We’ve all been in that situation where, amidst a discussion about world issues, someone has said to us, “Oh, I’m not into politics.” What I’ve never understood is how someone can simply not be “into” politics. No one is asking you to like politics, because let’s face it, who does especially considering the trainwreck it is right now. Nor are you being asked to read politically-inclined books in your free time. But by saying you’re not “into” politics, you’re rejecting the fact that every aspect of your life is politically controlled.
Two weeks ago, I read this article about Britain’s Conservative party having an issue with Islamophobia, and it set off something inside of me. The dog-whistle tones that the Conservative party have been putting out for years has created a hostile environment towards British Muslims. Recently, MP Andrea Leadsom played into these discriminative structures by feeding into the notion that issues faced by British-born Muslims are meant for the foreign office.
Islamophobia is a genuine concern, and the British government should stop taking it so lightly. I mean, since when did hate crimes against British Muslims in Britain become a foreign issue? Instead of tackling this issue head-on, they are burying their heads in the sand and funding Islamophobic schemes, like PREVENT, which is fuelling even more hate and prejudice in schools.
This is why it frustrates me when people say they aren’t into politics. The only reason why you, as an individual, can choose to not talk about politics is because you have the privilege to do so. You have been born with the privilege of a different race, or gender, or religion that allows you to disregard political issues as they won’t directly affect you. You have the privilege to not be “into” politics because you won’t have dealt with micro-aggressions, online hate, or blatant discrimination thrown to your face.
Let’s not forget that Islamophobia is not exclusive to Britain, it is a worldwide issue built upon decades of structural oppression that needs to be solved. Just three days after I wrote a status bemoaning the privilege of those who “aren’t into politics,” Christchurch happened. Fifty-one innocent Muslims were killed in a terror attack by a white supremacist.
One thing I’ve been asking myself since that happened is “why?” Why would someone want to go out of their way to learn about Islam, find out where our mosques are, the times we pray, and that Friday is our holy day, just to cause death and destruction? I truly believe that the dividing undertones that our politicians put out is what fuels hate crimes such as the one in Christchurch. It is what causes trauma to people all around the world. And in addition to that, the idea that someone “isn’t into politics” helps fuel the fire of division through the display of sheer apathy.
So what is the solution? It’s not like we can force people to be into politics, and they will suddenly want to actively engage in it. By having more women — especially women of colour and minority women — in politically-based fields, perhaps we can open up the doors of representation for those young people who feel like they have no voice in the world.
And for those who deny politics due to their privilege, take a look around you. Your friends around the world are suffering, and have been for far too long. Do not be another figure to feed into the system. We can all break away from these barriers to see real change now. But this requires us to bond together, and as long as you continue to “not be into politics,” unity is a long shot.