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  • Technorati: graph / links

    It’s middle/upper class not working-class racists that’s the problem


    by Sunny on 7th February, 2009 at 11:18 pm    

    So the BBC has apologised for editing out part of what a striking worker said about foreign workers, which made him sound racist. The full quote was:

    These Portuguese and Eyeties – we can’t work alongside of them: we’re segregated from them. They’re coming in in full companies.

    But the second half was edited out of a news bulletin, as Padraig Reidy highlighted here, to make it sound racist. Meanwhile, in The Sun there’s an account by Adrian Chiles of what happened:

    Carol was in full flow, talking about who’d win the Australian Open. “You also have to consider the frogs,” she said. “You know, that froggy golliwog guy.”

    “Ooh,” she added — waving an arm about. “If I was Prince Harry I’d get shot for saying that.” Before I’d worked out what to do, Jo — plainly aghast — leant across and said: “Excuse me, did you just say golliwog?” “Yes, well, he’s half-black,” Carol explained, waving her hand in front of her face.’

    via James Forsyth. This suggests Thatcher was actually aware it was an offensive term and still didn’t care. She thought she would get away with it anyway. I find it interesting that our media culture automatically assumes working class people are quite racist, but when someone rich and important uses offensive terms, it’s put down to their upbringing. That really pisses me off.

    We have a whole team of middle class commentators in the right-wing press (Rod Liddle, Mel Phillips) who flog their anti-immigration agenda by conjuring up white working class families hard done by their local area deteriorating. But the problem there isn’t immigration but the lack on investment into these areas that doesn’t take into account population changes fast enough. People would be less worried about immigration if it wasn’t for the lack of social housing and investment in public transport across the country.

    But if some middle/upper class idiots say something blatantly offensive, knowingly, then people like Iain Dale are ready there to make excuses for them and claim its all part of some PC gone mad agenda or that the BBC has an agenda against Thatcher. Yeah, the same corporation which is now paying this vile woman to make a documentary about her mother.



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    9 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. MaidMarian — on 8th February, 2009 at 1:29 am  

      ‘I find it interesting that our media culture automatically assumes working class people are quite racist, but when someone rich and important uses offensive terms, it’s put down to their upbringing. That really pisses me off.’

      I think that this is too blunt. It seems to be based on an assumption that there is such a thing as a consistent view amongst social classes on racism and immigration and that just is not true.

      Those on strike are more than capable of differentiating between, say, someone here through genuine marriage and piss-taking Italians here for no reason other than a murkily awarded contract. The media may like to present issues in such black and white terms, but the journalists would not know nuance if they were bitten by it. Nor would they let the facts get in the way of a good story.

      Saying that, the strikers and the unions have not helped themselves. There is nothing like the sentence, ‘we are not racist,’ to attract allegations of racism.

      There should be no assumption that working class (whatever that means in 2009) people or any other class are racist - that has been put into mouths by a media far too willing to pander to a race relations industry that includes a large number of media types.

      No, what vexes me is when a race angle is put onto a story quite unnecessarily. If the strikers were carrying burning crosses and wearing Klan get up, by all means report the race angle.

      As it stands the race line seems to have been a way of sexing up a story about boring old industrial relations and the role of sub contracted labour.

      As to Thatcher - private comment. End of.

    2. Roger — on 8th February, 2009 at 9:09 am  

      “Carol … said. “You know, that froggy golliwog guy.”
      … Jo …said: “Excuse me, did you just say golliwog?” ”
      So, froggy’s acceptable, but golliwog isn’t.

    3. cjcjc — on 8th February, 2009 at 9:36 am  

      <i People would be less worried about immigration if it wasn’t for the lack of social housing and investment in public transport across the country.

      And who would pay for this? The public sector investment fairy? Or those same people?

    4. Ravi Naik — on 8th February, 2009 at 9:38 am  

      Great post. I think Sunny has nailed it.

      The more I hear about this case, the more uncomfortable I feel about this woman. Carol Thatcher clearly has issues with dark/black people (waving her hand in front of her face to describe “coloured” people?) - and what sort of grown-up woman thinks that calling a dark person a gollywog is a good punchline for a joke? And does Carol refer to Boris’ wife as half-wog?

      What a dreadful woman.

    5. Riz Din — on 8th February, 2009 at 10:46 am  

      ‘But the problem there isn’t immigration but the lack on investment into these areas that doesn’t take into account population changes fast enough.’

      Was it not another Thatcher who promoted free markets and at the same time spewed out endless home owning propaganda. I agree that investment in training etc is infinitely more helpful than spending millions propping up an industry that is going to die anyway … but wouldn’t life be a lot easier if people weren’t trapped by their homes. If folks were renting instead of owning, it would be much easier to pack up and move to where the jobs are.

      Also, if the media does assume that the average working class person is racist, I wonder if the journalists are victims of a data illusion - yes, there are many more racist working class folk than middle class folk, but there are a lot more working class people in the first place. Also, seek and ye shall find in all instances.

    6. Jai — on 8th February, 2009 at 12:18 pm  

      Carol Thatcher clearly has issues with dark/black people (waving her hand in front of her face to describe “coloured” people?) - and what sort of grown-up woman thinks that calling a dark person a gollywog is a good punchline for a joke?

      I wonder if she even considers the wider ramifications of (apparently shamelessly) making such remarks as the high-profile daughter of a former British Prime Minister, considering who is now in the Oval Office.

    7. smallbeds — on 8th February, 2009 at 12:25 pm  

      “Carol … said. “You know, that froggy golliwog guy.”
      … Jo …said: “Excuse me, did you just say golliwog?” ”
      So, froggy’s acceptable, but golliwog isn’t.

      No, Roger.

      Firstly, the social and legal acceptability of racist slurs are not defined by what Adrian Chiles says Jo Brand complained about on the spur of the moment. There’s no provision for this form of definition in any Act I’m aware of.

      Secondly, either Jo was so shocked by Carol’s words, or found the one far more offensive than the other, or misheard her as stuttering or mumbling, that she could only manage to give a stunned reaction to one. I’m sure if, given time to get over her initial shock, she’d have reacted to both.

    8. links for 2009-02-09 « Embololalia — on 9th February, 2009 at 6:04 pm  

      [...] It’s middle/upper class not working-class racists that’s the problem I find it interesting that our media culture automatically assumes working class people are quite racist, but when someone rich and important uses offensive terms, it’s put down to their upbringing. That really pisses me off. (tags: race racism uk media bbc class) [...]

    9. persephone — on 10th February, 2009 at 11:25 am  

      It does seem we have a rash of those from so called ‘upper class’ & in a ‘privileged’ position are saying inappropriate things from Carol Thatcher, Prince Charles, Prince Harry to the FCO Diplomatic Officer.

      The words that some of them are using such as Sooty, golliwog are words that mostly are long dead in wider society - the fact that certain sectors of society are using them maybe because they are still used & seen as inoffensive. I must admit from working with certain classes that they are slower to change & still stuck in a time warp.

      That is not to condone them but to me shows how they are still cut off from wider society. So more reason to challenge such situations



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