Racism – It has no place in our society, end of


The BBC has the article about racist chanting at Nottingham Trent University on its web site – see link above

As a Nottinghamshire lad this saddens and angers me. People are not born racists they are conditioned to be like that by what they learn from those around them; that this is still an issue in 2018 is utterly appalling to me.

I think we all now realise that one of the consequences of the EU Referendum has been that to some it has made intolerance towards those who are non-white and perceived to be non-British something that is socially acceptable again. Well it’s not and those who peddle racism are a threat to us all.

Over the past weeks I have been looking into what I consider to be some dark and frankly racist views that have been held by previous generations of my own family. This seems a sadly appropriate time to publish what I had written as a stand alone but yet to be published blog posting. My point being that my family are from Nottinghamshire:-

Why was my otherwise kindly Grandmother anti-Semitic?

This may seem a odd question to ask but sadly it’s an aspect of my otherwise kindly grandmother, on my father’s side of my family, that has always troubled me.

She lived in the small Nottinghamshire mining community of Kirkby-In-Ashfield, ran/worked in a corner shop, lived in a council house and was I suppose a typical grandmother of her generation. She died when I was a young man in the early 1980’s. But the thing about her that has always troubled me as I have got older is hearing her make anti-Semitic remarks. Sadly, my Dad seemed to hold similar prejudices. Politically I would say she was a working class Conservative.

So what was the source of this anti-Semitism? A check of the census returns for Kirkby-In-Ashfield shows virtually no Jewish people live there now or indeed have done so the past 100 years, so contact with Jewish folk seems highly unlikely as she lived in that town most of her adult life.

She was a religious person, a regular C of E church attender and if memory serves she also refused to go into Catholic Churches. On that basis she must surely have been anti-Catholic too.

Was this anti-Jewish and Catholic thing simply a consequence of tribal religious beliefs handed down from generation to generation?

From a wider perspective I found this Wikipedia article informative:-


Interestingly in discussion with my friend Andrew he pointed to the exodus of Jews from Russia in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (covered in the Wikipedia article above) as being a possible contemporary event that could have influenced my grandmother’s views significantly.

Sadly, I have the feeling that the views of my grandmother, whilst troubling to me, were not unusual for her generation.

My unpublished blog posting (in italics above) about my Grandmother and the BBC article are obvious coincidental. I have no reason what so ever to think racism is a bigger problem in my former home town and indeed in Nottinghamshire generally than it is elsewhere in the UK but what it does show is that racism needs to be challenged wherever it raises its head as it’s been with us for a long time and it needs to become socially unacceptable again.

Angry & Intolerant – A response from someone who knows me well

My recent posting regarding my own anger and intolerance over Brexit brought back this insightful response:-

Anger can be a useful tool if it can be directed, it can fuel difficult actions and hard campaigns. As long as you have control of it a little anger can take you a long way, sometimes further than you thought you could make it.

I don’t think Anger is an inherently bad thing, there are things that SHOULD make us angry. You are angry not because you got beaten but because you watched too many members of a generation who won’t be around to see the consequences of their vote to make life harder for their grandchildren, because you saw vulnerable people lied to and exploited, manipulated into voting for something that won’t benefit them in the least. In their case the anger they were entitled to feel at the neglect of the system got used by someone else, perhaps partly in fear of those people directing their anger towards the right targets and the people that had consistently failed to help them, or worse still failed to really try.

You are angry because there has been a backlash of hate, of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, the list of rising hate crimes is too long to go on with. You are angry because a young woman trying to work for her community got savagely murdered in the streets.

You SHOULD be angry, we should ALL be angry, but anger is only useful if we direct it into purpose. This may be the biggest threat to our country, to the liberal values you and I both hold dear, in a very long time. It should be fought. Tolerating other people’s views doesn’t mean you stop fighting them when you think they’re wrong. It means you fight them in the right way, that you don’t stoop to name-calling, to slurs and intimidation. You treat them with the respect owed to all human beings while fighting against the effects of their views and trying to convince them they are wrong. That’s where anger starts to get in the way, you don’t change anyone’s views by shouting at them.

We need to remember that more important than politics, than economies, than anything, is our relationships with our fellow human beings. Events like this make us want to retreat to the safety of those that agree with us, make us want to get behind a barricade and throw projectiles at the enemy but that isn’t really going to help anybody. Martin Luther King quite rightly said “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

We need to be careful about indulging in some feeling of moral superiority and feelings of blame, how we got here is important but how we move forward is even more so. All far easier to say than to do, but I grew up with a good example of all this so somehow, occasional shouting aside, I think you’ll do just fine.

Well, it seems like I could consider an apology to those I have insulted over the Brexit vote following this advice. But, I will have to sit on that for a while as the anger is still very strong and the full consequences of that vote are unknown. Put it this way, if my genuine fears about the future of the UK prove to be unfounded and that Brexit ‘visionaries’ were right in saying leaving the EU will be the making of the UK then maybe I will apologise. However, based on the evidence that I saw before the referendum and what I have seen since I still can’t understand why Brexiters pressed what I see as the self-destruct button. Yes, still very angry indeed!

Free speech trumps being offended

In a free society we value free speech and that means at times we are going to be offended by our views, beliefs and opinions being challenged and insulted.

The easy answer is to say that so and so should be banned for saying what they have said but if we were banned from saying something how would we feel?

Our religious views or the lack of them is often an area where offence can be intended and indeed taken but that does not mean whose who offend should be stopped from making their views known.

The difficulty we face is our ability to take criticism that challenges our own prejudices but of course those prejudices vary markedly from person to person.

So yes, you have the right to be offended just as you have the right to be the offender. That does not of course excuse bad behaviour which is meant to hurt but some will indeed have intended just that.

For a free society to work we need to be tolerant and considerate when we know that a small minority of us will not be. But the more rules and laws we bring in to stop us being offended the less free we all become.

“very” or “a little” race prejudiced – I am unsurprised by survey of British attitudes

Growing number of Britons admit to being prejudiced

The British Social Attitudes survey has found that nearly a third of people in Britain admit being racially prejudiced, a return to the level of 30 years ago. Of the 2,000 people polled by social research company NatCen, 30% described themselves as either “very” or “a little” race prejudiced. Chief executive Penny Young said the findings were “troubling”, and cited the 9/11 attacks and an increase in concerns about immigration as two possible reasons for the turnaround. However, Ms Young also admitted self-reported prejudice was “very difficult” to study in detail, and Sunder Katwala, director of the identity and integration think tank British Future, said it was a “difficult measure to use” when attempting to draw conclusions. The Telegraph’s Allison Pearson suggests the findings should not come as a surprise and recalls comments made by Margaret Hodge in 2007 about how issues surrounding the ethnicity of people on council house waiting lists could alienate large numbers of working-class voters.

TODAY – BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Page: 17 Daily Star, Page: 23 Independent i, Page: 24 The Guardian, Page: 34 Daily Mirror, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 14 The Independent, Page: 37

Since I became politically aware, as a teenager, it has struck me that racial and indeed homophobic prejudice in Britain is both significant more widely spread than we may wish to admit. In the round this survey says one third of us may well be racially prejudiced and frankly that sounds about right to me in terms of a proportion of the population.

Of course politicians of the right often play to such prejudices as indeed does the right wing press. It is easy to scare people with stories that spread fear and worry about those of differing ethnicity and the ‘threats’ they may bring to the ‘British way of life’. UKIP very much trade on such fears of course so the rise of this deeply illiberal party in times when polls are showing prejudice levels are high comes as no surprise.

The big problem we face is that the main political parties are slowly being pulled towards intolerant and illiberal policies in an attempt to bring the electorate back on board. And we should not think this is a problem that the Tories are most troubled with as Labour’s ‘working class’ (oh how I hate that phrase) supporters are probably where the greatest challenge sits. But the Lib Dems too could well feel they need to sound tougher on racial issues when in fact they need to sound tough on the racists and the intolerant.