After last weeks report of an argument on the internet going slightly awry over a misunderstanding, I had another similar problem this morning. Rather than going over it like I did last week, here’s a link to the twitter thread, where an American takes a very long time to realise he is arguing in the wrong thread, and like many others, fails to apologise when he realises his mistake. He also has the sheer audacity to claim that I’m the one that isn’t bright, says I’m a joke (I assume he means I’m incredibly witty, and that I make terribly good jokes) and that I might have commented on the wrong thread. He’s a clever chap, and I am not going to suggest that anybody takes him on in a battle of wits, or even sends him a tweet suggesting he might like to admit he was wrong. Here’s the link, enjoy.
Now, given that tomorrow (or probably today now, since I’ll most likely sit on this until then, in case a good idea comes to me in the night) is the day of the EU elections, I should probably do some political ranting and posturing and tell you all why you should vote for my favourite party. I’m not going to though. I’m not even going to tell you which way I am voting, the democratic process requires that you make up your own mind my reading about your local candidates. I am however going to shake my head at you all and tell you that you let yourselves down.
Yep, by continually attacking the kippers (as the Ukip supporters have now become known) we’re playing to their strengths. Their whole shtick is that they are now the underdogs, oppressed by the hordes of immigrants coming over here and making the place all colourful and tasty. Oppressed by the EU, forcing us to not cut our hands off with power tools or be forced to work endlessly long hours by unscrupulous employers (oh no, we can sign a bit of paper to get out of that one, or be fired, it’s a legitimate choice). Oppressed by the mythical liberal lefty elite, forcing them not to say n*g-n*g, p*ki, or ch*nky. And those of us who are screaming “Racists!” “Fascists!” “Nazis!” etc. etc. are not helping. Xenophobic, backward looking, profiteering,elitist, underhanded hypocrites they may be, but to accuse them of the other is just helping them out.
In fact, the unfortunate shouting of “Racist!” at the smallest infractions of social protocol, or misunderstanding is always unhelpful. I live in Devon, I pretty much grew up here, during the 80s and 90s. The lack of racial diversity has always been stunning down here, which has made it a haven for the genuinely racist and hateful. I’ve met many pleasant people in the pubs, who when I ask why they moved down here will happily say “to get away from all the darkies what moved in where I used to live” charming, really. But, and this is more to the point, I know relatively little of other cultures, and will ask fairly inappropriate questions of people of different ethnicity when I’ve had a few. Sometimes I get called Racist for this, I’m not Racist, I’m just interested. I have trouble remembering faces, and sometimes think I have met friends of friends who are of the same ethnic origin as other friends of friends before. Again, I’m not racist, just crap with faces (and names sadly).
Whenever I go to my local Indian takeaway and have trouble hearing what the staff say, I am worried that if I say “pardon?” or “can you repeat that please?” I will get the racist card thrown at me, but as I have said, I grew up in Devon, and there weren’t a lot of Indian accents around then. Also, I am profoundly deaf on one side, and a lot of them mumble (I don’t mean Indians in general, just most of the staff in there) there are 2 who don’t mumble, and I am always relieved to see them. I always feel the need to apologise for not understanding their every word. Which I don’t feel the need to do with my Father-in-law, who is very, very devonshire, and also mumbles, and I also cannot understand him. But again, I’m not a racist, I’m just deaf.
Much like the Clarkson debacle, and the firing of the Radio DJ for playing an old song with an unfortunate lyric, this is just distracting us all from actual racism and discrimination that goes on every day all over the world. And hip hop music’s reclamation of the legendary N word has not helped at all. Many white/indian/chinese kids listen to this, and all kids like to sing along to their favourite songs. It is not helpful to have to look around to check that there is nobody listening who might be offended before you can do so. I used to like NWA, still do, but the hyper-divisive nature of that word is tellingly worrying. When the gay community reclaimed queer for themselves, were they similarly protective of its use? I certainly don’t feel as bad saying queer in front of my gay friends as I would saying n*gg*r in front of my black friends. However, they’re all just words, and not inherently racist, because they are just sounds we make, not entrenched attitudes of superiority.
If I were to assume that all members of a particular ethnic group were inferior to my own ethnic group, then that would make me a racist. Luckily, I assume all members of every ethnic group, including my own are infinitely inferior to me. Which makes me an arsehole, certainly, but not a racist. And I would suggest that your average kipper is most likely an arsehole (or even more likely, a perfectly decent sort who is easily persuaded by propaganda and likes having a scapegoat to blame for the inherent unfairness of our society, but for some reason doesn’t want to blame the corporations at the top) but probably not a racist, a fascist, or a nazi, and to suggest that they are is kind of insulting to the thousands who died to stop the genuine racists, fascists and nazis back in the big wars with numbers. Just like Ukip are insulting them with their rather tasteless use of this poster.
Which, it turns out, is showing mostly French war graves, rather appropriately.