Over the past decade, white racism had transformed. Where it was once about an assertion of power and strength, supremacist ideas have now evolved into notions of victimization: Whites – and especially men – are the ones who are truly oppressed, the story goes. Whites will cease to exist, they tell us, if we continue to cross paths. And anyway, the whites were, they say, the first slaves.
At its extreme, this notion of victimization among some of the most powerful people in the world has become a form of fascism. But it’s a sentiment structure that has deeply permeated white and patriarchal communities since the financial crisis, at least, and it has contributed to this year’s major election events, Brexit and Trump.
2017: Black money and the DUP
In the run-up to the Brexit referendum, I met Leave activists at the Edinburgh Waverley Steps summit and started interviewing them. As our conversation heated up, I spotted something at the bottom of one of their placards: the imprint said it had been printed and promoted by Jeffrey Donaldson of the Democratic Unionist Party.
“Do you even know who the DUPs are?” I screamed and stormed into my apartment.
As I walked down the steep hill I lived on, my mind turned to the obvious question: why is the DUP paying for materials in Edinburgh? When I unlocked the door I got a response: Political donations are not transparent in Northern Ireland. The party is used to funnel black money into the campaign.
The next day Peter Geoghegan, a fellow journalist working in Scotland, whom I vaguely knew, posted a remarkably similar story on Facebook, with the same conclusion.
For months that thought stayed with me, until the boss, Mary, returned from maternity leave. In the middle of the list of all the things I had failed to complete while he was gone, I mentioned this trail.
That night my roommate reminded me of Peter’s Facebook update, so I called him to see if he wanted to work on the story together.
Four years and a book later, openDemocracy is still investigating black money in British politics. And Peter replaced Mary as editor.
2018: compensation of NHS staff
Battles around the NHS continued and openDemocracy’s Caroline Molloy continued to provide rare reports on what the government was actually doing at the UK’s supposedly most valuable institution. In this context, in the spring of 2018, the government managed to avoid an unprecedented strike by all non-doctors in the NHS payroll.
Today, the NHS is one of the largest employers in Europe. A wage agreement is an agreement with almost a million people. But as the results of that negotiation began to kick in, Caroline noticed more and more staff saying they weren’t getting what they thought.
She quickly returned to the numbers and compared them to the communications staff had received from the government and their unions, encouraging them to accept the proposed deal.
NHS staff expressed fury yesterday as recently released figures suggested they may have accepted a salary offer last month based on information that didn’t mean what they thought it did . “
“Many NHS workers could experience an unpleasant shock,” she wrote. ‘Employers in the NHS, the official body in charge of NHS personnel, just released the new 2018/9 pay rates – and for many NHS workers they don’t appear to be the same as the 2018 pay figures / 9 indicated by staff. before they voted on the deal. In fact, on average across all salary ranges and points of scale, they seem to initially grant only about half the salary increase from April 2018 that many employees might have expected, according to calculations by OurNHS.
The secretary general of the Royal College of Nursing apologized to its members for buying out the government and resigned.
2019: Bolsonaro’s Amazon fire
Much of the media coverage of Russia and the wider former Soviet Union has always focused on the Kremlin and its current inhabitant. And in the years since Trump’s election, the treatment of Vladimir Putin in most Western media has become obsessive.
The ODR section of openDemocracy has always taken a different approach to understanding this vast expanse of the planet and humanity: trying to understand and explain what is going on not by trying to guess what is going on in the man’s mind in the middle, but tracing his finger around the edge.