The New New Racism

Maybe it's just me, over-reacting bad karma boy that I am. But it seems the 21st century has ushered in a new kind of casual racism. People, often public figures, are able to toss off vaguely bigoted comments in public forums without incurring too much wrath. The media seem to give ample column inches, soundbites and due consideration of their arguments, rather than dismissing their verbiage as the quasi-medieval garbage that it is. I have three things in mind here. First, Gilles Duceppe, Canada's answer to a question no one asked, claims that immigrants threaten Quebecois culture. Leaving aside the utter cynicism of exploiting immigration in a feeble attempt to revitalize the moribund dream of Quebec Sovereignty, this is just stupid. What Duceppe is really concerned about is that immigration means Quebecois culture will no longer be dominant in Canada's whiniest province. It's about power, and as we all know, when you combine power dynamics with distinctions made along racial, religious or cultural lines, hey presto, you've got racism. What a tool

Concern the second: there's been quite a lot of hubbub over Simone Clarke, a principal dancer with the English National Ballet. Turns out, she's a raving racist worried about all the damn immigrants wandering around. She's a member of the British National Party, and has recently taken an executive role with Solidarity, a 'trade union' that is basically a front for the BNP. I'd always assumed that artists are usually pretty progressive, but it's important to remember that the human penchant for idiocy can be found in all our spheres of endeavour. To wit: even pretty people who do beautiful things can be ugly as hell.

Finally, former Smiths' lead singer Morrissey revealed in an interview that he won't return to England because of all the immigrants ruining the country. Brilliant, mate. Billy Bragg does a nice job of calling ol' Bigmouth to account for his words in an op-ed in today's Guardian, so I won't dwell on it here.

All of these admittedly disparate cases reveal what the new racism is all about- a false sense of victimhood, a bizarro 'barbarian at the gates' syndrome. It revolves around a sense that one's 'culture' will be swept away in a tide of immigration. What absolute, complete bollocks. As I said, it's really about power anxiety. Not that one's culture will be destroyed, but that it's monopoly on public life will end. And let's face it...ideas of 'national identity', of 'Britishness' or 'Quebecois' are a little irrelevant in today's world. It's a throwback to the 19th century, and not a particularly attractive one at that.

So, memo to Duceppe, Clarke and Morrissey: get over yourselves. And stop being idiots.

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Not cool, Morrissey. Not cool.