Tuesday, September 28, 2010
How this twisted obsession with race makes Britain MORE divided
Are race relations in Britain getting worse? If you read the official statistics and look at the massive increase in the number of anti-racism policies and initiatives, you might be forgiven for thinking that we are suffering the kind of race-hate epidemic you would expect to find in apartheid South Africa.
Children as young as three could now be accused of racism, reported by zealous teachers who have been ordered to highlight any aspect of their pupils’ behaviour that might be construed as having racist overtones.
Thanks to legislation introduced by New Labour, schools now have to inform local authorities of all ‘racist incidents’ in the playground - resulting in the reporting of an estimated 250,000 cases. And yet some of these involve primary school children calling each other names like ‘chocolate’.
Along with a growing number of people from ethnic minorities, I believe these anti-racism policies are outdated and - more to the point - damaging. By obsessing about race and exaggerating the scale of racism, the authorities sow the seeds of mistrust and make communities more divided. It is time for a fresh approach that brings people together and emphasises how much we all have in common.
The truth is, Britain is a far more tolerant place than it was 30 years ago, when there was much prejudice and ignorance. People now are increasingly relaxed about living in a multi-ethnic Britain. Indeed, young people have known nothing else and mixed marriages are increasingly common.
Of course, racism still exists, but relations have now improved to a point where many ethnic minority people do not experience it as a feature of their everyday life. Research in many fields, such as education and employment, shows that if there is a barrier to achievement today it is social class, rather than race.
Yet, ironically, as racism declines and public attitudes change, government agencies have become ever more preoccupied with the issue. It was in 2000 that the Labour government passed a heavy-handed law imposing a duty on all public authorities, such as schools, councils, hospitals and universities, to ‘promote good relations between persons of different racial groups’.
As a result, a lot of money is spent on legions of well-paid ‘diversity professionals’ in workplaces, whose job it is to monitor racism, run training courses and ensure no one offends anyone.
But rather than stamping out the problem, I believe all this hyper-awareness is achieving the opposite result. All the monitoring, training and meddling serve to do is exaggerate the scale of the problem and create more mistrust between communities. It means that someone of a different race sitting next to you at work can become a potential victim of unwitting racism. As a result, people become afraid to speak their mind or ask difficult questions of anyone of a different ethnicity in case they ‘say the wrong thing’.
To see the negative effects of officialdom’s anti-racism policies, I only have to look my hometown of Oldham. In the summer of 2001, it was scarred by serious rioting, involving Asian and white youths. Both groups were angry that summer.
The media had reported the existence of alleged ‘no-go areas’ for whites and a sharp rise in racist incidents - but it was the use of clumsy, official diversity policies that helped to heighten the tension.
Professor Ted Cantle, of the Institute of Community Cohesion, who was asked to investigate the disturbances, found that the local white and Asian communities lived ‘parallel lives’.
Although pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin accounted for around a third of the primary school population in the town, there was not as much integration as there should have been because eight out of ten were in schools that were mostly non-white.
Indeed, the riots in Oldham erupted after more than a decade of diversity policies that had encouraged people to see themselves as different to each other.
A year before the riots, the local police force had followed the recommendation of ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and adopted a new definition of a racist incident as ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. In consequence, the police went into communities and sought to increase the reporting of anything that could be seen as a racist incident.
From being fairly steady throughout the Nineties (with 246 racist incidents reported in Oldham in 1994, 256 in 1996 and 290 in 1998) the number suddenly jumped by 56 per cent in 2000 to 452 - the highest rate of incidents in the whole Greater Manchester area). But it wasn’t because race crime had increased - merely that a change in the definition of so-called racist incidents wrongly suggested it had.
More generally, the drive to ‘promote good relations’ in Oldham means there has been a clampdown on any behaviour which might be deemed offensive. This naturally creates resentment.
When I was conducting interviews in the town in 2007, I kept hearing claims from locals that the council had banned St George’s flag. I asked various council staff about this claim, but none of them could confirm whether it was true or not. One official guessed it might have been done out of sensitivity to local ethnic minorities who associated the flag with far-Right groups that were resentful of the immigrant population. Another even suggested that, if the flag had been banned, it might have been for ‘health and safety reasons’.
Yesterday, a council spokesman said that it had not been banned. But, crucially, everyone I asked - Asian or white - felt that this sort of unnecessary, meddlesome decision would have been ‘typical’ of the council.
Similar mistakes are being repeated across the UK, as revealed by reports of over-zealous council officials, schools and police who have banned Christmas or English flags or other cultural expressions for fear of offending minority groups.
Even ethnic minorities often see such measures as over-the-top and are irritated when they get the blame.
We know that some stories of political correctness gone mad are exaggerated - but many are not. Ted Cantle, returning to Oldham some years after his original report into the cause of rioting in the town, noted that there were complaints from the public about the police’s over-zealous restrictions on any expression of national pride or cultural festivals.
He also said that, despite all the diversity training and race equality guidelines, people in Oldham wanted to ask questions about different faiths and cultures but were afraid to do so because it might be thought ‘politically incorrect’.
Despite the well-intentioned efforts of council officials, teachers and diversity professionals, community tensions still remain. Inevitably, these grievances can grow and fester in areas of high deprivation.
No doubt, many people working in the field of race relations sincerely want to make things better. But the trouble is, they are now part of an infrastructure costing millions which — by constantly drawing attention to racism and trying to micro-manage ordinary people’s behaviour - is actually making things worse.
It is time for all of us - whites and ethnic minorities alike - to put a brake on these anti-racism policies and call for the Government to review the laws that have spawned them. Let’s trust each other and talk about the things we have in common. That’s the real way to promote good relations.
More petty bureaucratic tyranny in Britain (1)
Council workmen blast residents for sweeping up leaves 'because it's against the rules'
Community-minded residents have had a ticking off for sweeping up leaves from outside their homes - because it is against council rules.
With the first autumn leaves falling onto their street, families in Blakenall, West Midlands, have dutifully been sweeping them up and putting them into their garden recycling bins. But their actions have been met with a stark warning from binmen, who told them depositing leaves in the brown containers was against council rules.
One pensioner in Guild Avenue was rapped by binmen for going against Walsall Council’s policy, which has been branded 'ridiculous'.
The rules outlined in Street Pride documents state leaves off the highway should not be put into brown bins because of 'contamination'.
Persistent offenders who break waste collection rules, including placing the ‘wrong’ materials in bins, could potentially face a fine of up to £1,000.
Council guidelines state that only grass cuttings, tree and shrub prunings, old plants and flowers, hedge clippings, weeds and leaves from residents’ own gardens can be put into brown bins.
The elderly woman who fell foul of the policy, who does not want to be named, complained to Walsall Councillor Pete Smith, who said it was 'crazy'. 'It’s still good to know some residents still take the trouble to keep the public footpath outside their own home clean,' he said. 'They should be encouraged, not discouraged.'
Now council leader Mike Bird has called for a common sense approach. He said: 'Anyone who has made comments to people about sweeping up leaves is taking the rules to the extreme. 'We are trying to encourage more pride in the community and this is the perfect example of a lady doing that and she should be praised.'
Retired lorry driver, Bill Pittam,79, from, Blakenall, said: 'I’ve always swept up leaves from outside my home and put them in my bin and have been doing for the last 30 years or so.'
Walsall Council, named the best authority in the country for its recycling targets, earlier this month approved a new rubbish collection policy, meaning it can now take enforcement action over those putting the wrong waste in the wrong bins.
More petty bureaucratic tyranny in Britain (2)
Professor slapped with £155 railway fine for getting off his train one stop EARLY
A professor who got off his train one stop before the destination on his ticket was ordered to pay a £155 penalty to leave the station. Martyn Evans was told he would be fined for disembarking at Darlington, near his home, rather than waiting until Durham, where he works at the university’s philosophy department.
The state-run East Coast train company said ticketing regulations meant he could get off only at the stop he had paid for – and nowhere else.
But transport campaigners warned the restriction risked driving passengers off trains and back into their cars.
Professor Evans said: ‘Anyone would understand that you’d be liable to pay extra if you stayed on the train too long. 'But by getting off early, you aren’t even using all of the product that you’ve paid for.’
The father of two bought three advance first-class single tickets from East Coast to cover his triangular journey from Durham to London, London to Birmingham and then back to Durham.
It was nearly 8pm when he arrived back in the North-East, so he decided to disembark one stop early, at Darlington, close to his home in the village of Hurworth. However, when he tried to leave the station, the automatic barrier would not let him out. Station staff told him his ticket was invalid because he had got off the train too early.
He was ordered to pay £155 – the price of a full first-class ticket from Birmingham to Darlington. After complaining, he was allowed to sign an invoice and told he must pay the penalty later.
Professor Evans said: ‘Like most people, it did not enter my mind that I was in default of the terms and conditions by getting off the train early. ‘The whole process made me feel like a wrongdoer from the beginning and that disgusted me more than just the money itself. 'It’s absolute madness – no-one would anticipate you’d be at fault for getting off too early.’
Alexandra Woodsworth, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘The Government has promised us fair rail fares, but being charged excessively for getting off a stop early doesn’t seem like a fair deal. ‘Passengers need greater flexibility if they are to choose the train over driving or flying, and information about ticket restrictions needs to be made much clearer.’
East Coast has cancelled Professor Evans’s penalty as a ‘goodwill gesture’, but insisted that the policy was standard across the train industry. A spokesman said: ‘The terms and conditions of the advance purchase first-class ticket – the ticket which Professor Evans had used for his journey – clearly state that breaking a journey en route, or starting from an intermediate station, is not permitted.’
A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people take advantage of cheap advance tickets every week with no problem at all. 'In return for significantly reduced prices, there are certain conditions which apply that are clearly advertised when the tickets are bought.’
Amy Bradley, from the Passenger Focus consumer group, said: ‘There are some very good deals to be had on the railway, but passengers tell us the price of flexibility is too high.’
Earlier this month, Emma Clark and her fiancé Davyd Winter-Bates were fined £57 each by South West Trains for disembarking two stops early during a £6 journey from London to Southampton.
Anti-Violence Bill Promotes Abortion and Gender Quotas
This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin addressing the proposed International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) — S. 2982 and H.R. 4594. With a price tag of over $1 billion over the next five years, the bill will add to the hodge-podge collection of “progressive” initiatives that are pushing the U.S. to the brink of financial crisis. Feminist groups are pushing action on the legislation before the November elections — for obvious reasons. Like so many feminist proposals, the rhetoric sounds great. Is there anybody, other than the jihadists, who is not opposed to violence against women? The problems with I-VAWA are hidden in the fine print under the lofty rhetoric; the agenda is predictable: anything promoting so-called “women’s rights” is a thinly-veiled push for anti-family policies, gender quotas, and, of course, abortion-on-demand, all on a global scale.
The issue of violence against women has a sketchy past, where facts are obscured by emotional accounts of battering and other violence. Any normal person is appalled anytime a stronger person takes advantage of or abuses a more vulnerable person. Decent people are outraged at real abuse, but false accusations and trumped up campaigns to promote hidden agendas are equally outrageous. By now, everybody knows that the old 1993 story about violent attacks on women increasing on Super Bowl Sunday was false; the “study” was debunked just days after it first appeared. Even so, periodically the “fact” still gets reported as truth. By now, everybody should also know that the majority of “domestic violence” incidences are committed by the boyfriends of mothers, not husbands and biological fathers. Sadly, however, statistics are now kept on “intimate partner” violence, and we refer to “domestic abuse” rather than breaking the violence into types of intimate partners (whether a husband, former husband, or boyfriend) or domestic household arrangement (whether marriage or cohabitation).
The facts are clear: the breakdown of marriage and family has been a major factor in increasing violence and abuse against women and children. The sad reality is that we are spinning our wheels as a nation in trying to keep up with the problems of women who are not protected by their husbands and of children who are denied the presence and protection of mature, concerned fathers. How many more women and children will be abused before we acknowledge that the investment America needs to make for the nation’s women and children is to encourage and support marriage? A married father-mother home is the safest and most nurturing place for the nation’s women and children.
Further, the urban myths continue alongside the long-standing practice of feminists equating a lack of “reproductive services” with “domestic violence.” The I-VAWA (Section 3) acknowledges U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 — which, as those who are knowledgeable about the U.N. recognize, is the section that is cited as mandating the protection of reproductive rights. The I-VAWA would allocate $10 million a year to the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM (Section 201), one of the major U.N. agencies devoted to promoting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which prominently feature reproductive and gender rights. First, note that the UNIFEM definition of domestic violence includes “psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the government of the country in which the victim is a resident” (Section 4). Second, what the American public needs to be aware of is that the U.N.’s interpretation of “psychological violence” includes “mental distress” brought on by lack of access to abortion services.
Plus, the money trail is a maze of symbiotic relationships. For instance, the I-VAWA bill (Section 112) includes provisions for grants to Women’s Nongovernmental Organizations and Community-Based Organizations. The organization that has taken the lead in promoting I-VAWA is the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), “which stands to receive a major portion of I-VAWA funds.” The FVPF promotes “training and sensitization” programs for judges and judicial officials that will solidify “access to reproductive services.”
Other concerns regarding I-VAWA are equally troubling. The broad definitions of “violence” and the use of terms like “psychological harm” and “coercion” leave plenty of room for false accusations of abuse that will break up families and increase welfare dependence. The bill establishes an “Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues” — what some have called a “feminist czar” — (Section 101) that would establish powers under one person’s control that would supersede current and established policy-making and financial procedures.
Ironically and unbelievably, the I-VAWA does not address sex-selective abortion, which is one of today’s most egregious policies perpetuating violence against women. Both China and India are facing shortages of marriageable-age women as a result of decades of this practice, a demographic fact that has sociologists and politicians concerned about the future of those nations.
The I-VAWA is promoted as a “groundbreaking bill” that will “apply the force of U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance to preventing gender-based violence.” That loose term — gender-based violence — can mean anything and generally covers a wide range of ideological goals from the “women’s rights” agenda. In the U.S., the bill will seek to “change public attitudes” and “social norms,” efforts that are potentially “biased in their content and ideological in their purpose.”
Though these vague, nebulous goals are dressed up to sound wonderful and disguise the intent of the ideologues who promote them, their meaning can be as misleading — and disastrous — as the campaign slogan of “hope” and “change.”
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.