There is never a good excuse for racism.

23 Nov

We still live in segregated and aggressive times, despite the massive changes in social tolerance and understanding, where previously bigotry and hate had been legitimised my increasingly outdated and archaic laws. This has, oddly, been on my mind today. I think that this is even apparent in creative fields, particularly music. The so-called indie and rock genres are dominated by white musicians, almost rejecting the black blues origins of modern pop music (going back to the rock n’ roll era). Likewise Hip Hop and RnB are dominated by black musicians. Perhaps this is to be expected, given the roots of such music, but there is a feeling of conscious segregation, no matter how mild. Or perhaps white musicians just have nothing to say in that style. The punk and early new wave music of the ‘70s embraced multi-cultural influences (The Clash are an obvious example), but how we went from that to Coldplay is something of a disheartening consideration. It’s not necessarily racist, but it is disappointing that such vital influences have been played down or removed.

Perhaps the key to such laziness can be found in the broader contact of how we are now viewing race and culture. In challenging the unhelpful rise of political correctness, the true bigots have almost used it as a scapegoat and excuse to champion their own ill advised set of causes. Personally, on social media, I’ve noticed various comments for some time now; really right wing stuff, which (try as I might) I can’t excuse as not being racist. The excuse seems to be that equally bigoted folk from other ethnic backgrounds have said racist stuff, so it’s then making it acceptable to do the same back. In turn this stance is often used to make the most dangerous sort of politics sound legitimate. Racism is wrong both ways, especially if both sides are competing to top each others atrocious bigotry, and is a short cut to thinking (of which it involves little). Are we supposed to believe Britain should be a white only nation? Issues regarding immigration and extreme Islam should be tackled, but not as excuses for the worst regressive kind of bigotry. The last time I was aware, ‘wog’ was not a form of compliment, but a contact on Facebook (who I felt I once knew) has used this word with no sense of responsibility, as a deliberate provocation. It’s aggressive and insulting. If I don’t like it, it’s because of what it’s come to mean, because of what I know it makes some people feel. One origin of the slur links it to the child’s toy the Golliwog. The Golliwog, incidentally, was a toy many of us innocently played with. I’ve mixed feelings about its ostracisation, but sadly its origin isn’t complimentary. But because of the lost innocence and fondness I had for it, I do like to see it in craft toy shops. But slagging it down would be like suggesting Al Jolson was a raving racist for blacking up on stage….he wasn’t and it was a very different age. That doesn’t make it right, or wrong for that matter, but it does need context, and what was appropriate or acceptable in 1914 shouldn’t always be in 2014. ‘Wog’, however, is a deliberate slur. Like it or not, it has the effect it does, and I choose not to use it because I know it’d deeply offend some people and make me look like a twat in the process. It’s not difficult! It is not political correctness; it is understanding the truth of it and treating people accordingly.

This person, stated that her views are not racist, a stance that would be more convincing if she didn’t use words like ‘paki’ and ‘wog’. I think saying you ‘hate pakis’ does not sound like the voice of tolerance to me. Some words cannot be easily reclaimed, although why we would is not entirely clear. Also, should that be the intention, there is a huge challenge involved as those words become too entrenched in our consciousness as deeply offensive. Granted, the fight against unreasonable ‘political correctness’ should be fought and governments pandering to every whim are to be challenged. But it’s telling that issues of race, culture and difference threaten some people long before the many other aspects of society being changed by a possible PC attitude from above.

Harmful bigotry and intolerance of all kinds are to be viewed with the contempt they deserve, whether in creative fields, the media or anywhere else we can choose to imagine.

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