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RACISM in British Folk Movement

Harry Basnett 30 Apr 03 - 04:14 PM
Dave the Gnome 30 Apr 03 - 04:40 AM
HuwG 29 Apr 03 - 05:28 AM
Willie-O 28 Apr 03 - 10:19 PM
Little Hawk 28 Apr 03 - 03:17 PM
HuwG 28 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM
Santa 28 Apr 03 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Soma 28 Apr 03 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 28 Apr 03 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,Soma 28 Apr 03 - 11:09 AM
mooman 28 Apr 03 - 10:14 AM
Hester 28 Apr 03 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Santa at work 28 Apr 03 - 09:37 AM
Hester 28 Apr 03 - 09:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 03 - 06:18 AM
Pied Piper 28 Apr 03 - 05:52 AM
Gurney 28 Apr 03 - 05:30 AM
Barb'ry 27 Apr 03 - 07:20 PM
Leo Condie 27 Apr 03 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,(one of Beffudled's targets in England) 27 Apr 03 - 04:18 PM
GUEST 27 Apr 03 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Soma 27 Apr 03 - 08:13 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 Apr 03 - 06:34 AM
Gurney 27 Apr 03 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,Gene Burton 27 Apr 03 - 04:26 AM
GUEST,angel 26 Apr 03 - 06:42 PM
Leo Condie 26 Apr 03 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Gene Burton 26 Apr 03 - 04:06 PM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Leo 26 Apr 03 - 11:03 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Leo 26 Apr 03 - 10:03 AM
Art Thieme 26 Apr 03 - 09:44 AM
Santa 26 Apr 03 - 09:36 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Apr 03 - 09:12 AM
Harry Basnett 26 Apr 03 - 09:07 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:44 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:27 AM
Hester 26 Apr 03 - 08:20 AM
Pied Piper 26 Apr 03 - 07:30 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 03 - 05:48 AM
Santa 26 Apr 03 - 05:26 AM
Gurney 26 Apr 03 - 05:14 AM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 10:12 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 10:05 PM
Ely 25 Apr 03 - 09:12 PM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Apr 03 - 09:03 PM
greg stephens 25 Apr 03 - 08:25 PM
Hester 25 Apr 03 - 07:42 PM
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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 04:14 PM

She's also caused much mirth and merriment along the way, Dave. I don't think she meant to.....


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Apr 03 - 04:40 AM

Having been away for a couple of days I have only just caught up. I smell a rat. A very clever one but a rat all the same;-)

Of course there is racism in the British Folk movement. There is racism in the American Folk movement. There is racisism Captain Pugwash. Why else call his ship the 'Black Pig'..? There is racism in every movement I can think of apart from, perhaps, the movement in my Japanese watch...

Why then this thread? Why the comment about 'getting very disheartened by the episode' while being so obviously incensed about it? Racism, sexism and every other ism has been discussed here and the conclusions that the Mudcat is no better or worse than any other group have long since been reached.

What is more worrying is the hint that racism is more prevelant in the British Folk movement than elsewhere.

I want no part of his xenophobia and jingoism. Says Hester. Followed closely by I live in the world's most culturally diverse city: Toronto

Just who is being Jingoistic here?

Hesters comment half English, and fully Canadian, happily living in a society that sees no conflict between cultural diversity and a strong national identity

When seen alongside

perhaps you should look instead to the apathy of the British people themselves.

Does smack somewhat of a Canadian sumpremist attitude. Well to an apathetic British folky who does nothing to help the culture but run a folk club, dance morris, arrange a festival, acts out folk plays and gets involved with anything from Ukrainian dance to Ghanaan folk tales it does!

Very clever indeed, Hester. Trolling under the guise of indignant righteousness! Got a few bites and rattled a few bars there indeed.

Or did you not even realise you were doing it?

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: HuwG
Date: 29 Apr 03 - 05:28 AM

Ooops ! Just spotted the typo/brainfade in my last post. For "francophone" (= french-speaking), read "francophobe" or "francophobic", or possibly even "gallophobe" (= hates or fears the french).

Incidentally, I left rugby songs out of my definition of offensive folk songs; some of these do contain lines which some ethnic groups (Africans and Chinese especially) may object to; but these are buried under the mountain of complaints about four-letter words, scatology and general bad taste which objective analysis of these songs would generate. Rugby singers have a tradition of shocking all equally, and as much as possible.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Willie-O
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 10:19 PM

LH, that remark was antiracistist.

W-O
not letting dog out tonight. no no no.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 03:17 PM

Hester, you live in Toronto, right? Great. See if you can make friends with the columnist Michelle Landsberg. She has an uncanny ability for discovering not only racism but also sexism rearing their ugly heads in the most unlikely of places...places where no one else would think of looking for them. Even in folk music! I think that you could gain a great deal of comfort from getting together with Ms Landsberg once or twice a week and sharing just how upsetting it all is...the way we're surrounded by racists and sexists.

I know it upsets me. I can hardly stand going out anymore because of it, and I worry every time I let the dog out to relieve himself that he may be accosted by either a racist, a sexist, or an animal-abuser.

Something should definitely be done to wipe out these threats to society, and it should be done without delay.

Until it is, I'm staying in where it's relatively safe.

- LH


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: HuwG
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM

The only overtly racist British folksongs which I have encountered are some violently francophone sea shanties which presumably originated during the wars against Napoleon, or possibly earlier. Racist songs do exist, but these are generally heavy-metal tunes.


People should bear in mind that "British" culture has embraced Jazz, Blues, Country, Reggae, Rap (for Heaven's sake !) and other musical cultures from overseas, without a moment's hesitation. Raga and other styles from the Indian subcontinent may not have gained such universal acceptance, but I have not heard any violent reaction against them.

It is true that there are some offensive folk songs, but their prejudice is political rather than racial (e.g. "The Sash") and their appeal is limited to narrow sections of the country, in my humble opinion anyway.

I would tend to agree with most posters, that British folk music shares with much American folk music, a grounding in various protest movements; for civil liberties, against economic oppression etc. This is incompatible with most forms of bigotry or supremacism.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Santa
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 12:52 PM

Hester: I use a Mudcat name not for prudence but because when I first approached it, under my daughter's influence perhaps, I understood that such was the norm. There have been times when I have felt uncomfortable using it, but have never expressed any opinion that I would not say openly. However I have said things that might (should anyone care!) link my daughter's Mudcat name to her real one, so I feel constrained about changing it now.

But then I don't have to worry about stalkers; if only because the name, physically, fits. (Ho ho bloody ho - quote from Mrs. Santa.)


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Soma
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 11:37 AM

I think you should read Robert Graves's the "White Goddess" and you'll se that ideas have come in to Europe from the middle east way before the Romans brought there Mystery religions.

Soma


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 11:21 AM

So am I a 'racist' because I think that Christians, Muslims & Jews are all members of sects of the same alien religion which was responsible for "swamping" Europe, "drowning out" its culture and suppressing its indigenous religions a thousand years ago?


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Soma
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 11:09 AM

I think that my use of "WASP" was inappropriate, I suppose I was trying to avoid the using the term non-white, which might cause people to conclude that I believe in a white "race", which I don't.

Soma


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: mooman
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 10:14 AM

Dear Hester,

I've seen a little bit during my time living in the UK and playing folk and traditional music ...but only a few isolated incidents over a long period.

BTW, I saw your other post...no need to leave just because of a hothead or two...most people here are great and I have personally met 60 or 70 of them and can vouch for it!

moo (Irish national, part Basque blood plus a little English, brought up in England, educated by Jesuits, living now in Belgium, Buddhist! Therefore definitely not a WASP!)


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:58 AM

'Santa' wrote:

>>>Hester: hardly an Anglo-Saxon name there.<<<

Well, Santa, like you I find it prudent to use a pseudonym in on-line public forums. 'Cause there's a lot of nutters out there, and I don't need to advertise for my own personal stalker, thanks.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm of half-English, half-Scottish descent. And I'm pagan. But I don't live in Britain, I live in Canada, so I don't know what my ethnicity has to do with the statistics Soma posted (without citing a source, BTW).

Cheers, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Santa at work
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:37 AM

It also excludes English Catholics. Not to mention atheists, agnostics, Buddhists etc. Makes a nonsense of the whole argument, really.

It might be amusing to see just how many of the correspondents above do have unimpeachable WASP antecedents...    McGrath: well, obviously not. Hester: hardly an Anglo-Saxon name there. Me: Scottish ancestors on both sides - I'll admit to a strong streak of North-Eastern Methodism but I don't think that it stuck.


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Subject: RE: McGrath's "Dreadful Disaster"
From: Hester
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 09:28 AM

Hi, McGrath:

That's a very moving song. Nice to hear your voice (even if the audio file is slightly rough).

We've had similar people-smuggling deaths here in Canada.

The link to Guardian reports on refugee issues was also very enlightening, especially the article comparing current anti-immigrant sentiment to the punitive Poor Laws of 17th & 18th century England.

Thanks, Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 06:18 AM

"the non WASP population of Britain makes up about 6% 1 in 17 ish.

Since "WASP" means "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" the number of non-WASPs has to be a good bit higher than that, since it includes everybody haling from any other part of Europe, including Ireland and Wales. Fine by me, the more the merrier.

"He got racial later, but after goading, so I can understand that attitude too, defending an untenable position. Very English." Not particularly English, I'd say. But it felt more more like the way racusts will often start out tentatively. to test out the ground before coming out openly. Goading doesn't so much make you say things you don't believe, it makes you drop the inhibitins about saying what you do believe. Like drink.

In response to Leo's point about new songs about immigration, here's one I wrote a couple of years ago - A Dreadful Disaster - and here is a link to a Real Audio sound file of it (pretty rough)


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Pied Piper
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:52 AM

These things are best out in the open were the can be examined.
I don't generally read Newspapers (I'm a Radio 4 sort), but I once saw in a tabloid, the picture of black man with the word Snigger printed underneath it.
Benjamin Zephaniah wrote an excellent poem about the tabloid press called "Blinded By The Sun"

All the best PP


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Gurney
Date: 28 Apr 03 - 05:30 AM

Befuddled's Target and Barb'ry, Can't help but agree with what you say, and I'm not fond of racism myself, or any other situation that denigrates a person for being different.
When I was reading Befuddled's post in the St. G. thread, I read it to be about CULTURE, and the fact that a culture comes from somewhere else does NOT make it racial, but still cultural. He got racial later, but after goading, so I can understand that attitude too, defending an untenable position. Very English.
I put in my post because I did not like the language and attitude that was used against him, knowing that I was asking for shit and derision to be piled on my head too. I've seen this tactic used before in other forums, attack and try to get them on the defensive, try to use their own politeness against them. Befuddled got riled, not polite, and started slashing out around himself.
The bit about the pottery pigs may have been in the Sun, but it came to my notice via Reuters and the NZ Herald, and a yak-back show on radio. In my personal memory, Nuneaton library, in 1973, pulled the English Heritage section and replaced it with an Indian section, and that didn't even make the local paper.
As a matter of fact, I don't even agree with Befuddled in his theory that immigration will suppress local culture. I think there are powers about with an interest in suppressing British/Canadian/American/Aussie/NZ culture by pointing out that they should be ashamed of past excesses. I can't see why I should be ashamed of Britain's past, I didn't do it, and it can't be repaired anyway, and other nations did things that make the British look like pussycats. The British left their empire a much better place than they found it, if found is the right word, although some countries have gone downhill since.
Anyway, '24' is on in a minute, and I don't want to miss it. Have a good day.   Chris.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Barb'ry
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 07:20 PM

For what it's worth - I agree with 'guests' comments about there being racism in the folk scene over here and also with the fact that the majority of them are 'sheep like'. (I had and interesting chat with a man the other night who referred to the black man at the bar as a 'darkie'! It turned out that he thought this to be a much 'nicer' term and not at all racist!) Like Hester and others I abhor racism/sexism and probably most of the other isms around and am happy to say my part when necessary.
The thing is that I wonder what good would be achieved by bailing out of mudcat? It seems that the majority of people on the site are reasonable - but we don't really know each other, so can tell. Certainly we are no worse, or for that matter better, than any other group of people and I wonder if you are tarring everyone with the same brush? I think maybe by leaving you are, as my grandmother used to say, 'cutting off your nose to spite your face' and losing an opportunity to have discussions with people who, in the main, share your own view of the world.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Leo Condie
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 04:21 PM

Thanks for an excellent and cohesive post, friend, whoever you are. I agree entirely.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,(one of Beffudled's targets in England)
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 04:18 PM

Dear Chris/Gurney

For one, I appreciate Hester's straight talking. No messing - racism is racism. And like her, I find racism offensive, wherever it rears its ugly and poisonous head.

You said "I get irritated with the constant barrage from sickly liberal, politically correct do-gooders who think I should accept anything THEY feel I should, and kow-tow to any loudmouthed pressure group who comes out of the woodwork."

The origin of the story from Leicester you quoted in an earlier posting was, I believe, The Sun "newspaper" - perhaps one of the most powerful, wealthy and effectively "loudmouthed pressure groups" ever devised! And regretfully, not one renowned for offering a full and un-biased (or even truthful?)news coverage.

"Don't buy it, if you find it so offensive" you may say.

Sorry - that's not enough.

There is just the smallest difference between the politically correct do-gooders' "barrage" which irritates you - I suspect the nearest to any associated violence would be metaphorical egg on face, just possibly well-deserved (but ALWAYS metaphorical!).

Contrast this with the daily barrage of anti-asylum seeker, anti-refugee, anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-Islamic reporting from the UK tabloid press. Their stories become the "urban myths" used by active racists to justify themselves to themselves, and to their targets.

Active racists - not the silly trouble-makers who "think or say, but don't do" like our "beffudled" guest-troll - do things like beat up mothers in front of their children, throw concrete paving slabs at 5-year olds, pour petrol through family letter-boxes, rub dog-turd into children's hair, post offensive and threatening mail, rape or kill children's pets, burgle, vandalise, etc etc etc. This can go on in systematic campaigns of daily "harrassment" for months and months and months. Such .......s may be few - but the terror they cause ripples through whole communities and cities.

The tabloid press would of course dissociate themselves from any such acts. I wonder how often they even report them? (that may be unfair - all too often these acts are not reported because the targets DARE not draw more attention to themselves.

Oh, and the "well-mannered and able and willing to explain their views" dissociate themselves from such actions - but the words are poison, and give the actors "intellectual" cover.

Promulgating a UK tabloid agenda by citing one among the "screeds of examples" of what are mostly urban myths? Yes, I would go as far as to suggest that aids and abets the poisonous atmosphere of racism - but you also would hasten to dissociate yourself (I'm sure!) from such actions.

I don't get "irritated" - I get ANGRY and AFRAID at "the constant barrage from sickening, poisonous, politically incorrect .......s who think I should accept anything Rupert Murdoch (or any other owner and/or editor) feels I should, and kow-tow to any loudmouthed (and rich/powerful) pressure group who comes out of the woodwork."

The poison of their selective reporting is vicious, pervasive and powerful. Sadly, you appear to have fallen for at least some of it.

Good for Hester (and all the others who expressed support) for stating the obvious, that racism is racism is offensive.

Best regards - a fellow Mud-cat member.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 03:20 PM

If you stand by your beliefs then you won't be afraid to go among people of other beliefs and quietly but firmly continue to stick by your point of view. Keeping away from racist people does nothing useful, giving a non-confrontational example of anti-racism may educate over time.
There tend to be good & bad traits in everyone - so concentrate on the positive, and try to be a good ambassador for your point of view.
Probably there are a lot of casual racist attitudes around amongst folkie types. Casual racists tend to be sheep-like in that they are just repeating jokes or attitudes that they have absorbed and not thought about. Give them something sensible to follow instead!


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Soma
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 08:13 AM

The non WASP population of Britain makes up about 6% 1 in 17 ish.

Soma


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 06:34 AM

Angel, if the song you heard was the well known shanty Yellow Girls, I think you were over reacting. In most versions the sailor is delighted to have encountered the 'yeller girl' and can't wait to see her again. Many shanties could be described as sexist because they are born of the fantasies of men only crews at sea for months on end. As for race, the mixed race crews referred to it in the unselfconscious manor of the times. There are those who would censor them in these more sensitive times, but that would be a sad loss to the richness and authenticity of the genre.
Doodle let me go,
Keith.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Gurney
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 06:25 AM

Hester, sorry to be late in replying to your tirade.
I am not 'Befuddled,' I am 'Gurney,' and I even signed my name so that you would know that. I could tweak the computer to post as a guest, but why would I do that?
Nor am I a supporter of Befuddled, particularly of his more immoderate posts, received after I posted. However, even the most inoffensive will defend themselves when attacked, so if you are used to meek reticence, I suggest you have picked on the wrong bloke there. He obviously holds views about immigrants that he is prepared to defend, so why don't you ask him for facts instead of trying to shut him up by abusing him?
For myself, If you want to attack me, we are both members, so I suggest you PM me. I get irritated with the constant barrage from sickly liberal, politically correct do-gooders who think I should accept anything THEY feel I should, and kow-tow to any loudmouthed pressure group who comes out of the woodwork.
In case you need some ammunition, I am an immigrant here, and when I came in 1974, the Kiwi attitude was "If you dont like it, piss off you pommie bastard." So I accepted the adage 'When in Rome...' My neighbours are mostly Chinese, and I get on well with them, work with them, go fishing with them, but not BECAUSE they are Chinese, but because they are OK. Also, African immigration here is overwhelmingly white and Cape Coloured, fleeing from racial and governmentally sponsered terrorism and burgeoning crimerates in their homelands.
Have a nice day.   Chris.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Gene Burton
Date: 27 Apr 03 - 04:26 AM

Leo- that may be so; but then most people who are anti-Christian (for example) aren't that way for theological reasons, either. Does that make them racists? I'd say that was sectarianism, rather than racism.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,angel
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 06:42 PM

I was in a very well-respected folk club in London once, and this guy sang what I considered to be a racist and sexist song about a "yellow woman", to which everyone in there knew the words and sang along to. I didn't feel like I could say anything because I was clearly the only one who felt it was a horrible song, but it was an unpleasant experience and I never went back there. It did put me off going to clubs for a really long time, but I guess it is only one experience.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Leo Condie
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 04:35 PM

Gene - generally those engaging in the prejudice against Muslims (or as you say, other faith groups) are not doing it because they disagree with the religion.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Gene Burton
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 04:06 PM

I'd question whether prejudice against Muslims (or any other faith group) could be categorised as "racism", given that Islam is a religion rather than a race. Not that that makes such prejudice any better, but I think it's important to get our definitions clear when discussing issues like racism in any context.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 11:17 AM

Hi, Leo:

Good point. Another example of such anti-racist songs from the early British punk scene is The Jam's

"Down in a Tube Station at Midnight"

The distant echo of faraway voices boarding faraway trains
To take them home to the ones that they love and who love them forever
The glazed, dirty steps - repeat my own and reflect my thoughts
Cold and uninviting, partially naked
Except for toffee wrappers and this morning's paper
Mr. Jones got run down
Headlines of death and sorrow - they tell of tomorrow
Madmen on the rampage
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight

I fumble for change - and pull out the Queen
Smiling, beguiling
I put in the money and pull out a plum
Behind me
Whispers in the shadows - gruff blazing voices
Hating, waiting
"Hey boy" they shout - "have you got any money?"
And I said - "I've a little money and a take away curry,
I'm on my way home to my wife.
She'll be lining up the cutlery,
You know she's expecting me
Polishing the glasses and pulling out the cork"
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight

I first felt a fist, and then a kick
I could now smell their breath
They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs
And too many right wing meetings
My life swam around me
It took a look and drowned me in its own existence
The smell of brown leather
It blended in with the weather
It filled my eyes, ears, nose and mouth
It blocked all my senses
Couldn't see, hear, speak any longer
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
I said I was down in the tube station at midnight

The last thing that I saw
As I lay there on the floor
Was "Jesus Saves" painted by an atheist nutter
And a British Rail poster read "Have an Awayday - a cheap holiday
Do it today!"
I glanced back on my life
And thought about my wife
'Cause they took the keys - and she'll think it's me
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
The wine will be flat and the curry's gone cold
I'm down in the tube station at midnight
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Leo
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 11:03 AM

incidentally, to all the topical songwriters out there, we need more songs defending asylum seekers! i'm working on one or two, but it definitely seems to be one aspect of modern politics that isn't often addressed. joe strummer did a couple of great songs on his last album about the topic, though.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Hester
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 11:00 AM

Hi, Art & Leo: Thanks for your assessments of the predominantly anti-racist tenor of the folk scene in both the States and Britain. It's reassuring to hear.

Santa:

I apologize if I wrongly interpreted your post as supporting Befuddled. I thought you were referring to him when you mentioned

"anyone daring to speak out against the invisible folk party line".

After all, he (and his supporter Gurney) are the only people whose throats I've 'jumped down' lately.

For those who think I've over-reacted, let me point out that Befuddled's post followed mine very soon in the thread. I was therefore concerned that he was equating MY celebration of St. George's Day with his own racist agenda, and I did not want to see the holiday and its accompanying folk traditions hijacked in that way.

The post was particularly alarming in light of the historical information I was reading about Gardiner's influence on the folk revival in the 1930s, and my own experience of white supremacists attempting to infiltrate my on-line Robin Hood club.

That is why I ASKED the British Mudcatters if this was an issue in the current folk movement. I am glad to hear that the overwhelming consensus is that these types of views are not tolerated in the folk scene.

I will, however, continue to speak out against racism where I see it, here at Mudcat, or the world in general.

Silence won't defeat idiots like Befuddled. But a good kick in the pants (metaphorically speaking) will at least give him the message that he's unwanted here.

Hester


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Leo
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 10:03 AM

the "problem" of immigration in britain has been largely caused by media over-reaction - they've managed to convince some members of the public that this country is getting overtaken by asylum seekers who are stealing our jobs, using our taxes, etc etc. of course this attitude disgusts me, not least due to the fact that it's all based on total untruths - for a start asylum seekers have absolutely no hope of getting a job, and that's if they get into the country in the first place and don't get sent back to their previous mad dictator home. furthermore they're faced with humiliation and living in dead seaside towns that are virtually prisons. I heard once that (excuse if the statistics are wrong) people in britain believe that we take in 25% of the asylum seekers in the world when in fact it's more like 1% or less. the media has managed to blow this issue totally out of proportion, and even more regretably it is being used by the British National Party (real nazis, not just "nationalists") to get votes in working class areas.

so this is a british problem, and while it may very occasionally leak into the folk scene, it's definitely frowned upon. i'd say we're probably the most left-wing music movement in britain (even if your man up there is voting for labour...), which for me is part of the appeal. folk music encourages you to enjoy all cultures and anyone who expresses bigoted views like "befuddled" obviously fails to understand the true meaning of folk - music of the people. all people.


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 09:44 AM

Hester,

I consider us sort of friends. I can tell you that racism has very little room to operate in the folk movements that I've been aware of for the last half century. I do suspect (and know) there were certain fairly well publicized vestages of it in certain geogrphical areas of the U.S.A., but those can be traced to feelings left over after slavery was abolished in our bitterly fought Civil War here . They were subdued quickly by more modern thinking people with other more modern views. Racist views have never been welcomed or tolerated within the folk revival here.

Please see the statements you referred to as rare. Look at the posts here and see that the opinions expressed generally go along with you.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: RACISM in British Folk Movement
From: Santa
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 09:36 AM

Hester: I don't believe that what I wrote was "support expressed for Befuddled's perspective". There are more positions on this than yours and his.

There are more important pressures on English folk music than race: the dominance of US culture and the national lack of belief in its very existence - just for two.

If there is any value in English Traditional Folk music as a concept at all, then it is in its roots in English society and history. As such it is necessarily separate from Blues, Klesma or whatever: and still separate (if much more fuzzily so) from American, Scottish, Welsh or Irish music.

I don't believe that it is racist to prefer English Traditional song over Klesma. Or interminable indistinguishable Irish rigs and jeels. Or vice versa, for that matter. But I think it is foolish to imagine that you can somehow separate a musical genre from the people and society that produced it.


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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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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: 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: 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: 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 - 08:20 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: 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: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 03 - 05:48 AM

Well said Mr. Gurney!


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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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