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RACISM in British Folk Movement

Hester 25 Apr 03 - 04:25 PM
MMario 25 Apr 03 - 04:29 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 04:37 PM
catspaw49 25 Apr 03 - 04:39 PM
artbrooks 25 Apr 03 - 04:51 PM
Parsa 25 Apr 03 - 04:52 PM
Rick Fielding 25 Apr 03 - 04:58 PM
DonMeixner 25 Apr 03 - 05:05 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 05:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Apr 03 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,GUEST; Gene Burton 25 Apr 03 - 05:50 PM
Parsa 25 Apr 03 - 05:58 PM
Ebbie 25 Apr 03 - 05:58 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 05:59 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Apr 03 - 06:01 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Apr 03 - 06:04 PM
SeanM 25 Apr 03 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Gene Burton 25 Apr 03 - 06:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Apr 03 - 06:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Apr 03 - 06:13 PM
SeanM 25 Apr 03 - 06:16 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 06:17 PM
artbrooks 25 Apr 03 - 06:17 PM
Ebbie 25 Apr 03 - 06:19 PM
Parsa 25 Apr 03 - 06:20 PM
Parsa 25 Apr 03 - 06:26 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Guest (one of Beffudled's targets in England 25 Apr 03 - 06:32 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 06:37 PM
smallpiper 25 Apr 03 - 06:50 PM
Lanfranc 25 Apr 03 - 07:02 PM
Gareth 25 Apr 03 - 07:06 PM
Roughyed 25 Apr 03 - 07:07 PM
GUEST 25 Apr 03 - 07:29 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 07:42 PM
greg stephens 25 Apr 03 - 08:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Apr 03 - 09:03 PM
Ely 25 Apr 03 - 09:12 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 10:05 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 10:12 PM
Gurney 26 Apr 03 - 05:14 AM
Santa 26 Apr 03 - 05:26 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 03 - 05:48 AM
Pied Piper 26 Apr 03 - 07:30 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:20 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:27 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:44 AM
Harry Basnett 26 Apr 03 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Apr 03 - 09:12 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 09:14 AM
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Subject: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:25 PM

I'm very troubled and concerned by an incident here on Mudcat, and I'm worried that it may reflect a wider problem in the contemporary British Folk Movement.

In a thread about St. George's Day , a guest calling himself "Befuddled" made very offensive comments about immigrants from Africa and Asia "swamping" Britain, "drowning out" its culture and "corrupting" its system of government.

My concern is, to what extent are racists such as "Befuddled"
still tolerated in the modern British Folk Movement? Am I likely to find such slimy creatures crawling out from under a rock in British folk pubs or folk dance groups?

I've just been reading an anthology on the Folk Dance Revival, called _Step Change_, edited by Georgina Boyes, that details the influence of Nazi sympathizer Rolf Gardiner on the movement after Sharp's death. According to Boyes, Gardiner's fascist politics were the driving force behind the "all-male" Morris rhetoric.

To what extent does the stench of Gardiner's foul politics still linger in the folk dance movement? I had thought such attitudes were a thing of the past, but the presence of "Befuddled" on Mudcat makes me leary. What can I expect when attending a Morris performance: neo-Nazi skinheads hiding behind the bells and handkerchiefs?

"Befuddled" suggested that "non-European" immigration is responsible for the decline in traditional folk practices in Britain. That's obvious nonsense. The man has no understanding of his country's own history. The Reformation extinguished many traditional folk practices, and then the Industrial Revolution's disruption of communal life left the rest moribund and in decline, until middle & upper class folklorists began a conscious effort at "revival" at the end of the 19th century.

If anything threatens that continued revival, it is not "non-European" immigrants, but rather the taint of jingoistic and xenophobic nutters like "Befuddled" who see English folk customs, such as Morris dancing on St. George's Day, as symbols of an earlier, ethnically "pure" England.

Sadly, that perception makes me leary of celebrating the traditions of my British heritage with unreserved enthusiasm, for fear of being associated with the likes of "Befuddled".

I'm feeling very disheartened by this episode, and I would really appreciate any feedback from British folkies, especially those committed to social justice, racial equality, and the promotion of folk traditions from all cultures.

Hester in Toronto


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: MMario
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:29 PM

If I recall that is the first time I've seen a comment like befuddleds in six years on the 'cat.

I don't mean to be rude - but you seem to be easily discouraged?

not to mention he could just be trolling


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:37 PM

Hi, Mario:

I'm glad to hear that this seems to be an isolated incident.

However, it is not my first experience with racists being attracted to English folklore & customs. I run an on-line Robin Hood discussion group, and several times I have had to ban white supremacists who have attempted to join.

I'm very new to the folk world, and am interesting in joining in local folk societies, but I am concerned about running into people with such attitudes. So, I'm seeking reassurance from the Mudcat community, to tell me how common a problem this is in real-life folk groups.

I'm hoping, as you say, that's its just an on-line infestation of "trolls".

Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:39 PM

While your question is legitimate, and maybe worth discussing, like Mario, I wouldn't put much stock in the views of a few like this...See what this thread brings you and weigh the evidence. I'm sure there is racism and bigotry everywhere but to give up on things because of one yahoo???? Fergeddboutit!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: artbrooks
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:51 PM

Mudcat is inhabited by people with strong views, many of whom enjoy a good argument. As such it is a natural target for Trolls...as far as I know, there may well be a Troll Chatroom someplace where they compare notes on "fun" targets.

Generalizing is always dangerous, but I expect that you are much more likely to find people here with the exact opposite point of view as "Befuddled," whoever he/she/it may be. I have been involved in the folk dance community in the US since 1965 and in folk music for not quite as long, and I don't think I've ever encountered a racist. There are a lot of Morris people who hang out here, and I expect that group will weight in with a similar opinion.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Parsa
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:52 PM

"Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow."

Woody Guthrie


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 04:58 PM

Hi Hester, I'm Canadian, not British but I can tell you that those attitudes are now few and far between. Many of my folk friends are from across the pond, and there may be a few of the older ones with NOTICEABLE politics....but they're much more likely to be old time Communists from Glasgow.

Overt Racists would simply not be tolerated any more. As far as Mudcat goes...there is the odd insane person who drops by anonymously to stir the pot, but considering the size and openness of this forum, I can still hardly believe there are so few.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:05 PM

Hester does bring up an interesting point however. America has long been viewed as the Melting Pot Society. Because of emmigrants(?) (Immigrants)coming to the US at the turn of the century and bring their traditions from many lands we have developed some uniquely American traditions.   Because we were so young at the time and had no great traditional history of our own that was unique to the land we
began coloring easter eggs and setting up Christmas Trees and chasing spooks on Hallowe'en.

   Racism is racism, no two ways about it. But I would wonder where would my traditions go under the weight of a new melting pot of immigrants coming into my shore and bringing new songs and customs with them. The nature of time is change and it can't be held back. But I am sure that I wouldn't welcome the loss of my traditions because so few people are left to carry them on.

   The effort to save native languages in the US is in place because of just such an issue. Suddenly you neighbors are more white than red and your kids are learning Dineh or Cherokee as a second language.

   As a purely rehtorical question is it possible to welcome strangers onto your shores and keep your old traditions without them becoming blended with others? Is it either good or bad if they do or don't?

   I have never viewed my self as anymore of a racist than we all are. And like it or not we all have a racial chauvinism to some degree. But I have to admit a reluctantance to homogenize(sp) the culture to the point that their is no spice left and our cultural stew tastes like something we can't put our fingers on, neither good nor bad, but lacking the best parts of the recipe.

Don

Remember Ewan Macoll and Peggy Seegars song.


Hello Friend, I see that you are a stranger,

Where do you Come from?

Hello friend, something in your face reminds me of the sun,

But the northern lights are dim against the color of your skin,

Hello Friend, I'm glad that you could come.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:18 PM

Hi, Don:

Interesting points.

Here in Canada, we try to welcome newcomers and their traditions while retaining those we already have. In contrast to the "Melting Pot" idea of American culture, we strive for a "Mosaic" of multi-culturalism. Of course, that doesn't exclude new "fusions" of cultural ideas either. In fact we see those hybrids as particularly Canadian. I don't think culture is a zero sum game. More traditions from other lands ADD to the richness of the culture, and complement, rather than compete with, earlier customs.

Your point about First Nations culture and language in North America is an important one. However, the situation is not comparably to Britain. Spanish, English and French imperialists forcibly conquered North America and actively attempted to eradicate the culture and language of the indigenous peoples. Modern Asian and African mmigrants to Britain have no such political power or intent.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:39 PM

Statistically there have to be some racist folkies. I've never met one so far as I'm aware, but then, so long as they button their lips in public, it's not that easy to know when they are around.

The anonymity of the internet might be more likely to encourage them to open up. Even so, I think that creep is the first one I've seen. It's a troll, either a troll who means it, or one who is just stirring for the fun of it. Responding to that kind of thing is really to reward it.

Linking this kind of thing with issues about mixed Morris and all that is a mistake, I feel. It's a separate issue.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,GUEST; Gene Burton
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:50 PM

What's a "troll", anyway?


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Parsa
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:58 PM

Troll (v.) (1) To deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory comments to a community forum, chat room, newsgroup and/or a blog in order to bait other users into responding.

(2) To surf the Internet.

(3) To hang around a chat room reading the posts instead of contributing to the chat.

(n.) One who performs any of the above actions.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:58 PM

I think the idea of a 'melting pot' is a bit outdated in the USA. As someone said, it's actually more of a stew, which fits quite nicely into the multicultural concept.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 05:59 PM

Hi, Gene:

A troll is someone who participates in on-line forums just to stir up trouble.

I'm encouraged by the comments from experienced folkies such as Rick, Art and McGrath that they have never run into this sort of racism in the "real life" folk community. I'm very relieved to hear it!

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:01 PM

A troll is a person who introduces what he/she (usually he, in my experience) KNOWS is going to be controversial, not for any purpose of examining the truth or for actual discussion, but to start arguments and bad feeling. Quite often the troll just drops his/her nasty little package, whatever it is, and then just steps back and enjoys seeing other people's anger and indignation.

There's a lot of these on the web, and Mudcat is not immune. Especially because it's mainly unmonitored, uncensored.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:04 PM

Parsa defined the word "troll", in part, as follows:

(3) To hang around a chat room reading the posts instead of contributing to the chat.

I don't see that as trolling. That's just lurking, which is extremely common, and harms nobody.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: SeanM
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:06 PM

To the original point(sorta):

Traditional Folklore and music are occasionally used by cynical people to "rally" others to their cause. It's a way to appeal to the nationalist spirit, supposed 'racial consciousness' and other varied heartstrings. Hitler appealed to the ideal that the Germans were the source of the "Master Race". China brought their culture in to use as an excuse to beat people over the head. The KKK (and other American White Power groups) tend to use "American Pride" as a way to rally others to their cause.

There's almost always a tendency to view the old with misty eyed reverence, and there's almost always a streak of iron in most people that "their" traditions be preserved. Combine this with the fact that racism, bigotry and hatred exist in all social classes and climes and you will nearly always be able to find someone willing to espouse some sort of belief that in a rational light would have them medicated and wearing the ol' canvas huggy jacket in seconds flat.

On the whole, don't get too cranked up over it. In a face to face situation, I'd advise just moving to the other side of the party or just telling them that you don't agree with their views and walking away. Prejudice is a hard fight to beat, and sometimes it just can't be beaten on an individual level. But on the 'net, and perhaps moreso on message boards like the 'cat, just ignore it. We get a healthy share of sewage suckers with nothing better to do than try to hurt other people via their idiocy, and feeding them with attention just makes it worse.

M


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Gene Burton
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:10 PM

Parsa, Hester, Dave: thanks for clarifying that. I have to confess that I've been reading through various threads on this site for the last few weeks without actually posting anything; not with any malign intent, just because I'm interested in what the thinking of my fellow musicians is on various issues. I didn't realise it was frowned upon;
sorry!


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:12 PM

Of course music can be used as an aspect of extreme nationalism - recently in Serbia, but in all kinds of other places. We've been pretty lucky in that respect in England, touch wood.

Morris dancers tend to carry big sticks, which probably discourages   that kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:13 PM

But I'd question whether there is a "British Folk Movement" as such.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: SeanM
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:16 PM

I'll support that there is. There's a distinct "British Folk Movement" and an "Irish Folk Movement" that I can personally attest to seeing.

Of course, they're in the US, and mostly made up of folks who just love the forms and music, along with a few immigrants and expatriates...

M


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:17 PM

>>>But I'd question whether there is a "British Folk Movement" as such.<<<

Yeah, sorry McGrath, that's just hazy thinking from the half-Scottish, half-English Canuck folk-newbie across the pond. How about British Folk MovementS, plural?

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: artbrooks
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:17 PM

Gene Burton: its not frowned on at all. You are welcome to read and participate/not participate as much or as little as you want. Joining will give you access to the live MudChat, which can be fun, although its an acquired taste that not everyone is interesting in acquiring. The only real objection anyone here has is to the truly anonymous GUEST, who chooses not to enter a name in the little white box, and then makes comments designed to annoy, provoke and abuse other people. Welcome to Mudcat...you, too, Hester.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Ebbie
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:19 PM

Guest/Gene Burton, note Uncle Dave's remark re 'lurking'. Lurking, as he said, harms nobody and is probably the most common introduction to the Mudcat.

Welcome. (Why not become a member? It's free and has some perks.)


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Subject: ADD: We Are One (Dan Seals)
From: Parsa
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:20 PM

Some people aren't trolls though; they're probably racists. I personally think they have the right to state their opinions, but I have the right to respond. There is a lot of racism in the world. We are all born with it as a disease. It's not that human beings are born with it, but many time culture creates an environment in which we grow up surrounded by it.

Dan Seals, the American country musician, wrote the following song and made a music video for it. The reaction from many of his fans was extremely negative (to put it lightly).

--------------------------
We Are One
by Dan Seals

In a bombed-out room in Belfast, a young boy is crying
He's alone and he don't understand
How the teachings of one book built on love and understanding
Could cause the hurt and killing in his land.

In an old part of Jerusalem, two children are playing
They run and laugh, the way that it should be
But one will wear the star and one will wear the crescent
And they'll grow up and change from friends to enemies.

CHORUS:
But we are one
The flowers of one garden
We're one
The leaves of one tree
Let the walls come down
Stand here together
We are one family.

In a Pakistani village, a young boy on crutches
Takes a fall and lies helplessly there
And he holds out his hand, but no one will take it
They won't touch him or the clothes that he wears.

On a side street in Selma, a black child is sitting
In a squad car protected from the whites
'Cause they're burning a cross to send her a message
And you can see the fear in her eyes.

(CHORUS)

BRIDGE:
Ponder in our hearts how we were all created from the same dust
Same dust
Search and we will find that the spirit of the age has come to find us
Find us.

(CHORUS)

We are one family.

----------------------------

Parsa


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Parsa
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:26 PM

Uncle Dave,

I agree with you. I'd call that a lurker, too. I got the definition from Webopedia.com. I suppose someone has used it online as a synonym for lurker.

Parsa


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:31 PM

Thanks, Parsa:

That Dan Seals song is much more in line with the warm fuzzy left-wing peacenik aspect of folk music that I'm most comfortable with.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Guest (one of Beffudled's targets in England
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:32 PM

Hi Hester

You asked "Am I likely to find such slimy creatures crawling out from under a rock in British folk pubs or folk dance groups?"   I'm tempted to suggest the answer has to be yes - and the creature should count him/herself lucky it's only a rock that the folkies dropped on him or her, and that s/he is still able to crawl!


Less flippantly, my family have some experience of people such as our guest, quite prepared to say what he says and then follow through with some action. Over 15 years, local folk pubs in different parts of England have been (on occasion, essential!) islands of sanity, real asylums for people "committed to social justice, racial equality, and the promotion of folk traditions from all cultures".

There's very occasionally an old guy in the corner, who will start spouting the poison from the tabloid press; but it doesn't last long and it's dealt with in good humour. Everything goes quiet around him for a few seconds, folkies assess how drunk he is, barman moves in to chuck him out, and he realises what he's said and that he's gone over a line. And he goes round the pub apologising to everybody he might have offended - all very good-natured

But real overt racists - no.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:37 PM

Hi, Guest:

Glad to hear it!

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: smallpiper
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 06:50 PM

I've never encountered any - no that's a lie I once met scot who hated the English until I told him I am Irish, then he loved the English and hated the Irish what's that say then?


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Lanfranc
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 07:02 PM

Racist, British Folk Music?

Not in my 40 years of interest, experience and participation it isn't!

Johnny Silvo, Cy Grant and David Campbell were early black participants, and Johnny, at least, is still going strong, even if he does live in Norway these days.

Jeremy Taylor came over to the UK from South Afica, after having been banned there for singing songs that pointed out the stupidity of apartheid.

Davey Graham, himself. if I remember aright, of "mixed race", introduced the concept of World Music before the term was coined.

Big Bill Broonzy, Rev Gary Davis, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee (to name but a few) influenced a whole generation of British singers and instrumentalists.

Ravi Shankar came along and influenced many, including a bunch of Scots who called themselves "The Incredible String Band".

After all, "Morris" Dancing is usually held to be a corruption of "Moorish" Dancing and is sometimes performed in "black face".

No, Hester, British Folk Music is not racist, we welcome all races (even the Irish, despite their sometimes unfriendly attitude to the English!)

Folk music continues to evolve, and a curry after the Folk Club has been a common way of ending an evening for years!

Forgive the ramblings, Hester, but accept that your fears are largely groundless!

Alan


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Gareth
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 07:06 PM

Well - at the risk of getting slaughtered by the extreamists, yes, in the Celtic fringes, there is a unpleasent aspect to Nationalism. And this is linked to the Nazionalists, mainly on a linguistic basis.

These facists would ban the use of English, or English versions of traditional Welsh Folksongs in order to maintain "our heritage".

Err ! What F*****g heritage.

It appears that here in South Wales, where English has been the peoples choice of usage for the every day conversation for over 100 years, that you are betraying your "country" if you do not speak Welsh.

Ethnically, South Wales, with industrialisation, owes more to the folk of Sommmerset, Cornwall, Ireland etc than the North Walian Language purists.

And yes, they don't believe in democracy, in the last few weeks ( We have a National Assembly elction going on ) I have had my car vandelised, my sister has had her door smashed, and my 78 year old mother sworn at in the street. - Our crime ? Displaying Labour Party Posters !

Gareth

To miss quote the "Ballard of John Axon"

By thier deeds you shall know them,
By the Works of thier Hand


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Roughyed
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 07:07 PM

I have never met an overt racist in the English folk scene. If I thought that there was any number of them around though my reaction would be to get involved and counter their vile nonsense. No nazi is going to expropriate my music.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 07:29 PM

Going back to the original post and the suggested connection between morris dancing and the far right, it must be remembered that Georgina Boyes has her own political agenda.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 07:42 PM

Alan wrote:

"No, Hester, British Folk Music is not racist"

No, Alan, I never suggested it was (as you would have realized if you had read my original post correctly). I was merely concerned that there were some racists who wished to appropriate English folk traditions for their own purposes (such as the 'Befuddled' idiot who responded to my St. George's Day cyber-card with racist crud). I was trying to ascertain from the Mudcatters whether others of his attitude frequent the folk scene.

And a nameless guest wrote:

"Going back to the original post and the suggested connection between morris dancing and the far right, it must be remembered that Georgina Boyes has her own political agenda."

Well, then, by all means, enlighten us as to what you believe her "agenda" to be. From what I've read, she's a well respected scholar in this field.

Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 08:25 PM

Hester, I shouldnt be too worried. There may well have been a Nazi sympathiser interested in Morris dancing. Hitler(also a Nazi sympathiser) was interested in vegetarianism. This does not actually tell us a lot about morris dancers, or vegetarians, as groups of people. I'm sure there have been loads of fascists,communists, liberals and all who love folk music, and so they should, it's wonderful.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 09:03 PM

I've been away for a while, or I would have commented earlier. However, coming though I do a little late to the conversation:

Georgina is respected, yes, but with qualification; she is inclined to over-emphasise some aspects of the history of the revival. Rolf Gardiner, for example, was not anything like as influential as she makes him out to have been; at any rate, if we are to believe people who were there at the time, which she was not. In this, however, she follows the line generally taken by her contemporaries, which is probably now due for some re-assessment.

I wasn't there either, of course (Georgina is a few years older than I, and so far as I remember was a postgraduate student at the time I was studying for my degree) nor do I know her personally; though we do seem to have quite a few acquaintances in common. She is, I think, rather more of a "party political" person than most I know who are involved in the music (she's a local councillor these days, in Rotherham I believe) and to an extent her work needs to be read with that in mind. I'm not suggesting any inherent flaw in it, and she has done a lot of valuable work; although I do feel that she may at times not be quite so objective as might perhaps be desirable.

On the general question, I'd say that, although folk music here is a pretty broad church, you are unlikely to encounter very much in the way of upsetting right-wing views. As a rule, such things are not tolerated. Given, however, that many of the more recently-established ethnic groups in England feel that the best way to ensure proper continuity for their own traditional cultures is, for the time being at least, to remain relatively separate, you'll probably have to go to a whole series of different places to hear all the different musics. As time goes on, they will overlap more, and be more inclined to share platforms; but it's early days yet.

We're gradually working towards a broader and more inclusive presentation. If you're in Yorkshire in late September, for instance, Halifax Traditions Festival is quite a good example of what can be achieved with input from a range of cultures. It's symptomatic of the general tendency, of course, that white English audiences pay more attention to -for example- Punjabi ceremonial dance than they do to their own tradition, while Asian-English audiences in their turn are quite taken with the Morris dancers!


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Ely
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 09:12 PM

My brother's (American) Civil War reenacting groups had this problem, too--people kept trying to join looking for either a white supremacist group or a separatist "militia"-type group, and would get very angry when the reenactors told them that they were in it for the history, not to broadcast personal politics. After awhile, the reenactors got curious and, when they got a call from somebody like this, would start asking discreet questions. They soon figured out that the racist/separatist didn't really know much about the culture of the times, anyway.

I suppose another example would be the (white) parents here who complain that "our" Texas history is being diluted by efforts to include the histories of non-whites, ignoring the fact that a large part of our history as a whole IS non-white. Even our "white" culture is non-white--most of our cowboy gear and methods owe a lot more to Spanish-Mexican traditions than English; a lot of cowboys were either black or Tejano (because it was a hard job), our beloved longhorns are Spanish-Mexican. And where would country music be without the blues? If you go back far enough, almost any tradition ties into some earlier tradition, and cultures have been trading back and forth for a long, long, time.

So, no--I've never met a folkie that was an overt racist. I can't speak for everyone, but my experience has been that people who really understand their own traditions do so in part by seeing them in context, and you have to understand other peoples' traditions to do that.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 10:05 PM

Hi, Malcolm:

Thanks for the info on Georgina Boyes, and your lovely description of the multi-cultural Halifax event.

By "party" politics, I assume you mean Labour. Which is what I'd come to expect of those involved in the folk scene (although with Blair these days, it's not exactly a democratic socialist party anymore, is it?). Sort of left your Left in a muddle, I guess.

I wonder if, by mentioning Boyes' "agenda", our unknown guest was suggesting that she is - gasp! - a feminist? Too right, so am I!

>>>Rolf Gardiner, for example, was not anything like as influential as she makes him out to have been<<<

Well, in _Step Change_ Boyes describes Gardiner as:

"a founder member of the Travelling Morrice, chief theoretician and moving spirit behind the exclusively male Morris Ring".

She states that:

"Throughout the 1930s, Gardiner continued to lecture at Cecil Sharp House, attend events, contribute to the letters page of the English Folk Dance and Song Society's magazine and dance at the annual Morris Ring gathering at Thaxted. Although he held no office in the English Folk Dance and Song Society, he was an influential presence and close to the Society's leadership. Douglas Kennedy, who headed both the Society and the Morris Ring, was a lifelong friend and shared some of his political associations."

That sounds pretty influential to me, Malcolm. Or do you believe Boyes has made factual errors in this passage?

She goes on to quote Roy Judge's assessment of Gardiner's personality and influence:

"Rolf's enthusiasm led him beyond most other men. In everything that he did, Rolf was always larger than life, a charismatic communicator of ideas, becoming a character and a legend in his own time. More ordinary men looked on him with a certain wonderment."

>>>if we are to believe people who were there at the time<<<

What reading would you suggest I do to explore that alternative assessment of Gardiner's influence?

>>>I do feel that she may at times not be quite so objective as might perhaps be desirable.<<<

Well, 'objectivity' is generally dismissed these days in academia as being an illusory and unobtainable goal. [Then again, I'm pretty much an unreformed Structuralist, so who am I to spout po-mo theory.]

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 25 Apr 03 - 10:12 PM

Hi, Ely:

I like your characterization of the white supremacists as ignorant 'fringe' nutters who quickly get turfed from the re-enactor groups (just as I turf the ones who occasionally wander into my Robin Hood club).

And I'm very pleased to hear that the modern British folkies also keep such wackos at bay.

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Gurney
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 05:14 AM

Hester, I just went back and read Befuddled's comments, and yours too.
He seems only concerned that British institutions are changing to accomodate immigrants who want to bring their problems with them. He makes no reference to race, (and anyone who thinks the British peoples were ever racially pure is sadly misinformed,) merely to the abject and sycophantic attitude of people who are eager to accomodate the bigotry that the immigrants bring.
I'm sure that anyone living in Britain can cite screeds of examples, like the one in Leicester where a womans collection of pottery pigs was confiscated by the police after complaints from Muslims. That even made the papers here in NZ.
You, Hester, attacked him virulently and personally. He may not be politically correct in your eyes, but he seems reasonably well-mannered and able and willing to explain his views. I would suggest YOU restain YOUR bigotry.   Chris Marden.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Santa
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 05:26 AM

It seems to me that the English Folk music scene is still dominated by those who grew up in the protest folk movement in the 60s (see other threads on folkies over fifty!) so any right-winger would find himself feeling most uncomfortable in what is politically a fairly soggy unthinking (in the sense of automatic) left-wing atmosphere.

One of the problems of re-establishing a pride in being English, of enjoying English folk songs, is the modern (and probably inescapable) link between nationalism and the unthinking Right. The domination of WW2 in recent British culture has given most of us a distaste for nationalism. It is identified with the German nazis, preventing a proper pride in our own national achievements. Automatically, any statement must be supplemented by a diatribe against Imperialism, as if that was the sum total of Britain's history!

There is a habit, amongst some here, of jumping down the throats of anyone daring to speak out against the invisible folk party line - yes, Hester, I am referring to some of your comments. I don't see any current danger to folk music from the right.

But to move from nationalism to racism: I don't see a lot of coloured faces at folk clubs or festivals. Equally, I don't feel the need to insist on them. The immigrants of the late 20th century can't feel any great link to the traditional songs of the English countryside. Why should they? There aren't a lot in my local model club, either. An all-white (or predominantly white) activity can be so without being racist.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 05:48 AM

Well said Mr. Gurney!


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Pied Piper
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 07:30 AM

Hi Hester.
I've been playing music for 20 years in and around Manchester and beyond, in that time I've played lots of different music with lots of different people.
A couple of times a year I do a gig with a band called the Suns Of Arqa, that Improvises a fusion of Dub Reggae, Indian classical, and trad music (that's me). Over the years I've played with great musicians from all over the world and the experience has been an enriching and broadening experience.
From what I've learned from talking to people in the US is that the Melting Pot is a myth, and that a much more realistic view is a collection of cultural ghettos. Even within the American Trad music seen people do not mix between sharply defined genres. Of cause in Britain there are people with this blinkered attitude, but many more that mix and match and enjoy a rich multicultural musical life. I regularly play English, Irish, Scottish, Trad music, and have started attending a Klesma session. The bands I'm involved in play E-Ceilidh, Blues, American, Scandinavian and lots more.
Sorry for going on a bit, the above is not to blow my own trumpet but to show what is possible if people are allowed to interact freely without walls. I never set out to be a multicultural musician it just happened.
Racism is about fear of the other and is best overcome by contacts between communities. Most people when faced with the other realise that they have much more in common than they have differences

Peace PP


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 08:20 AM

Well, I'm certainly NOT encouraged by the support expressed for Befuddled's perspective by Gurney in NZ, Santa, and the unnamed Guest.

Gurney wrote:

>>>Hester, I just went back and read Befuddled's comments, and yours too. He seems only concerned that British institutions are changing to accomodate immigrants who want to bring their problems with them. He makes no reference to race<<<

Well, perhaps in your careful reading, you missed his pointed reference to "our country being colonised by settlers from the asian and African continent" and his assertion that "limited residency rather than citizenship would give non europeans the chance to experience our culture rather than drown it out". In other words, this man wants Asians and Africans barred from becoming British citizens BASED ON THEIR RACE! And he blames them for the decline of traditional British culture.

With the addition of the most recent racist ravings against Muslims, posted by a guest called "sorefingers" to the original St. George thread, I remain concerned that this is not an "isolated" issue.

Are all of these posters just "trolls"? Or do some of them actually represent an unacknowledged minority perspective within the folk movement?

Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 08:27 AM

Gurney (Chris Marsden) also wrote, re "Befuddled":

>>>He may not be politically correct in your eyes, but he seems reasonably well-mannered and able and willing to explain his views. I would suggest YOU restain YOUR bigotry.<<<

No. I don't appease racists, no matter how "polite" they claim to be. What this man proposes is UGLY! How could any fairminded person tolerate his views, let alone support them?

Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 08:44 AM

Sorry, that should be "Chris Marden", not Marsden.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 09:07 AM

Calm down, Hester...I'm inclined to think that 'Befuddled' and 'Sorefinger' are one and the same person...a troll can pop up in many 'Guest' guises...


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 09:12 AM

To echo the type of thing that others have said, I've no doubt that there must be a few racists within folk music but it is something that in my 20+ years of going to folk clubs and sessions have never encountered.

I particularly want to pick up on Gareth and his tiresome anti-North Wales comments.

I don't dispute that there are areas of strong Welsh Nationalist/anti English feelings but unlike him, I have had the benifit of living in North Wales.

My first time was when we moved into a small village when I was about 7. Our whole (English speaking) family was made to feel very welcome in a community where Welsh was the first language of many and some of the older people struggled with English.

I left when I was 13 and at the age of 18, I returned in 1978, leaving for Norfok a couple of years ago. I got involved in the folk music scene in North West Wales about a year later. I think it fair to comment that clubs like Llandudno and Conwy perhaps didn't attract much in the way of Welsh language songs or music but there certainly were never any hostilities.

I went to a Welsh session in Bangor a couple of times. Reading Gareth's comments, one might expect an Englishman to have been treated with hostility but I was made quite welcome. I'd have loved to have gone more often but transport problems and a clash of venues on the same night prevented it.

I can't comment on South Wales Gareth, but judging by your post, it may be reasonable to suggest that your attitude attracts some of the hostility you report.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 09:14 AM

Harry:

I am calm. I'm sitting here quietly at my keyboard, expressing my anti-racist perspective in strong, clear language.

So, is Gurney also the same person as "Befuddled", then?

Hester


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