Polly and Boris
Friday Ephemera

Harker, Barking

Further to Manish Vij’s claims that Apu is a “crude racist stereotype” and that Hank Azaria is actually a “brown man”, today the Guardian’s very own PC bigot Joseph Harker berates those who dared to disagree.

Readers may remember Mr Harker for his willingness to redefine words to suit his arguments, his repeated assertion that “all white people are racist,” and his belief that, “as a black man… I cannot be racist… because in the global order I do not belong to the dominant group.” (Some of the more discerning Guardian readers have wondered how this remarkable claim might address the realities of “dominant power” in, say, Zimbabwe, or overtly racist assaults committed by people with dark skin.)   

Today, Mr Harker would have us believe that Manish Vij “put across some cogent arguments” – sadly, none of which are specified – and that the disagreement of many readers was in fact an example of the “now wearisome onslaught faced by any ethnic minority writer flagging up the issue of racism”: 

“Overwhelmingly negative, it seems that nearly every commenter either didn't understand his argument, or didn't want to. Each (rare) comment expressing empathy with the writer was immediately drowned out by a welter of antis.”

Harker doesn’t appear to entertain the - perhaps more obvious - possibility that readers did understand Vij’s arguments and simply found them wanting or absurd - for instance, the bizarre confusion regarding Mr Azaria’s pigmentation. Instead, Harker blames his non-compliant readers and insinuates some nefarious racial prejudice:

“Now, the Guardian is part of the British national press, which has traditionally been produced by and for white people (though things are slowly beginning to change). But this paper is at least supposed to be at the liberal end of the spectrum, so one would have thought there'd be a few progressive types out there prepared to come forward. But where are you? Have you all been frightened off by the bullies, the boors and the bigots?”   

Naturally, Harker pre-emptively defines “progressives” as those who agree with Manish Vij, and by extension with himself. One therefore wonders whether those who have the temerity to disagree with Mr Harker, even on matters of fact and logic, will in turn be dismissed as cowards, boors and bigots.

Righteously, he continues:

“Some time ago I wrote saying that all white people are racist. I didn't mean in-your-face, BNP-style racism, but the subtle, unthinking, subliminal kind. Now I think I was being too kind… If we want to have a sensible discussion about race, or racism, is it possible on a general-access website such as this? Or do we need to find a new corner of cyberspace, and boldly go where no stupid white man has gone before?”

It is, I fear, significant that Harker’s solution to encountering unexpected disagreement is to yearn for a different venue and a more sympathetic audience, rather than to present a more convincing argument.


Horace Dunn

What an extraordinary article. One paragraph is particularly outstanding for its all-consuming wrong-headedness. Harker says:

“Now I don't expect everyone to agree with him [Manish Viz], and wouldn't even want that - after all, the pages are supposed to be about a healthy debate. But it's not healthy when every minority opinion is given such sledgehammer treatment. (I exclude Muslim-Jewish issues, on which both sides have well-established lobbying power.) It's not that the individual comments are necessarily offensive (though there are many examples of these); it's just that there's no balance.”

Now, since he doesn’t expect “everyone” to agree, one wonders why he is so angry about it. One assumes that he just means that he would expect fewer people to disagree. I wonder what the proportion should be (60:40? 50:50?) before he sees this as a “healthy debate”.

Then he says that it’s not healthy when “every minority opinion is given such sledgehammer treatment”. What a bizarre assertion. Does Mr Harker live in the UK and write for the Guardian? Does he watch the BBC? His following parenthetical remark about Muslim-Jewish issues also seems ridiculously off-beam within the context of this argument. But supposing for a moment that it were “on-beam”, does he mean to suggest that other ethnic minority groups (Muslim-Jewish, of course, doesn’t refer simple to ethnic groups) don’t have lobbying power or influence? And should we therefore agree with the arguments – whatever they are – of people from ethnic minorities out of deference to their non-influential status?

His closing sentence to this mighty paragraph is a classic of whining Islingtonian snobbery. It’s just that there’s no balance, he says. What? Again, one needs to ask, what exactly would constitute balance? Presumably if the pro-anti proportions were reversed, Mr Harker would not be concerned about balance. Of course, we see what he’s saying here. It has nothing to do with balance, does it? It’s to do with agreement. Anyhow, I hope for Mr Harker’s sake that the commenters responding to his article fall into a nice 80% pro and 20% anti. That way he can feel – poor lamb – that his world is in balance, and there’ll be enough anti people to bear up his assertion that all white people are racist. I’m happy. You’re happy. Everybody’s happy! Ha ha ha.

I don’t even want to comment on the second half of the article where he seems to be saying that the validity of people commenting needs to be measured by their socio-economic circumstances and political leanings. Is it just me, or is that not just downright barmy?


Isn't "All white people are racist" a racist statement?


Morning people. I’m glad I’m not alone in seeing just how loaded and objectionable Mr Harker’s worldview is, and how impossible it would be to satisfy his sense of grievance. If a significant number of people disagree with his claims and prejudices, even on matters of fact, logic and basic definition, they can – and evidently will - be denounced as either cowardly or “subliminally” racist, if not overtly so. Some might regard this circular manoeuvre as ever so slightly paranoid.

Still, I was tickled by the idea of the Guardian’s readership being insufficiently sympathetic and PC. What a rarefied creature he must be.

Horace Dunn

The other thing that Harker doesn’t take into account when drawing conclusions about the whole of society from the commenters on the Guardian website (as I was typing that clause I started to laugh – I wonder why), is simple human nature. It’s a pretty safe bet that people who agree mildly, or even vehemently, with opinions set out on the website are less likely to post a comment. Why would you take the trouble to say “Hmm yes. I think you have made some good points there”? If, however, people find comments insulting or angry-making, then they’re more likely to have a go.

Just as if you have an agreeable stay in a hotel you probably won’t write to the proprietor afterwards, whereas if you had a rotten time then you’d likely expend lots of energy on letter-writing.

The other point, of course, is that internet message boards are a red rag to every snorting bull-merchant and half-wit who can type. But, still, even they are grist to Harker’s mill as long as they display the requisite racialist characteristics.


When it comes to racism, incoherence and paranoia, Harker has form. Last year, during the World Cup, he was insinuating that “England flag-wavers” are supporters of the BNP and are, secretly, “celebrating their racial pride.” (See link below.) It is, according to Harker, a very bad thing to celebrate any aspect of one’s ethnicity or culture. Unless, of course, it’s a non-white ethnicity and culture, in which case it must be asserted vigorously at all times.


If, as Harker claims, “all white people are racist”, at least “subliminally”, does that mean that all men are rapists, at least “subliminally”? That would seem to be the corresponding reasoning, and just as risible. It’s extraordinary to me that the Guardian - champion of all things righteous and PC - should employ this dim and contemptible bigot as its deputy comment editor.

But then, variations of this poisonous nonsense are promulgated by advocates of “race theory”, enthusiasts of identity politics and those with a taste for pretentious guilt. Which makes it pretty much a staple of the Guardian demographic. Hm. I stand corrected. He’s ideal for the job.


"Isn't "All white people are racist" a racist statement?"

The answer to this question is yes. Harker is a racist, he knows it, and he is using the Guardian as a platform to stir up racial hatred.


We could probably start the debate with a definition of what exactly is meant by "race".

In scientific terminology it only exists as an isolated evolution, the multi-ethnic world in which this debate will be heard makes it almost impossible for "race" to concieviablly exist, we all have the same basic DNA, what is being called "race" is in fact very minor variations in genetics.

We have to consider, if there _is_ such a thing as race, what qualification applies to each individual. As humans interbreed and subspecies multiply at impressive rates, what do we determine to be the race of someone who contains mixed geneology, of which there are many, it is already impossible to define the usual "black", "white" and "yellow".

Do we exclude, from "blacks", people with "white" ancestry, like Shirley Bassey, or do we include them, like Ryan Giggs ? Or are they a separate "race".

If a "pure black" and a "pure white" had a child, which mated with another similar child, the grandchildren would have anything from 100% "black" to 100% "white", how would this be determined ?

What is going to happen is the quagmire that apartied South Africa found itself in, trying to define a subset of humans by an almost infinite variety of genetic variation, which is largely impossible.

I believe that what is really being talked about here is "culture", not "race". And that, my friends, is facism.

If you want to claim "all white people are facist" you'll have a terrible job explaining that to the millions of "whites" affected by war through fighting against facism.

To acknowledge that race even exists, is ,by its own definition, being racist.


My culture for example, has appalling difficulty with spelling, I apologise.


Luckily, we are a forgiving people.



> In scientific terminology it only exists as an isolated evolution, the multi-ethnic world in which this debate will be heard makes it almost impossible for "race" to concieviablly exist, we all have the same basic DNA, what is being called "race" is in fact very minor variations in genetics.

I make use of this when filling in forms that require a PC element i.e. I choose the one I think they'll like to hear most. I also use "Gender is a choice", when filling in forms saying how many employees are female!

Play therm at their own game. AS the most discriminated against group in the country (white and male) you have too!

Dan Collins

Where in England, exactly, is Barking Moonbat?

Nic Cruickshank

this is the post I had on the comments section for Harker's blog :
"As a bi-racial Canadian of West Indian origin I wanted to address Mr Harker's response to Mr Vij's comments. First context, Apu is a stereotype on a show full of stereotypes. This is the Simpson's schtick. To single one out as detestable when others exist that are far more deplorable is hypocrisy. Mainstream American culture, which is an amalgamation of white and black influences, is generally the target. The usual jokes consist of white men as being stupid and oafish, only women have a modicum of intelligence, and relgious leaders are hypocrites of the grandest order. I confess it is often funny and the political wit of the show used to push boundaries in years gone by. That said I take offence with the idea that whites being a majority are the only racists. I have yet to meet anyone from any background devoid of any racial prejudices. In fact the people with the least amount of racial judgements are white people (which are typically well off and bourgeois). I walk in both worlds and as I see it none are free from guilt. Blanket statements about any race are in fact racist statement by definition. This brings me to a bigger point I'm sure very few, especially white people, will agree with me on. Why is racism the only remaining social taboo ? Calling for the destruction, killing or marginialization of any group is detestable but prejudicial thinking is everywhere and how can we logically hold it up as an absolute evil when every single one of us is guilty of this ? "

My point at the end which wasn't clear enough is that racial judgeemnts are made by all and we need to stop throwing personal prejudice in the same league as racist hatred and avocating harm to another person or group. The least overtly racist people I meet are white and usually middle class or upper class. Using Harker's own personal definition of racism leaves every person I have every met guilty of the racist charge. whites, latinos, blacks, east and west indians, south asians, oriental asians the list goes on. there is a difference between hatred, ignorance and misconception and we shoudl establish and uphold those boundaries to avoid muddy thinking.


Speaking of personal racism, I found this parody back then spot on, "ACLU-approved Santa Coming to Town":


Especially this exchange here:

HOLIDAY CLAUS: Well, children, its actually quite simple. A thoughtcrime occurs when: 1) A person with white colored skin 2) who is Christian 3) believes in, thinks of, or speaks of ideas or concepts which might be construed by any non-white skinned or non-Christian person as offensive in any way, shape, or form.

Jimmy: I like Chips Ahoy. Is that a thoughtcwime?

HOLIDAY CLAUS: Not unless eating cookies offends a non-Christian or someone with skin that is not white.....

Luis: I have white colored skin and I love Santa. Am I guilty?

HOLIDAY CLAUS: Are you Christian?

Luis: Yes.

HOLIDAY CLAUS: Then you are guilty.

Luis: Aye, dios mio!

HOLIDAY CLAUS: OH...was that Spanish I did hear? Why, then you are not guilty after all! I forgot to mention: Spanish speakers and thier children cannot commit thoughtcrimes.

Luis: Yay! I'm gonna call my daddy in Madrid and tell him how good I am!

HOLIDAY CLAUS: Oh....did you say Madrid as in Spain? Forget it, you're guilty.

Horace Dunn


You say:

"AS the most discriminated against group in the country (white and male) you have too!"

Did you intend this remark as a piece of rueful humour? Or did you intend it to be taken at face value?

I can see your point. It sometimes seems as though we white males are particularly put-upon. Nasty articles in the mainstream media such as the Harker one under discussion are a case in point. But for all the tiresomeness of the snooty PC crowd I can't help thinking that life in the UK treats us white males, on balance, as well as - and probably in many cases better - than those who are non-white and/or non-male.

Keep fooling around with the forms, though. You'll probably find that the people who have to read them are entertained by it, and are no more convinced by the usefuless of all this monitoring than you are. They just have to do it. Central government needs its targets.



I couldn't get help for my business with passing ISO 9000 because myself and my director were the wrong race and sex. I'm not sure that for instance Martin Luther King would approve.


At last MLK's dream has been achieved. We can now judge people by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.... oh, wait..


Mr. Croydon, thanks for the whiff of good sense. It never fails to amaze me that we racialize whole groups of people, and then, when they take their assigned identity seriously, and start to behave as though "race" has meaning, they're the ones called "racist," and the white guys become colour-blind all of a sudden.

Identity politics are a defensive phase in social evolution. There are serious problems with it--notably the essentializing of "race," ethnicity and culture. But if blame there must be, let's place it where it properly lies.


“But if blame there must be, let's place it where it properly lies.”

I think we can safely assume that Mr Harker is responsible for what falls from his mouth, repeatedly.


Police Foil racist act



Good grief, that's insane, ACO. Any descriptive factors are part of a police search, or should be--colour of hair, clothes, whether the fugitive is one-legged--or whether the person speaks with an American accent. This is one of those marginal events, I think, but for that very reason it needs to be seriously criticized.

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