Join Date: Feb 2006
."...black and Asian people have every right to be racist, given our past form."
I bought my nephew an iPhone 4 for Christmas (you see, I do like some children. It’s daft to say you love all children. It’s like saying you are a ‘people person’, which means presumably you like Hitler and Stalin).
The phone turned up in the nick of time, on Christmas Eve, but the SIM card, ordered from Orange, did not. Oh dear. I was forced to dial customer services.
‘Hello garble garble garble garble,’ said the woman on the end of the line.
‘I can’t understand a word you are saying.’
‘Garble garble garble.’
‘No, that sounds like nonsense to me. Do you speak English?’
‘Off course [sic].’
‘Can you speak more clearly?’
‘Garble garble garble.’
‘No, this is hopeless. What country are you speaking from?’
It turned out she was in India. Now, I love some Indian people, but I don’t love all of them as I haven’t met every one of them.
The woman became upset that I couldn’t understand her, and put me through to a supervisor who was Irish, and equally unintelligible, and accused me of making racist remarks.
I told him it was not a question of being racist, it was a question of comprehension, and of a woman being able to do her job.
I have often been accused of racism and insensitivity. On one occasion it was because I was dating a black man and, surely, I was only in the relationship for his mythical sexual prowess.
Again, for not covering my head in Pakistan and ordering champagne on the flight to Islamabad. Well, until Muslims come to my neck of the woods and adhere to my own Buddhist, Jainian ideals and beliefs out of respect for me, I will continue to do as I please. I have complained often and loudly about a passenger being served meat next to me on a plane; it’s surely more offensive than Gucci boots in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
I will not make allowances for a woman if I cannot understand her. To be patient and tolerant of someone just because they are black or Asian is worse than being downright rude. But it’s a fine line. People are racist, all the time.
Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, when asked to comment on the eurozone crisis, said it was down to a difference between ‘the pretty hard-working northern Europe and the siesta squad: the manana-manana guys at the bottom who don’t really have the same approach to work and wealth creation’.
At the Henley Literary Festival, I sat with a group of literati and my oldest sister. She talked about growing up in Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau in the mid-Fifties. ‘I had a dalmatian dog called Bruce,’ she told my liberal friends. ‘He never allowed a black face near me.’
Cue shocked looks all round. But my sister is not racist; unlike Nelson she is of her time and place. We have to keep it all in perspective: is someone really making a racist attack, or are they merely guilty of sloppy thinking, or being old-fashioned? My mum still says ‘coloured’, but loves her African nurse more than she loves us, her children.
The furore over Diane Abbott’s remark via Twitter last week that ‘white people love playing divide and rule’ is even more ridiculous than me being castigated for being unable to hear. Are black people capable of being racist? Of course. When I started dating my Indian future husband, his sister said to me: ‘But you are not, like, white white, right?’
Imagine if I’d said to my black boyfriend, Mad Richard: ‘But you are not black black, you’re more mixed race, yes?’ He would probably have punched me, as he did his ex-wife and a random taxi driver (sometimes, people conform to stereotypes).
The difference is that black and Asian people have every right to be racist, given our past form. I tell everyone I meet to read King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild – about colonialism in the Congo, and the Belgian monarch’s complex campaign of propaganda to depict Africans as lazy and stupid – because once you have done so, you couldn’t even dream of castigating Abbott.
Or take a look at Late Victorian Holocausts, about how Queen Victoria imported food from India, meaning up to 29 million of her subjects there starved.
My sister-in-law and Diane Abbott can never be castigated. The reason I can never feel sorry for young, white working-class louts is that, unlike the rioters in Watts, LA and Brixton, they have no excuse. Unlike the Asians who ganged up to protect homes and businesses, the rioters never had to sleep beneath plastic bags in a slum before getting up to walk to school. It’s not Abbott who should be saying sorry, it’s us.
h t t p://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2083648/Diane-apologise-ask-King-Leopold-s-Ghost.html
Above post is my opinion unless it's a quote.