Wednesday, September 06, 2006


By Nirpal Dhaliwal

Two of the founding grandes dames of British multiculturalism got into a cat fight this week. Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has been "pandering to the right", spat Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London. Phillips's crime was to state that last weekend's Notting Hill carnival "can hardly be said to represent the everyday culture of most of London's communities". A pretty obvious statement to make as most people in London are not black. But Livingstone had a hissy fit and accused Phillips of selling out black people. "He'd had a brief sort of black power fling," said Livingstone, "dissing" Phillips's past activism, "and ever since then he's gone so far over to the other side that I expect soon he'll be joining the BNP."

It seems that Trevor ain't been "keeping it real" enough for Ken (or K Diddy as we call him on the street), so he's calling new Labour's No 1 homeboy a coconut. Maybe Trevor should get some gold teeth and grab his crotch more often. Like in America, Britain's debate on multiculturalism is becoming an empty-headed bun-fight in which race is a convenient bat to beat your opponents with. The United States has always been fraught with individuals tapping ethnic anxieties to further themselves. The Rev Al Sharpton and his jerry-curled hair became famous throughout the country as he jumped on the flimsiest bandwagons to make hysterical overstatements about race.

Britain's irony is that the person profiting most from exploiting racial tensions is not a glamorous funky demagogue but a white middle-aged nerd. But K Diddy is savvy to the way race is skilfully employed in America and has imported those techniques here. It's easy to disregard Livingstone as just another cheesy lily-white leftie associating himself with ethnic groups to prove his hipness and moral perfection. But there's a sinister consistency in his approach to minority issues. Two years ago he welcomed Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the fundamentalist Islamist, to Britain, praising him as a "powerfully progressive force for change". He canoodled with him for the cameras and compared him with the Pope, although the sheikh endorses suicide bombings, despises gay people and thinks it is acceptable for men to beat their wives. But Livingstone knows what potential there is in cultivating ethnic and religious support.

As so few people bother to vote in local and regional elections, Livingstone would love to garner the support of the hardcore element of London's Muslim community. The value of the lumpen ethnic block vote was obvious in George Galloway's victory at the last general election. The podgy ex-pugilist knew nothing about the people of Bethnal Green & Bow but ousted Oona King, a hardworking, wholly committed MP.

Galloway has rarely voted in parliament since his election and has achieved little of practical value for his constituents. But he exploited the anger over Iraq to get himself elected, although he was never going to remotely alter government policy. Similarly, Livingstone smartly antagonises the Jewish community. He argues that he's not an anti-semite, but anti-semites will warm to his snide remarks - particularly those who are hardline Islamists. He knew exactly what he was doing when he attacked David and Simon Reuben, the Jewish businessmen, saying they should "go back (to their own country) and see if they can do better". He would never dare tell black people to go back to Africa and try their luck.

In Livingstone's calculated hierarchy of bigotries, anti-semitism is a low priority: it won't lose him votes and might even gain him some. The same applies to homophobia. K Diddy would never welcome a gay rights campaigner who publicly denounced Islam as an "abominable practice" in the manner that Qaradawi condemns homosexuals.

Phillips annoyed Livingstone when he challenged his declaration that the carnival had been a "triumph of multiculturalism". As great as the event is, Phillips argued that combining diverse peoples into a cohesive society is a painstaking process that requires more than a day out in the sun shaking your booty. He touched a raw nerve when he undermined Livingstone's attempt at congratulating himself for his cool exotic tastes, saying: "We wouldn't, frankly, think of participation in a day's morris dancing or caber tossing as a valuable exercise in building a modern multicultural society." Let's face it: the carnival is as outdated and irrelevant to a lot of black people as cheese and pineapple on sticks are to most whites. Hats off to Phillips for having the guts to say it.

Livingstone clings to the myth that he is Britain's Mr Multicultural. In his view even black people can't be less than euphoric about the carnival. He makes glib associations between Phillips and the far right, while snuggling up to dark-skinned fascists himself. The mayor pats himself on the back for an occasional street party while sneakily exploiting ethnic divisions. I hope London voters will forget their differences at the next mayoral election and join forces to show this clown the door. Now that would be a real "triumph of multiculturalism".



I am 61 years old. That's old enough to have a clear memory of the Civil Rights movement. To be sure, I watched it from a distance, growing up in England. I followed it with keen interest, though, wishing it well. Racial segregation was an obvious injustice, and we had all heard lurid tales of life in the American South. Like most intelligent teenagers, I was sensitive to injustice, and wanted to see it corrected.

I can tell you a thing that has been considerably forgotten now, flushed away down the memory hole. Here's the thing. At that time, everyone who supported the Civil Rights Movement-everyone, absolutely everyone-assumed that the Movement would, if it succeeded, lead to a more harmonious society, a society in which the races mingled freely as equal citizens, a society in which race mattered to nobody but the manufacturers of cosmetics. They, we, all assumed that if the shackles of legal discrimination were removed, black Americans would swiftly distribute themselves across America's class, income, and status structure in the same proportions as their white fellow-citizens. Why should they not? Human beings form a single biological species. Given a level playing field, any group should perform as well as any other, in any kind of endeavor, shouldn't it?

What a terrible disillusioning there has been! Things did not happen in the least as we expected. True, there has been much improvement. Our nation now has a flourishing black middle class. There is now no obstacle to a capable black American, from any part of the country, rising to any level, in any sphere or profession. The casual mocking and insulting of black Americans by nonblack Americans has been shamed out of our social life.

Yet the numbers did not come out right, not at all. With black people at thirteen percent of our population, we should, if the dreams of the Civil Rights Movement had come true, find that thirteen percent of our engineers and airline pilots, thirteen percent of our storekeepers, contractors, and entrepreneurs, thirteen percent of our prisoners and unwed mothers, are black. This is not, of course, what we find; and the numerical discrepancies are not of the kind called "statistically insignificant." Not at all. Not at all.

Worse yet, and even setting aside issues of class and status, black and nonblack Americans have drifted apart, and in many respects are further from common citizenship now than they were fifty years ago. We do not, for example, watch the same TV programs and movies. The producers of a middle-class domestic comedy movie-one with someone like Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks in it-can leave black people out of the movie altogether if they feel like it, confident in the knowledge that black Americans don't watch that kind of movie anyway. Similarly, sitcoms like Cheers and Friends could field all-white casts with a clear conscience, knowing that the black audience was off somewhere else, watching some different sitcom with an all-black cast.....

Meanwhile, among nonblack Americans, a rigorous and intolerant ideology of "anti-racism" has grown up. The opinions a nonblack American has, or more precisely voices, about race are now a major in-group (I mean, among fellow nonblacks) status marker. Let me just elaborate on that a little. Modern neuroscience perceives the human brain as a modular structure, different modules performing different functions. Since humans are quintessentially social animals, much of the brain is given over to processing social information. A big part of this information concerns in-group status. We need to be constantly evaluating, and re-evaluating, the status of ourselves and others in the various groups we belong to. A mistake in this respect can be fatal-as, for example, in the case of an undersized low-status male foolishly challenging one of the group's alpha males. Evolution has a way of weeding these things out. Some neuroscientists have postulated an entire module of the brain given over to these highly important issues of in-group status evaluation. Among American nonblacks in the present age, being known to have "incorrect" opinions about race results in catastrophic loss of status. ...

So instead of the harmonious race-unconscious society every thoughtful person hoped for fifty years ago, we have this separation, or at least disjunction; and we have this major warping of the nonblack in-group status-evaluation system. (In-group status evaluation among black Americans operates quite differently-another disjunction. Broadly speaking, a black American may express any opinion at all about nonblacks without loss of in-group status.)

We also, of course, have all the hideous, rickety, noisome, rancorous apparatus of Affirmative Action, corporate shakedowns, sensitivity training, Black History Month, "discrimination" lawsuits, "profiling" protests, speech codes, dumbed-down public service exams, and the rest of it. And then there are the atrocious double standards: Karl Rove making a friendly speech at a conference of La Raza ("The Race"), when we all know that Rove would rather be torn to pieces by wild dogs than be seen in company with even a single individual known to promote, on behalf of Rove's race, what the activists of La Raza promote on behalf of theirs. It's not a pretty sight. To those dwindling few of us who can remember the hopes of the Civil Rights Movement, it is a great, a terrible, a bitter and painful disillusioning.

How have conservatives responded to this disillusioning? So far as mainstream conservatives are concerned, I don't think it is unfair to reply: with silence and cowardice.... "Conservative" is a general political designation, of course; but most people who make a point of being known as conservative are in the business of trying to sell ideas to people. They are, or aspire to be, politicians, or commentators, or writers or producers of some kind. These are hard, ill-paid, competitive lines of work, and it is not easy to rise in them. The catastrophic loss of status involved in revealing oneself to have "incorrect" opinions about race is a career-killer in these spheres, and it is not very surprising that mainstream conservatives keep their mouths shut.

The cowardice is a bit harder to excuse. Silence is merely a sin of omission. When a mainstream conservative breaks his silence on race, and opens his mouth, and extrudes words, those words conform in fairly precise particulars to what a Leftist would have said on the same occasion. If, for example, you can persuade a conservative to say anything at all about the extraordinarily high levels of crime among black Americans, he will fall back on standard boilerplate Leftist cant about "root causes" . "oppression" . "discrimination" . "racism" . "poverty" . "legacy of slavery" . "opportunity"., and so on. His conservatism has evaporated before your eyes. He has become a social engineer, a victimologist. On race, all goodthinkful people are liberals.

Perhaps that is not altogether fair. Some borderline-respectable conservatives-I am thinking here of people like Heather Mac Donald and Ward Connerly-have deviated from orthodoxy enough to give us brilliant, critical essays on topics like racial profiling or affirmative action. This is all activity at the fringes, though. No major American conservative politician-most certainly not our current "compassionately conservative" President-would touch Connerly or Mac Donald with a ten-foot pole.

I tag this mealy-mouthed approach to race among conservatives as cowardice because any given conservative could, at any time, just have kept his mouth shut. That conservatives do not always keep their mouths shut on race might just signify a lack of self-control; that, when they do open their mouths, what comes out is Leftist sociobabble, I call cowardice. Conservatives should challenge liberal orthodoxy at every turn, with a prudent respect for what Willam F. Buckley calls "the prevailing structure of taboos." If that prevailing structure dictates silence, then keep silence. Don't feed, don't nourish, liberal orthodoxy. That is cowardice. In a narrow party-political sense, it is treason.

What, actually, is that orthodoxy? What defines the meaning of those words I have been putting in scare quotes-"correct," "anti-racism," and the rest? I think a single dogma encompasses it all. For my purposes here, I shall call it the Dogma of Zero Group Differences, or DZGD.

There are three things to be said about the DZGD.

First, it is empirically false.

Second, it contradicts everything we know about the natural development of populations of living creatures.

Third, it causes discord, disorder, and hatred when let loose in a multiracial society. I would go so far as to say that it is a dangerous, poisonous, and evil doctrine.

Empirically false: The empirical falsehood of the DZGD has been so often demonstrated that only a willful stubbornness, joined with an ingrained terror of being thought insufficiently "anti-racist," could lead anyone to deny the evidence, once it has been fairly presented to him....

Why do I say that the DZGD is a dangerous and evil doctrine? It is false, to be sure; but a false doctrine need not be dangerous. If the generality of Americans came to believe that Jupiter is further away from the Sun than Neptune, they would have come to believe a falsehood; but in all probability, society would go on much as before, and only pedants would feel any distress.

Suppose you are a black American. (You might, of course, actually be a black America-no offense. If you are not, suppose you are.) Looking around, you notice all the familiar statistics of black America: the high rates of incarceration, single parenthood, and other dysfunctions. You also note that black Americans do not do very well in school (statistically speaking), do not have a fair proportion of good jobs, and so on. What is your logical deduction from all this?

If you cleave to the DZGD, as everyone from the President on down insists that you must in order to be accepted into polite society, there is only one possible conclusion you can come to: Some force is keeping black people down. Since, on the DZGD, the statistical profile of your group on all measurable abilities is just like the statistical profile of any other group, there must be some force keeping black people away from society's goods. What other force can that be, but the malice of nonblack people? Oppression! Racism! The DZGD thus generates discord and hatred. It is touted as a sine qua non of the modern civilized outlook. In fact it is a poisonous, anti-social doctrine, as well as a false one.

More here


A few days ago in the Telegraph, journalist Simon Heffer expressed the hope that someone would, "write a book on the language of the Third Way, outlining the abuse of words - and with it the abuse of truth - that this administration has either implemented or condoned." A while before, during a meeting at the company where I work, I heard someone from personnel remark that we were facing "issues around our diversity target implementation plan". It struck me that if this curious Lefty-inspired patois can be used - with a straight face - in a large modern business then the trenches in the language sector of the 'culture wars' must be all but overrun.

And there is evidence to be found in official communications not only of the changed language but also the altered priorities it attempts to mask. You can find some particularly rich hunting grounds among the well-stocked leaflet displays of Metropolitan Police stations. No one yet has formally announced that the Met doesn't 'do' ordinary crime, but each flyer makes it clear that if you are one of the large range of very modern sounding 'victim' types, then you are the priority for modern policing. See here for more of what's on offer.

Equally, almost anything from central Government or the 'education establishment' contain examples in abundance. We discover, to take an example at random, in the recent Home Office 'Respect Action Plan' that, "Key departments will work together to develop a cross-Government strategy to drive an improved service response to problem households. These departments, and their local service partners, have important roles to play in ensuring that mainstream adult and children's services respond more quickly and effectively to these families and address gaps in provision." This means something like, "we must sound like we are doing things - but not too much because they probably vote for us". Even the military have taken to expressions with rather diffuse meaning. 'Network-centric, effects-based warfare', for example, apparently means they put lap-tops in their tanks. It also probably also means that the MoD think we can be persuaded that, this way, we need less of them.

So why are our rulers and administrators resorting to this verbal equivalent of an artillery smoke barrage? The answer can be separated into the influences and motives that permeate New Labour. The influences are largely consultants, academia and the 'rights industry'. Consultants infest modern government departments and quangos in large numbers and they use the same opaque, almost self-parodic jargon that they inflict on us in the private sector. Working for a quango a few years ago, I noticed that, perhaps due to a lack of confidence, state employees often tried to mimic 'consultantese', despite their understandably hesitant grasp of its original meaning.

There is also little doubt that academia has influenced - via the cod-philosophy of 'post-modernism' - the thought habits of many of the graduates exposed to this nonsense at university. Thus New Labour pioneered the view that the electorate can be persuaded by 'narratives' rather than, say, doing anything. Disappointingly, they so far seem to have been proved right.

Finally, there is the language of race and rights activists, part of the rainbow coalition of charities, pressure groups and human-rights lawyers. Between them, these contributors have built a whole new linguistic system to communicate with each other - and us.

As for the motive, well, if you want to hide some things and advance others while relatively undetected, then what better way to do it than by using language that has slipped the moorings of any tangible meaning. And every day is now 'a good day to bury bad news'.

If we want to limit the spread of this grating, euphemistic and deeply political language in our national life, the first thing to do is recognise it for what it is. So, in the list below, I've brought together some of my favourites - a compilation of 'key learnings' if you will - and tried to describe their usage and meaning as I've encountered them. Welcome to the 'Lefty lexicon'.


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