Was talking to a struggling neighbour of my late parents yesterday.
There were three of us yakking, as you do.
Inevitably Brexit entered the conversation.
Said neighbour declared herself as having voted for Brexit, followed swiftly by her annoyance that many stereotyped those who voted to leave as racists.
Honest, guv I try hard not to judge (It’s a very complex issue distilled down into a stupidly black and white voting choice) but within a minute or so I received one of those “that doesn’t help” moments when she suddenly said that, in a way, she quite admired Hitler as at least he got things done.
Interesting / worrying times
We don’t get too much junk mail through the letterbox, mostly pizza delivery leaflets and estate agents begging for clients (poor unqualified luvs). Today though was different as Sunday brought us two leaflets courtesy of the far right white nationalist BNP party.
The first leaflet is headed ‘EU membership opens the door to millions of Eastern European workers’ which is basically a rant against EU membership littered with terms like ‘eastern European Gypsies’ and ‘take YOUR job’ (ah yes that job I so wanted cleaning for a minimum wage).
The second inflammatory leaflet is printed on lurid green with the large lettering ‘Islam, a threat to us all’ and features pictures of the 7/7 terrorist attacks and pictures of supposed London Islamic protesters carrying inflammatory anti west, anti enemies of Islam type worded placards.
I suppose there’s an argument for free speech (though under current laws there’s probably an incitement to religious hatred law being broken here) but getting this sort of thing through the letterbox is a bit shocking and I wouldn’t have seen our local demographic as particularly ripe BNP material (no doubt the BNP are happy just to stir things up) . All printed in leafy Waltham Cross it would seem.
I can’t quite remember if the National Front did similar leaflet drops back in the late 70’s but do remember seeing an anti-NF literature that come through the door which was quoting most of the then punk artists including the then Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer denouncing the NF’s racist policies.
I’ll put up with more pizza delivery and needy estate agent leaflets if we can stop leaflets of hate coming through the door. All a bit upsetting really when bigotry comes hand delivered through your letterbox.
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The fallout of the recent Big Brother TV prog seems to just boil down to “the man on the Clapham Omnibus‘” (quaint saying) opinion as to whether what went on in the house was or was not racism. I find it hard not to see it as racism. It’s not race-hate but it is ignorance forming prejudice with a strong racial element. None of us can claim to be prejudice-free but for some of the participants to threaten suing the TV company for editing them in such as way as to appear racist is really abdicating personal responsibility (a very modern situation). The trouble with people who hold prejudiced views is that, even when pointed out to them, they may well be unable to see what they say or think as racism and instead blame the world around them for being over-sensitive or going “all-pc”on them. It would be better to just apologise, say it was a stressful situation and they said regrettable things in the heat of the moment. The sanctimonious baying of the media and “born-again” liberals on the street is just as loathsome especially when tabloid comics like The Sun have the gall to accuse someone else of racism and ignorance!
Channel 4 have been holding so called crisis talk to decide the fate of Celebrity Big Brother in the wake of all the racism furore. In the short term ratings seem to have won over morality and the programme remains on air. I find it hard to imagine how any future evictions can have public attendance when two other members of the house are equally accused of racist actions and the remainder have been conspicuous by their lack of intervention or condemnation thus highlighting the oft mangled and reinterpreted maxim: it only takes a few good men to remain silent for evil to prevail. I have always found the programme difficult to watch whether celebrity based or otherwise as it has always reminded me of school bullying which can often transpose into the workplace so without sounding too pious, have often avoided watching the programme and tend to absorb it’s impact through media and friends who probably don’t feel as uncomfortable with it as I do. Surely the UK franchise has now become damaged goods , forever associated with racism. Coping out and say it raises “healthy debate” really is avoiding responsibility and probably Channel 4 have their eye on avoiding complicated legal breach of contract lawsuits rather than taking positive action by halting the programme in the wake of the record number of complaints which now stands at over 40,000.
We will see what happens.
The growing unease over the Celebrity Big Brother and it’s alleged racism has a bizarre positive side (if indeed anything positive can come out of celebrity culture and reality television) in that it’s holding a rather big and uncomfortable magnifying mirror up to current British society and it’s attitudes. It especially highlights some peoples response to difference and cultures (& accents) other than our own. I’m sure when these people emerge from the house they will not doubt be surprised at possible accusations of racism but it certainly highlights the possibility that inherent cues are being picked up from the wider society. It should make us all look at ourselves through others eyes and at least question the possibility that racism and other levels of intolerance do exist in the wider society and some of the Big Brother contestants (who happen to be white Brits) are reflecting that fact. I’ll admit that I’m not an avid devotee of Big brother though my partner is. I am uncomfortable watching the programme as some form of bullying often occurs and it just feels a bit like being back at school as well as highlighting that difference is only really tollerated on the surface. get under the skin a bit more and people will soon reveal their true selves.