Tales of Xenophobia

Ross Kemp is a living legend. Looking back on my youth, it’s clearly punctuated with four episodes a week of two Right Said Fred wannabe south east Landan ‘ardmen. It’s strange to think one half of this diabolically poor duo as doing something constructive with his time…But ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’ serves one of the most enthralling pieces of journalism of the past ten years.

The premise is simple, a white, bald, built like a brick shitouse ex actor roams through some of the world’s poorest areas in search of their ‘gangs’. Whilst revising last week, courtesy of Lovefilm i was sent the first series of the show to aid my procrastination. It was nothing mind blowing really, the majority of the episodes featured Kemp roaming around the poor neighborhoods of El Salvador, South America, L.A etc. chatting to the feds, lurking around the prisons from which gangs are usually operated and talking to the gangs on the streets. These gangs are predominantly Hispanic, Afro-American or African and are formed out of the poorest demographics of the countries. Drugs, robberies, murder and every other little bit of crime which goes hand in hand with the ‘wrong neck of the woods’ is covered. All in all we are given a bleak yet unsurprising view of groups of violent ethnic minorities neglected by the government. Yet one episode shocked me more. Fast forward Russia.

In this episode, Kemp looks at the Neo-Nazi gangs that inhabit Russia. Big white bald men (ironically who look a lot like Kemp) who follow the doctrines of Hitler and his Nazi chums. The point that Hitler’s plan for the ‘Great White Race’ didn’t involve Russia at all – he despised them – is irrelevant. They share the same racist ethic. Russia is a scary place from the outside. The reality of the Russian Neo-Nazi’s is this…Once the USSR collapsed in 1991, the countries surrounding Russia – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Armenia etc – all became separate countries in their own right. With the collapse of the Soviet Union however, came economic crisis, and Russia declared their desperate need for labour. Inhabitants of the previous Soviet states migrated to nearby Russia for better job opportunities.

The Neo-Nazis believe in Russia for the Russians, and practice racism, xenophobia and violence towards anyone they deem ‘Non-Russian’, usually darker skinned Russians with Muslim backgrounds. Kemp begins his journey with a visit to the far right ‘Russian National Union’. This legitimate political party (much like our very own BNP) staged training sessions in abandoned city infrastructure. They go through rigorous training regimes aimed at defence and military combat. Kemp goes through the ritual initiations and tests of character in order to win their trust, but the scary truth seems apparent early. These aren’t the actual Neo-Nazi’s, but a political party. Once he’s become more associated with the Union, they invite him to a meeting of minds two hours outside Moscow. Here we meet the actual Neo-Nazi’s, who seem closely (but not officially) affiliated with the Russian National Union. We are then shown clips of ‘non-white’ Russians, or immigrants, being brutally beaten on the tubes, buses and streets in broad daylight.

These gang attacks are rooted in a deeply racist ideology, which is not helped by the Police, who seem to be a huge part of the problem. After one attack, it is reported an young Armenian begged the Police for help, and they merely told him to “use a pay-phone like everyone else.” Putin didn’t do much to dispel any myth that the Russians were on the brink of world war three in his tenure, and people are right to be worried.

It is comforting that far right parties like the British National Party merely invite ridicule in the U.K. I firmly believe that we are one the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and much better because of it. Because of the countries acceptance to the undoubted positive affect of different races and cultures in the U.K, we can easily criticise racism and xenophobia when it’s not on our patch. Although the problem still exists, it is minor, and certainly not rooted in countrywide beliefs.

But be afraid. The news in this morning is that the BNP have won two seats in the European Parliament for the first time in it’s history, with the far right party’s leader Nick Griffin describing thew result as a “great victory”. This leap forward for the BNP party has sent shock waves throughout Parliament, with cabinet minister Andy Burnham exclaiming today as a “sad moment for British politics”, and that the BNP’s rise is “deeply uncomfortable”. Whatever Griffin says about the damage cheap Polish labour is doing to our country, or the apparent rising threat of more Turkish immigrants, it has seemed to strike a chord with an angry few.

Yet that angry few are increasing in numbers. Worryingly, the economic downturn has resulted in many people in the U.K without a job, which has left the majority of us angry at a bumbling Government. Instead of uniting for the benefit of our well being, we are becoming increasingly divided. But let’s not forget that we are a nation of immigrants. The influx of Eastern Europeans today began with the Romans 2000 years ago, then onto the Vikings, Saxons, Normans, Irish and Jews fleeing persecution. This party haven’t a leg to stand on. Their key policies are contradictory and above all baffling to the those in this country with their heads screwed on.

So if we start to see the BNP’s fuhrer holding military combat and defence sessions for those aspiring racists and fascists out there, then don’t worry ladies and gentlemen; all we’ll do is send in Kempy!

(Disclaimer – Not own images)

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