From his mocking of ‘taking the knee’, to denying the importance of human rights, to being undeniably out of touch; here’s why Dominic Raab is a bad guy.
Taking the knee
Last week foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, showed his true colours yet again, after demeaning and belittling the significance of taking the knee for the BLM movement.
When speaking on talkRadio last Thursday, Raab was asked whether he would personally take the knee, to which he distastefully responded:
“Do you know what? I understand this sense of frustration, of restlessness, which is driving the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve got say, on this take the knee thing – which, I don’t know, maybe it’s got a broader history but it seems to be taken from the Game of Thrones – feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation. But I understand people feel differently about it, so it’s a matter of personal choice.”
It is shocking, but probably not surprising, to see the foreign secretary’s lack of education and ignorance towards the symbol and what it represents for BIPOC — especially during these times of strife and threat. Raab inadvertently represented the majority of the British government in their entrenched racism and adversity towards justice for the BLM movement in his callous statement.
Outrage towards his comments was shared by former shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, who announced on Twitter that: “‘Taking the knee began in 2016 with American athletes refusing to stand for US national anthem. They were protesting police brutality and racism. But Dominic Raab thinks it comes from Game of Thrones!!!”
Upon the realisation of his catastrophic error, Raab later backtracked on Twitter saying: “To be clear: I have full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement and the issues driving them. If people wish to take a knee, that’s their choice and I respect it. We all need to come together to tackle any discrimination and social injustice.”
However, when comparing Raab’s consideration of the issue to that of the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, the problems of racism at the top of the Tory party become even clearer. Demonstrating his solidarity with the movement, Starmer openly and proudly took the knee alongside deputy leader Angela Rayner, also stating that he believes the foreign secretary will “live to regret” his statement.
Not only is Raab’s approach to this symbolic action bad enough in itself, but his response is equally seeded with an old fashioned notion of gender roles, and a hint of misogyny. Raab suggested: “I’d take the knee for two people: the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me.”
The importance of taking the knee
When considering the historical value of taking the knee, Raab’s comments become increasingly offensive. During the Civil Rights Movement, in 1965 Martin Luther King Jr. historically took the knee during a march in Selma, Alabama, in addition to countless other occasions.
According to the Guardian, the symbol goes as far back as the 18th century, featured on a medallion created by Josiah Wedgewood, showing a slave kneeling in chains with the inscription “Am I Not a Man and a Brother”.
Frequently done during times of group prayer, the symbol has carried through to the present day. Remerging as a symbol to highlight racism and present solidarity, in 2016 NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick famously took the knee before a game during the national anthem. However, this action remains separate from Kaepernick’s inspiration in his kneeling, which came from his protest to stand during the national anthem.
Regardless of intent, the symbol of taking the knee has a rich and significant history for BIPOC, which truly highlights Raab’s ignorance as he asserted that it is “a symbol of subjugation and subordination”.
A host of controversy
Raab’s comments last week are, unfortunately, not out of character given his extensive history of being shamefully controversial, especially surrounding issues of feminism, human rights and his inability to be in touch with ‘the people’.
During the 2019 election, Raab defended his 2011 comment that “feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots”. Raab insisted that: “The point I was making is that sexism is wrong and it’s wrong if it’s said about a woman or about a man and I think equality is too precious a value for us to put up with double standards. I do think we should call hypocrisy out in political debate and political life.” Although this hardly matches up.
Not only this, but Raab has additionally stated: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights.” As terrible as this, it gets worse as he believes that properly funding the NHS is a “just a childish wish list”, and that “the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty. It’s someone who has a cashflow problem episodically.”
The irony of it all is his insistence that he has been fighting the for “fairness” all of his working life.
Raab is ignorant, out of touch, misogynistic and adverse to social rights. Dominic Raab is a bad guy.