Meet the new normal, same as the old normal

We are being told that the present state of chassis is #notnormal, and that we should not normalize it. Zoe Williams in the Guardian talks of what is now being accepted as `normal’, whether under Trump or after the Brexit vote, and lays the blame where it belongs:

Normalising is not anything the rightwing extremists do, and they do not try: they don’t look for acceptable labels for themselves. It is the mainstream that twists itself into conciliatory pretzel knots finding nicer words for “fascist”, such as “alt-right”.

Democrats try to find the fault within themselves: ask not whether a racist hates; ask what made the racist so angry in the first place. Once we have found the right member of the liberal elite to pin it on, the hate maybe won’t sound so frightening.

The reason things seem `normal’ or `normalized’ is that they have been treated as normal for years, certainly within higher education. For example,

  • Universities have been prepared to act as arms of the border police, by monitoring non-EU students in the UK on Tier 4 visas, in order to maintain their `privileged’ status with regard to admitting international students.
  • Universities (and other bodies) have accepted the `Prevent duty‘ which requires them to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. Terrorism, if we adopt the definition of the schedule of proscribed organizations, is something carried out by foreigners, mainly Arabs, though also Greeks and Basques, and (Northern) Irish. Violent organizations which `radicalise’ white racists are not considered `terrorist’.
  • Universities, with a few honourable exceptions (e.g. Sheffield, Newcastle, and UCL), have taken no stand against the increased open racism after the EU referendum, nor did they do so before the vote. Where university `leaders’ have spoken about the effects of the referendum result, it has mainly been in terms of the effect on university finances, through loss of international student fee income and EU funding. The concerns of non-UK staff and students as people, members of a community, have been lost in talk of `valued contributions’. Indeed, one university, anticipating Amber Rudd, generated a list of non-UK EU staff members in order to email them specifically.

Given that university leaders, with some few exceptions, have been complacent, contemptuous of the concerns of staff and students, and toadies to the state, why is anyone only now concerned about the `normalization’ of the racism to which they have assented over the last decade?


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