Free Life Commentary,
Issue Number 114
2nd November 2003
Thoughtcrime and The Secret Policeman:
A Case Study in Discourse Theory
by Sean Gabb
I have just watched a recording of The Secret Policeman. This is a documentary programme first shown by the BBC on Tuesday, the 21st October 2003. In this, a reporter posed for six months as a police cadet and then as a police officer, while secretly filming his colleagues. Some of the language caught on film expresses strong dissent from the established opinions on race and immigration. One of the officers put on a white hood and discussed the merits of burying a “Paki bastard under a railway line”. He also insisted that Stephen Lawrence—a black youth whose death ten years ago led to a report all about “institutional racism”—had deserved his end. He added:
Isn’t it good how good memories don’t fade? He fucking deserved it, and his mum and dad are a fucking pair of spongers.
Another officer said of his Asian colleagues:
Truthfully? Fuck them all off. I’ll admit it—I’m a racist bastard. I don’t mind blacks. I don’t mind black people. Asians? No.
Another said of Asians in general:
A dog born in a barn is still a dog. A Paki born in Britain is still a fucking Paki.
As soon as the programme was shown, the chorus of disapproval swelled to full volume. The Acting Deputy Chief Constable of the North Wales Police said:
I felt physically sick as I watched The Secret Policeman.(1)
The Deputy Chief Constable of the Manchester Police said:
I was shocked, sickened, ashamed and saddened by what I saw.(2)
The newspapers and the electronic media not only reported, but joined in the expressions of outrage. Five of the officers filmed resigned the day after the showing. Another was suspended.
Even forgetting the nature of the language used, it is hard to feel sorry for these officers. They are police officers. They are “the pigs”. They are the unintelligent, semi-literate dregs of their section of the working class, who have been given a supervisory power over everyone else, including their betters—and who use and abuse this power to the full. They are inefficient. They are incompetent. They are corrupt. So far, only five of these people have resigned. It would be a better country by far if they could all be persuaded to resign. We could then save on the costs of their well-padded salaries. As for crime control, we could go back to the good old days of arming ourselves and otherwise relying on the hue and cry and private prosecutions.
We need, however, to look away from the beastly nature of the people concerned, and look instead at why the programme was made and why the responses to it were so emphatic. Look at the response of that Welsh police chief—he described himself as “physically sick” at what was said. “Physically sick”? When was the last time any of us felt that about something read or heard? For myself, cat droppings, rotten meat, certain medical conditions – these can set my stomach heaving as if I were some teenage anorexic. But I really doubt if, once in the past forty years, I have read or heard anything that came near to provoking a physical response. And these were the words of a senior police officer. It has long been his professional duty to acquaint himself with matters that require a greater than average firmness of mind. “Physically sick”? I somehow doubt it.
But what those police officers said was not merely tasteless and uncharitable. Nor was it merely embarrassing to their senior officers. So far as their senior officers were concerned, and so far as the authors were concerned of virtually all media and political comment, what they said was the equivalent of heresy or treason. It was a duty not merely to deplore what they said, but to denounce it in the strongest terms that came to mind. Any faintness of utterance, it seems to have been felt, might leave one open to suspicions of agreement oneself with what had been said.
Marxist Theory Is Marxist Practice
At this point, I must beg the indulgence of my readers. In my last article for Free Life Commentary, I wrote at some length to show the usefulness of neo-Marxist sociology in analysing the nature of any social order ruled by Marxists or by those influenced by Marxism. Here, I will continue the theme, using this present case as an example of how the analysis can be made to work.
According to Marx himself, the political and cultural shape of any society is determined by ownership of the means of production. There is the economic base, and piled on top of this is the superstructure of all else. Let the base be changed, and the superstructure will be changed as surely and automatically as the appearance of a forest is changed by the varying distance of our planet from the sun. I know there are inherent ambiguities in his theory and many possibly varying interpretations of it. But this summary is accurate enough for our current purposes. As here summarised, there is a rough grandeur to his claim. It is, however, false. We have now been waiting over 150 years for the inner contradictions of liberalism to reveal themselves, and so bring on the next stage of human development. There has been no immiserisation of the proletariat, and no general overproduction crises.
Aside from dropping the whole system as a failure, two responses to this problem emerged in the early 20th century. The first was to look around for some half-convincing rescue hypothesis – see Lenin, for example, on how exploiting the colonies had replaced exploiting the workers at home. The second was to keep the messianic fervour of the original ideology while dropping its economic determinism. The three most important projectors of this change were Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Louis Althusser (1918-91), and Michel Foucault (1926-84).
According to their reformulation of Marxism, a ruling class keeps control not by owning the means of production, but by setting the cultural agenda of the country. It formulates a “dominant” or “hegemonic” ideology, to legitimise its position, and imposes this on the rest of society through the “ideological state apparatus”—that is, through the political and legal administration, through the schools and churches, and through the underlying assumptions of popular culture. There is some reliance on the use or threat of force to silence criticism—the “repressive state apparatus”—but the main instrument of control is the systematic manufacture of consent. At times, this hegemonic ideology can amount to a “discourse”, this being a set of ways of thinking and talking about issues that makes it at least hard for some things to be discussed at all.
Though much ingenuity has gone into proving the opposite, it is hard to see what value even a reformulated Marxism has for analysing the politics and culture of a liberal society. In this country, between about the end of the 17th and towards the end of the 20th centuries, there were ruling classes, and there were what can be called dominant ideologies. But the rulers legitimised their position by reference to standards which were not imposed by them, but had largely emerged spontaneously throughout society as a whole. The function of the ideological state apparatus was not to enforce values on the governed, but to reflect and thereby reinforce values that were already taken for granted. I remember once seeing a print of the Queen and Prince Consort sat with their family round a Christmas tree. This was not a creation of values, still less an imposition of them. It was instead a royal identification with ideas of family stability that were already accepted—ideas that were accepted even by those who, for whatever reason, chose not to take them up, and that had not been noticeably accepted in several earlier reigns.
There were strong disagreements—over religion and land ownership and the extent of the franchise, and the extent of state intervention in the economy, among much else—but the underlying values of society were generally shared and did not need to be imposed. The neo-Marxist analysis only becomes useful for providing a terminology to discuss what happens when a ruling class turns oppressive. Such is the present case.
The Ideology of the New Ruling Class
We have in this country a new ruling class. It is no longer the Monarchy and the network of land-owning and mercantile interests that clustered around it, or anything identifiable as the old—alleged – working class movement that competed with them. Instead, we are ruled by a coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, academics, media people, and businessmen who look to an enlarged state as the source of their income or status. When it came to power is hard to say with precision. It had taken over the ideological state apparatus long before the 1997 general election that gave it formal political office; and that election result more intensified than redirected the course of events. Undoubtedly, though, it is now supreme.
The ideology this ruling class has taken up to produce internal unity and to justify itself before the ruled has nothing to do with the national past or the currently perceived interests of the majority. It is incidentally about regulating everything that moves in the interests of health and safety, and sometimes banning them, and incidentally about preventing alleged dangers to the environment, and incidentally about making us all into the subjects of a centralised European state. But these are only incidentals. They are not the core ideology. Though it has not entirely broken with the past, and though it may appeal to tradition as convenience requires, the new ruling class defines its basis of legitimacy lies in the proclaimed right and ability to bring about a transformation of the country into something entirely new. The old ethnic and cultural homogeneity are seen as evils. In their place, we are to have “a rich diversity of communities”. Some of these are to be sexual, some religious. But the real passion is for ethnic diversity.
To take one instance of this, in 1998, the Government set up a Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. Its purpose was
to analyse the current state of multi-ethnic Britain and propose ways of countering racial discrimination and disadvantage and making Britain a confident and vibrant multicultural society at ease with its rich diversity.(3)
Chaired by Bhikhu Parekh, an academic placed in the House of Lords by Tony Blair, the Commission was a sub-division of the Runnymede Trust, a formally private body “devoted to promoting racial justice in Britain”. Its Report can be seen as a digested expression of the transformation intended for this country. Among the recommendations were a formal declaration by the State that Britain was now a “multicultural society”, and a commitment that
deep-rooted antagonisms to racial and cultural differences [should be] defeated in practice, as well as symbolically written out of the national story.(4)
There was also some discussion of giving the country a new name:
[The Name Britain] has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations…. Englishness and therefore by extension, Britishness, is racially coded.(5)
No new name was suggested, though it was emphasised that the country from now on should be regarded not as a community, but as a “community of communities”.
“Multiculturalism” and “Anti-Racism” As Hegemonic Discourse and Legitimation Ideology
The ruling class has yet to take full notice of Dr Parekh’s recommendations. However, its behaviour and language all proceed from the same assumptions. See the endless official fussing over criminal conviction rates and examination passes, the emphasis on “diversity”, the careful blending of races and sexes and appearances in all official photographic opportunities, the changed emblems and mission statements of governmental agencies. In the neo-Marxist terminology, the ruling class and its ideological state apparatus are imposing a new hegemonic ideology of multiculturalism.
The great apparent problem with this new ideology is its impossibility. It is a false ideology. It is easily possible for small alien minorities to be accepted into a country. Orthodox Jews are a good example. They live in the nation, but do not regard themselves as of it. What makes them acceptable is that they do not make nuisances of themselves and can never by their nature be other than a small minority. Even hardened anti-semites have little objection to the Orthodox, being more concerned about the alleged doings of the assimilated. It is also possible for large numbers of aliens to be accepted into a nation so long as they assimilate and embrace its culture as their own. The United States in the century to about 1970 is a good case here. During this time, settlers of British ancestry went from being the majority to a large minority, but the American nation they had created continued to exist and to prosper by just about every reasonable standard. But a large and rapid immigration in which the burden of adjustment is thrown not on the newcomers but on the natives—in which, indeed, the newcomers are positively discouraged from assimilating—that is an obvious cause of resentment and even disorder.
There cannot be one society made up of widely different communities each of which loves and respects all the others. There cannot be a society in which the ethnic composition of every group – from university vice chancellors to hairdressers, from lunatic asylum inmates to fashion models—exactly parallels that of the census returns. Instead, there will be a retreat into ethnic nationalism among all groups.
In this context, the words of that police officer quoted above – “A dog born in a barn is still a dog. A Paki born in Britain is still a fucking Paki”—take on a grim significance. The words show a hardening of spiritual boundaries more typical of Eastern Europe or the Balkans or Africa than of the Britain we have known for many centuries—a nation of which membership has been more defined by allegiance to the Crown and adherence to certain norms than by race or colour. Given such attitudes, most of our constitutional arrangements must tend to become unworkable. What is the point of democracy—national or local—or trial by jury, or any public service, when decisions are made not on their merits but on differential group voting power?
Dual Consciousness and the Coming Crisis of Multiculturalism
The ideological state apparatus can be set to work on proclaiming the joys of diversity. But the result is at best what Gramsci calls a “dual consciousness”—a situation in which values are imposed but only partially accepted. Multiculturalism is a discourse, so far as many now cannot find neutral terms to oppose it: see more of the words quoted above—”I’m a racist bastard” – where the immorality of an opinion is conceded even as it is expressed; but the discourse cannot secure plain consent.
The inevitable result is a sharper use of the repressive state apparatus. We cannot be made to love and respect each other. But we can be made to act as if we did. Therefore we have a frequently absurd but always searching inquisition into matters regarded until just recently as private. There are laws to censor speech and publication, laws to regulate hiring and promotion policies, and to regulate the selection of tenants and membership of private bodies, and increasingly stiff criminal penalties for breach of these laws(6). Every few days, the media gives space to some official expression of rapture at the benefits we have gained from multiculturalism. Its most notable fruit, however, has been the creation of a police state.
In a sense, though, the falsehood of the ideology is not so much a disadvantage as a great benefit to the ruling class. Because it is false, it can only be accepted on faith; and faith can give rise to more passionate attachments than any sober acceptance of the truth. And with passionate attachment goes passionate rejection of the opposite. In the word “racism”, the ruling class has acquired a term of venomous abuse that can silence most criticism. That the word has no fixed meaning makes it all the better as a weapon of ideological control. It can mean a dislike of people because of their race or colour. It can mean a belief in differences between people of different races. It can mean a propensity to violence. It can mean no more than a preference for one’s own people and values—even a belief that one has a “people”. As “institutional racism”, it can exist in the structures and assumptions of corporate bodies without the intent or knowledge of those employed within.(7) Or it can arise when every effort is being made to avoid it.(8) It can mean a mental disorder(9) or a sin.(10) It can mean any of these things or all of them(11). Whatever it means in any particular context, it soils and discredits all who are labelled with it, placing them outside any claim to respect or tolerance or fair dealing. Modern English contains no greater instance of the power of words to terrify and subdue.
As for the police state laws, these are welcomed. At the very least, the various inquisitions set up provide jobs and status that would not otherwise exist. They are also enjoyed for their own sake. Governments by their nature like to oppress, and the degree of their oppression is limited only by the prospect of resistance and their own beliefs about what is seemly. As an article of faith, multiculturalism obliterates regard for old conventions. Just look at the self-proclaimed “civil libertarians” of the past behave now they are in positions of authority. In the 1970s, they could be trusted to demand every refinement of due process when some picketer was in the dock, or someone accused of revealing official secrets. Now they have incorporated “racial aggravation” clauses into the law which in effect make opinions into crimes. They are calling for the abolition of the double jeopardy rule because it prevents their vendetta against the alleged killers of Stephen Lawrence(12). Multiculturalism also undercuts the old grounds of peaceful opposition to misgovernment. Arguments from ancestral right can be delegitimised by a mere raising of eyebrows and a polite question about whose ancestors are being invoked. Everyone knows the next response will be an accusation of “racism”. Therefore, the argument is dropped more often than not, while those who dared raise it must go about protesting their belief in the official ideology.(13)
Nor is the destruction of accountability unwelcome. Democracy has always been something of a fraud in this country—and perhaps with good reason. But rulers were vaguely answerable to the ruled, and could, given the right provocation, be removed. Multiculturalism turns us from a nation to which ultimately the rulers had to defer into a gathering of mutually hostile groups—all with different ambitions and complaints, all capable of being turned against each other in the manner that imperial ruling classes throughout history have used to nullify opposition. In the words of Margaret Thatcher,
Thus the utopia of multiculturalism involves a bureaucratic class presiding over a nation divided into a variety of ethnic nationalities. That, of course, looks awfully like the old Soviet Union.(14)
Thought Crime and the Police State
And so we find ourselves living in a country where conformity to the dominant ideology is imposed by threats of force accompanied by an increasingly hysterical propaganda. It is as if the ruling class were waving a stick and turning up the volume on a television set – so it can stop others from talking about something else and give them no choice but to watch the programme. And it is still not enough. Dissent has been driven out of the establishment media and out of respectable politics, but it continues to flourish in private and on the Internet. We live in a country where almost no one would describe himself openly as a “racist”, but where the British National Party seems to stand on the edge of an electoral breakthrough.
That explains the chorus of outrage when those police officers were exposed: there could be no public expressions of sympathy for them—indeed, the knowledge that there was much private agreement with at least the sentiments expressed, if not with their manner of expression, required the public denunciations to be all the more unsparing. It also explains the demand for still greater supervision of speech and action. As in some gentle parody of Stalin’s Russia, it is accepted as necessary for conformity of speech and action to be so generally compelled that even the slightest expression of dissent stands out like a black swan among white.
This is the wider significance of the undercover filming of those police officers. It is worth asking why only white officers were filmed, when black and brown officers might not in private be oozing love and respect for their white colleagues. It is also worth asking in what context the words were uttered, and to what extent the reporter had made of himself an agent of provocation. And it can be asked whether the opinions expressed could be shown to have had any effect on actions. But, while it would be useful to have some on the record, the answers are obvious. Witch hunts need witches. When none can be found in public, they must be searched out in private. When none can be found at all, they must be invented.
However obtained, such dissent from the multicultural ideology can be used to justify its more intrusive imposition. Therefore, these words from the Home Secretary:
What’s been revealed is horrendous. The issue is… what we can do to ensure police services across the country adopt the new training programmes on diversity to root out racists before they can get through the training programme.(15)
In other words, he promised to make it impossible for dissidents to be employed as police officers.(16) His theme was immediately taken up by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police:
[h]is force intends to plant informers in its classrooms to root out racist recruits. It will also allow community representatives to sit on recruitment panels to prevent racist applicants entering the force. At the Met’s training school in Hendon, which trains 3,500 new officers a year, one recruit in a class will be secretly selected to inform on colleagues. Their identities will remain secret for the rest of their careers and they will act as intelligence gatherers. If racism is discovered by undercover officers, it may be used to provide evidence for a criminal prosecution for incitement to racial hatred.(17)
Police officers are already bad enough. But the known presence among them of informers—and perhaps also agents of provocation – can only tend to remove them still further from the rest of the population. They will become a sort of Janissaries, quite separate in outlook and perhaps in nationality from those they are employed to coerce into obedience.
Nor will these undercover means of gathering information be confined to the police. Once they are established as normal, they will be used against other targets. One of the recommendations of the Report into the death of Stephen Lawrence was
[t]hat consideration should be given to amendment of the law to allow prosecution of offences involving racist language or behaviour, and of offences involving the possession of offensive weapons, where such conduct can be proved to have taken place otherwise than in a public place.(18)
This was rejected as unworkable. However, the use of undercover filming to gather evidence makes it workable. The informers and agents of provocation will spread into every area of private life. New friends or partners taken to dinner parties will constrain discussion even when no one intends to discuss the forbidden issues. We shall have to start learning the rules of private conduct that East European have been forgetting since 1989. Life will become grimmer and more oppressive.
How will all this end? Not, we can be sure, in Dr Parekh’s “confident and vibrant multicultural society at ease with its rich diversity”. I see one of two outcomes. The first is that the ruling class will keep control until it has finished remodelling the population. According to the 2001 returns—and these probably understate the truth—the non-white population of England rose by 40 per cent in the 1990s.(19)
According to an anonymous demographer cited three years ago in The Observer,
Whites will be an ethnic minority in Britain by the end of the century. Analysis of official figures indicate that, at current fertility rates and levels of immigration, there will be more non-whites than whites by 2100.(20)
With a small and credible adjustment to the extrapolated trends, minority status could be reached as soon as 2040. Long before either date, though, national life would have been wholly transformed. For this would not be accompanied by an assimilation in which white Englishmen were joined by black and brown Englishmen, and the nation went on much as before. Ethnic change would bring with it cultural displacement. Whole areas of the country would become alien; and within them, the physical appearances, place names, festivals, rituals and general customs of the past would be effaced—in much the same way as happened when, from the 5th century, the northern barbarians displaced the Romanised Celts who had inhabited this country before them. Then, the ruling class could be safe. It would be presiding over an empire, not a nation, and would be safe from effective challenge.
The second outcome is that the English—or British—will turn nasty while still the majority. I do not think this would be an original nastiness. The French would probably turn first, or the Israelis. But there may come a time when the harsh ethnic nationalism of that police officer becomes the consensus. Then there will be a spiritual casting out of “strangers” from the nation, followed by ethnic cleansing of the strangers, and severe legal and social disabilities for those allowed to remain. And among these strangers will be many who are now unambiguously accepted as of the nation and who regard themselves as of the nation. It is worth recalling that, until the National Socialists redrew the spiritual boundaries of the nation, many Jews were German nationalists. I suppose I should add here that I do not want our own spiritual boundaries redrawn, nor will I lift a finger to help redraw them. But I can easily see their being redrawn if present trends are allowed to continue.
There is a third possible outcome. This is that present trends will not be allowed to continue, that the multicultural discourse will be overthrown before it is too late, that freedom of speech and action will be restored, and that private and public arrangements will be made to encourage assimilation of all British citizens to the cultural values of the majority. This will not bring us to Dr Parekh’s land of harmonious diversity. But it is the only basis on which people of widely different appearances are ever likely to live at peace with each other.
Sadly, I need only close my eyes to see the lips of my readers curling at these words. It may already be too late.
A Brief Reading List for the Interested
Althusser, Louis, For Marx, Allen Lane, London, 1969
Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, Tavistock, London, 1974
Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Tavistock, London, 1979
Gramsci, Antonio, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New Left Books, London, 1971
Meek, Nigel, Modern Left Multiculturalism: A Libertarian Conservative Analysis, Political Notes No.175, The Libertarian Alliance, London, 2001
Parekh, Bhikhu, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, Profile Books, London, 2000
2. Ibid. One police officer claims it took him over a week to recover from the shock of watching the programme. See Bryn Lewis, “Police racism is a challenge to the ethnic minorities”, letter published in The Independent, London, 30th October 2003.
“A couple of weeks ago, the Commission for Racial Equality recognized what black actors have known for a long time; namely the ‘unjustifiable under-representation of ethnic minorities in theatre, opera, cinema, television drama, etc.’ The Commission announced that it will press for legislation to close a loophole in the Race Relations Act which allows directors to use ‘authenticity’ as an excuse for all-white casting. A black Nelson Mandela or a white Winston Churchill will be acceptable; but an all-white production of Hamlet will be in contravention of the act. In this, Britain is merely catching up with the USA, which has had a quota system long enough to ensure that black faces are now run of the mill across the media.”
(Lesley Downer, “Theatre: Wanted: a brand new caste”, The Independent, London, 2nd September 1998)
“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.” (6.34)
“Such failures can occur simply because police officers may mistakenly believe that it is legitimate to be “colour blind” in both individual and team response to the management and investigation of racist crimes, and in their relationship generally with people from minority ethnic communities. Such an approach is flawed. A colour blind approach fails to take account of the nature and needs of the person or the people involved, and of the special features which such crimes and their investigation possess.” (6.18)
“Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard Medical School professor and perhaps the nation’s most prominent African-American psychiatrist… urged the American Psychiatric Association [in 1999] to ‘designate extreme racism as a mental health problem’ by including it in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…..
“Poussaint gets support from Dr. Walter Shervington, president of the National Medical Association, an organization of more than 20,000 black physicians. When he took over leadership of the NMA last year, Shervington, a New Orleans psychiatrist, called for a discussion of adding racism to the APA’s list of mental disorders.
“‘When (racism) becomes so severe in its expression, should it not come to the attention of a psychiatrist or someone working in the mental health field in relationship to identifying what some of the core struggles are around it?’ Shervington asks….
“Sabina Widner, a clinical psychologist who teaches at Augusta State University, is blunt about the human rights implications of classifying racism as a mental illness.
“‘When I hear these types of things, I think about Russia,’ she says, ‘where people who are dissidents, people who don’t hold majority views, are subjected to psychiatric treatment.'”
(Extracted from John Head, “Can racists be called mentally ill? Debate strikes a nerve”, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Atlanta, 23rd January 2000)
“The [Roman Catholic] church has come close to acknowledging the problem. Earlier this year, guidelines for parishes to review their practices described institutional racism as ‘a form of structural sin and primarily a sin of omission’.
(Stephen Bates, “Racism in Catholic Church ‘driving minorities away'”, The Guardian, London, 16th October 2000)
“The Pope, clad in purple as a sign of penitence, said sorry on behalf of his flock for all past wrongdoings, from treatment of the Jews to forced conversions, the Crusades and Inquisition, and more contemporary sins such as discrimination against women and racism.”
(Frances Kennedy, “Pope confesses 2,000 years of Church sins”, The Independent, London, 13th March 2000)
“The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday apologised for wars, racism and other sins committed in the name of Christianity.”
(Laura Clark, “Christian leaders say sorry for wars”, The Daily Mail, London, 30th December 1999)
Anti-racism is a useful ideological tool since the contemporary concept of racism is a portmanteau one, that combines a large—and apparently ceaselessly growing—number of quite distinct ideas. “Racism” is used to describe or mean, amongst other things:
- • the scientific view that important aspects of human intelligence and/or emotional disposition vary according to racial group and are transmitted genetically;
- • the attribution to anyone holding such views that their belief is held on the basis of prejudice or blind hatred;
- • that believing that there are average/general differences in IQ/emotional disposition between racial groups means that one hates other races, or seeks to deny them equal rights or just treatment;
- • the denial of just, fair and meritocratic treatment to individuals on the basis of their race, ignoring their individual character, IQ or achievement;
- • the practice of violence against, or denial of individual rights to, individuals of different races.
As soon as we look critically at the varied meanings associated with the word “racism” it is clear that one is dealing with what Ayn Rand calls an “anti-concept”, a word designed to actually confuse distinct meanings and ideas, and to smuggle all sorts of unjustified assumptions into political discourse.
“That consideration should be given to the Court of Appeal being given power to permit prosecution after acquittal where fresh and viable evidence is presented.”
“A village bonfire society has been accused of racism and divided a community after burning an effigy of gypsies during a Guy Fawkes celebration night.
“The Firle Bonfire Society in East Sussex put to the torch a caravan with images of children at the windows just days after gypsies were evicted from fields near the village.
“The caravan was paraded through the streets as part of a procession before it was set alight. It had the registration number P1 KEY painted on the side. ‘Pikey’ is a term of abuse for gypsies.
“According to local people who saw the parade, the organisers encouraged bystanders to shout ‘burn it, burn it’.
“The society was last night facing calls for those responsible to be prosecuted for incitement to racial hatred -an offence that can lead to a jail term of up to seven years.
“Richard Gravett, chairman of the Firle Bonfire Society, defended its actions yesterday, claiming that they were not racist. ‘There was no racist slant towards any of the travelling community. If anything, it’s actually completely the other way,’ he said.
“‘It was done to try to make people realise that these people obviously, as we all do, need somewhere to live.’
(Thair Shaikh, “Villagers burn an effigy of gypsies”, The Times, London, 30th October 2003)
16. A friend to whom I showed the draft of this article took exception to my use of the word “dissident” to describe racists. My answer is that these are the real dissidents in this country. What other ideology or set of opinions or prejudices make someone dangerous to know? What else can get him the sack from his job, and prevent him from booking rooms to hold meetings?
England by Ethnic Group (000s)
© 2003 – 2017, seangabb.
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