My children understand that racism is the most heinous playground crime. They have grown up with Black History Month, assemblies on Nelson Mandela and our groovy new school building is named after the black Crimean nurse Mary Seacole (the children’s other suggestion was Rosa Parks). I feel with absolute conviction if they or any of their friends join the Army and find themselves training a bunch of recruits, they will not spur some laggard through the assault course by calling him a "black bastard".
For all we love to label our young people toxic degenerates, in one regard they look down at us from the loftiest moral heights. In all surveys, the young’s tolerance of other races and intolerance of racism itself far outstrips the adult population: 82 per cent of under18s, according to a National Research Centre poll, claimed they are not at all racially prejudiced, compared with 69 per cent of adults. While this reveals nothing about their actual behaviour, it reflects that racism is now taboo.
No act of perceived racism now goes without exhaustive analysis. Mr Mercer was summarily sacked by David Cameron just three hours after his remarks. Only a few months ago — in what seems now like some lurid dream — the nation’s media and political leaders ceased discussion of the Iraq war or loans for honours to debate the implications for race (and international) relations in Jade Goody calling the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty a poppadom on Celebrity Big Brother. The 30,000 people who complained to Channel 4, the tens of thousands more who voted to ensure Shilpa won the show, were not letting racism pass by unopposed.
My father’s old monocultural generation is dying; the blithely colour-blind young are ascending.
Now I think I've heard all that stuff about the kids getting on somewhere before. Didn't little white South African kids play with the children of their parents black employees in apartheid times ? Not necessarily a recipe for equality, then. And reports from the mean streets of North London don't seem too hopeful either. Neither do the numbers of perfectly decent non-racist natives who somehow find themselves getting out of London before the kids reach secondary age. And one other point, Ms Turner - the British 'blithely colour-blind young' are ascending in rather smaller numbers than the numbers of old monoculturals shuffling off. Can she be sure about the colour-blindness of others who are taking their place ?
She may be right of course. We may have discovered a secret that eluded people through history up to now - how to displace - or replace - a native population without genocide, civil war or serious inter-communal conflict. Or we might be sleepwalking to disaster (Trevor Phillips) / heaping up our own funeral pyre (Enoch Powell). The project to multiculturalise Britain and make universal love the norm is led by an army of state-employed sociology grads. They've not been terribly successful at making comprehensives work, criminals give up crime, lardbutts turn into 5-a-day lean machines, dope and smackheads give up weed or needle. Human nature hasn't changed - I still hold the view that continued mass immigration will mean ethnically-based politics. I've no idea what figures this story is based on, but seems likely that only massive postal vote fraud, difficult to arrange outside ethically 'diverse' areas, will prevent the continuing increase in the nativist (aka 'racist') vote.
I digress. Ms Turner is right that racism is the worst crime in education - for pupil or teacher. By racism is meant white racism. Is there any other kind ?
Ms Turner's kids, with middle-class writer mummy, may yet end up learning more about British culture and history than they'll be taught in school ('the British are characterised by racism, genocide, colonialism, sexism and homophobia'). And if she doesn't get them into a decent secondary she can go private. But what of those native kids without articulate mothers and a house full of books ? What will they get from an education where primary school children apparently spontaneously suggest Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole as the preferred monicker for a building ? Taught a positive view of every culture except their own (alright, they might be taught negative things about the US, too), how will they see their own culture ?
I'm not sure they'll see anything at all. I posted a while back on Keith Ajegbo's plan for English citizenship education. It's a fascinating and scary document, making no bones about the importance of political indoctrination to our children's education. But the authors are aware of what multicultural (i.e. 'any-culture-but-yours') education can do to the morale of the native kids. Not so long ago, to be born English or British was to have been awarded first prize in the lottery of life. As CLR James put it in 1962 :
English people, for example, have a conception of themselves breathed from birth. Drake and mighty Nelson, Shakespeare, Waterloo, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the few who did so much for so many, the success of parliamentary democracy, those and such as those constitute a national tradition.
What a contrast - and what a betrayal - these children's voices represent.
You’re bored with it, you’re just British.
White female, Year 10
I’m not from a Caribbean country or an exotic country or even France or Spain. I’m from nowhere like that, I’m just plain British.
White female Year 10
It’s boring, I just want to be like from a different ‘race’, or a quarter something.
White female KS2