#AtoZ 1968 – “R” is for Rivers of Blood speech


“You’re going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people.” ~ Astronaut Frank Borman, on seeing the entire earth from outer space as he and the crew of the Apollo 8 returned from orbiting the moon.

Rivers of Blood
Enoch Powell

On April 20, 1968, British member of Parliament Enoch Powell addressed a meeting of the Conservative Political Center in Birmingham, England. His speech strongly criticized mass immigration, especially immigration to the United Kingdom. His speech became known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech (although Powell always referred to it as “the Birmingham speech”).

The phrase “rivers of blood” is an allusion to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid which was quoted by Powell: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

The speech caused a political storm and led to Powell’s controversial dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet by Conservative Party leader Edward Heath. In his speech, Powell stated, “We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses whom they have never seen.” The Times newspaper declared it ‘an evil speech,’ stating, “This is the first time that a serious British politician has appealed to racial hatred in this direct way in our postwar history.” The Times went on to record incidents of racial attacks in the immediate aftermath of Powell’s speech. One such incident took place on April 30: it involved a slashing incident with 14 white youths chanting “Powell” and “Why don’t you go back to your own country?” at patrons of a West Indian christening party.

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BONUS MUSIC!
Here’s the #17 song from Billboard’s Year-End Top 100 Singles of 1968
“Stoned Soul Picnic” by The Fifth Dimension

Post-Brexit Uncertainty


 

Roger Cohen of the New York Times termed it a “leap in the dark.”  Donald Trump hailed the vote, crowing that Brits are “taking back their country.” And Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, declared the vote “a victory against big business and big politics.”

So, what does this vote mean to you? Well, for starters, as I write this post at 9:55am on Friday, the US stock market is down 500 points. You might see your 401K drop 10, 20, or even 30%. That’s your retirement money, the extra you set aside for your later years. The Federal Reserve is watching. There is already a lot of volatility in the world – and we are all connected, you know – Asian markets fall, the British pound sterling plummets.

Spain is calling for joint control of Gibraltar. Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU, began a new move today to hold a new referendum on independence from the UK. And perhaps most importantly, Brexit spreads across Europe, with Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark all calling for referendums. Is immigration the reason? Possibly it is the major reason. “Between 1993 and 2014, the foreign-born population in the UK more than doubled, from 3.8 million to around 8.3 million, said Oxford researchers Cinzia Rienzo and Carlos Vargas-Silva. “During the same period, the number of foreign citizens increased from nearly 2 million to more than 5 million.”

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In my opinion, the Brexit vote wasn’t about the economy. It was about xenophobia. And if America doesn’t pay close attention, we could follow down the same dark path.

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