My word, isn’t this a surprise?

In fact, though, everyone – of whatever colour – is racist. As part of a TV documentary I’ve been working on, I’ve seen how our brains have a tendency to automatically associate our own race with good and other races with bad, whoever we are.

Tribal species identifies in-tribe as good, out-tribe as bad.

It’s akin to that professor getting exasperated with the Teenage Trots. Even dogs in fields know the meaning of property so why’s it so tough for you? Dogs know who is in the pack and who isn’t. Why’s it so tough to understand that a species with a many hundreds of thousands of year history of living in small groups and tribes supports the in-tribe and not the out-tribe?

And aren’t we all a fuck of a lot better at it than we used to be, eh?

31 thoughts on “My word, isn’t this a surprise?”

  1. In group and our group tendancies do not have to or always include ‘race’ as the basis of that distinction.

    In the ancient world of Greece you were civilised or a barbarian, the pigmentation of ones skin did not matter in this political context.

    Only until the rise of ‘race’ during the enlightenment, as a reaction to and intellectual justification of a belief in the equality of man but the reality of extreme inequalities did ‘race’ become an idea that drove racism.

    Ergo anyone wh says we are all racist is utterly and entiry ignorant of ‘race’ and racisms history.

  2. Are we all tribal though? Other public intellectuals have noted a difference in tribalism between mountain folk and plains folk. Here that means that the Welsh and highland Scots are more tribal than the lowland Scots and the English. Elsewhere in Europe it means countries with flattish topography such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and much of France have less tribal societies; while mountainous countries (e.g. ex-Yugoslavia, Greece) are much more tribal.

    Speculation, of course; but food for thought nonetheless.

  3. 3% of the UK population are black and she complains that most people in a position of authority are white???

  4. Most white people don’t see themselves as racist. They can comfortably reel off a list of people of colour they know, like, or maybe even love.

    This is true. I let my little ones watch “In The Night Garden” even though Upsy Daisy is some kind of rasta.

    They can’t think of a time when they’ve negatively discriminated against someone on the grounds of their race.

    Also true. Apart from when gypsy-looking foreigners offer to wash my car at Sainsburys. I’m not letting them touch my car, they’d probably leave it smelling of horses and pegs.

    And they don’t see, in a concrete way, how their own race has positively affected them.

    Nobody sees in a concrete way, except Ben Grimm.

    More than that, when people imagine a racist, they probably envisage a white skinhead sat in a pub ready to start a fight with the first black or brown person who walks through the door.

    Half-true. I’ve met the white skinhead type of racist, but Diane Abbott is one too.

    In fact, though, everyone – of whatever colour – is racist.

    Even Barack Obama?

    On average, white Brits demonstrated a moderately strong bias towards their own race and black Brits showed a very weak bias towards their own race.

    Well, they know their own race best.

    I put myself under the lens too, and took a test where I was asked to put myself in the position of a police officer. Images of white men and black men flashed on a computer screen in front of me and I had less than a second to decide whether or not to shoot them, based on whether I thought they were holding a gun, or a harmless object like a can of drink or a packet of cigarettes. My results showed that I was slightly more likely to shoot white unarmed men than black unarmed men.

    Mona Chalabi isn’t exactly selling me on this “diversity is our greatest strength” thing.

    Does that make me a racist? To my surprise, I think it does. But I didn’t find those test results as troubling as you might expect.

    Kill the Boer! Kill the farmer!

    I think my responses to a game about police killings and gunmen have been affected by the fact that I’m a journalist. I’ve spent the past year in the United States covering relentless news about unarmed black men being shot by the police and armed white men committing mass murders.

    Ah, yes. The “news”.

    What “journalists” aren’t interested in telling you is that black men in America are an order of magnitude more likely than white men to commit murders. The figures are so embarrassing to US officials that they had to fudge them – counting Mexican mestizos as “white” so as to make the racial disparity in murders less stark. (Naturally, when it comes to affirmative action goodies, they magically stop being “white”.)

    And still, the FBI stats show that “white” offenders murder roughly the same number of people as “black” offenders.

    But black people are only 13% of the US population.

    So Whitey McWhiterton murders people – news!

    Blackey McBlackerton commits homicides – what are you, some kind of racist?

    The “unarmed” black men – honour students and future rocket scientists all – gunned down by the racist Yank coppers tend to have been on drugs and behaving violently right before they got shot.

    It’s almost as if one’s behaviour has consequences. But of course, that’s racist.

    It’s a question of vulnerability. As long as systems of power remain white, racism against white people will not be the same as racism against people of other races.

    Forget all that Enlightenment rights of man stuff, that’s racist.

    But taking apart the racist label and understanding that everyone is biased is an important first step in understanding how a racist society has affected us. Then we need to find a language that doesn’t conveniently overlook systems of power that are still set up to privilege one race: a white one.

    Self-admitted anti-white racist wants you to feel guilty about your “white privilege”.

    Nah. Fuck off, Mona.

  5. @AndrewM
    Farmers versus goat herders.
    For the farmer, it’s always in his interest to get on with his neighbour. Who wants to spend their nights mounting guard over a cabbage field? And the other side of your neighbour’s farm is his neighbour. Which makes him your neighbour too. So right across Europe, all farmers are basically next door neighbours.
    OK. They fight wars. Actually it’s their rulers fight wars. And most of them are related. But the poor, bloody infantries, given half the chance, will be sharing a pint on the battlefield.
    Herders are always suspicious of the bloke over the hill nicking his goat/sheep/whatever. And they stray, don’t they? Endless cause of arguments.
    So it’s the goatherder against his brother. And him & his brother against the family. And the family against the tribe. And the tribe against anyone.

  6. Rob Harris’s claim that the idea of race didn’t exist before the enlightenment is a joke. Are we supposed to believe that people in Ancient Rome were totally unaware of racial characteristics? Ancient Romans were actually aware that Jews had brains.

  7. Re all that ‘relentless’ news she keeps ‘covering’ of all those racist armed police killing black people, you may not have heard of Keith Vidal, Samantha Ramsey, Bobby Canipe, Dillon Taylor, Robert Saylor and some thousands of others who were killed by the po-po, because *for some reason* the media decides not really to report deaths like those very much.

    How many google hits for Gilbert Collar – a white, eighteen-year-old student at the University of Alabama who was shot dead by a (black) police officer who really ought to have known he was unarmed, because he (the student, not the cop) was naked at the time?

    I’m personally getting a little fed up with people telling me I have white privilege.

    If we’re going to have group guilt, can we also have group rights? So sure, I’ll cough to slavery (though I will point out that there were a lot of black slavers too), but I also want respect for antibiotics, electricity, the internet, the internal combustion engine, French fries, champagne, aeroplanes, democracy and most of the world’s classical music, art, literature and sports (and Sports Mixtures).

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    Rob Harries – “In the ancient world of Greece you were civilised or a barbarian, the pigmentation of ones skin did not matter in this political context.”

    In the Greek world everyone was a f**king Mediterranean. How much pigmentation variation do you think they saw? However descent was important to them. Alexander the Great may be claimed by Greece today, but his family had to fake descent from Hercules to be accepted as Greek. What the Greeks had was no way to enforce a distinction. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t aware of it. When the Greeks settled in the East after Alexander the Great, they soon found themselves allowing uncles to marry nieces rather than allowing a Greek to marry a non-Greek.

    “Ergo anyone wh says we are all racist is utterly and entiry ignorant of ‘race’ and racisms history.”

    And this ends today’s homily from CiF.

    Ralph Musgrave – “Are we supposed to believe that people in Ancient Rome were totally unaware of racial characteristics?”

    Juvenal complained about the Orontes flowing into the Tibur. Looks like a complaint about race to me.

    “Ancient Romans were actually aware that Jews had brains.”

    I doubt they were. Actually. Given Jews were the ISIS of their day. The Christians just made them look better.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    Interested – “Re all that ‘relentless’ news she keeps ‘covering’ of all those racist armed police killing black people”

    And the media keeps lying about race. They lied to make the Afro-Latin George Zimmerman White. They are now lying to claim Christopher Mercer was White. Even though his Mother was Black. They have even changed the colour of his photo to make him look White – instead of pretty much the same race as Obama.

    “but I also want respect for antibiotics, electricity, the internet, the internal combustion engine, French fries, champagne, aeroplanes, democracy and most of the world’s classical music, art, literature and sports (and Sports Mixtures).”

    White people, and more accurately White heterosexual males of youthful years and northern European descent, have invented pretty much everything of importance in the world. Cured famine most places. Cured almost all disease. Allowed the world’s population to grow perhaps fifty fold.

  10. @SMFS

    ‘Allowed the world’s population to grow perhaps fifty fold.’

    This may be the problem. That and the fact that a good deed seldom goes unpunished.

  11. “Only until the rise of ‘race’ during the enlightenment, as a reaction to and intellectual justification of a belief in the equality of man but the reality of extreme inequalities did ‘race’ become an idea that drove racism.”

    I remember an article in the National Geographic magazine about Ancient Egypt quoting an inscription off a fort on the border with Nubia. It said: ” This is my Fort. No black man shall pass it. I am Pharoah and I do what I say.”

  12. The easiest way for any affluent, well educated, able bodied, straight, white man to experience discrimination is to get on a bicycle on Britain’s streets.

    You instantly become part of an out-group that experiences near continual and violent hostility that is difficult to experience anywhere else.

    I doubt even the archetypal black disabled lesbian has as many near deliberately inflicted death experiences as a cyclist.

    And it’s all purely due to in-group/out-group psychology.

  13. This woman is basing her judgements on watching the news, so it is already hopelessly biased as the news is produced, filtered and suppressed by people like her.

  14. Racism beats nationalism beats tribalism beats clanism beats Cain vs Abel in that the accepted ingroup is more inclusive. Humanism is supposed to be the next step up but the animal rights people think that’s speciesist. I’d trust a sheep not to kill me but am deeply suspicious of any carnivore or anything bigger than me and there are some mighty feral humans out there too.

  15. magnusw – To be fair, cyclists are a menace, and should all be rounded up and put into camps.

    Dear Cyclopses,

    Allow me to correct some misunderstandings you seem to have fallen into.

    No, I do not want to watch your sweaty, lycra-clad bum while I’m trying to get to work. Kindly get your exercise elsewhere than busy public highways at rush hour, you selfish dicks.

    No, I do not have 360 degree vision and the reflexes of Superman. If you suddenly come flying out of my blind spot, there’s a good chance you’ll have a brief and painful existence as my new hood ornament.

    No, you are not entitled to ignore the Highway Code. Just because you don’t pay road tax on your gay little bike, doesn’t mean you can whizz through red lights.

    No, you are not saving the environment. The environment doesn’t care about your bicycle, and it thinks your shiny helmet looks like a knob.

    Please man up and get cars, like normal people. Or failing that, drink Harpic and die.

    Yours in Christ,

    Motorists

  16. I will get back later tonight about this but for the fact people seem to think ideas of ‘race’ today must have existed in the past underlines their fundamental ignorance of history and the history of the idea.

  17. Steve: you don’t pay road tax either, nobody has paid road tax since 1935. As for ***CAR*** tax (Vehicle Excise Duty), studies have shown that around about 80% of cyclists own a car, and concequently, pay car tax.

  18. “In the presence of diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.” Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history” … the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions.” – Prof. Robert Putnam

  19. I’ll say this as a cyclist. Actually a folding cyclist, who’s, nevertheless, put better than 6000km on the clock in recent years. I detest the beLycra’d more as a cyclist than as a motorist.
    Not everyone wants to ride around as if they’re in the f***ng Tour de France.

  20. Steve.

    I don’t give a fuck if you don’t like looking at my arse. And arsehole drivers should realise I’m much faster than them in rush hour traffic so cutting me up in the race to the lights is a pointless hiding to nothing.

    I do have good reflexes because I’m fit and healthy, sorry to hear you are withering away.

    I won’t ignore the highway code, I understand that with my right to use a bicycle come responsibilities. It’s unfortunate that those second class highway users who only get to use the road under licence don’t share that belief in responsibility and kill 2,000 people each year.

    Don’t give a toss about the environment, but I do save £5,000 a year and don’t suffer the the self deceit that thinking being trapped in an endless spiral of expense and traffic equals freedom.

    Man up and get out of that protective steel cocoon you pussy. 1500kg of steel and plastic versus a human body, yeah dead brave.

    Fuck you very much,

    Cyclists

  21. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It’s us sedan chair and palanquin users that get the shit end of the stick. Motorists cut you up and splash your husky bearers with all manner of grime, honking furiously, and cyclists shriek girlishly and rend their Lycra unitards if you go on the cycle path. And now Health and Safety are trying to put a stop to my practise of going through some of the more vibrant and culturally enriched areas to throw a few shiny coppers to the local ragamuffins, quoting some spurious by-law or other. It’s Political Correctness gone mad, I tell you.

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    magnusw – “I doubt even the archetypal black disabled lesbian has as many near deliberately inflicted death experiences as a cyclist. And it’s all purely due to in-group/out-group psychology.”

    That is probably true but only because White British people don’t often threaten people with death. I have been a cyclist and a driver. I cringe thinking of some of the things I did as a cyclist. You do not realise how limited your field of vision is in a car until you sit in one. Cyclists really worry me when I am in a car. They seem oblivious to what I can and cannot see. How much of the road I think is safe to use. The basic physics of stopping. That sort of thing. When a near incident takes place, even if I am completely in the right, as a driver I feel bad because I am so much bigger and safer than the cyclist. It is naturally that all that stress expresses itself in odd ways. Not murderous ways but swearing, certainly.

    But speaking of Black lesbians:

    A student diversity officer who was caught up in a racism row after allegedly posting ‘kill all white men’ on social media has been summonsed to court to face malicious communications charges.

    Bahar Mustafa, 28, of Edmonton, North London, a welfare and diversity officer at Goldsmiths University, will appear at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on 5 November, police said.

    Ms Mustafa will face two charges, one of sending a threatening message between 10 November 2014 and 31 May this year, and one of sending a menacing or offensive message via a public network, between the same dates.
    ….
    Ms Mustafa explained that she could not be guilty of sexism or racism against white men “because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender and therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system.”

    I foresee a long career on Corbyn’s front bench. Maybe our new Foreign Secretary?

    Rob Harries – “I will get back later tonight about this but for the fact people seem to think ideas of ‘race’ today must have existed in the past underlines their fundamental ignorance of history and the history of the idea.”

    Hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet? Or more I will do such things,– What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be The terrors of the earth?

    Jonathan – “Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles”

    Putnam sat on his work for years because of fear of the Social Justice Warrior response. But this is Britain’s future thanks to immigration – Bladerunner but without the sexbots.

    Bloke in Italy – “You cunt.”

    No offense, but I think we have a good division of labour going on here at Tim’s. Ian B does the swearing. Steve does the fisking. And I make the f**king outrageous and irrational comments.

    So stop treading on my territory. It’s a demarcation issue innit?

    I don’t know why cyclists make so many otherwise pleasant people around here irrational.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    In marginally related news, apparently not liking pumpkin spiced lattes is sexist:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425108/student-pumpkin-spice-sexist-swarthmore

    According to a Swarthmore College student’s op-ed, the real reason that people make fun of pumpkin-spice lattes is that our society thinks everything girls like is stupid because “girls don’t get to have valid emotions.”

    “It all comes back to sexism,” Min Cheng writes in a piece for The Phoenix, Swarthmore’s official student newspaper. “People love to hate on what girls like.”

    I think Ms Cheng sells herself short. I am sure she could prove hating pumpkin spiced lattes is racists too.

    Although my problem is that I can’t tell if what I feel is bigotry or experience. I mean I am perfectly happy to hate pumpkin spiced lattes, but I don’t actually know what they are. Utterly ignorant. Can anyone help? However I would also say that years of exposure to middle class White (or a close resemblance there to in this case) drama queens means that experience tells me anything classed with Grey’s Anatomy is likely to be an Abomination Unto Omm and deserves to be hated.

  24. @ SMFS
    “I don’t know why cyclists make so many otherwise pleasant people around here irrational.”
    Because *a few of them* get away with behaviour that they can’t get away with.
    In fact it’s a tiny minority of cyclists but they are the ones who get noticed just like the even tinier minority of fat-cat bankers get the whole financial services sector a bad name.
    @ magnusw
    So you’re faster than rush-hour traffice – big deal! Do you know why they close the roads during the London marathon? Because the cars would get in the way of the runners who are faster than them. In my first job after graduating I used to walk to work with my rolled umbrella, doing the Times crossword, and overtaking the long queue of cars crawling along the road.

  25. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 – “Because *a few of them* get away with behaviour that they can’t get away with.”

    But usually we can all agree to blame the Few and move on.

    I think it is because near misses scare both sides. Strong emotions are engendered. The solution is usually to blame the other side. So when this topic comes up, the drivers relive the fear they had of nearly killing someone, and the riders the fear they had of being nearly killed – and I am willing to bet virtually everyone has been in a near death situation with a cyclist in fairly recent times. That makes everyone irrational. Because we aren’t talking about the tiny minority of drivers who are idiots or the tiny minority of riders who are dangerous, we are talking about our own fears.

  26. “That makes everyone irrational. Because we aren’t talking about the tiny minority of drivers who are idiots or the tiny minority of riders who are dangerous”

    I think you may have “idiots” and “dangerous” the wrong way round?

    I stopped cycling years ago when, after one or two hairier moments, I realised that even if 99% of car drivers gave you a reasonable amount of space, that 1% ultimately is going to affect you in some way – and especially in densely populated areas when hundreds of cars can pass you every time you cycle. 1.5 tons of metal versus flesh and bones didn’t feel like a fair contest.

    btw: Motorist 3 – Cyclopses 5…

  27. @ SMFS
    I was knocked down by a cyclist a few years ago – his local Borough Council had failed to put up a warning notice where it merged the footpath and cycle track at an underpass and he came round the corner at speed in order to have enough momentum to get up the slope – but that doesn’t make *me* irrational.

  28. As you get old it is easier to be against everything and everybody. Excepting , of course, those who can cook knife and fork dinners ( not that modern muck).
    Praise be to their skills.
    Especially for mashed potatos and sausages.( and / or steak and kidney pie)

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