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Getting something straight

I am do not regard myself as a racist.

In opening my contribution today with that statement I’m conscious that – as per Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” dictum – it has the danger of exposing me as exactly what I’m claiming to not be, but nevertheless I need to mention it as I address what I regard as a degree of 21st Century dodgy politically-correct hypocrisy over the white supremacist Mosques massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The honest truth, however, is that, of course, I’m probably as institutionally and unconsciously non-politically-correct as the next person of my vintage, background and upbringing.

Whenever I’m inconvenienced on the road by a particularly-inept instance of driving in front of me, as I go past – and if and as the perpetrator of said ineptitude is revealed as female – I instinctively comment (or, if I am travelling solo, think) “What would you expect, it’s a bloody woman …”.

Ditto if the driver is black, or – if he/she were somehow identifiable as Irish, Polish or even transgender – my opprobious jibe of the moment would be accordingly directed. I suppose that if I suggested such behaviour on my part was merely deeply-rooted but understandable human nature this would chalk yet another notch against my character.

Whilst I am on the subject and to complete my pubic self-abasement, about thirty years ago in an inter-departmental company meeting that I was chairing to discuss a complex and difficult employee-related situation I once committed the unpardonable sin – in introducing a specific aspect as a topic – of saying “the nigger in the woodpile in this instance, of course, is …”, a phrase that had been common parlance (so far as I can recall) all my life.

I had thought nothing of it at the time of uttering it but, after the meeting, an attendee from the Personnel department who happened to be black sought an audience with me and upbraided me for using the N-word. I was not only horrified but then suitably and genuinely embarrassed and apologetic for my stupid, unthinking and offensive cock-up and I still cringe about it whenever the memory sneaks up on me.

But to my subject of today.

First up – and this thought may already have occurred to others – I want to give a tip of my hat to the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whom I have to confess I had hitherto largely come across solely via her status as a rare world Premier who had actually given birth whilst in office.

I have rarely witnessed or heard a statesman (or woman) who – in reaction to a tragedy or catastrophe of such horrendous proportions – has performed so well in conveying the necessary unwelcome news to her citizens whilst simultaneously and calmly but steadfastly expressing her revulsion at the outrage and summing up what her nation stands for, which (no doubt) was one of the very reasons why the perpetrator(s) chose it as the target for their evil deeds.

Mrs Arden delivers in this respect every time she appears in front of the media. Here is but one short example, as it happens I believe her very first outing on the subject – see here, courtesy of – YOUTUBE

But secondly, and here is the meat in my sandwich today, I wanted to comment on the reaction of some in this country to the events in Christchurch.

I have heard numerous contributors to radio programmes – and indeed seen people giving their ‘vox pop’ reactions to reporters on television news bulletins – effectively demanding that our (white) Establishment finally grows up, stops ignoring the obvious, takes the issue seriously, gets its act together and deals with the UK’s invidious widespread racist problem which it has taken this massacre in New Zealand to bring to public attention.

As part of this thrust, several UK Muslims were testifying to how fearful and afraid they had become for their own safety as a result of the incident.

The impression I gained over the weekend was that I was – or others were suggesting I was – living in some sort of irredeemably white racist society in the style of South Africa during the apartheid years or indeed the Trump-supporting redneck areas of the United States of America.

I also seem to recall in the past – whenever one of a succession lunatic extremist Islamic-inspired terrorist incidents has occurred in the UK – that many Muslim leaders and spokesmen, after duly condemning said outrage, have tended to go on to demand that both ‘the Establishment’ and UK public do not make the same mistake as they allegedly normally do, i.e. by ‘tarring all Muslims and/or non-white UK citizens with the same brush’.

Today it occurred to me that, rather than white people in this country adopting a similar “It’s nothing to do with us, so don’t blame us” attitude towards the perpetrator(s) of the Christchurch massacre, we – and indeed all law-abiding UK citizens of whatever colour, background, creed or persuasion – would do better (and ourselves more credit) if we just concentrated upon the point that violent extremists of any origin or nature should to be sought out, condemned and stopped before they gain the wherewithal and opportunity to commit such heinous crimes.

If everyone, including Muslims, took it upon themselves to do that the world might be in better a better place.

 

About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts