Saturday, May 27, 2006

Black Dolly, White Dolly

Sharing the main stadium box with Jeanne, Camera, and me, at my invitation, were Stan Smith, his wife Marjory, and their daughter Logan. The two little girls were happy to see one another. During Wimbledon in June, they had renewed their friendship when we all stayed near each other in London. Now Logan, seven years old, had brought Camera a present. She had come with twin dolls, one for herself, one for Camera. A thoughtful gesture on Logan's part, and on her parents' part, no doubt. The Smiths are fine, religious people.

Then I noticed that Camera was playing with her doll above the railing of the box, in full view of the attentive network television cameras. The doll was the problem; or rather, the fact that the doll was conspicuously a blonde. Camera owns dolls of all colours, nationalities, and ethnic varieties. But she was now on national television playing with a blonde doll. Suddenly I heard voices in my head, the voices of irate listeners to a call-in show on some 'black format' radio station. I imagined insistent, clamorous callers attacking Jeanne, and me:
'Can you believe the doll Arthur Ashe's daughter was holding up at the AIDS benefit? Wasn't that a shame?'
'Is that brother sick or what? Somebody ought to teach that poor child about her true black self'
'What kind of role model is Arthur Ashe if he allows his daughter to be brainwashed in that way?'
'Doesn't the brother understand that he is corrupting his child's mind with notions about the superiority of the white woman? I tell you, I thought we were long past that!'

The voices became louder in my head. Despite the low humidity, I began to squirm in my seat. What should I do? Should I say, To hell with what some people might think? I know that Camera likes her blonde dolls, black dolls, brown dolls, Asian dolls, Indian dolls just about equally; I know that for a fact, because I have watched her closely. I have searched for signs of racial partiality in her, indications that she may be dissatisfied with herself, with her own colour. I have seen none. But I cannot dismiss the voices. I try always to live practically, and I do not wish to hear such comments on the radio. On the other hand, I do not want Logan's gift to be sullied by an ungracious response. Finally, I act.

'Jeanne,' I whisper, 'we have to do something.' 'About what?' she whispers back.
'That doll. We have to get Camera to put that doll down.' Jeanne takes one look at Camera and the doll and she understands immediately. Quietly, cleverly, she makes the dolls disappear. Neither Camera nor Logan is aware of any thing unusual happening. Smoothly, Jeanne has moved them on to some other distraction.

I am unaware if Margie Smith has noticed us, but I believe I owe her an explanation and I get up and go around to her seat. Softly I tell her why the dolls have disappeared. Marge is startled, dumbfounded.

'Gosh, Arthur, I never thought about that. I never ever thought about anything like that!' 'You don't have to think about it,' I explained. 'But it happens to us, in similar situations, all the time.' 'All the time?' She is pensive now.

'All the time. It's perfectly understandable. And it certainly, is not your fault. You were doing what comes naturally. But for us, the dolls make for a bit of a problem. All for the wrong reasons. It shouldn't be this way, but it is.'

I return to my seat, but not to the elation I had felt before I saw that blonde doll in Camera's hand. I feel myself becoming more and more angry. I am angry at the force that made me act, the force of racism in all its complexity, as it spreads into the world and creates defensiveness and intolerance among the very people harmed by racism. I am also angry with myself. I am angry with myself because I have just acted out of pure practicality, not out of morality. The moral act would have been to let Camera have her fun, because she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Instead, I had tempered with her innocence, her basic human right to act impulsively, to accept a gift from a friend in the same beautiful spirit in which it was given.
Deeply embarrassed now, I am ashamed at what I have done. I have made Camera adjust her behaviour merely because of the likelihood that some people in the African American community would react to her innocence foolishly and perhaps even maliciously. I know I am not misreading the situation. I would have had telephone calls that very evening about the unsuitability of Camera's doll.

Am I being a hypocrite? Yes, definitely, up to a point. I have allowed myself to give in to those people who say we must avoid even the slightest semblance of 'Eurocentric' influence. But I also know what stands behind the entire situation. Racism ultimately created the state in which defensiveness and hypocrisy are our almost instinctive responses, and innocence and generosity are invitations to trouble.

This incident almost ruined the day for me. That night, when Jeanne and I talked about the excitement of the afternoon, and the money that would go to AIDS research and education because of the event, we nevertheless ended up talking mostly about the incident of the dolls. We also talked about perhaps its most ironic aspect. In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled against school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, some of the most persuasive testimony came from the psychologist Dr Kenneth Clark concerning his research on black children and their pathetic preference for white dolls over black. In 1992, the dolls are still a problem.

Once again, the shadow of race had fallen on me.

From Arthur Ashe's wonderful "Days Of Grace", a book I could quote till the cows come home. What a loss to America that man's death was. I think he should have let them play with the dolls - but then so did he, and that's why he was so angry.

Back blogging on Monday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dagenham Shootings Update

Amazing. 2 people shot yesterday and it hasn't made the BBC (or any news media).

From the comments :

"Well, they were right! Front page of the 'B&D Post' this morning: "Shooting:Two left for dead"

Apparantly, the victims of the 'Chicago style shooting' (the gang used tommyguns..? Escaped in cars with running boards..?) were rushed to hospital and are serious but stable - the gang who shot them escaped. No names or descriptions.

The police's Trident team are investigating..... "

I Have A Vision Of The Future, Chum

"I'm not entirely sure it's a mark of a reactionary to be concerned about immigration's effect on social cohesion. (One reason I feel strongly at this is that my kids would be more vulnerable if things ever went badly wrong. They're already getting used to be mistaken for Muslims.)" - Clive Davis, yesterday.

"The celebrated decline of deference cuts more than one way. Society is much less gentle, more violent, than it was fifty years ago. Political allegiance is much less deep-rooted, more volatile, than it was. Our children are being taught to identify themselves as members of a particular ethnic group (my older children were given a form at school to fill in) rather than as Britons. There is enormous cynicism about politics and a culture which demands instant gratification. Ancient institutions which have served to preserve liberty over centuries have been emasculated or abolished. It's possible that given such a cultural background, national self-confidence (something we currently don't have) could take unpleasant forms.

In my worst visions my sons are on the streets, trying to stop people being attacked because of their race (and in danger of attack themselves), while in a thousand council offices ex-liberal careerists are hastily applying for the new Anglicisation Policy Co-ordinator posts ("under the Race Relations Act 2016, this post is only open to those of Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage") and the UN is wondering whether troops should be sent in."
- this blog, March 2004.

"British citizenship has been granted to nearly one million foreign nationals since Labour came to power in 1997, official figures showed yesterday.

A record 161,000 obtained a UK passport last year, a 15 per cent increase on 2004, and a further 214,000 lodged applications that are now being processed. Similar numbers are likely to have applied this year, on top of 750,000 new citizens already created in the previous eight years.

The Home Office said the 64 per cent increase in applications for 2005 was mainly due to people submitting their papers before the introduction of the new "Britishness" test last November.

The rate of overseas settlement in Britain is now the highest ever and is four times greater than in the mid-1990s - reflecting unprecedented levels of immigration.

In the late 1960s, about 75,000 new citizens a year were accepted for citizenship but this fell to about 50,000 after new laws were introduced in 1971.

For about 25 years the annual figure remained near or below this level, falling to a low point of 37,000 in 1997, the year Labour took office. Since then, there has been a spectacular increase, with the rate of growth accelerating every year.

The scale of new settlements is a principal driver behind the increase in Britain's population, which is expected to grow by five million by 2020 while birth rates fall in other countries.

The Government has said there is no limit to the numbers who can come to this country ..."

Graphic - Daily Telegraph.

The Future ? Fiji - if we're lucky.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Speed Bonnie Boat ....

Have They No Shame ?

Let's raise money for Labour Party funds by auctioning a copy of the Hutton report into the death of Dr David Kelly !

Let's get Cherie and Alistair Campbell to sign it !

Chris 'Y-fronts' Bryant as auctioneer !

Tasteful or what.

Ian Dale has the gruesome details. Visuals via BBDO.

Google Power

I remember a year or so back finding a large number of Google hits on the blog for "Rod Liddle arrest", and lo, 'twas true.

If my stats are correct, two people were shot in Parsloes Avenue, Dagenham today. Since about two this afternoon I've been getting hits for "parsloes avenue gun shooting this morning", "shooting at parsloes park, dagenham", "parsloes avenue dagenham police incident", "double shooting dagenham" etc.

Yet there's zilch on the news.

Money Isn't Everything, Says Millionaire Etonian

"Tory leader David Cameron says there is more to life than making money, arguing that improving people's happiness is a key challenge for politicians.
In a speech to the Google Zeitgeist Europe conference, he said the focus should not just be on financial wealth.

Under a Tory government, the public sector would become "the world leader in progressive employment practice".

But he conceded that some on the right would believe people's well-being was nothing to do with politics."

Would they ? I thought the idea on the right was that independent people were happiest and that politics should facilitate this by getting the state out of the way as much as possible. Maybe not.

Mr Cameron does seem to be a bit of a Boho.

"To calculate a person's status, you take his net worth and multiply it by his antimaterialistic attitudes. A zero in either column means no prestige, but high numbers in both rocket you to the top of the heap. Thus, to be treated well in this world, not only do you have to show some income results; you have to perform a series of feints to show how little your worldly success means to you.... You will ceaselessly bash yuppies in order to show that you yourself have not become one. You will talk about your nanny as if she were your close personal friend, as if it were just a weird triviality that you happen to live in a $900,000 Santa Monica house and she takes the bus two hours each day to the barrio. "

It's the education bill today, in which Labour MPs will once again try to deny working class kids the sort of education most of them had. Tim Worstall has the links here and here.

Robert Crampton tells it like it is :

The people I’ve met who went to grammars learnt in greater depth and breadth than I did. Their lessons were more rigorous and more challenging. Roy Jenkins? Denis Healey? Harold Wilson? I don’t think they were baking sheets of paper in the oven to make them look like medieval parchment for history homework in the Thirties, as I was 40-odd years on.

I didn't do that at grammar school either. But my sons did, in year 8 comprehensive.

They should consider this, these Labour men and women who detest their leader and educational selection in equal measure. For more than 30 years, from the death of Hugh Gaitskell to the death of John Smith, when the grammar school generation was on stream, the Labour Party did not feel the need to choose a public schoolboy for its leader. Since 1994, when the comprehensive generation started to become available, they’ve had Blair from Fettes, and soon they’ll have Brown, the product of a ruthlessly selective fast-track education. And before too long, I suspect, we’ll have Cameron from Eton. He’ll be that school’s nineteenth Prime Minister. We’re still waiting for the comprehensive system to produce its first.

Fight ! Fight ! Fight !

Brute Anderson :

"Britain exists for the benefit of the British. Foreigners are here by sufferance. If they become a nuisance, they should be deported."

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown :

"We immigrants should withdraw our labour for a day. I feel ashamed of being an immigrant. We take the abuse when we should be rising, as they are in the US."

Brute : "There is no case for admitting Kosovan gangsters or Somali criminals"

Yazza : "Any man with swarthy skin is now suspect"

Brute : "immigration has worked to our advantage, by controlling wage inflation"

Who's this 'our', paleface ?

Yazza : "Have you noticed, no businesses join in the demonisation of migrant labour ?"

At last the Indie comes out in support of unfettered capital !

Brute : "If we find ourselves apparently bound by international conventions on refugees and asylum which pre-date mass air travel and are reminiscent of the era when all the political refugees in London couldhe accommodated in the British Museum Reading Room, we should repudiate them. If we find ourselves restricted by international laws which oblige us to treat foreigners as if they were British we should repudiate those as well. After the war, the shattered nations of continental Europe, whose legal systems had been polluted by dic tatorship and occupation, felt it necessary to rebuild them according to abstract international principles. Forty years later, the nations who had escaped from the Soviet empire also decided to draw on others'experience in order to introduce the rule of law. Hence the popularity of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In Britain we had no problem with either human rights or the rule of law. We had enjoyed both for more than two centuries. We signed the ECHR to encourage the foreigners, not because we thought that it could ever be needed here. In the 1960s we abolished the death penalty, legalised homosexuality, liberalised divorce and permitted the mass murder of foetuses - which now seems to be regarded as a human right - without foreign help.

Today human rights legislation incites prisoners to spend their idle hours dreaming up compensation claims, while schoolmasters wonder whether they are entitled to confiscate their pupils' mobile phones. Those who believe in Britain for the British also believe that our people should elect our Parliament to make our laws,and that legal disputes should he adjudicated by our judges. Those who think like that take a benign view of British history. They feel grateful that they were born to a double privilege: the Queen's subjects, they are also British citizens. They believe that over the centuries their country has been a powerful force for good. At least until the port has been circulating they will be too modest to attribute this to moral superiority. They will merely point to the geopolitical advantages ofthe English Channel.

As an island, we were insulated from the ravages of foreign wars. We should now exploit our insularity, both legal and geo graphical, to protect us from the ravages of foreign judges and uncontrolled immigration. Whether in Nato or the EU, it might be necessary to give up some righhts to take our own decisions, making lesser conces- sions to achieve greater goals. But we remain sovereign. That is a prospect which appals those who take a different view of British history: the Ken Livingstone campp. To them, our history is a criminal record of oppression and exploitation. It is not a matter for pride but for apology (there have been moments when Tony Blair seemed to endorse that view). Whenever Britain was in dispute with another nation, Britain must be in the wrong (until the blessed day when we quarrel with George Bush's America). It would be absurd to suppose that we could dispense with the EHCR - if anything we need it more than the other Europeans do.

The Livingstonians so dislike their country that they wish to transform it out of recognition. To them immigration is an agent of irreversible cultural change : the more disruptive and less assimilable the immigrant, the better."

Yazza : "Why didn't we move to Canada when we could have ? We need to say enough is enough. Immigrants, refugees and their descendants are in this together. We should launch an Immigrants Proud campaign, organise nationwide marches and boycotts, monitor speeches by politicians and rain down objections on those who play this card, expose bigoted bureaucrats and officials, engage in robust debates with academics, boycott media outlets guilty of serial hostility against immigrants and so on. To accept animus in perpetuity as a condition of citizenship is an intolerable deal and we should now be bold enough to reject it."

Monday, May 22, 2006

First They Came For The Firemen ....

You do have to wonder if some Guardianistas in Essex are closet BNP activists.

"Patriotic students have been banned from bringing the St George's flag into college during the World Cup - in case it causes offence.

Teachers are refusing to allow teenagers at Palmer's College in Thurrock to get behind their team and have ordered them to leave their England flags at home."

UPDATE - and now they come for the taxi drivers ...

UPDATE2 - now they come for the taxi-drivers of Cheltenham ...

"The council has cited safety concerns over the flags. A spokesman for the borough council said the ban was not just on the grounds of taste."

UPDATE3 - now they come for the (Asian) taxi-drivers of Rochdale and Oldham ...

Taxi proprietor Farooq Yousaf came unstuck with Oldham Council when they banned him from sticking posters in the back of his cabs bearing the flag of St George and the words ‘Come on England’.

The council told Mr Yousaf, who owns Motown Private Hire which has 40 taxis, the stickers were a form of advertising and therefore banned.

He said: "It’s ridiculous. They told me we were advertising, but what are we advertising?

"All I am advertising is England. I think it’s the ‘Come on England bit’ that’s upset them. I can’t understand it. It’s just a show of support of England for the World Cup."

What with Mr Harker's 'Is it just me, or is anyone else slightly worried about the number of St George’s flags flying from road vehicles right now ?', it's time to repeat a two-year-old post.

"It must be the flag they are aiming at ..."

"Would it not be wiser to take it in ?"

"Strike my colours!" cried the captain. "No, sir, not I"; and as soon as he had said the words, I think we all agreed with him. For it was not only a piece of stout, seamanly, good feeling; it was good policy besides and showed our enemies that we despised their cannonade.

from Treasure Island, by R.L. Stevenson.

Bowler-Tip - The England Project

More Demographics

"Birth rate increase may reflect Blair policies, says expert"

Thus the Guardian.

The birth rate has climbed to its highest point in 13 years to an average of 1.8 children for every woman in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.
The climb from an all-time low of 1.63 children per woman in 2001 is still significantly below the level needed for replacement - which is more than two. But there was speculation yesterday that the childcare reforms of the Blair government might be having an impact.

Huzzah for Sure Start !

"We looked at the reasons for this slight, hopeful rise," said Julia Margo, author of a report called Population Politics published in February by the Institute for Public Policy Research. "It seems to map on to 2001 when Labour started pushing on family friendly policies and childcare. There is a better deal now from government than ever before."

Hooray ! We won't all have to work till we're 156 ! The family lives !

Yes, but whose family ?

But, she added, there were other possible reasons that do not hold out promise for the rise across all groups which is needed for a sustained increase in births. "We don't have access to the background data, which would tell us whether there are socio-economic differences, whether professional women will still be having less children." It could be that the rise is restricted to poorer women and those from migrant groups, who traditionally have had larger families.

The figures are here.

The figures by health authority (.xls) and local authority are interesting. The lowest birth-rate ? The hideously white north-east (which you may recall has the highest bastardy rate in England). The highest ? West Midlands and North London.

A quick Excel sort gives us the following top ten local authorities, ignoring Rutland, where a woman having quads seems to have distorted the figures.

Blackburn with Darwen
Barking and Dagenham

Yes, that last one's right - Boston, Lincs.

The bottom 20 or so are interesting, too. Three categories.

a) wealthy white urban areas - there aren't enough yuppies moving back into town. Chester, Cheltenham, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, Durham.
b) poor white city centres - Sunderland, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle under Lyme. Same phenomenon ? Natives avoiding the cities ?
c) certain London boroughs - Islington, Camden, Ken & Chelsea, Westminster. By the time you can afford to live there your breeding days are over.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Doing The Jobs We Don't Want To Do ...

In a Home Office style. Who says John Prescott's had no effect on policy.