Several years ago I spotted a slogan painted on the door of a box of a building on Highgate Road: "KILL DA JEWS". The "da" was clever, designed to appeal to the would-be South Central LA homeboys. It was soon painted over, of course, but.
I used to work with a project not far from there, that got 15-year-olds off the streets who'd been out of school for some time. We gave them basic maths and English, and practical work in the form of carpentry and joinery (they made some great doll's houses). The idea was to settle them and get them ready for sixth form college so they could get some qualifications and vocational training. It worked well, and still does.
One boy was a very genial lad who wasn't that bright but corrected my bad work when I tried to clean the project's fish tank and filter. He was hooked on cannabis, "bud" or "Bu-ddha" as he would put it. He knew he wasn't going to get anywhere till he kicked it, but giving up was hard. He needed a core, something to surrender to, just as with the twelve-step program. In his case, he decided to get religion.
So he began his daily discipline through Islam, breaking off from study or play to pray at the right intervals. To help him with his meditations, he had an unlabeled recording he'd got from somewhere and we found him a portable player. It was devotional Islamic song and the voice was exquisite, a calm, pure tenor. I listened with him and our minds went into a blue space.
Maybe five or ten minutes after the start, another voice joined in, preaching hatred for the Zionists. The speaker, in his twenties by the sound of it, also had a pleasant voice, and timed the phrases to blend with the hypnotic beauty of the chant. On and on he went.
I was horrified. This decent lad, young, not academic, impressionable, in need of guidance and leadership, was being groomed, I thought. I spoke to the other staff, and they pooh-poohed it - he was such a good-hearted kid that we couldn't imagine him doing any harm to anyone; and they were probably right.
But the intention of whoever had burned that CD was clear. And with a cleverer adolescent, ambitious to get some adult status and respect, it would work, given time. There are many young people without jobs, money or much to do, but they can have coffee at each others' houses, swap recordings, surf the Net. It'll start from where they are, in a teen culture of ghetto-speak and weed, then it'll become more serious and focused, bending the twig as it grows. It's not Hitler's health and exercise bands any more, or the uniformed rallies; it's bedroom fantasyland gradually taking on reality.
All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment.