Having followed the career of Diane Abbott MP for some years I consider her to be a great benefit to the House of Commons. While she is not as technically learned as some, she has a common sense approach that slices through bullshit like a knife through butter and, most of all, I believe that her heart is in the right place.
Now we hear that she has tweeted that “white people love to play divide and rule” and she is being lambasted as a racist. What are we to think?
Personally, I’m getting a feeling of Déjà vu. Back in March last year TV producer Brian True-May was suspended after being accused of racist comments relating to the ITV series Midsummer Murders. When speaking in an informal situation, he was asked if his Ms Marple style/chocolate box program should have ethnic minorities. He answered no and added that “..it wouldn’t be the English village with them”. A friend of mine told me that suspension was not enough and that Mr. True-May should be imprisoned!
The comments of Mr. True-May and Dianne Abbot do nothing to show racism. If we held ourselves to the same standard as we hold other people we would all be behind bars. On the face of it both comments ARE racist but only an idiot would depend on these words in isolation to judge a persons character and the calls for the resignation of Ms. Abbott are merely political opportunism.
As a white man, I understand Dianne’s comments while welcoming her clarification. In truth the baying mobs who chant RACIST have more in common with real racist than do the, usually innocent, people who stumble into these mine fields laid by the mean spirited and the lame witted.
This is not to say that all who utter remarks such as these are not racist, just that the judging of people by a handful of isolated remarks shows a bigotry and prejudice more in keeping with the likes of the BNP. The accusations come from a “them and us” mentality. They are supported by the simplistic idea that racism is a simple yes/no analysis. That anyone whose commitment to anti-racism is called into question must be immediately rejected as evil. Often, I suspect, this attitude is propelled by the fear of the finger of racism being pointed at anyone who dares defend such people.
This week real racism was in the news in the form of the conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris for the murder of Stephen Larwence. When confronted with events such as this, we may be forgiven for wondering whether hypocrisy in the racism debate really matters? While Brian True-May might have lost a few weeks pay and Dianne Abbot a few voters this is nothing when compared to the horrendous suffering by many black people in this country as demonstrated by the murder of Stephen Lawrence..
I believe that hypocrisy in the racism debate does matter. While not knowing anything about Brian True-May I am not willing to brand him as racist for the handful of comments I have been fed during a media frenzy. Similarly nobody with any intelligence or sincerity who follows politics can seriously consider Dianne Abbott a racist.
If we continue to turn on each other every time one of us is accused of racism then we will all learn to disguise our opinions and this will not be a good thing. I am told by English friends who work in America that it is almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation at work. Nobody even tries as they are all afraid of tripping up over racism, sexism, agism or any other bloody ism. Yet do we consider America to be the least racist of countries? The election of President Obama would suggest that they are yet the disgraceful attacks on Mr. Obama indicate otherwise.
The debate on racism has become stilted and the two extremes monopolise debate. The outright racists at one end and the bigoted anti-racist at the other. Each side can be recognised by their obsession with hate. Their insistance on dividing humanity into absolute good and absolute bad. This leaves the rest of us walking on eggshells.
The intermittent witch hunts betray a society desperate to prove it’s anti-racist credentials while neglecting some very real forms of racism which exist in the world today. For example the monopolising of racist victimhood by Israel allows it to settle fundamentalist Jews on Palestinian land while simultaneously throwing the accusation of racist at anyone who dares to criticise. While the Israelis carry out ethnic cleansing Newt Gingrich refers to families who may have lived in Palestine for longer than America has existed as “so-called Palestinians”.
Dianne Abbot has done us all a favour by showing that ANYONE can be caught out saying something stupid which, when one is too lazy to pay attention, can be branded as racist. We should all, therefore, calm down and stop flinging accusation of racism about in such an indiscriminate manner.
The words of Rudyard Kipling may be worth considering:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
…..Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
………daughter…I mean man..woman……..person….human…oh bollocks!