The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
Race Report Has Fuelled the Controversy It Was Supposed to Lay to Rest
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The government is back to its well-tried Inspector Clouseau mode with a public inquiry intended to discredit accusations of institutional racism that has done the exact opposite. This bit of self-inflicted foot-shooting came soon after half-baked efforts to suppress a protest on Clapham Common that guaranteed it worldwide publicity.

The twin debacles have significant features in common. Governments easily persuade themselves that they are dealing with a small group of opponents who can easily be intimidated or marginalised. Frustrated when this fails to happen, the state overreacts, relies increasingly on abusive rhetoric or the threat or use of force, and thereby acts as the unwitting recruiting sergeant for whatever cause it is trying to undermine or eliminate.

Official inquiries in Britain have long been successfully used as a tranquilising dart fired at public opinion when it is outraged over some piece of injustice or failure of government. To be credible, the inquiry needs to be led by high-quality people who often produce critical reports – thus avoiding accusations of a stitch-up – but they do this long after the news agenda has moved on. Political pressure on the government will have ebbed, so reports that urge action in practice replace such action. Remember, if you can, the magisterial Chilcot report on the Iraq war that was finally published in 2016 and was soon forgotten?

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, published this week, broke all these rules and proved ludicrously counterproductive, fuelling the controversy it was supposed to lay to rest. Its partisan membership was so extreme that their report has a crackpot feel to it – even having a good word for Caribbean slavery as a progressive institution – and it has appeared in the middle of the trial of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

From the government’s point of view, this may be a minor blip as its benefits from the vaccine rollout, but it may also be indicative of the toxic direction of British politics. In its anti-woke enthusiasm, the report has enraged and energised campaigners against racism. It is filled with absurdities such as the belief that high education achievement by minorities shows that they do not face discrimination. Yet the history of anti-black racism and antisemitism in the US and Europe shows that those who are discriminated against know that they must acquire a high level of expertise in order to overcome discrimination. Their very success may fuel greater ethnic and sectarian hostility among those they compete against for jobs.

The paradox of the race report is that it may have done more to make racism in Britain a live political issue than any number of much superior inquiries in the past whose recommendations were praised for a day or two and then ignored and forgotten. Racism is back on the news agenda to a degree that Black Lives Matter campaigners could never have hoped to achieve.

The same warped thinking inspires home secretary Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that drastically increases police powers to control or ban demonstrations and punish organisers and participants. This misses a fundamental point about the impact or lack of impact of protests anywhere in the world.

They have some influence as a show of strength by people holding common beliefs, such as the gigantic marches in London by Remainers opposed to Brexit between 2016 and 2019. These marches showed that there were millions of people who wanted the UK to stay in the EU, but we knew that already from the outcome of the referendum.

At the end of the day, all those marches and the organisation that went into it had little positive effect. In my experience, marches that go off without incident are boring to participate in, boring to watch and boring for the media, so they get limited news coverage.

Yet protest marches and demonstrations are one of the propulsion units of history, destroying governments and bringing down regimes that believed they had a firm grip on power. The common feature in the protesters’ success is that they provoke, intentionally or unintentionally, a violent overreaction by the authorities. The most striking example of this in the UK was the civil rights march in Derry in Northern Ireland on 5 October 1968, which was attacked by the Protestant-dominated police in front of the television cameras and thus began the unravelling of the Northern Ireland state.

The lesson from this should have been fairly obvious, but in 1972 the authorities had the imbecilic idea of policing an anti-internment march, again in Derry, with paratroopers who shot dead 13 civilians on Bloody Sunday and permanently delegitimised the British state in the eyes of the Catholic population.

I have always been mystified by why governments overreact, using violence against peaceful protesters that do not seriously threaten them, when it is so obviously in their interests not to do so. Two contradictory motives are usually at work. One is an underestimation of the protesters as an atypical minority who can be safely quashed without the wider community objecting. The other – and authoritarian regimes are particularly prone to this – is an overestimation of the danger posed to the leadership by mass protests on the streets, which they try to suppress with extreme violence

I witnessed a grotesque example of overreaction by the security forces generating just such a powerful protest movement in Baghdad in October 2019. I had talked to the organisers of some scantily attended protests demanding jobs and opposing government corruption who were gloomy about their prospects of achieving anything. But as I sat in my hotel room near the protest site in the city centre, I heard the pop-pop of gunfire that turned out to be the security forces opening fire on a peaceful crowd and killing 18 people. Within days, protests were convulsing the whole of Iraq.

Sometimes repression succeeds and the government kills or frightens enough people to drive them off the streets, as the army is trying to do in Myanmar. But once a government goes down this road, there is no retreat and its very existence is in play.

In Britain there have always been effective mechanisms for reducing the political temperature and deflating criticism of the government through prestigious inquiries and mass protests, neither of which achieve very much.


The Boris Johnson government may regret devaluing these well-established instruments of control. If the new law on protests is enforced, it will spark frequent confrontations between protesters and the police. If it is not, then the government will feel that it is being challenged and made to look weak, provoking a self-destructive overreaction.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Britain, Racism 
Hide 30 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Just as Chauvin did not murder Floyd, this week’s report did not fuel controversy.

    Floyd died from a self-inflicted overdose, and a bunch of BIPOX whipped themselves into a lather to broker ever more resources from the state.

    Boomers should fuck off and die.

  2. black dog says:

    The British perfected the art of the polite protest a long time ago. The anti Iraq war protests are a good example. The police “kettle” the protesters down side streets and well away from Downing Street. In the name of limiting traffic disruption. They don’t do this with the endless Gay Pride parades. The media pay no attention, reports are published years after the public has forgotten the then burning issue, and the end result is business as usual.

    But just as the Johnson government is spectacularly inept, the media, particularly the BBC, are dropping all pretence of being objective reporters. Today, the BBC reported that the Capitol “riots” were “deadly”, while the BLM carnage was “peaceful protest”.

    Once the penny drops that no political party represents the white British majority, there will be more violent protest. Johnson is (probably accidentally) preparing for this. Crazy times.

  3. The DDR tried to repress the Monday protests with mass arrests, beatings, and death threats: That just provoked more people to take to the streets. For some reason, the average Brit hasn’t reached a point yet where they feel they have little to lose by standing up to a bully government. As for reports lacking credibility, I’d say a police investigation finding little police fault in the manhandling of women prtoesting at Clapham is even less credible, but nary a peep beyond the initial release.

    Race is a red herring; police forgetting they work for the people, not the government, is the problem.

    • Replies: @Expletive Deleted
  4. TG says:

    Spider Man 2099: “We would like to have a peaceful protest. Do you object?”

    Dr. Doom 2099 (then absolute ruler of the United States): “I have no objection, so long as you register it in advance. Here are some forms for you to fill out.”

    Spider Man 2099: “Really, you will allow protests against your administration? Aren’t you afraid that this will spread ideas you don’t want people to have?”

    Dr. Doom 2099: “Why should I be worried about anything as insubstantial as an idea? All that matters is guns, and I have plenty of those.”


  5. I’ll bet that you got socked in the puss a lot as a kid, didn’t you Cockburn? It’s obvious that the point of your sassy writing is to prod the reader into outrage. No one can be as factually challenged as you are and successfully navigate the trials of life unless they are masochistic and enjoy being beaten regularly. Why Unz bothers with you is a mystery. “murder of George Floyd”, hah!

    I’ve got an idea for you. Why don’t you ingest the same cocktail of drugs Floyd did–in the interests of science and justice–and we’ll see how you fare. Oh, and don’t forget to stuff some up your ass. (Floyd did admit to “hooping” in response to the policeman’s inquiry as they were crossing the street to the cruiser.)

    • Agree: Jim Christian
  6. polistra says:

    No, it was not “supposed to halt controversy”. That’s not what governments do. Governments make war and crime and riots and tyranny.

  7. vinteuil says:

    …the murder of George Floyd…

    As if.

    • Replies: @WhyOfCourse
  8. The British would have been better off under the Kaiser.

  9. The report, in its insulting pig ignorance and racist arrogance, is designed to incite racial conflict, not ameliorate it. In combination with BoJo’s fascistic anti- peaceful demonstrations laws, designed to strangle Extinction Rebellion, it is intended to incite more violent unrest, so there can be a proper crackdown. England is finished, and what finer blonde buffoon undertaker could there be to deliver the coup de grace?

    • Replies: @Whataboutery2020
  10. the trial of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd

    Technically semi-correct, as he’s in kang(z) court for ‘murder’, but the murder? Learn English and renounce jackassery.

  11. Typical Cockburn.

    He wants us to believe he is a contrarian but parrots establishment dogmas as highlighted by ThreeCranes.

    As for esoteric institutional racism against imported third world people, most of us don’t belong to the vocal coalition of the fringes which includes the UK franchise of black looting and murder, grifters/skintellectuals who appear on BBC Question Time, Independent/Guardian journalists, Hope Not Hate, Runnymede Trust, Campaign Against Antisemitism and Board of Deputies.

    Back in the real world you conveniently avoided writing about the Pakistani rape gang report which was whitewashed because truth would have vindicated Enoch Powell, Sir Oswald Mosley, John Tyndall and many others.

    Even your fellow anti-Brit ideologue Yasmin Alibhai-Brown believes it was a cover-up.

  12. Dennis Dale says: • Website

    As good as Patrick is on foreign policy and war, he’s utterly useless when addressing the race issue because of his doctrinaire casual liberalism. alas

  13. @Amerimutt Golems


    Brilliant neologism perfectly describes them thanks!

    • Replies: @Kamisama
  14. Every single week the plastic paddy Cockburn outdoes himself in stupidity. God knows why he is published here, he is a blemish on an otherwise impeccable site.

  15. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    The airports are back open in the UK if you’re yearning for your ancestral squalor.

    • Replies: @Mulga Mumblebrain
  16. @Change that Matters

    Let’s kneel on your neck, if you have one, for nine and a half minutes and see if you die. I’m sure you’re drug free, of course.

    • Replies: @MOG
    , @anon
    , @Thomasina
  17. @Whataboutery2020

    My ancestors were all enemies of the English (spits on floor).

  18. Resartus says:

    Let’s kneel on your neck, if you have one, for nine and a half minutes and see if you die. I’m sure you’re drug free, of course.

    Get back to us, when you can show 1 sec of the video when he was on his neck….

    • Agree: Curmudgeon, Mr. Grey
  19. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    probably “shits on floor” as well.

    • LOL: WSG
  20. Kamisama says:

    Coined by Tony Hayers at the Morgoth’s Review blog.

  21. MOG says:
    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    The autopsy report clearly stated that Floyd had no serious injuries or bruises and did suffer anoxia, suffocation or lack of blood to the brain. Kneeling on the neck will not kill anyone without producing one of those effects, or damaging the spinal column. He did not die from the neck restraint. Nor has anyone else police have applied this technique to. He had more than a fatal concentration of Fentanyl in his blood, in addition to methamphetamine. You are spreading lies.

  22. anon[360] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Let’s kneel on your neck, if you have one, for nine and a half minutes and see if you die.

    Ok. I’m up for that. No fear!

    With one condition: you ingest the same dose of Fentanyl and methamphetamine that was found in Floyd’s bloodstream.

    Let’s experiment!

    • LOL: WSG
  23. @Amerimutt Golems

    “Institutional racism” is a race baiter’s way of saying “I don’t like your version society”. The Scots do (did) things differently than the English and Welsh. The Welsh do (did) things differently than the English. Why? Because outside of the enforced rules of Great Britain, which covers all three, their “race” likes things that way. If they don’t, they work to change, as the Scots are now doing with the not-so-independent independence movement. I’ve traveled all over the UK. The rural areas were always much different than the urban areas, and more “institutional” in nature.
    When the race baiters start with the institutional racism crap, they are attacking your heritage. What they really mean is that the different “races” of the UK should have been making their societies for Asians, Orientals and and most importantly Blacks, because … slavery, and those nasty racists should change their ways for the benefit of the invaders. It is disheartening that there are so many useful idiot Whites who buy into it.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  24. Thomasina says:
    @Mulga Mumblebrain

    Chief Arradondo was shown two videos at the trial:

    “One video was taken by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier with her phone and the other was video from Officer J. Alexander Kueng’s body camera. From Darnella Frazier’s perspective, it looks like Officer Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck — but Police Chief Arradondo agreed that from the perspective of Officer Kueng’s body cam, Officer Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blade. Up until that moment, the chief said he thought the knee had been on Floyd’s neck.”

    Arradondo is Black. See the featured post at the top of the Unz home page (top left). This quote is towards the bottom of the very good article.

  25. Is there anything in the last 15 years that Cockburn hasn’t been (absolutely and decisively) wrong on?

    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
  26. @Change that Matters

    Floyd died from a self-inflicted overdose,

    Yeah he did the same thing when he was arrested in 2019 (swallowed his stash). It worked OK that time — the cops called the paramedics, and didn’t follow up. He never was charged. Didn’t work so well this time.

    …and a bunch of BIPOX whipped themselves into a lather to broker ever more resources from the state.

    More like the major semitic narrative promotion agencies whipped them into a lather. The hegemonic narrative on this issue amounted to anti-White stochastic terrorism.

  27. @The Alarmist

    police forgetting they work for the people, not the government, is the problem.

    Not here mate. They work for the Monarch. Always have done since The Yeomanry were retired, due to “problems”. Screw the plebs. The Old Bill know where their pensions reside.

    “I (name) …of (police force)… do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights (this must be a new Woke insertion; E.D.) and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law”.

    Have to dig out my 1947 “Moriarty’s Police Law” to find out, then.

  28. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    At least that’s out in the open now.
    What’s it like being Spanish? Or Zulu, Sudanese, or Japanese?
    None of your damn’ business what we get up to, wog.

  29. @Curmudgeon

    I tend to agree.

    Institutional racism is not the same thing as casual racism. Institutional racism means that there are laws, or policies and procedures in government organizations that affect people of different races differently and negatively, usually deliberately, but possibly inadvertently.

    For example if there was a law saying that black people needed higher grades to enter a university than white people, that would be a very clear-cut case of
    deliberate institutionall unfairness (but very unlikely).

    If a university subject preferred by black people, like perhaps Black History, had higher than usual entrance requirements because it was very competitive, then I suppose they would be an argument for creating more places for students to study black history. Again this is very unlikely.

    If there was a disease, perhaps like sickle cell anemia, that only occurs in black people, that might be a claim for institutional racism if there was a deliberate policy to not train sufficient doctors in that specialty to meet the need for treatment in the National Health Service.

    What should have happened with the report, should have been that people who believed that there was institutional racism in Britain should have come forward with detailed examples that could then have been investigated.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr