The racist attack on Rhea Page

Nearly everyone in Britain, by now, will be aware of the actions of Emma West – her racist rant having earned My Tram Experience over 12 million hits on YouTube. Less people will be aware of Rhea Page, beaten unconscious by drunken Somali women who were screaming “kill the white slag.”

The reason that the two have received different levels of coverage, at least according to the far-right, is because of an ingrained bias against white people in “politically correct” society. The BNP have now championed West’s cause, saying that although “the language used by Emma was not the most eloquent,” she was only “sp[eaking] out about the multicultural mess created by our masters.” After all, “she was alone with her small child surrounded by people that were not her own and she was frightened.”

I don’t buy this as a justification for a minute. The people around her, regardless of the colour of their skin, were just going about their everyday lives and did nothing to warrant being subject to a torrent of racist abuse. And let’s not beat around the bush – if you’re pushed into a “fight or flight” choice on the sole basis that you’re near to people whose skin colour is different to your own, that is racism.

That said, she didn’t deserve to be arrested for what she said. Had she physically attacked or harassed someone that would be a different matter. But a racist rant is, however unpleasant for those on the receiving end, just words. The response to such actions – as many did – is to argue or shout back, to tell her to shut up, but not to lock her in a cell. Especially since, as I’ve noted before, such views as hers are becoming more widespread not because the far-right is getting more popular but because the working class is under attack and the mainstream media are diverting our attention to an “other” in the form of immigrants and non-whites as a scapegoat for it.

This adds weight to the message of the fascists, who claim that “we are slaves to the multicultural nightmare that is unfolding before our eyes.” Far from stamping out racism, it vindicates a sense of victimhood that the far-right feed off.

Then you have what happened to Rhea Page. Let’s make no bones about this – it was a racist attack. Those four women set upon her because of the colour of her skin and beat her so viciously that her boyfriend was powerless to stop them. Yet the judge accepted the mitigation that they “weren’t used to alcohol” and gave them six month suspended sentences. I’m sorry, but in what way does not being used to alcohol mitigate beating someone unconscious? Yet they walked away with six month suspended sentences.

The two mitigating factors offered by the defence* were that the four “weren’t used to alcohol” and that there was “unreasonable force from the victim’s partner.” However, as the defence themselves said in the case of the latter, “it doesn’t justify their behaviour.” Nor does not being used to alcohol mitigate beating someone unconscious.

I don’t buy that Britain is somehow in thrall to political correctness. You don’t have to look far to find the media reporting similarly lenient treatment of violent white people – for example, see here and here. Not that this makes it right, not at all, but it certainly challenges the notion that this is the result of a “politically correct” judge.

There are also a number of reasons that Emma West’s rant became a YouTube sensation overnight whilst the attack on Rhea Page didn’t. The first one being that we’re talking about the internet – where 24 million people watched a fat kid playing at Star Wars – and more people are inclined to watch stuff which will make them laugh or shock them than something utterly horrific. It’s easy to watch some woman rant and spew bile whilst gasping in shock, but not so easy to watch someone receive a violent kicking. Even in movies, people will watch the cheesy action movie than the gritty portrayal of life on the streets.

Again, this is not to say that there isn’t an element of selective outrage. Again, it’s easier for middle class liberals to look down their nose at the racist commoner than it is to seriously address the issues in our society. But whilst this may represent a certain section of the media and of the soft left, it does not follow that the government is in thrall to anti-white racism or anything like that. As I’ve said the ruling class merely benefit from any “us and them” mentality not aimed at them.

That is why those of us whose anti-fascism is rooted in class politics cannot afford to lose perspective here. The most obvious point of which being that whilst Emma West’s vitriolic rant may be shocking, it was not a crime. What happened to Rhea Page was – a vicious and unprovoked racist assault.

Preventing individual acts of racist violence is not something an anti-fascist organisation can practically do. Such incidences can be reduced by changing attitudes and challenging racism where possible, but we are not police forces. Anti-fascism is about confronting organised fascist and racist organisations – which includes groups like Muslims Against Crusades as well as the BNP, the EDL and their various splinter organisations.

But when incidents like this arise, we should be able to show the clarity that the liberal and soft left don’t. That is, we condemn all acts of racist violence – no matter who the perpetrators are.

*I’ve been pointed to this Factcheck article which asserts that “the role of the victim’s boyfriend was the one which impacted on the judgement,” rather than the point about alcohol which the media have focused on. I’ve amended the post accordingly, though it doesn’t alter the overall point.

22 Responses to “The racist attack on Rhea Page”
  1. Emma says:

    On a technical point, verbal assault *is* a crime, so it’s not like Emma West’s arrest came out of nowhere or was “trumped up” in any way. Whether arrest or imprisonment is the best way to deal with this crime is another matter, but let’s not minimise the impact of what she did. It isn’t merely “unpleasant” to face that level of harassment and verbal abuse in an enclosed space with no way out, it is positively frightening. I don’t think she needs to go to jail, I think she needs help – but still, while what she did on that tram wasn’t anywhere near as bad as beating somebody unconscious, it was an assault and it’s not something that any society should allow her to walk away from without consequence.

    • Lee says:

      So Emma, how long a sentence do you think the four Somali women should have got then?

      • Emma says:

        Well, I’d prefer that there were other options for dealing with violence than locking violent people up with other violent people in an environment where violence is considered an ordinary part of life. It doesn’t seem a very rational way of making people less violent.
        I think the problem with the question is that you’re inherently looking at a custodial sentence as a way to punish somebody for a crime, while I’d see it as a last resort for protecting the public if somebody is too dangerous to be allowed to freely walk the streets. The response to somebody being a public liability should be to give them the help they need to be in control of themselves and not a danger to others. When should somebody who’s committed a violent crime be set free? When they’re no longer likely to hurt anybody. But since we don’t have a justice system that can do that, and we do have a society that will continue to put people in situations that induce impotent rage, and a press that directs that rage at innocent bystanders instead of those responsible for their situation, it’s all a bit of a moot point. I’m against the entire justice system as it stands, but I wouldn’t call for somebody dangerous to be excluded from it until there’s a viable alternative.

        • Jack Thorne says:

          Sort of danced around the answer there didn’t you?

        • Dan says:

          The Somali girls should have at least spent a night in the cooler and paid damages-they ripped out a chunk of her scalp. That got to be a £1,000 compensation at least.

          Emma West ought to have had the coppers come by and tell her to “please calm down”. No more.

        • Dan says:

          I’ll bet one or all of these Somali women end up in front of magistrates again within the next decade.

          The comments by one of the group about getting on with her life strike me as sociopathic. She’ll be caught in the wheels of the justice system before too long.

    • Dan says:

      Do you think anyone was actually frightened of Emma West?

      Do me a favour.

      All that was needed was ignoring her. Engaging her simply escalated the situation,which was defused when another mum said:

      “you are waking my baby, so shut up”

      the YouTube poster was gratutous and further escalated the molehill into a
      mountain. Emma wasn’t a public figure who has a hidden agenda. see if she can get Cameron on camera saying more or less the same thing. That lady who hastled Gordon Brown echoed the same ideas. Brown called her a bigot and got crucified. She’s obviously very up front with her racism.

      • Jack Thorne says:

        I have no feelings towards the Emma West incident, it does not affect me in any way and pip it was a massive tango around the answer. I bet if it was on the Westy incident there would of been a “lock her up” somewhere, I don’t see why she should be locked up tbh, just paraded on Jezza K for abit.. she seems the type, These girls however deserve to spend a couple of months in prison, not as punishment, more so the victim feels like something has been done. Now proceed to do some sort of conga if you wish… I’m waiting to be told i am wrong and you are right as usual… that seems to be the only thing you people are good at.

        • Phil Dickens says:

          I bet if it was on the Westy incident there would of been a “lock her up” somewhere

          Actually, I bet there wouldn’t. Due to that same thing of being an anarchist and against the judicial system as it currently exists.

          I’m waiting to be told i am wrong and you are right as usual

          Isn’t the only reason you come on here to tell us how we’re wrong and you’re right? Usually in a justifying-the-far-right-but-not-an-apologist-for-them-honest sort of way?

        • Emma says:

          Sorry if I used too many long words for you. Here’s the York notes:
          “When should somebody who’s committed a violent crime be set free? When they’re no longer likely to hurt anybody.”
          Direct enough?
          Disclaimer: Definitions of “violent”, “crime” and “free” may vary.

      • Emma says:

        Dan, have you ever been in that kind of situation? It is frightening to have a total stranger shouting insults at you for any reason – when it’s for no reason, it’s even more frightening.
        No, she’s not a public figure – neither were the people stuck in that tram with her. What have they done that they should have to face that kind of aggression on their way home? Some of them may have just tutted and thought her pathetic, some of them may have felt insulted and angry, and I don’t doubt for a second that some of them felt scared. I would have done. Having that kind of rage in your face is intimidating, and not something anybody should be expected to just deal with.
        The situation wasn’t diffused when another mum told her to shut up – she carried on a few seconds later. I don’t buy for a second that a request to calm down from the police would have made the slightest difference. If it was that easy, there’d be no EDL or BNP.
        Nobody’s claiming that Emma West has political clout or a hidden agenda, but being upfront about racism doesn’t excuse it. Some racists are cynical self-promoters with power and agendas who need to be lined up against a wall come the revolution, some are ordinary people with mental health difficulties who need help from medical professionals and a supportive community, but they all need to be challenged in what they’re saying, and not allowed to feel that it’s a normal or acceptable way to treat your fellow human beings.
        Kudos to everyone on that tram who challenged that racist bile and especially the person who filmed it and shared it – to ignore it would let it be normalised, and would leave the people it was aimed at feeling intimidated, isolated and unwelcome.
        None of that makes it right that she’s going to be jailed – it will do no good for her or anybody else. She needs help with her paranoia, not to be made to feel even more victimised. But that doesn’t mean the answer is to ignore her and let her get away with it – there are other vulnerable people in society besides her.

        • Dan says:

          I emigrated to the states. I’ve been in plenty of surreal situations. Panhandlers yelling racist abuse at people who refuse to fork over cash in NYC, mugged in the Paris metro,
          I’ve seen plenty of people go off their rockers and behave violently on various modes of transportation on both sides of the Atlantic. West was laughably harmless by comparison.

          • Emma says:

            Congratulations on your unphaseability. For most people, having abuse yelled at them by a stranger on public transport is intimidating. Unless you’re suggesting a system of ethics based entirely on the principle that something is only a crime if it’s worse than anything you personally happen to have encountered in the past, everything I said still stands.

  2. MRDA says:

    Not bad. Your take on things has considerable overlap with my own.

  3. fdh dhf says:

    Did someone miss the fact that racism is a SYSTEM, where one group of people has (institutional) power over another, and wields it at multiple levels? Anarchists are against all forms of oppression and unjust hierarchies, no? Racism (and all systems of oppression) are hierarchical systems that can’t just be “reversed” –
    Those four women beating up another women is likely super-f’ed up. But, do we know what happened before? Did Rhea and Lewis call them various racial slurs right before? No telling. And regardless, if you’re anarchists, you should realize that prison won’t make anyone less violent (or less racist).

    • Phil Dickens says:

      There is systemic and institutional racism, but there’s also individual racism as well. If you beat someone up for the colour of their skin, that’s racist – no matter what colour’s involved. Unless you believe that the tiny neo-Nazi skinhead movement that exists in Israel can’t be racist against Jews because Jews hold institutional power?

      Also, at no point has any anarchist on this thread advocated prison as a cure for violence or racism.

      • Emma says:

        I’d say the point’s a bit more nuanced than that, Phil. There’s a difference between racial prejudice and racism that is supported by the structures of the society in which it takes place. These two forms of prejudice have different causes and need to be dealt with in different ways. I think the commenter above is citing the idea that racism = prejudice+privilege, which I would agree with, without in any way minimising the impact that prejudice on its own can have on individuals who experience it, but with the acknowledgement that prejudice with privilege behind it can work in different, more subtle and more damaging ways throughout a society.
        You might disagree that this means they can’t both be called racism – I’m having that particular frustratingly circular argument elsewhere at the moment – but the important thing is to acknowledge that in the Emma West and Rhea Page cases there are two different responses going on to the same power system, and that system is white supremacy. There is no system of black supremacy backing up the attackers of Rhea Page, and their prejudice towards a white woman is a response (however unjustifiable) to their status as an oppressed racial group. Emma West’s prejudice came from a system that tells her she is the norm and that “others” are taking resources that are rightfully hers. These responses are both wrong and unjustifiable, but one comes from real experience of racial oppression, and the other from an imagined racial right to first dibs on everything in the UK (plus the lie that immigration is to blame for her not getting her fair share).
        The example you give about Israel is more complicated, and a good one. By the definition I’m using they wouldn’t be racist, just prejudiced, and of course that’s silly because they’re neo-Nazis. But there couldn’t be a neo-Nazi movement without the original Nazi movement, which was a very clear-cut case of prejudice+privilege. The neo-Nazi movement within Israel is anachronistic – the privilege on which their racism is based is from another time and place. They’re just a bunch of delusionals, whose racism rests on an imagined ancestral right to a privilege they don’t even have. If there were a significant number of them, I’d say complex histories were blurring the line of where the privilege stands in the here and now, but as it is I don’t think they’re even significant enough to count as an exception that proves the rule. Interesting, though, and I take the point that the prejudice+privilege definition of racism isn’t always so clear-cut. But interesting semantic conundrums aside, the point of the prejudice+privilege idea is to make the distinction between racial prejudice that’s an expression of the dominance of a societal norm, and racial prejudice that’s a reaction against that norm, and it *is* an important distinction to make for anybody interested in challenging both.

        • MRDA says:

          That you make (or rather fabricate) such distinctions only helps keep racism in play and makes the likelihood of an unwelcome pendulum swing more of a possibility.

          I’m starting to think that the “privilege” argument is for Lefty “progressives” what the “Original Sin” argument is for the Godsquad.

          It’s also as insulting and patronizing as fuck to assume every non-white/female/non-Christian is an automatic victim.

  4. Oi leftists, where’s the outrage? Where’s the endless commentary on how certain communities are racist toward white people? Seems to me that there’s a lot of justifying statements here…

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