Back in November of 2006 in response to a post by Suspect Paki, I wrote up a piece called The Confusion of Racism with Intolerance. This was an attempt to explain, from my personal point of view, the recent changes I had witnessed to my country following various waves of immigrants – initially from the West Indies and latterly from Asia and the Middle East. My basic argument was, while accepting racism exists and actually exists to some extent in all nations, much of what is glibly passed off as ‘racism’ should more correctly be termed ‘intolerance’. And there is a massive difference.
Speaking for myself only, I do not believe I am a racist. I have, over many years, worked and befriended people of a very wide diversity of origin, culture, religion and skin hue and my yardstick is based on their personality and character and – as with all relationships – a certain amount of what is shared in common. But am I, in some cases, intolerant? Absolutely. I walk through my local public park these days and come across small groups of people of all nationalities and I feel some degree or another of intolerance towards those not speaking the language of the land, towards those whose cultural heritage embodies a different level of courtesy towards others and especially to those who actually practice racism towards the indigenous white English.
‘Racism’ is a very easy label to throw around and the term has been wildly abused over the years. On the other hand it is a charge very difficult to defend and refute. Many years ago a neighbour was accused by one of his young nieces of sexual abuse. He was immediately arrested, taken away for questioning and was gone for many days before returning a tormented man. It quickly became known that the girl in question had a tendency to quite freely throw this accusation around about family members and beyond. It grabbed the attention she sought. My neighbour, of course, was guilty of nothing but was treated as a guilty man – his innocence virtually impossible to prove. Freely thrown mud has a habit of sticking. Being branded a racist is likewise impossible to disprove.
A few days ago this old post of mine suddenly received a somewhat vitriolic comment by someone calling themselves ‘Indian Dude’. I reproduce it below as it has determined that I, and apparently most if not all of my fellow white Englishman, are indeed racists.
I’m Indian (Hindu) male and consider myself westernized in all possible ways. I don’t have any hang-ups or crave for “special treatment”; in my experience White Britons are among the most racist people on Earth. They always tend to put me down even though I’m friendly and outgoing. OK, I respect their tendency to be reserved and stiff-lipped (British national trait?) but many of them seem intolerant towards Asians.
Please NOTE: I’m not generalizing for all White people…it’s not about the colour of your skin but the way you treat me when I’m with you. Also in my experience, most White people are just like any other race; there are good and bad apples everywhere but what I object about White Britons is their air of cultural superiority when they meet Indians…just because Britain ruled over India some 60 years ago and many educated Indians speak in English doesn’t mean the White Britons should look condescendingly at us. This is simply not the case with any other White people on Earth – e.g. most White Americans/Canadians in my experience have been extremely nice towards me; in fact I get along excellently with Americans. Even in Europe, leaving aside the French -almost all European nationalities are very well-behaved towards Indians; Germans, Italians, Swiss, Austrians, Scandinavians and of course, East Europeans – I’ve never had a SINGLE bad encounter with these nationalities even though they’re also Whites. Ireland is an exception too coz most Irish in my experience have been nice with me.
As I was saying the problem lies only with White Anglos from UK and maybe, Australia. They have a natural air of superiority when they meet Indians and I’ve been through the worst form of their behaviour: 1. They constantly put you down for your brown skin colour – 2. You feel socially excluded and marginalized by them even if you want to mix properly. 3. They don’t trust your word readily as they would trust White people before you.
If today I have a “phobia” for White Anglo people living in UK and Australia, there has to be a cause to this effect – nothing ever happens in isolation.
I thought long and hard about how I should respond to this: denial is pointless; arguing is likewise pointless; ignoring it is defeatist. I could have perhaps written a satirical response on how I mistrusted all Indians, found their skin colour offensive and thought they should be marginalised. I could have asked a very English question and asked him what he meant by the term ‘leaving aside the French’! I could have reminded him that a recent opinion poll taken in Italy – one of the countries he seems to admire – stated that some 70% or so distrust and dislike their immigrant population.
Instead I read it again and decided on what I perceived as a truthful reply knowing that it was a winless argument. I told him that it seemed to me he had a chip on his shoulder – and a big one at that – and in my own experience that kind of attitude is more than likely to be self-fulfilling. As I have said, it is, of course, a winless argument so I was not in the least surprised by Indian Dude’s response:
“sounds like the chip on your shoulder is just too big”.
Funny you’re not the first Anglo who I heard using those exact words. Must be high among your standard put-downs for coloured people -an activity Anglos are most comfortable indulging in. Disagreement is fine in a debate -and healthy too; but disrespect is not. Instead of politely refuting the claims I made in the previous comment (which is what you expect), you tried to make me sound ludicrous and stupid – this is the precise thing I wanted to show you; Anglos have a natural arrogance borne out of a sense of cultural superiority, out of step with today’s times when Britain doesn’t even count as a world power anymore but nevertheless, you “over-project” yourself as some kind of moral authority from whom everyone else must learn, and accept as role model. Granted you invented English but noone’s denying your importance here. Just get rid of your “bag of cultural superiority” – if you’re assuming my previous comment is a lone view, I offer you a challenge – just show my points to other Indians/Asians and ask them if they agree/disagree with them!
Anyways, it’s YOUR website and I respect your right to allow content which only you prefer. I don’t intend to spoil your morning cup of tea but if you want to hear my real opinions on this subject, I’ll make them LOUD and CLEAR everytime.
So there you have it. Maybe I am wrong – and there is little doubt that Indian Dude will think so – but out of the two of us I certainly believe I can discern the racism.
(As a light-hearted aside, I must say that I assume the term ‘Anglo’ in the comments above, is meant as a term of abuse in the same way that someone might use the term ‘Paki’. I do, of course, rather object to having my ethnicity reduced to a prefix.)