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Why do we say God save the Queen? Why not the people?

18 June, 2020 — By John Gulliver

The crowd in Hyde Park on Saturday for the Black Lives Matter rally

THE young woman with a loud clear voice rang out with a call that electrified the crowd: “Why do you have to stand for God Save the Queen? Why don’t we say God Save the People!”

Gathering confidence she went on: “Why is Jesus always a white man? I say Jesus is a black man!”

The crowd clapped, whooped and cheered in Hyde Park on sunny Saturday – it was getting more and more enthusiastic.

“This, by the way, was a rally by Black Lives Matter and what the young black woman said – and her voice shook as if this was the first time she had spoken in public – made me think how the nation’s mood has changed.”

Whether you are a monarchist or a traditional Christian you do not hear that sort of thing normally. But these are not normal times – and there was a freshness and youthful excitement in the air. And the speaker was urging the young crowd to think for itself. Not to rebel but at least not to be complicit with tired old concepts that needed to be challenged.

Generally, the media describes meetings by the Black Lives Matter campaigners but does not report what the youngsters are saying and thinking – it isn’t only provocative it is also rebellious.

Too many of us are complicit. We walk by when we see something wrong being done.

The official media, certainly the TV news channels, are neutered, hardly ever questioning a disastrous government and Prime Minister whose dithering caused the disaster of more than 20,000 unnecessary deaths in the pandemic by locking down too late, and then allowing thousands of elderly hospital patients to be discharged, many with Covid-19, into care homes where the disease spread.

The government could apologise but it is either unaware of its responsibilities or afraid – and the mainstream media doesn’t go after them. Contrast this with, say, CNN in the US where reporters and presenters daily expose Trump and call him a “liar” on screen, protected by a much freer form of democracy.

Some scientists have now broken away from the government and are speaking their mind. Among them is the editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, Richard Horton, who has accused the political as well as the medical establishment of being “complicit” in the failures of the government. This week he repeated his allegation on BBC2’s Newsnight under grilling by Emily Maitlis and referred to “collusion”, a different word but the same meaning.

I have thought this for sometime. During my own stay in hospital last year when I saw how patients were being discharged far too early I thought why do the senior doctors and nurses allow themselves to be bullied by managers? Why are they complicit? I was discharged too early and have written about it. But I saw other fellow patients sent home when it was obvious there was no one at home who could look after them. Shortly after I was discharged, a friend, who had had a serious operation for cancer was sent home too quickly and fell at home, opening up his sutures and had to be rushed back for more procedures, and a longer stay.

The young Black Lives Matter woman wasn’t having any of that. She was asking hard questions. She wanted answers. She was seeking the truth.

Racism, like the coronavirus, hasn’t gone away. It is here. Embedded by a poor education system, and a society that refuses to look at the problem in the eye. The victims are the large disenfranchised and disadvantaged sub-stratum of society occupied by blacks and ethnic minorities, and this young generation is rebelling against it.

Our police force, I believe, is better trained and better educated than the US police but racism is in the force, too. And here in the Met. This week a veteran black campaigner in Tottenham, Stafford Scott, whom I have met many times, was reportedly a witness to police Tasering an elderly relative in Tottenham at his home who was completely innocent of any misdemeanour. Stafford and his brother have been campaigning against police brutality over the years especially after the killing of Mark Duggan which triggered the riots of 2011 engulfing Camden Town.

Stafford is an old hand at being a critic of society. He refuses to be complicit. Like the young woman in Hyde Park.

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