The ongoing controversy over racist comments made by Goldsmiths University diversity officer Bahar Mustafa has generated a national conversation on the state of identity politics, with the editor of politics.co.uk being the latest to weigh in. Students at Goldsmiths are currently deciding whether or not to hold a vote of no confidence in Ms Mustafa, while a change.org petition calling for her removal continues to gain signatures. As the controversy continues, Breitbart London sat down with Andy Keane, the physics student who created the petition, to hear his views on why he thinks Mustafa has to go.
Keane also provided us with exclusive screencaps of further comments from Mustafa, taken before her Facebook page before the controversy erupted. They include “#killallwhitemen still” and “Omg… Kill them all. What’s wrong with white people?”. Keane says the screencaps were provided to him by a student at Goldsmiths.
An edited transcript follows.
Let’s start off by talking about you and your background. I understand “Andy Keene”, the name on the change.org petition, isn’t your real name.
Keane: Actually it is sort of my real name – there’s just an “a” in place of one of the “e”s.
And you’re happy to reveal that?
Keane: Sure. It’s about time I stood up for what I believe is right. Maybe other people will be inspired?
Is there any reason you were staying (sort of) pseudonymous until now?
Keane: Yes. I actually planned out how I should go about this. And I realised that the extreme – the far left – their method of attack, which you see quite a lot if you follow their activities online, is by basically plaguing people so much that they cannot get support for whatever it is they’re trying to do with their own lives. You’re dealing with people who won’t read all sides of all stories – their blinkers are on with regards to their own thought processes. So I didn’t want to compromise my own career, my own future by being faced with people who won’t hear any voices of reason.
So you think people would have attacked you, your own career, and your own reputation…Because you called out racism?
Keane: Yes. Absolutely.
Is it really so controversial to call out racism? In 2015?
Keane: Well I think it is when you call it out and you are a certain skin colour. Everyone, myself included puckers up at even the thought of it. But we have to address what’s been inherited by just normal average everyday white guys who are just trying to get on with life and try to do the best they can.
But we seem to have this burden of colonialism that’s holding over, and is being used aggressively, it seems, by people who are unaware of their responsibility to the public. They will take it an extra step further.
My family were repressed by people – I’m [also] from a marginalized background –
What background is that?
Keane: My maternal grandparents were Poles, and they were sent to the Gulag during World War Two. They’re still Polish, still alive, and survived the Gulag. But they were sent from Poland, after they were attacked there (they were just poor farmers) to Russia. They escaped, but they had to walk their way through Siberia, trek their way through China to escape execution. They walked through India, and eventually made their way to the British Army. Then they were bombed by U-boats as they made their way on Merchant Navy ships crossing from Bombay towards British Africa. But eventually they made their way to the UK, which was taking in a lot of people at the time who could help with the war cause.
On my father’s side, my grandfather was actually ex-IRA. He was fighting against the Brits for a long time, but he eventually decided that the Nazi problem was bigger, and ended up joining Montgomery’s team, and ended up fighting in Africa as part of the tank squadrons.
And this was all during the Second World War…
Keane: Yes. I’m the offspring of the Second World War, and seeing how the white race can treat their own people. That’s the perspective I’m coming from.
So do you think this whole idea that white people have a history of privilege and oppression – you think that’s an oversimplification?
Keane: I think it’s more than an oversimplification, I think it’s dangerous. I think it’s massively dangerous.
The way I come from it, as a white man – I’m aware of the history of violence, but I also see the tremendous beauty we’ve caused in the world. This free place we’ve created in Britain is fantastic. You’re allowed to have an opinion and you won’t be attacked for it – unless of course, and this is the problem we have here – if you’re a certain race.
I think what should be supported more is our accomplishments, and what we’re trying to achieve and where we’re trying to go…
Do you think there’s a problem with focusing on the negatives of any race?
Keane: Exactly, yes. How can you build a new world if you hate? You can’t. The alternative seems to be calling for the genocide of people, which is what we have here. If you want to be the only person in the world, with just your own marginalized group, the only way of doing it is – which is this strange Marxist theory which they all seem to be running by – is by calling for the deaths of people other than your own. It’s very strange.
You think this is linked to a particular political ideology then?
Keane: Oh I think it is, yeah. Particularly with Ms Mustafa’s background, and particularly with the students that’ve been contacting me. It seems a lot more radical than I would care for, to be honest.
You can see from her promotional campaign as a diversity officer – she has the mujahideen, women with guns out wearing full burkas – as part of her promotional materials…
Keane: Yeah! There are websites that still show the material .. I mean, it’s not just the “#killallwhitemen” hashtag that was being used.
I’ve had several ex-friends of her email me to say “Thank you for what you’re doing, you’re actually giving us a voice about our opinions, because we’ve been quietened down about this in university”.
These are students at Goldsmiths, who have actually been screencapping what’s going on there.
I’ve noticed that the middle class students who often engage in this type of language often come from fairly privileged backgrounds themselves.
Keane: I think it’s their lack of experience in the world. They only pay attention to one side of an issue… how can they know the full picture? I’m getting literally thousands of emails… well, it’s the same people repeatedly, it seems, based on IP checks. I haven’t actually told them this, but I know it’s coming from the same person. And they all can’t see beyond their own blinkers. How can you possibly shape the world if you haven’t seen the world?
You think this kind of thinking is a product of youthful naivete then?
Keane: Well, I think it’s actually a lot more than that and it’s actually quite dangerous. The reason I’m pushing for police involvement is because…. To use one example, there was a holocaust memorial that was voted down by the Goldsmiths union because it was believed to be “Eurocentric”.
There was another motion put before the student union that wanted to stop the handing out of pro-ISIS material to young people. Basically encouraging young people to go out and join extremist organizations. But they voted it down because they said it would be ‘anti-Islamic’.
Thinking beyond student politics, do you think the attitudes of people like Mustafa and her supporters is encouraged by the academic establishment? By the professors?
Keane: I think it is to a certain extent. I’m a student myself, I study Physics. But from what I’ve seen, from the kinds of people studying those [other] types of degrees –
What types of degrees?
– gender studies and so on. I think it’s an issue to a certain extent. I’m sure she would have been encouraged by certain professors. It’s sort of like seeing a protege in someone.
But is it necessarily the professors? There are multiple sources that could encourage this – it could be the media, it could be social media. The question is – where are young people learning to be racist, to have this “#killallwhitemen”-type thinking?
Keane: Well yes, she could have got the [idea] from some other source. I think all information should be freely accessible, but when you have people promoting it, and when you feel that you’re part of a demographic that you think is being attacked by the outside world….Sometimes that [mentality] comes from not achieving what you want. You look at the extremism, and the hate coming from all sides – and the ISIS promotional campaign is a good example – you have a lot of young people now defining themselves as separate from the rest of society, and I worry about it coming from up above.
I think it’s the university’s job to curtail that belief system, and say that maybe we can shape the world if we do it together. You don’t fix that world by killing everyone, unless you’re very tribalistic. And that’s what we see here – it’s a very fascistic view.
The typical job description of a diversity officer is to promote good relations between different ethnic groups on campus, to make sure everyone feels welcome regardless of their background. What do you think was going through Mustafa’s mind when she decided it would be a good idea to say things like “kill all white men”?
Keane: Well, that’s the whole thing. People are focused on just the #killallwhitemen hashtag, but the story gets deeper. There was another message she posted on Facebook reading “Oh my god, white people are the worst, why can’t we just kill them all?”. I’m glad you’re releasing this, as I’m getting this [information] from students –
So it’s quite common then? It seems like it’s even fashionable?
Keane: Yes, it’s a regular pattern. And what I’m seeing is where it’s becoming an issue – the Independent was trying to push it, saying she’s being brave and radical.
So the establishment is encouraging it?
Keane: Well this is the Independent, which is a rag, as I’ve now found out…
Isn’t it a well-respected newspaper? Isn’t it odd that you’d get a piece like that in a well-respected newspaper?
Keane: Well I thought it was fairly respected. I’d actually bought the paper before.
I used to be left leaning myself, but now I realize that what the left wants is to be put on a pedestal without needing to work for it. But things suddenly dangerous with this new wave of feminism where people think they have a right to everything without working for it, without putting the effort in, so you have to shame people who are trying in other ways because you think other people are doing better.
As for her comments, I think it’s encouraging a dangerous thought pattern for people that might be potentially radicalized anyway –
How does that relate to hating white men?
Keane: Well that’s what I mean. The radicalization. If you think the white man is the oppressor…I mean, if you take that hashtag there and replace the word “white man” with any race or gender of your choosing – how uncomfortable would you be if you did that? Especially if you’re in a position of authority. I mean, people are looking up to this person – it’s a case of criminal neglect.
Mustafa’s comments are obviously inappropriate for a diversity officer…
Keane: Yeah, to say the least! I have actually been wondering if we should have integration officers instead of diversity officers. I think what we have here is a good thing, hence people escaping the horrors to come here. Why change that by attacking the very system which is accepting?
.. And many would be sympathetic to the demand for a vote of no confidence to remove her from that position. But now the police are involved…. President Obama recently made a new Twitter account and received a lot of racist messages, but he later told the press that it was the price you have to pay for free expression. Doesn’t it say something bad about free speech in this country where you can be arrested for offensive tweets?
Keane: Well that’s a good point well made. I didn’t vote for David Cameron myself, but I think he was right when he talked about these new laws that he’s about to introduce, where he said that we can no longer just be passive.
The way I see it, this is a Judeo-Christian society, and we were all raised with the idea of “turn your other cheek to violence”. And that’s how we’ve all learned to be tolerant of each others’ opinions. That’s how you create social cohesion. You don’t attack someone just because you disagree with them.
Are Mustafa’s comments just hate speech or incitement to violence?
Keane: I wasn’t thinking it was incitement at first, but when I saw the 3rd, 4th, 5th tweet, and it wasn’t just the hashtag, then I started to think that this should be handled in a legal capacity. It had me worried about the future of people at Goldsmiths.
And then I started getting emails from students after I’d started the petition, and they’re all saying that they’re feeling very uncomfortable with the situation that’s going on there.
Possibly feeling “unsafe”?
Keane: Yeah. For example, I was told she started a campaign to occupy the university, demanding free education for everyone. There was a little petition at the start, from working class people, saying “let us go back – we need our university space”. And in addition to the little room they took over, they had people running down hallways with chains while people were trying to study. The art students – who had a gallery of their own work at the university – they had to pay extra 24-hour security guards to stand looking after these paintings. On top of that, within the room they occupied was a Steinway Piano – and they’d thrown open the dust cover and were using it as a drinks holder. This was from a university diversity officer, and this was during exam time!
Speaking personally, the reason I started this petition was due to observing the Rochdale case, and the whole question of “When is it OK to be a victim if you’re white?”. That’s why I’m trying to raise this whole point. The Greater Manchester Police covered up this crime because they were afraid of being called out as racist – because this was a group of 14 Asian men, who were basically massive pedophiles, preying on young children.
So you think society has a problem in terms of recognising white victims of hate crimes?
Keane: Exactly, yeah. When is it OK to say, actually, hang on a second, can we look at statistics here, can we look at what’s going on? It’s a case of white people ending up the victims of crimes, sometimes due to racial tensions – but you can never mention this.
It’s very strange. It’s a strange world being created by a very select group of people.
The way I look at the world is, and the way I think most people look at the world is, it’s 2015, I don’t care what skin colour you are, I don’t care what your gender is, or your sexual orientation. I really don’t care. I hope you’re doing well, because it makes the world a better place if you’re doing well with your life. It’s just a select few people who still think they’re being marginalized and say they want to go out and kill people for their skin color.
But they’re not actually going to go out and kill people for their skin colour, are they? Do you think this was serious? She says it was ironic.
Well I’ve read the other tweets, and I don’t really read any irony there.
So are you in favor of hate speech laws?
Keane: I think you should be free to express your disgust, if you really are so out there, with whoever you like. I’m pro-freedom. Say your opinion. Say who you don’t like. I really don’t care at all. But as soon as you involve violence, then the world gets a lot more complicated.
Lots of people say “I’m going to kill you” and they don’t really mean it, do they? They’re just angry.
Keane: No they don’t, but this was pointing out peoples skin colour and saying “can’t we just kill them all” multiple times from a university diversity officer!
When is it OK to put your hand up and point out what is happening without fear of retribution or being labelled a racist because you are white? I’d like to see it. And I’d like to not see diversity officers in universities calling for genocide, even if it’s a joke and it’s in bad taste. I think people should be respectful of their positions, and realise that not all people have the exact same thought processes as yourself. It’s irresponsible, especially when it’s people in positions of authority, and especially when it’s young people involved.
You may have a personal cause … But you don’t take it to extremes. For a person to be in a position where they should be responsible, and where they do have young people looking up to them, who are feeling marginalised, they should be able to live up to that responsibility.
What I’m looking for is for her to receive the same equal treatment that anyone else would receive if they called for another race to be killed.
Follow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter.