A Public Display of Racism – Thankfully!

Surprising title maybe however; we all need to be grateful for Emma West – but, before I get lambasted as a bigoted idiot (by those who actually know who I’m talking about), hold your angst… Please have the courtesy to read to the end of the post before bashing hell out of your keyboard in disgust. Observations and comments will, as ever, be read with interest but remember, I hold the editorial pencil…

Being something of an opinionated bugger (yes honestly, I know you’re shocked), I want to talk about racism you see unlike many, I’m actually prepared to raise my head above the parapet of ignorant silence. If I’m stupid enough to get it shot off then so be it. I’m able to take this stance because thankfully, I also hold no fear of the dystopian thought police.

So what about the root causes of racism? I’m still alive after my previous efforts on the topic (see Starkey’s Gangsta Rap), so perhaps I’m not that controversial after all?

I say ‘thankfully’ in the title of this post because; it’s only when something like the recent My Tram Experience YouTube clip of a racist incident comes to public attention, that (intelligent) people actually start to examine their own views on racism and perhaps, maybe even have a go at getting their minds around the underlying cause(s) of racist thinking and opinion.

The above incident quite rightly shocked many thousands of people. But as ever, it also had a tendency towards the polarizing of opinion. You see many people in our society have a propensity for nailing their colours to the wall of popularity in public opinion (see politicians below). Despite that fact many (often) see racism (mostly) as a taboo subject for discussion, it was therefore a little surprising to see how many were actually prepared to say something about it for a change.

The clip made national headlines in most media sources, it warmed up the social networks to boiling point and even got some MP’s talking about the issue; despite much of that comment probably emanating from the desire to enhance personal popularity, that or at the least, a political correctness agenda.

This is the main reason I say ‘thankfully’ – In my opinion, the best way to solve any problem, let alone one as emotive and abhorrent as racism, IS to actually talk about it, so that is what I’m doing here.

But unlike others, I have no desire to simply vilify or demonise Emma West, I also have no interest in labeling her a bigot or indeed, confine her to a box marked ‘RACIST’ in big letters for the rest of her life. Doing so actually serves little or no useful purpose. I would rather try to unravel some of the issues that made her explode with her disgusting tirade. Irrespective of whether she had her rant in public, or held those views in private, it is important to try to understand why people hold Emma’s views.

Refreshingly, the young man in this YouTube clip (below) goes some way towards quantifying my ethos. Myles Dyer was one of the few who chose to talk a lot of sense – instead of jumping on the bandwagon of rabid rhetoric and contrived concern.

As Myles pointed out in his video, discussion hopefully leads to a greater understanding of all the issues involved. It also presents the possibility to reduce (if not remove) racism in our society. One of the greatest barriers to resolving this particular issue has always been fear. Many people who would really like to see racism stamped out for good, are actually running scared of talking about the root causes of racist attitudes. In many cases the actual racism is also born of fear, along with that liberal dose of ignorance.

Emma is undoubtedly ignorant about many things however; she chose to use her perception of our history, which she clearly has very little understanding of, to partly justify much of her rant. But in defence of Emma, aren’t all our opinions based upon our learning experiences through life, that and how much we are prepared to bend under the pressure of our peers. Racism is not a biologically inherent personal trait, we learn it.

Emma’s history perception errors were succinctly pointed out by Rachael ??? in her blog post entitled an open letter to Emma West which she finished off poignantly by saying:-

…We have laws against your actions, and laws against your views, precisely because they are unacceptable in a civilised, multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial society. The law sanctions them because they cannot and will not be tolerated in Britain…(Read more)

But in many ways, aren’t people’s fears of these laws also pushing racism underground to an extent? Many feel they’re prevented from even discussing the issues that create racism. In some ways, doesn’t this also aid recruitment to organisations such as the BNP and EDL? People who have genuine concerns about the apparent inequalities in our society, despite them being absolutely none sectarian in their origins, are then preyed upon by others with extremist agendas to bolster their numbers.

It’s a fact of society that humans gravitate to others who hold similar views or are of like mind, especially when they feel they’re not being listened to. This is a fact which was evidenced succinctly by the emergence of Nazi Germany in the past. A also process that is eased towards its ultimate aim, especially during times of poverty and/or social injustice. A factor that is probably more dangerous now than previously?

It was interesting to read the views of Scott Hill in his piece Blaming The Collective who pointed out; despite evidence of racism in our society, some people naively claim that racism no longer exists. Others say that racism is tolerable now because it is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. People holding these beliefs often apply a theory that usually takes the following form; “as long as I denounce the BNP in public it is alright for me to hold repugnant beliefs about minorities.”

But as he also pointed out, irrespective of any levels of intolerance towards minority groups, we also need to remember “…it is imperative that the term ‘racist’ does not get overused as it could lose its potency.”

Why waste breath condemning meat-headed scumbags who merely crave the attention? Remember, deep down, the one thing a racist can never achieve is anything like discrimination; for they are indiscriminate by definition…(Scott Hill)

 also writing in The Huffington Post, questioned whether or not the video clip represented the “isolated rant of a mentally ill woman” or, was it indicative of the “serious levels of racism in the UK?”

Despite the shocking number of racially motivated hate crimes, the figures only provide a limited insight into the real level of racism. Hate crimes do not always go reported and it would be utterly naïve to assume that racism only exists in the form of violent attacks…(Nabeela Zahir)

I take her point about recorded incidents however; as regular readers will know, I’ve vented my spleen about the inaccuracies of crime statistics on so many previous occasions. That said, our personal perception about the actual levels of crime in our society are also subject to the vagaries of emotive media reporting, and oh how we suffer from that issue!

Because of the incessant and overt political correctness in many areas of our society, and (to some extent) the heavy handed application of racial hatred legislation, we all now need to worry about any opinions or views which we hold.

Partly because of this, I’m also aware that anything I say here, no mater how remotely construed as supportive of Emma West, I run the risk of being branded a closet racist myself. This comes about due to the fact; there will always be people in our society that do their utmost to twist, or suggest some implied or alternative meaning underlying the words of others, mostly to further their own cause. You really have to wonder, is this such a good thing? Is it actually healthy to effectively stifle debate, in what is supposedly a modern and free society?

Much of our racism, bigotry or any other form of intolerance for that matter is born out of ignorance and, as briefly alluded to already, an inherent fear, be that an actual or perceived one. These two factors or thought processes also have the propensity to cause anger when presented in their extreme, especially if the person experiencing them actually believes they have no real control over their fear or future.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the apparent anger displayed by Emma West was born out of that ignorance and fear. I don’t believe for one minute that anyone is a born racist, do you?

No, Emma’s tirade is likely to have been an outburst resulting from the fight or flight syndrome, a subconscious self-protection mechanism built into all of us at birth. She appeared to espouse many thoughts, feelings and emotions worthy of an underdog. Someone who is constantly kicked and abused by the systems she is obliged to endure and the society she lives within. These are feelings that many people in our society hold today, people who believe the system is failing them and/or not giving them a fair and equal chance in life, irrespective of ethnicity or cultural origin.

For too long our welfare state has been little more than an unfettered cash cow for so many, be they home-grown or imported. A source of overflowing generosity where anyone who chooses to drink from it, can gorge themselves sick on the financial milk of our society’s kindness. But it’s not just our social handouts that attract this greed. Another factor is the (apparent) lack of proportional equality in the application of our welfare systems and our criminal law, but again we hold many of these perceptions mainly due to media reporting methodology.

Many of us sit despondent as individuals, honestly believing that someone is getting a better deal than we are. When you take into account some 30,000 or so serial offenders escaped with nothing more than a caution for their criminal activity last year (see here), instead of more robust punishment, the general perception is also that our criminal justice system is mostly toothless in dealing with those who do wrong.

So many of us believe our systems are failing us however; just as many (if not more) of the less honest amongst us, seek to capitalise on that situation. They show absolutely no fear of committing crime in the UK and, when you introduce racial or human rights factors into the mix, this often impacts negatively upon the results any way. Is it therefore surprising that the ‘ignorance’ of people is further fuelled by these additional angers and fears? It only takes a little nudge from the media (see below) to help them to develop racist tendencies which they never had in the past.

Drug dealer jailed for gun crime wins ‘human rights’ case: A foreign drug-dealer and gun criminal has been allowed to stay in Britain partly because he would return to a life of crime if he was deported…(telegraph.co.uk)

The Sunday Telegraph have also revealed a series of cases where Article 8 of the Act, which protects the  “right to private and family life”, is aiding many foreign criminals to overturn deportation.

Criminal ‘babyfathers’ dodge deportation: Foreign criminals are having children with different mothers simply to use “human rights laws” to avoid being deported from Britain…(telegraph.co.uk)

I deliberately chose The Telegraph, as opposed to The Mail, or indeed one of the more salacious and inane tabloids, to illustrate my point. Any of our UK media sources, electronic or print, actually has the capability of developing racist tendencies in our population. Some more than others I know, but far too often in any case. Many of these stories are published in mostly opinionated and emotive formats, all designed to court public opinion or provoke reaction but mostly, to make money… Not report simple and factual news. 

So thank you Emma West for bringing these issues to the fore again; it probably did more good than hundreds of hours of enforced diversity training ever achieved. At least people are currently talking about the issues, all be it for what is unfortunately only likely to be a relatively short period of time.

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 03-12-2011, in Society Babble and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Another thought provoking piece from the “G – Man”, who (as those who know him well will be aware) is no racist.

    The danger we face is twofold – that we over compensate towards those who do not look/sound like us, so they do not feel alienated, or we permit xenophobia to flourish.

    Part of this dilemma is fuelled by people who have set themselves up as the arbiters of truth, whether it be on employment law, human rights or similar issues.

    Perhaps the answer is to start thinking for ourselves again an behaving with a moral compass and respect matrix that emanates from our own experience, rather than over reliance on the guidance of others?

    Like

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