Friday, September 24, 2004


"The Guardian newspaper recently published an article in which it reported the findings of the Mayor of London’s commission into the academic failure of black schoolchildren.... It will probably come as no surprise to readers that racism was blamed for the failure of black boys to learn much at school. This is because such an explanation naturally tends to expand the powers of patronage of those in power, and to demand an increase in regulatory bureaucracy. Its truth is another matter altogether. What are the attractions and rewards of truth compared with those of power?

In the first place, it is obvious that racial prejudice, within quite wide limits, is not in itself a hurdle that cannot be overcome. The world is full of minorities against whom there is some, or even great, prejudice, and yet who are notably successful in everything from commerce to the arts and sciences. Of course, in a system like apartheid, in which racial prejudice is enshrined in law, the barriers cannot all be overcome (though even under apartheid the blacks were not one large, undifferentiated mass of the downtrodden, with an invariant degree of lack of personal attainment or accomplishment). But to compare contemporary Britain and its racial prejudices with apartheid South Africa would be absurd.....

Moreover, by concentrating on the boys, the commission as reported in The Guardian omitted the fact that the girls do tolerably well from the academic point of view...

Moreover, the problem of poor achievement by males is no greater in this country than in Jamaica itself. Elderly Jamaicans who return to Jamaica, either on visits or to live, find that the young men who have not left display many of the same characteristics that conduce to abject failure as those who were brought up in Britain.

If raw racial prejudice is not the explanation, then, what is the explanation? I think it is twofold. First, there is a marked lack of stability in the households of young blacks i.e. Jamaicans. This instability is seen in white lowest class households, of course, where it has precisely the same effects, except that the girls are less distinguishable from the boys, from the point of view of failure. Relative poverty does not in itself preclude constructive achievement among children, but when combined with a kaleidoscopically shifting spectrum of social pathology, it most certainly inhibits it.

Perhaps even more important is the culture that the young Jamaicans have adopted for themselves, both in England and Jamaica. It is not exactly a culture that promotes high endeavour in fields such as mathematics, science or English composition, to put it mildly. It is a culture of perpetual spontaneity and immediate gratification, whose largely industrialised and passively consumed products are wholly worthless sub specie aeternitatis....

By refusing even to entertain cultural characteristics as a possible explanation of failure, the combined forces of the Mayor, his commission and The Guardian are in fact serving to enclose the Jamaican black males in the wretched world that they already know and that already encloses them. They are, in effect, saying to them that the fault is not with them, their tastes and the way they conduct themselves, but with society as a whole. They are condemning them to a world of violence, drugs and familial insecurity....

We see in the whole of the approach of the Mayor, his commission and The Guardian the dangers of political correctness, or inhibited speech. It is no longer permissible ever to say to ordinary people that the kingdom of hell is within you, that the blame for your travails lies principally with you rather than with others who are responsible for you. We pretend instead that all problems come from outside, and can be solved by conceptually simple, though intrusive, expensive and infantilising, alterations to the institutional environment. Meanwhile, as they wait for their redeemer, the lives of many people are ruined by resentment and paranoia.

The real racists, in our society at least, are those who persist in ascribing to racism any number of baleful effects. They are not altruists, they are power-seekers."

More here.


"About the only show that worked on Channel 31, "Bloke's World", will soon have a far bigger audience. TV's most politically incorrect program will be seen on Channel 10 from October 1. Largely undiscovered on 31, Bloke's World is one of those once-seen-never-forgotten programs.

It's not really offensive, not all the time anyway, and it's not really sexist, not quite all the time anyway, and it's mostly good clean humour. Well, there are seconds of good clean humour, the rest can get a bit grubby.

And just because of the title and the fact that the reigning Miss "Bloke's World" is Penthouse Pet Rachel James, we shouldn't assume there's more cleavage tastefully displayed than on Brownlow night.

We're told the new "Bloke's World" will still be fronted by Ben-Wah and Ado, and will still look like it's been shot with a hand-held camera, but it will all be a little slicker and more professional than it ever looked on 31."

More here.

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