Thankfully we now live in a time where collectively racist terms are no longer used by the majority and if they are, people are quick to point out their disgust and move to halt such behaviour. To say the N word or the P word just simply is no longer excusable or acceptable.
It has been somewhat amusing to hear white people exclaim ‘All Lives Matter’ since the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement picked up pace, which is of course true, let’s face it, all lives obviously do matter, it’s just that, to use an Orwellian quote from Animal Farm with a slight twist “All lives matter, but some lives matter more than others.” And if anyone hasn’t noticed how the scales of equality have and do lean more to one side there is a serious case of denial or plain stupidity at play.
You only need to take two racist terms and put them alongside one another to see how strong racism is and the effects it has had throughout history and society.
Clearly the first racist term carries a huge weight, it is understandably unsettling, provocative and inflammatory.
The second, well, it’s a joke. I don’t believe any white man in the history of humanity has ever been insulted by the term honky.
And one only needs to look through history to understand the gravity of why. I really don’t need to point it out, a couple of minutes dedicated to research will outline the years of abject racism that gives the N word its power and weight.
But unfortunately, racism didn’t stop with the near eradication of the N and P word. No, it’s started to re-emerge, I’m not sure whether it’s necessarily more sophisticated given those who promote it, but it’s definitely filling our social networks and media, can be heard easily in conversations and vocalised by politicians, celebrities and other ‘important’ figures.
Katie Hopkins, Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson have built whole careers on racism under the guise of patriotism, but there is a very fine line between patriotism and jingoism, an extreme version of nationalism.
I have witnessed here in the Deep South of England, Folkestone twinned with Alabama, huge amounts of anti-immigrant, anti-refugee diatribes, but guaranteed if you asked each person if they were racist, they would deny it swiftly and be disgusted at such a notion. No one wants to be labelled a racist.
Just because you don’t say ‘nigger’ or ‘paki’ does not automatically mean you’re not racist. Posts about letting foreigners drown because they don’t belong ‘here’ and putting gunships in the channel to stop migrants crossing and comparing them to cockroaches is, erm, racist.
Reading the comments on posts recently about the Napier Barracks arson affair where people were calling for immigrants to be thrown into the flames of a burning building because they don’t belong here, believe it or not, is racist.
Interestingly, I have experienced some of these very people who swiftly claim, ‘All Lives Matter’ in the next sentence attack ‘immigrants’. Perhaps there should be a footnote. All lives matter, unless you’re from Syria, Africa, Iraq, Iran or anywhere else that simply isn’t ‘here’, on this sinking rock.
How far are people going to go with the anti-immigration movement? Are we going to find ourselves in a position whereupon a pregnant woman enters a hospital and because she isn’t British rather than help her with her labour, they sew up her vagina instead ensuring that no UN-British child will enter the UK in any fashion, as a form of contraband?
“No non-Brit is going to enter my country across the borders or via the vagina canal! British forceps for British people!”
I recently bumped into a black friend of mine, (see I’m not racist. Little joke there) and we were discussing this, that and then finally got into a talk about race whereupon he told me he didn’t realise that so many of his friends were racist after viewing their posts and comments on social media. It wasn’t that they were posting the N word, it was that they were expressing themselves through the now socially acceptable sport, that pastime, so many know and love: the hatred of immigrants, a new football to kick around when you are unsatisfied with your own life.
Immigrant is now a pejorative term. A way to look down on another. A noun that is divisive. A term to be used in post-truth politics. It may not start with a N or a P, but it is already beginning to carry a certain weight to be used by those in fear to control and keep others down.
Pastor Niemoller may need to amend his widely quoted poem to fit the day and age in which we live:
First they came for the immigrants, I did not speak out, because I wasn’t an immigrant.
And then they came for me, and there was no one left, to speak out for me.
Let’s not turn this the UK into the UKKK.