Sunday, August 03, 2008

What Are You Insinuatin' ?

“When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”.

“ Racism “ by Alli Ratansi , like many leftist proselytising books , claims to be a work of disinterested academic enquiry. Its consideration of a speech by Mrs Thatcher at the 1978 Conservative Conference is typical . She said ...
“ If we went on as we are , then by the end of the century there would be 4,000,000 people of the New Commonwealth here. Now that is an awful lot ,and I think it means that people are rather afraid that this country might be swamped by people with a different culture . And , you know , the British character has done so much for democracy , for law and done much throughout the world that there is a fear it might be swamped , people are going to react and be rather hostile to those coming in “

There is no reference to any biological component ,no assumption of superiority ,only a forgivable pride in our own culture and a modestly expressed wish to retain it .
Alli R disagrees ,he decodes “New Commonwealth” as ‘blacks’, and 'Nation' as inherently racist by historic elision .It follows that approval of Britain has an unavoidable biological component, in support of which ,he quotes Margaret Thatcher ,elsewhere, saying .“The people of the Falkland Islands , like the people of the United Kingdom , are an Island race “ He concludes that modern racism is often concealed ,and that strings of inferences must be followed ,through a cultural Labyrinth, to reveal the monster.
Allow me to retort…. Firstly the quotation is selected for the ”New Commonwealth”,usage , which is clumsy by modern standards . Mr. Ratanski anachronistically makes it seem duplicitous by avoiding the context ,both of time, and of the speakers publicly stated condemnation of racism . He employs the fact that race and place are unavoidably connected to infer that any comment on culture and Nation is biologically charged .His introduction of the poetic .‘An Island Race ’ is plain illiterate.
My over-arching point,however, is about language .Suppose we allow such free interpretation for real racists .If I say ‘whites are better than blacks’ should I be forgiven by means of eliding a racial idea with a historico -cultural distinction signalling merely the “West” ? Let us hope not . We must allow people to use language in a discrete way , in delicate areas .Otherwise we will cook up an amorphous pudding by which any presentiment can be nourished .
Islamic apologists are currently active linguistic vandals . “Islam-phobia “ is a nonsense not only because it conflates criticism of a religion ,with prejudice against skin colour ,but also by asserting irrationality of the fearful . Well is it irrational ?I n January four men pleaded guilty to attempting to kidnap a man and behead him like a pig. They were not those pesky Methodists. In fact for every over hyped story true ones exist ,and what about identification of Muslims as “The New European Jews” First Muslim Minister Shahid Malik declared on Channel Four`s Dispatches “..ask Muslims today what do they feel like , they feel like the Jews Of Europe..” .There was amore explicit use of the Holocaust in the New Statesman from Ziauddin Sardar
“…are drawing parallels between how Muslims are being stigmatised and demonised now is horribly reminiscent of the way in which the Jew were in Germany in the prequel to the holocaust…”
Have there been British Nuremberg Laws been buried behind a Brown holiday story? Is Belmarsh operating on the same lines as Treblinka ? Of course not but as Orwell said ,"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” . Corrupting thought is an active objective of some English speakers. Beware .


Nick Drew said...

you are prodding a very big & ugly beast here, Mr M

prod it some more, you've whittled just the right stick

(PS slipping swiftly into pedantic irony mode and on the subject of corrupting the language (!) can I tactfully suggest that elision doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means ? - no, I thought not, I'll get my coat)

Newmania said...

Ellision -I was using the usage in the book "Racism " Nick ,I am aware of the meaning having previously been upbraided by you

Raedwald said...

Waiting on a platform on the way back from the boat at the weekend with a box of tools on the ground beside me, I noticed a pair of Balkan-looking chaps positioned behind me. I nudged the toolbox around and placed a foot on it. I wouldn't have done if they were Sikhs, or Japanese. They might have been completely innocent; they may indeed have taken offence at a gesture that spoke openly 'I've clocked you, mateys; try someone else'

And in walking home from the station at 11pm, do you ignore the knot of afro-Carib hoodies clustered at the base of the footbridge and rely on an 'excuse me' to push through them, or add two minutes to the walk by using the road, in a way you wouldn't if they were Chinese? Again, they may be innocent as the driven snow, and deeply affronted that no-one uses the footbridge when they're gathered there.

Each day in some small way we make choices about avoiding potential personal risk based on criteria including age, race and appearance. And risk causing personal offence.

I recall some years ago now joining a crowded corridor compartment train that emptied at every stop to leave just me and a nervous young woman in the compartment. She gathered her bag and left for an alternative compartment, clearly fearful that I would be overtaken with Satyriasis and leap upon her. I felt resentful for a few seconds that anyone could suspect me of such behaviour, but not to the extent that I would pen a 'Men - the new Jews' article.

My toolbox wasn't snatched. I wasn't mugged on the footbridge. A nervous girl wasn't raped. Some small offence may have been caused. Tough.

Newmania said...


Nice word , I`ll use that.We also make such judgements based on percieved class and they are not , I don`t think , unfair. Black people make similiar judgments in real life which is why they tend to favour profiled stop and search there`s a good code.

The problem is that when people are strange then the signs are hard to read and the worst will be assumed . This makes life insecure and unhappy.
On immigration I only complain about the rate of change. It is remarkable how this tolernat country ahs been worked into a frenzy by grossly irresponsible immigration policy.
What an own goal , a little care was all that was required

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