Tuesday 10 February 2009

New Meanings: Racism?

It seems we've now reached a level of public insanity where 'inclusiveness' (usually thought of as anti-racist) can be labelled 'racist' and be used as a weapon to hound a well-intentioned person out of a job. This is, of course, straightforward bullying, the word 'racist' used as a blunt weapon. In yesterday's Start the Week, there was a long and convoluted discussion of the Satanic Verses affair and its legacy, in the course of which Andrew Marr asked one question that made all the rest of the argument pretty irrelevant: Isn't it just that we're scared of offending Muslims because they're uniquely likely to resort to violence? This question (and its implied answer) remained hovering in the air.
What, then, is racism? I would suggest it goes something like this. I wonder if he'll lose his job. I wonder also at the quality of advice the boy Milliband is getting....


  1. Depends who you talk to. It's easy to think the bad boys are more numerous than they probably are. How many "men of violence" were there ever in Northern Ireland? It only takes a few hundred to mess things up for millions. The bad boys are more vocal, make great headlines and their spokesmen and friends in academe are often taken to represent Muslims generally by mentalists in the BBC and elsewhere.

    If you went into a rough part of London or Detroit and started spouting nonsense you would be very likely to end up leaving on a stretcher regardless of anything to do with race or religion. I imagine the same would likely be true in Cairo or Tehran. On the other hand if you were taken suddenly unwell, I bet you'd receive more help from passers-by in the last two places than in the first two.

  2. Yes I'm sure you're right on the second point Mark, but this school thing does seem to be spontaneous parental protest, which would suggest the aggrieved-and-offended mindset goes beyond those ghastly 'spokesmen' that so impress the government, BBC etc. It seems, too, to be a classic case of using the values of liberalism as weapons against liberalism.

  3. i've found that 'racism', like calling someone Hitler or a Nazi, is almost always a knee-jerk response by, well, jerks: obnoxious people who can't think for themselves, so they opt for the ready-made coinage of insult, with the added bonus of feeling on the side of all that is good as they deliver the insult. Bad eggs, generally, and cretins to boot.

    i've been subjected to genuinely racist abuse (e.g. being called 'you paki bastard' throughout school and having skinheads repeatedly mess me around on the street at uni, knocking me about & threatening to kick my head in). For me, real racism, racism worth complaining about, isn't that common, at least not in the UK.

    An elderly secretary i've worked with for the last 2 years openly admitted to being racist, then the same day said if i was lonely on Xmas i could come around and join her family for Xmas (we live close by each other). For me, if that's racism it's not worth complaining about.

    No, i'd be very wary of anyone who accuses someone of being racist.

  4. According to Daily Mail Mr Laxton got arrested "for inciting religious hatred." I find that hard to believe.

  5. "An elderly secretary i've worked with for the last 2 years openly admitted to being racist, then the same day said if i was lonely on Xmas i could come around and join her family for Xmas "

    People are indeed strange.

  6. It's no longer a word that describes a belief or attitude, defined either narrowly or broadly. It's become just an epithet that translates roughly as "You make me so angry I have no obligation to debate you and your voice doesn't count."