Courtesy is Not a Tip
Tricycles of Beijing

The Right Kind of Prejudice

In response to this article, one of our regulars, Clazy, highlighted the words of Lee Jasper, the “Director for Equalities” for London’s Islamist-hugging mayor, Ken Livingstone. Jasper has argued that “you have to treat people differently to treat them equally.” Clazy regards this as “pure Orwell.” Rightly so, I think.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Jasper or Livingstone that the multicultural ‘identity politics’ of which they’re such enthusiasts can actually exacerbate suspicion and resentment. If some notional “communities” are being treated differently and being encouraged to cultivate difference for social or political leverage, then getting past a person’s skin colour or place or origin seems more difficult, not less. One is continually being reminded of how different a person is, or thinks he ought to be. A cynic might point out that the racial grievance industry - and the various commentators and lobbyists who benefit from it - depends on people being preoccupied by the colour of a person’s skin. And therefore, one might suppose, there’s an incentive to make sure lots of people are.

Scott Burgess has pointed out that some commentators can apparently detect racism in “homeopathic concentrations.” This paranormal sensitivity is, I think, pretty much inevitable among some race industry professionals. The threshold of grievance has to be lowered continually in order to justify further crusading – and, of course, to justify status, funding, media attention, etc. Eventually, left unchecked, this hypersensitivity can reach the level of paranoia, perpetuating the attitudes it claims to oppose.

Writing in the Times, Jamie Whyte challenged the assumptions of racial identity propagated by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality:

“Like many others in the race industry, Mr Phillips is a racialist. He thinks that your race is the most important fact about you… I do not worry about my brown daughter suffering racist discrimination. That is rare in our community. I am more worried that she fall for the idea that her skin is her identity, and believe herself the victim of fantastical injuries such as ‘identity-stripping’… The interests of do-gooding organisations are always at odds with their goals. Succeed and you put yourself out of business. With racism in rapid retreat and mixed-race children on the rise, there is one great contribution the Commission for Racial Equality could make to its official cause. Stop existing.”

I doubt it’s coincidental that the most racially fixated people I’ve met have been uptight lefties schooled in the kind of posturing favoured by Mr Phillips and so many of his colleagues. I realise the very suggestion is likely to provoke the tearing of hair and rending of garments, but there we are. One left-leaning activist even told me, quite triumphantly, that he couldn’t possibly be racist because he isn’t white and “only white people are racist.” 

If those sentiments seem too ridiculous to be taken seriously and too implausible to be shared by any significant number of people, I should point out that the Guardian’s deputy comment editor, Joseph Harker, has said the same, and more, several times: “All white people are racist… As a black man… I cannot be racist… because in the global order I do not belong to the dominant group.” When such views appear in the mainstream organ of the British left, voiced by a member of its own editorial staff, this isn’t exactly a cause for optimism. Presumably, Mr Harker feels he’s writing for a constituency of sympathetic readers. Let's hope not. But if people are exposed to Harker’s views and those of others like him on a fairly regular basis – say, by reading the Guardian with suitable credulity – then it’s no great surprise if some of those readers start to repeat the same ‘correct’ set of prejudices. Righteously, of course.

More on this subject here.