26 April, 2009
A very bloodless genocide
Hey guys, there's still five-and-a-half weeks to go till the election. Best slow down a bit or the electorate will start to get smear fatigue.
Not wishing to be left out of the fun, I thought I might offer you the following little observation.
Last Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the infamous radio programme about the Moston by-election was aired, I was standing on the platform of Canning Town station, waiting for a connection and reflecting on Griffin's unfortunate choice of words to describe the ethnic cleansing that is most absolutely not happening in the UK and is so evidently a figment of the man's diseased and paranoid imagination.
I whiled away a couple of minutes playing Spot the White Man. The platform was overflowing with West Africans making their way back to the Occupied Territories after a hard day's doing whatever it is West Africans do. I stood aside as a Lithuanian couple tried to push through with their baby buggy. Afro-Caribbean station assistants bantered cheerily.
Boring of this pastime, I turned to my copy of the Evening Standard and read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's St George's Day homily.
Yaz has precisely two modes: (a) the victimist rant in which she blames the British and their Empire for everything from ingrowing toenails to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and (b) the patronizing group hug in which she urges "Us British" (and that's the inclusive 'we', of course) to stride forward together to a multi-coloured future in all our shared diversity. On the whole I prefer mode A — it's more honest and coherently written, and it doesn't make the pages of the newspaper stick together. Thursday's piece was firmly rooted in mode B, however.
Due to space constraints — this stuff has to fit in a small bottom-of-page "and finally" slot on the main op-ed page — Yaz cannot develop her "mongrel nation" theme as fully as she might, but she does offer us this
There is an England that pitches itself resentfully against others - the Scots, Europeans, migrants - and another England that embraces difference more ardently than any other tribe in Europe. For St George was a Christian Palestinian with Roman blood. Indeed, African battalions brought over by the Romans were posted at Hadrian's Wall. In 1764, a gentleman's magazine noted there were 20,000 black people in London. Within 50 years they had been absorbed into the population.Ah, yes, those famous African tribes of the Scottish marches. (You know, someone ought to devise a "mongrel nation buzzword bingo" game. Given space, I'm sure someone of Yaz's talent could score a full house every time.)
At least she doesn't describe George as "Turkish". Perhaps not a "swarthy" enough image for her purposes.
Incidentally, I'm not so sure about these 20,000 eighteenth-century London Blacks. I'm sure I read somewhere that there is no genetic trace of them in the current population. Perhaps they were not so much "absorbed" as simply "died out", unable to find any locals who were up for a shag, to put it delicately. I've not been able to phrase a successful search term — anybody any info?
Anyway, so much so business-as-usual. Yaz concludes her modest proposal to reshape the British in her image thus
The pride of England is raised by contradictory traditions; it is about argument. Perhaps argumentativeness is a particularly English characteristic - and it is alive and kicking today. Reactionaries and racists who used to control St George's Day and its meaning have lost ground to those who are happy that England is an open and cosmopolitan nation, with more mixed blood and cultural hybridity than the other three nations of the UK. At the same time, though, the BNP is gaining support and hostility to the EU and immigration is rising. Many native Englanders now prefer that label to British - too messy, too diverse, too full of bloody foreigners.Honestly girl, stick to the hate and resentment, please! But let's have a look at that last paragraph again.
So I am happy to join in today but will I be accepted or rejected? Is the sight of a young Sikh boy sporting a red cross an insult or an honour for England? That is the question. My daughter, who has my colouring and whose father is English, is the answer. The future is hers and in England or at least London. So I wish us all a very merry day and raise a glass - to England and the swarthy St George.
My daughter, who has my colouring and whose father is English, is the answer. The future is hers and in England or at least London.Unfortunately there is an uncorrected typo in that second sentence*. It's also present in the printed version. Are there no subeditors any more? But the meaning is clear enough, and I don't think it's just a neutral statement of demographic fact, either, not after all that build-up. There is deeply offensive note of triumphalism in that sentence. A subtext of racial arrogance and supremacism which would get a White writer banged up. Let me gloss it for you.
The future of England (or at least London) is brown. So stuff you White native whingers, you don't matter any more. We have won. We are taking over."Bloodless genocide", eh? Doesn't sound quite so paranoid now, does it?
*Update 27 Apr 2009
On re-reading, that isn't a typo, merely an ellipsis. The sentence construes as
The future is hers and [it is] in England or at least London.Not that the sense is changed, or that the article is any less obnoxiously triumphalist thereby. Possibly marginally more so, in fact.
Regards the 20,000 black londoners, you can probably find this information in one of the many Black History Month repositories on the net. Stay tuned for Islamic History Month...
Apart from the purse-seeking international elite sprinters at the head of the race, there was nothing but a 30,000 stron pasty-faced mono-pack behind them.
This was also true of the millions of trackside supporters of these sinewed honkeys trotting round for the homeless trusts, the disease-ridden, and the generally underpriveliged.
Mind you, they had all been working all week (plus the extra shifts in these austere times) and only had to travel from Harwich, Hull and Havant in a minibus at 4am with their mates from the childrens' hospice. Easy.
Not like the effort the work-liberated denizens of Deptford & Dalston would have had to put in on their income-supported Oyster bus journeys from the farthest reaches of the metropolis for a buckshee extravaganza on a mercilessly sunny Sunday.
Equal, but separate.