Racism never respectable

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When I was a boy my parents often told me how bad life was during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Grandad confirmed this. He was a ship’s plumber and was out of work for years. One thing my generation was taught was it would never happen again. The leading nations agreed after World War Two to manage their financial and economic systems so we’d never have another depression. It was like an unspoken promise to the young. This is why I feel a sense of betrayal over the banking crisis of 2008 and what’s happened since.

Of course, the Great Depression led directly to the Hitler dictatorship in Germany. In their despair voters turned to the extreme right. Now the extreme right are on the march again. As the collective memory of world war fades, so people feel no shame about supporting populist demagogues. The murder of Jo Cox MP by a Nazi fanatic is a sign that Islamic terrorism is not the only kind of terrorism we face.

One disturbing feature of the American elections was the backlash against President Obama by white supremacists. Eight years ago it seemed like a brave new world with a black man in the White House. It gave hope for the future. Now we have a victory for older white men who want to keep women and black people in their place.

Hilary Clinton called the Ku Klux Klan a basket of deplorables, but they call themselves ‘White Nationalists’ now. The dangerous thing about that is it makes racism sound respectable.

C J Napier