likely still be the British Prime Minister for the foreseeable future. But confidence in her is surely dented.

“Callwood at the Cooler” is a bi-weekly column which will see me waxing lyrical about events in the news, pop culture and the etc. Sometimes it’ll be light, other times not-so when the rant/monolog demands. The subject matter will vary dramatically so expect anything and keep coming back.

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