You know how sometimes you say things you might not actually feel if only to climb right up into the face of someone who annoys you? Let me take you back a couple of years, I was walking through the City centre here in Manchester with a friend of mine. We’d both been working all day and we were off to the pub for some refreshment and jolly banter. You know the situation I’m sure. One the way to the pub I was accosted by a middle-aged, clearly very middle class, woman who was waving a tract of pamphlets in my face demanding I boycott JCB. It appears we had stumbled onto a demonstration in favour of the Palestinian people outside the old BBC buildings. How unfortunate.
You see, I don’t like having things thrust into my face and have some horrible, middle class hypocrite tell me what to do. It sort of boils my piss to a degree. However, in the interests of being a good person I promised her that I would not be buying any bulldozers or diggers thinking this might help. Apparently it annoyed her and she informed me I clearly wasn’t taking the plight of the Palestinian people seriously, that I was selfish, and did I support oppressive regimes? It was at this point I calmly informed her that I was going to the pub and I didn’t care if they bombed Palestine and sowed the ground with salt thus ending the conversation.
Clearly, I don’t believe any such thing and I do care about people being oppressed regardless of their race, creed or colour but like most people I’m a hypocrite. Do you think we should boycott Israeli produce because of the grinding poverty and restrictions on the Palestinian people? In that case why do you care about them and not the Chinese people operating under horrible working conditions and kept so far below the poverty line they couldn’t reach it with a ladder because that’s who built the device (or at least many of the components for the device) you’re reading this on. Why are Palestinian people more important than Chinese people. “Ahhhhh” I hear you mutter “but the Chinese people aren’t being systematically oppressed and murdered by a government” to which I might reply “What China are you thinking about then?”.
It’s easy to find a cause to pin ourselves to from the relative luxury of our comfortable Western existence. Even more so when you’ve been told which ones to support by the mainstream media. I’m not sure how things stand now but not long ago it was mooted that the most oppressed people in the world were the Rohingya from Myanmar. A small muslim population not exactly beloved of the ruling regime. Where are their protests? Where are their pamphlets and documentaries? Oh…there haven’t been any because nobody actually cares about the Rohingya people, they aren’t a hot topic which is odd because their abuse is tantamount to ethnic cleansing. But hey, fuck them because it’s easier to buy a different brand of oranges and pretend you actually care.
Want another one? How about the Dalit people of India, pretty much the largest group of enslaved people on the planet. It’s a social class of people deemed to be “untouchable” or to put it another way “filthy, subhuman trash”. It’s estimated they make up around a quarter of the Indian population and they are treated as refuse. When was the last time you bought a T-Shirt proclaiming you support them? No? Fancy boycotting curry? Thought not.
I’m not saying don’t care about whatever your cause of the week happens to be, far from it. It’s vitally important we carry a candle for oppressed people anywhere but do try to keep some perspective and actually care because you genuinely do, not because you’re supposed to because that’s the behaviour of a shallow, opportunist. You’re doing it for you, not for them. Of course if you genuinely do care for the oppressed people of the world and campaign on their behalf you have my complete admiration. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a bulldozer currently not used by any government being nasty to anyone else. Can you suggest one?