Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Real Racists Are Far More Offensive Than The Royal Family

In a world where Noddy and Big Ears can no longer consort with Golliwogs because it’s Politically Incorrect and somebody somewhere has been offended by interpretations which were never intended by the author, but which have been inferred by the intellectually febrile self appointed arbiters of modern manners, it should come as no surprise that Prince Charles has come under attack for calling a friend of his by the nickname “Sooty”. You see, it turns out that “Sooty” is a fellow of Indian extraction and consequently has what Silvio Berlusconi would refer to as a “very good suntan”. Rather than playfully acknowledge a fact which is quite literally as plain as the nose on his face, it is apparently a requirement of Political Correctness to completely ignore the blindingly obvious. That is, “Sooty” has dark skin.

After the pathetic attempts to denigrate Prince Harry for behaving in pretty much the precise manner in which most of his colleagues would behave, and thus demonstrating that he is a pretty straight up and down sort of a bloke, it would be easy enough to shrug it all off with the suggestion that the members of the Royal Family have become easy targets for character assassination by a mass media starved of any ability to report and analyze any real news of any substance. It’s simply more material for the mills of Fleet Street feeding the voracious appetite of the masses for any kind of meaningless titillation involving the rich and the famous.

But the truth is worse than that. Political correctness has taken such a deep root in our society that there is now no distinction between good humoured familiarity and the more sinister uses of language. We might pride ourselves on resisting the worst of the excesses of Political Correctness, but it has become insidiously embedded in much of our unconscious so that we can no longer tell the difference between genuine racism, and mere impudence.

As Australians, we take some pride in our larrikinism, out irreverence, out healthy disrespect for authority. Ours is a culture which takes pride in celebrating impudence, even if we do sometimes take it a little too far. For that reason, perhaps it is easier for us to see that there is a world of difference between bad taste, and real racism, which is the discrimination against or the persecution and vilification of individuals or groups on the basis of their ethnic heritage. Yes, light hearted banter can be racist, but it can also be harmless.

In Britain, there has been a cultural revolution taking place. It is a revolution where the traditional British character, as exemplified by Enid Blyton, W.E. Johns and P.G. Wodehouse, has been eroded away by a combination of multiculturalism and misguided Political Correctness. Now, multiculturalism in itself is a marvelous thing, but when the PC brigade make it impossible for British people to be British, well it’s just not cricket.

The Royal Family might be seen by some as anachronisms in the 21st Century, and it is a challenge for the family to play a relevant role in modern life. But that has nothing to do with the denigration of Prince Harry or his father. The cheap moral outrage expressed by the tacky tabloids in London, whether it is directed at the Royal Family or any other celebrity, should be seen for what it is. In fact, it is something that Australians ought to be quite familiar with: the tall poppy syndrome. The real racists are the extremist suicide bombers who hate the rest of us so much they are prepared to die killing us.


George Mitrovich said...

I've been struck over the years when miss-pronouncing a person's name, how often they respond by saying, "Whatever."

No, a person has the right to have their name pronounced as they choose; your name is who you are."

In the case of Prince Charles, his Indian friend has the right to be addressed as he pleases. If he's okay with "Sooty", then why should it matter to anyone else?

Only the Prince and his friend know the dynamic of their relationship, and if, as it appears, the Prince's friend considers "Sooty" a term of endearment, then who's to quarrel?

It’s true that PC can be carried to absurd lengths, but at its core it is right and proper. At its best PC is about human dignity, of recognizing the equality of all men and women, of understanding that no one has a choice in the color of their skin, and therefore to dismiss others because their skin color or gender differs from one’s own is arrogance and folly – and the cause of much of the world’s evils.

George Mitrovich

Richard A. Ballard F. said...

I fully agree with you, Mr. Delaney.

There is a big difference between defending people from racist slurs and public denigration, and attacking people for assigning nicknames out of friendship that, in another context, would be racist.

The problem with the PC Brigade, as you put it, is that they're overzealous twats. They see the worst in absolutely everyone, and it boggles my mind the sheer arrogance they demonstrate by trying to correct everyone else's speech--it's as if they're saying they know better!

I've met racists in my youth. They were ruthless, mean SOBs, and Prince Harry, or Prince Charles' comments wouldn't have even come within kilometers of the damage (both mental and physical) the real racists can do.

Political Correctness, in truth, is a mistake and an illusion. It's a short-term solution we apply to our society for grievances that go much deeper--basically, like applying band-aid to a gash that requires stitches and disinfectant. Racist slurs aren't going to stop because of political correctness, and we can't even express ourselves properly anymore without finding some moron trying to correct us every time we broach a subject.

After all, when "housewife" becomes "domestic engineer," and "bald" becomes "follically challenged," there's a big freakin' problem with our society.

Anonymous said...

In reply to Goerge's comment above about PC being a essentially good thing (ie rigth and proper)I must disagree.
Infact what George descibes is no more than good manners and basic respect - the anthesis of being PC which demands a thing NOT be called by its name.


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