Weaponising victimhood

Trevor Phillips once said to me – only half joking – that newspapers should have identity correspondents, just as they have economics or environment correspondents. Certainly there appears to be an inexhaustible appetite on the part of media outlets for stories that focus on social divisions, real or imagined. Usually these are framed as moral parables featuring virtuous victims, usually female, ethnic minority or gay, and contemptible wrong-doers who are male, white or straight. Sometimes the perpetrator is institutional – often, as with the Windrush generation controversy, the British state itself.

The common denominator with all these stories is the simplistic conclusions that we are supposed to draw. Men are beasts. Whites are oppressors. Britain is bad.

There are many other incidents of mistreatment or conflict in our society that never make headlines because they don’t feed these narratives. A trivial dispute between neighbours; an act of unkindness by a shop keeper; a sick joke by a colleague – all bad but hardly worthy of general concern. Unless there is a ‘social justice’ angle that can be divined (or manufactured), no one else gets involved.

Even where there are genuine problems or injustices worthy of wider attention, the true essence of the issue is often obscured, sometimes willfully, because some politically motivated people are determined to recast it in accordance with their agendas.

Recently there was an awful incident at Nottingham Trent University involving a young black female student called Rufaro Chisango who made a recording, whilst in her bedroom in a hall of residence, of drunken fellow students yelling racist taunts in the corridor. The dormitory manager was initially slow to respond but the University acted swiftly once she posted a video on social media and it went viral. National newspapers got involved and there was a massive outpouring of sympathy.

A lot of people then tried to claim that the incident proved that racism is rife in higher education. But is it?  Even if there were a dozen groups acting like this in universities each year, it would still be a tiny percent of the entire student population. It is not news that people can be really horrible to each other, even well educated university students but it’s certainly not the experience of most ethnic minority Britons or foreign born students that they experience this sort of behaviour regularly, if at all, at university.

By and large, most young people are pretty tolerant and positive about diversity. People do insult each other racially, usually behind each other’s backs (and of course ethnic minorities can be racist in this sense too – I know Asian friends who laugh at ‘goras’) but it’s not commonplace and much of it is jocular, even if in bad taste. The evidence from a recent NatCen survey shows that just one per cent of the country admit to being “very prejudiced” against other groups and most of these are older (24 per cent admit to being “a little prejudiced” but invariably when this survey is mentioned the two figures are rolled together and it is reported that 25 per cent admit to being prejudiced).

I suspect that many young people have become so inured to anti-racist education in schools and colleges, that they have come to see PC as an ironic joke in itself, like calling someone ‘gay’ as an insult. The kind of laddish, offensive comments that young people sometimes make should also been seen in the context of hyper sensitivity around language – a lot of young people rebel against taboos almost as a matter of course. That doesn’t make it right but it suggests something else is going on.

The second story which was framed to make us believe that Britain was a racist cesspit was the Windrush scandal. The Government’s attempt to impose a hostile environment on illegal immigrants inadvertently caught a small group of older people of Caribbean heritage who had not needed papers when they first arrived in Britain as they were deemed citizens in the first place (and all Commonwealth citizens in the UK had been granted indefinite leave to remain in 1971). The state’s bureaucracy didn’t treat them with care or make the presumption of innocence usually afforded to citizens. Their experiences were deeply distressing and were the fault of officials working under a badly designed process; a process that should have been more sensitive to these historic groups who might struggle to prove their status. 

But was this really about race as many commentators have judged? Stories exist of foreign-born white people experiencing a similar level of Kafka-esque misery at the hands of the Home Office, and the top three countries for forced deportation are all white European: Romania, Albania and Poland. The real lesson is not one of racism, as in the deliberate targeting of ethnic minority groups, rather it is that the process of immigration enforcement needs to be improved.

Unless one believes that any constraint on illegal immigration is inherently racist then some kind of ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants is inevitable. Obviously, being an ethnic minority (in the sense of your parents or grandparents originally being from another country) means a greater risk of being affected. But this is a question about citizens and non-citizens, and how the state should police the distinction. 

None of this is morally clear-cut, but there is a lazy instinct on the part of some commentators to put Britain in the stocks and throw rotten fruit. This agenda is not driven by immigrants themselves, most of whom – Windrush nothwithstanding – have a broadly positive story to tell about their experiences of Britain and can at least speak with a sense of balance and perspective.

Rather it is driven by people who are acting according to a political agenda, who want to seek out and seize upon any instance of racism as proof that Britain (and the British people) are stuck in some neo-imperialistic mindset. They claim to act on behalf of the underprivileged and yet despise the attitudes of those working class people (white and ethnic) who express concern about issues like illegal immigration. I don’t doubt that some are well intentioned, but some seem to be more driven by their own prejudices than the reality of people’s lives. 

 

  • It is not just victimhood that has been weaponised, but evolved human nature itself, which is inherently tribal and territorial & thus naturally inclined to nativism & xenophobia, which the state deliberately incites, via mass immigration and DIVERSITY, in order to claim a spurious moral authority for itself by condemning.

    DIVERSITY is now part of the West’s age-old strategy of divide and rule (largely subconscious or obsured by Orwellian doublethink), whereby society is divided into a morally superior, now supposedly non-tribal, unprejudiced, “colour-blind” and xenophilic elite, on the one hand, and the morally inferior, naturally (evolved human nature being what it is) tribal, prejudiced, not colour-blind, but nativist and xenophobically-inclined masses, on the other, who must submit to the authority of and domination by their “moral superiors” (a moral animal like ourselves can be manipulated and controlled by a regime of moral rewards & intimidation as well as by one of material/physical rewards & intimidation).

    It is, in effect, a modern, secular replacement for the power-political role of medieval church ideology. Original sin (disobedience of divine, i.e. priestly/state authority) has been replaced by “racial prejudice” (the natural human inclination – like original sin – to identity with members of one’s own tribe, race or ethnic group, which was made responsible (wrongly) for the Holocaust and equated with the evils of Nazi racism), and which only submission to priestly/academic/state ideology and authority can save us from eternal damnation for, not as heathens and heretics, as in the past, but as bigots, xenophobes, nativists or racists.

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