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Cologne sex attacks show need to fight sexism and racism
An article in the last Socialist responded to the mass and seemingly coordinated sexual assaults on women in Cologne ('Sexual assaults in Cologne exploited by racist establishment and far right').
It explained how the racist media and politicians have opportunistically exploited these crimes to attack migrants and refugees - despite no attackers having as yet been identified.
The article also said "the race supremacists are hypocritically denigrating the victims again as 'our women violated' by Arabs". This statement is true as far as it goes, but I think it's deeper and more profound than just "denigrating" these particular victims.
A centuries-old aspect of Western racism has been the myth that darker-skinned men prey on white women. This partly explains why, in their coverage of the recent Rotherham grooming scandal, so many journalists and politicians lapsed into hysterical 'multiculturalism gone mad' accounts.
Not a shred of evidence existed for this. In fact, the vast majority of perpetrators of child sex abuse and exploitation are white.
But we also need to acknowledge that much of the power of this racist narrative arises from sexism and patriarchy. Women's bodies are seen not as our own, but as belonging to society as a whole. Hence the outrage among so many men (and some women) when "our" women are violated.
Women's bodies belong to ourselves - no one else. The Cologne story shows the battle for our sexual and physical autonomy still has a long way to go.
It also points to the fact that the fight for women's liberation, and for the eradication of racism, needs to be part of the larger, socialist struggle to transform society as a whole.
Kim Hendry, Lambeth
Earlier this month, Jeremy Corbyn yet again indulged his inner dictator by ruthlessly dispatching two fawns from his shadow cabinet and daubing their blood on the walls of his constituency office.
Screaming maniacally at the media gathered outside his home, he waved his crown of ethically sourced toucan feathers to indicate his infallibility, and urinated over a pentagram made of the bones of dead omnivores adorning his front garden to reassert his leadership credentials.
He explained, while carrying aloft a half-birch tree, half-dolphin hybrid he called "son", that he was celebrating a successful reshuffle and wished to be left alone.
If this sounds unfamiliar, it's because it only happened in the minds and on the sketchpads of cartoonists holed up in the offices of the Sun, Express and Telegraph.
Rudi Abdallah, Waltham Forest, east London
The leader of Birmingham City Council has finally stopped referring to "illegal budgets" in consultation meetings. It may have had something to do with me telling him there was no such thing as an illegal budget.
This is, of course, a step forward. But he continues to dismiss the idea of a legal no-cuts budget using prudential borrowing and reserves to buy time to build a campaign to win the funding back. This despite Stoke-on-Trent Council using £15.5 million of reserves to prevent further cuts, freeze council tax and reduce council house rents. And it isn't even a Labour council!
Birmingham Council continues to argue its finance officer wouldn't sign-off the budget, and the government would send commissioners to carry out even bigger cuts. So who does run Birmingham Council, elected members or unelected officers?
Clive Walder, Birmingham
In The Socialist 20 January 2016:
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