Thursday, 9 February 2012

Race to the bottom

Racism is very much in the news. Not in a way which enables any sensible discussion of the topic, but rather in a way which makes one splutter with frustration. From Louise Mensch hijacking the debate to have a dig at Diane Abbott (I'm no fan of the latter, just to be clear, but I also want to say that this has nothing to do with her being black or female, just as my intense dislike for the former has nothing to do with her being white or female. I make my judgements on areas of more substance, such as someone's views on abortion, or poverty, for example) in order to advance her own despicable political aims; to the question of whether Evra will shake Suarez's hand or not. It seems hard to turn around these days and not be confronted with some slur or other: John Terry; the aforementioned Evra/Suarez situation; the Liverpool fan doing a monkey impression; women ranting on trams and tubes... Where does it get us, all this - dare I say - feigned outrage? Nowhere fast is where.

Take the Diane Abbott scenario for starters. The whole spin element of Louise Mensch's tweet (and I love Twitter as much as the next man, but don't you agree that it is irritating in the extreme that tweets - especially celeb tweets - are being used as news sources these days? Who cares what some fucking semi-literate footballer posted in 140 characters?) immediately shut down any discussion of the issues raised between Abbott and the other woman, rendering it as nothing more than a question of whether Miliband was strong enough to sack a (black female) member of his party. FWIW, I think Abbott was absolutely correct that white people have used a divide and conquer tactic to repress minorities, and I don't think she was racist in any way to say so. There is such a thing as the balance of power, and the last time I looked, it didn't lie in Peckham or Edmonton. With the exception of the magnificent Darcus Howe

none of the wider context of this whole debacle was explored though, and even his voice was passed through the sensationalist prism of Newsnight journalism.

'Are you saying that violence is acceptable?' demanded the news woman, as if she had some kind of right to debate this stuff with him. 'Just answer the question!' I mean, how the fuck dare she?

Similarly, Terry/Ferdinand. All comes down to 'will they shake hands?' and nowhere are any questions asked which might illuminate the subject until Capello walks out as the ultimate result (and amen to that).

All of the above doesn't make a particuarly meaty thesis I know. But, fer chrissakes people, let's sort it out.

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