In 1987, Diane Abbott achieved the distinction of being the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, representing a poor, racially mixed area of east London. She still serves as a Labour MP, and is generally on the left of the party. Originally a hero of the left, she burnished her radical credentials by deciding to send her son to a private school, rather than to a local comprehensive as her Labour principles would dictate.
In recent years, I’ve found myself in the strange position of supporting much of what Abbott says, but wincing at her apparent inability to argue her views convincingly. She says the right things to sound radical, but doesn’t sound convinced that she believes (or understands) everything she says. I guess I’d class myself a reluctant supporter; it would have been good to see someone with Abbott’s views win the Labour leadership contest; but not necessarily Abbott herself.
So anyway, yesterday Abbott tweeted someone as follows:
White people love playing ‘divide & rule’
And of course, the standard debate ensued: was this racist? Was it justified? Should she resign? Is this discussion a symptom of “political correctness gone mad”? And so on…
My favourite white racist Twitter morons all exploded with (faux) outrage: “why is it OK to say such a thing about white people and not black people?” These people are a lot of fun to mock usually, but the problem is: this time they have a point. I doubt that Abbott is a racist, but it’s true that if a white MP had said “Black people love…” followed by something negative, they would be publicly shredded as racists.
More nonsensical were the justifications I saw from her supporters. Apparently, it’s OK to say bad things about all white people, because back in history, some white people did terrible things. Presumably it’s also a historical fact that black people love… nah, I think I’ll leave that one there.
This, to me, is the worst of “liberal” thinking. An argument in a blog post I saw went roughly like this: “The Belgian Empire treated Tutsis better than Hutus, resulting in the Rwandan genocide. Therefore Diane is right”. Let’s break this down:
- It’s very sadly true that the Belgians, or more accurately, King Leopold II of Belgium, ran commercial ventures in Africa involving genocidal behaviour that was responsible for millions of deaths.
- King Leopold and his people in Africa all had white-ish skin (not true, black people were involved too, but let’s not get bogged down in detail).
- Rule in the Belgian Empire (in the area now occupied by Rwanda, Burundi and DRC) was partly maintained by raising some tribes above others in status – also known as “divide and rule” or “divide and conquer”.
- I have white-ish skin too (not an identical colour to King Leopold’s, no doubt, but close enough to call us both “white”).
- Therefore, Diane Abbott can link me to genocidal behaviour carried out a century ago by King Leopold II.
Racist or not, the idea that it’s “historically truthful” that white people are good at divide and rule is a wonderful piece of nonsense. Divide and rule is a classic political strategy used by successful leaders in every part of the world at some point. Furthermore, divide and rule is rife in modern-day African politics, probably more than anywhere else. African politics are intensely tribal; most African leaders can fairly be accused of favouring their own tribe above others, and sowing division between tribes when it suits them, as so often happens.
So it turns out that black poeple are good at divide and rule too!
Let’s see if we can deal with this mathematically:
- White people are good at divide and rule. Black people are good at divide and rule.
Since this doesn’t apply to all white or all black people, we can improve this as follows:
- Some white people are good at divide and rule. Some black people are good at divide and rule.
Now we can simplify:
- Some (black/white people) are good at divide and rule.
And (assuming this also applies to other races too) we can reduce this to:
- Some people are good at divide and rule!
We’ve discovered a new fact about mankind, to be filed along with “some people are prone to violence” and “some people like apples”.
Somehow, the moronic self-censorship we call political correctness has led liberal-minded anti-racists to accept some forms of racism as OK – or at least, less bad than other forms. If it’s OK for black people to link white people with the evils of Empire, can I link all native Americans to the human sacrifice carried out by Mayan society? And black people sure have a lot of explaining to do over the behaviour of Idi Amin and countless other black mass-murderering leaders.
By defending Abbott’s little racial slip as somehow “more valid” than if a white person said it (based on false “historical accuracy”), all racists win. I’ve always fought against racist morons like the National Front and the British National Party who attack Jewish, black and Asian people. Why would I then accept racism from black people as OK? Racism is either acceptable or it’s not – it’s really that simple.