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Artillery Row

Peckham, protests and “parasitic merchants”

Demonstrations have exposed the tribal underbelly of modern Britain

The late Tom Wolfe appears to have been scripting reality in London this week, and it has been morbidly fascinating.

The facts seem to be these: a black woman entered a cosmetics shop in Peckham, asking for a refund. Denied one, she took some products and began to leave. The Asian shopkeeper physically restrained her and the violence escalated. The woman swung over her shoulder at him with her basket and he briefly grabbed her by the throat before trapping her behind the arms. Once he let go, the woman began to hit him around the head with a strap-shaped implement.

An ugly scene. Certainly one for the police to investigate. In modern Britain, though, it was also an opportunity for protests. Demonstrators gathered round the shop, holding signs that read “keep your hands off black women” and chanting “you touch one, you touch all”.

these demonstrations are both reflecting and fostering communitarian divides

What the media has not reported is the extent to which these demonstrations are both reflecting and fostering communitarian divides. Zoom in on the signs that have been stuck to the shutters of Peckham Cosmetics and you can find messages like “PARASITIC MERCHANTS OUT OF OUR COMMUNITY” and “RACIST ASIANS GO TO HELL PATEL”. The same journalists who are always very sensitive to, say, the blowback on peaceful Muslims after terrorist events don’t think that this is worth a mention.

The rhetoric of the protestors is curious as well. “We need to get a new ecosystem,” announced one protester over a megaphone, “Our own ecosystem where we spend money in our stores. They cannot treat us this way. These are our streets.” One assumes that by “our” he means black people. Does “they” mean Asian people or just anyone else

Either way, one pauses to imagine the response if white people declared particular communities to represent “our streets” (in fact, this was one of the chants of marchers at Charlottesville). It would not be pretty. If this sort of racial collectivism has taken root in a country that prides itself on its supposed liberal cosmopolitanism it’s worth thinking about the implications. Not according to mainstream media outlets though. It hasn’t got a reference there.

LBC has reported that the “Forever Family Force” were in attendance, informing readers:

The FF Force, a black-uniformed group who say they are “against racism, injustice & inequality” were at the Peckham event there to make sure protesters were “all in check” and “all in order”, [one of the organisers] said.

What a generous thing to do! The Forever Family Force often pop up at these demonstrations, but their anti-racist credentials deserve scepticism. Leading figure “Raspect” was at the Peckham demonstrations, telling MSN that the woman had been “investing” in the shop for years (I think he means buying things, which is not “investing”). As the excellent “SW1 Forum” blog has reported:

A profile … revealed that Raspect had a very active social media life, which included anti-vaxx conspiracy theories, claiming Bill Gates created coronavirus, and alleging that slavery was “the original holocaust” while Jews own the banking system via the “Rothschild bloodline”.

Just the sort of chaps you want keeping order.

You might think that mainstream institutions which are often hyper-sensitive around the potential for “backlash” would avoid provoking such inflammatory tribalism. Well, you might if you didn’t know about its selectivity. The Runnymede Trust tweeted:

We’re absolutely horrified by the recent incident at Peckham Hair & Cosmetics.

We must work to root out the violence against Black women which is so normalised in our society. 

If there is evidence that the colour of the woman’s skin played a role in her treatment by the shopkeeper then it has not been presented. What “normalised” means in this context? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

One hopes that the police will thoroughly investigate the incident that took place in the shop. What followed, though, is of greater interest to the rest of us — exposing, as in Leicester in 2022, a defiant tribalism which is flourishing beneath the polished liberal surface of British life.

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