Sunday, February 27, 2005

Scattered Thoughts (But Not Wales Yet)

I hope everyone is doing very well and that they enjoy my very long overdue finishing up of my time in Wales. (Part of this line was written 26 Feb. at 1 AM The rest is from the time the stamp shows) :)

Of course just as always I have to give you an update of the past few days to be sure that the past is put in the context of whats happening to me right now. Well yesterday I went to a conference about how to stop the BNP (British National Party). They are a very far right wing group that is fascist. They hate all immigrants and ethnic minorities. They are racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and have a dislike for Jewish People. It was very interesting to hear and read about them. I had never heard of such a party before. Well at least not in current times. The party is like an offspring of the National Front which gained popularity in some areas and there were race riots back in the past. So the conference was about how to stop them. One of the big things that was talked about was telling others and informing them that there is such things going on currently. The other big thing is to not allow them to get in power. Once they have power it is harder to remove fascist governments. One of the most important things is writing to the BBC and other newsources and expressing our outrage when they are presented on the radio or in papers as a normal and good party just as anyother. Public outcry can have a big effect in journalism. The BNP also should not be given government money for advertising. The network of people/group working on stopping the BNP is United Against Fascism http://www.uaf.org.uk/ . They were the main group at the conference yesterday. One of the seminars my friend Marie (who went with me) and I went to was a Holocaust Survivor. He was in Auschwitz and was transfered from many different camps. I will write more about him in the near future once I read the book that he wrote. Marie bought it (well I gave her one pound). Once she is done I will read it and it will get passed around I am certain. It really was amazing to hear him speak of the atrocities. The most interesting part was that he is English but in the process of everything his passport was lost and he was not allowed to contact anyone. He did have ancestors that lived in the Rotterdam where he was living at the time. For a more thorough explanation of his background and some of his life go to http://www.movinghere.org.uk/stories/story85/story85.htm or http://www.guardian.co.uk/secondworldwar/story/0,14058,1389433,00.html. His wife and 2 year old son were gassed not long after the family arrived at the first concentration camp. He ended up in a camp because he couldn't leave Rotterdam in time and because a friend who he had entrusted to keep his passport and some money in safe keeping panicked out of fear that they would discover that he was hiding it (which was helping a Jewish person I guess.) The friend burned it leaving him paperless to prove his nationality.

After he was liberated from Buchenwald on 11 April 1945. The next year he began to tell his story and has been doing so since then. What I found the most interesting was how alive nazism and fascism is still alive today. It is sickening. He has received death threats and called a liar in a fascist paper. He has had bricks thrown in through his windows by the National Front. Two years ago he received terrible "Christmas" cards (I don't know what kind of Christian sends the kinds of cards he received). There were nazi symbols drawn on them and one card said he would have made a good lampshade. He told us how he truly fears the occurrence of another Holocaust or at the least the strong rising in fascism. I was disgusted, saddened, frightened, moved, and everything else imaginable at the time.

So after the seminar in which he spoke. We went to a plenary (larger conference) and another one after that. They spoke of how to stop the BNP which I spoke of above. After the conference and after helping clean up some we went to Planet Organic which is both a vegetarian deli style café and an organic store. It was good food but the problem I have is that they give you the food (unless its soup) in plastic containers. I notice this with many "healthy" places to eat. They serve good food but the packaging is terrible for the environment. So after I had a lentil, onion, garlic soup (I think that's what it was) we looked around the store and I found chickpeas which were not canned. I was terribly excited because canned chickpeas always have added salt and such. I am now soaking them in water because they were incredibly hard and shriveled. I wonder though when chick peas/garbanzo beans and picked what are they like? Do they dehydrate them to pack them in a bag or do they cook them to put them in a can? If someone could leave a comment on what they think it is that would be excellent!

So after that we went to Teco's (Supermarket) for Marie to get her chocolate fix and then he headed to Goodge St. Tube Stop to meet up with some people to head to a Malaysian society thing.

That and I guess Wales will once again have to wait because its now 1230. I started a while ago but then went next door to talk to Carlos when I saw that the lights were on in his room. He has a friend from Spain in and I wanted to meet him. He was very cool. He only really spoke Spanish. He's a second year Physical Therapy Student. It was cool meeting more people from all over the place. Last weekend I think it was, I met Carlos's sister who was in town to visit. She was very shy but looks just like Carlos. He has taken them around the town and shown them the highlights. Just like some of you may get if you come to visit me. Right, about that sleep thing. It will happen now.

Peace all. - Neal

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