A Messy Campaign Trail.

CW: rape, homophobia, racism.

Seriously?

What is happening this year?

Defaced posters all round, and absolute bigotry.

Whoever you’re supporting, or against, or if you’re not supporting anyone at all, it is unacceptable to slander them and direct abusive language towards them or use aspects of their identity to debase them, especially when those aspects place them firmly in already marginalized groups.

So far we have had Faatima’s posters ripped down around Teviot and a petition launched against her – doesn’t seem like it could just be a coincidence, following the last week’s “controversies” around her. We have also had homophobic abuse directed at Theo, with students literally saying they wouldn’t vote for him because he’s gay. We have had members of frats who threatened to rape women allowed on campaign teams, and safe space being mightily broken. This behavior is astoundingly bad. I predicted this year would be more brutal than last, but this is just hatred and bigotry.

This isn’t even about factionalism anymore. The people who are showing this behaviour are people who have never really been involved in EUSA before, or at least not in the Trot/NOLS faction war; the most that’s going on between the actual factions are a few half-hearted or jokey remarks passed between hacks on Twitter or on here. Saying you will not vote for someone because of their sexual orientation is homophobia at work, it is the kind of mentality that means there are only a small amount of people who define as LGBTQIA in government. Calling a woman of colour racist shrouds the problem at hand and discourages others from running in case they get the same flack as her. And guess what that leads to? People of colour being further discouraged to engage fearing that if they do they will be met with attack.

I am actually amazed at all of this. And how in the first three days of campaigning we have seen blatant racism, sexism and homophobia at work. I admire the dedication of candidates who are still going out there and wanting to engage “real students” and get people who aren’t usually interested or confident in EUSA to change their minds. The behaviour of so many “real students” that has occurred recently really is just hate, and not a hate for EUSA. Attempts to engage and reach out and welcome in have been met with aggression and ignorance.

I have never known this amount of bigoted abuse suffered by other candidates before (maybe because we’ve had a long history of white straight men running and being elected until last year’s sabbs). I’ve heard it during their terms, when they are put on a pedestal and constantly shat upon simultaneously, expected to meet every single demand immediately or be no-conned, as apparently that’s what you should expect in this line of work. But the abuse has started early this year. And it has been so personal and targeted it hardly seems like political disagreement anymore but rather bigotry.

These events have nothing to do with disillusion with EUSA but with abuse targeted towards the more vulnerable in society, and a reaction to them going out and asking for support and solidarity. It seems like an attack on their “audacity” to ask for better and strive to help.

So much solidarity to Faatima and Theo and anyone who has suffered this and past campaigns too. We are trying to make this campus a more tolerant and safer place, and we will get there, I promise.

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About medeusa

glaring at Edinburgh student politics
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12 Responses to A Messy Campaign Trail.

  1. anniebritton says:

    Thank you for writing this!! I am glad someone finds all this abhorrent – reading the comments on the Tab article about Faatima made me lose faith in this uni. If this is student politics in 2015, then we – all liberation movements, and humanity – have a long, LONG way to go.

  2. Nathan Hood says:

    Thanks for the article. Firstly, let me agree with you that what Faatima said is ‘just a drop in the ocean’, it is not the primary target in the fight against racism. That being said, I find it ironic the way it is just being passed over. As a white man who went to a school where I was the ethnic minority, where I was the only white boy in the class, I have at least some inkling as to being margianlised for my race. Feminism has taught us all we cannot paternally determine for others what should offend them, and I object to those supporting Faatima doing the same thing here. I reserve that right, and given a painful past it does actually hurt quite a lot. In saying that, I don’t think that should harm her campaign: whilst she should apologise for using race as an insult (given that sinks her to the very level of those racists she was standing up to), I am willing to give her a second chance as president. And I think that is what is wrong with so much of the politics: we are not willing to forgive each other and let them have a chance to redeem themselves and take on oppression head on. Yet that will take people to realise they are wrong, which nobody seems to want to do. That way there will be a true revolution: a revolution in attitude, and thus challenging the system properly. After all, violence (verbal and physical) just continues the current system, which uses those very means to achieve its aims. I suppose that is what has upset me on this blog and the comments of late: both sides have been derrogatory to each other, and thus rather than justice, reconciliation and forgiveness achieved both groups have become hardened in their views. Without respectful engagement and a true love for each other, whether or not we like are interlocutor, nothing will change for the best. Just look at MLK, Gandhi, Wilberforce etc. and the changes they made this way, without resorting to dogmatic persecution of the other. That is why I find myself in full agreement with you: this election has become farcical and the candidates need to take a hard look at themselves.

  3. medeusa says:

    Gandhi was awful and MLK questioned his peaceful motives by the end. I dont love homophobic or racist people and never will. Also just because you were a minority in your class doesn’t mean you were oppressed.

  4. Nathan Hood says:

    You’re right that being the only white kid is not oppression. But having stones thrown at you, being barred from joining in, bullied and the target of cruelty on account of my race must, by any standard, be considered racism. That’s not to say it is anything near what many BME experience, which is disgusting and should be fought. It is sad you will never love your enemies: as a result nothing will change. They will go on hating you, you hating them, the only difference is which hateful, and thus oppressive, regime is in charge. I am not really fussed about the character’s of Gandhi or MLK, WIlberforce, Mandela etc. – we are discussing what they achieved through non-violent resistance (which is far more than has been achieved through slander, violence and oppression). This seems to be the natural entailment of your article: if you find it unjust such use of violence against candidates, surely you yourself cannot promote such methods against those doing it? Otherwise its just special pleading, showing its not really about justice and more factionalism.

  5. medeusa says:

    I’m ok with never loving my enemies; that’s what enemies are for after all. I dunno man, tell that to Malcolm X, or all the people in uprisings in history. What methods am I encouraging that amount to violence, hm?

  6. Nathan Hood says:

    I though Malcolm X changed his mind about violence? I don’t know why you think enemies have the function of being hated… if that is the case then this liberation you seek will never be achieved fully, because these people will still hate the very thing you champion. And those uprisings in history have changed very little, if anything at all. The world is still run by sex, wealth, honour and power, with these ‘uprisings’ buying into that. And violence may not be the right word… you certainly are advocating hatred of these people, not just what they stand for. And as far as I am concerned, declaring your hatred of someone is tantamount to expressing they’d be better off dead – that’s how most people in history have expressed hatred, by harming their opponent. True liberation sees us freed of such self-imposed oppression as well as structural, where we will be able to live together as the different people we are, unified by agape. That is why I say you encourage violence, for the metaphor ties in with this understanding that until we treat each other as we would treat ourselves, the same system of who is in power will roll on and keep oppressing. The point is not that you are advocating any particular method of violence, it is that the whole approach of ‘we hate you so fuck off’ is itself the source of such oppression, and will lead you and/or others to do things harmful to universal liberation, such as the refusal of reconciliation with your enemies (which is implied by you saying you are happy never to love your enemies).

  7. medeusa says:

    What are you talking about dude? I literally wrote a piece about dealing with bigotry and I’m bad for hating them for spreading vicious ideas? I’m literally not what the problem is for liberation, thanks though. “self-imposed oppression”?? What does that even mean???

  8. Nathan Hood says:

    My point is is that your hate is part of this whole system of oppression. As soon as we talk about hate, it becomes a power game, and whoever rules the system, the disgusting structure we live in continues, just with a new face. Certainly, you are not THE problem, but the way you have approached this cannot be the solution. For lets suppose you are right, and whoever you support sweeps into power, and makes a whole load of changes at EUSA. At the end of the day, divisions will still be there, bigots will still walk the streets and factions existing as no inclusion has been made. That doesn’t mean compromise, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should tolerate discrimination. But the way you, and a much broader corpus of the student body, have conducted this attack on evil over all has been filled with antagonism, and thus, evil. I mean, has anyone actually tried talking to the DKE scum to show them why they are wrong without seeking to persecute and make them stronger in their wrong convictions? Has anyone tried listening to the concerns of the bigots, and then explaining that their worries are actually solved through liberation of us all? As for self-imposed oppression, I think humanity has a real habit of being trapped by evil things, whether it be obsessions with sex, wealth, honour or power, and in doing so corrupts itself, things it chose. I would like to add I don’t pretend I am impervious to this either: I could do far more in standing up to the bullies on campus, and too often I have hated my opponent.

  9. medeusa says:

    Nah sorry. I hate bigoted views. Thats not part of oppression. How else should I feel?

  10. Nathan Hood says:

    No that isn’t, and I applaud you for it. Its hating the people who are bigoted. That is the root of all oppression, the other who we mistreat for our own gain. It the difference between power, demanding obedience, and authority, which is built on voluntary respect grounded in love.

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