We must be alert to the poison of racism and oppose it

Thursday, 15th July 2021

BORIS Johnson CORONAvirus

‘Stoking culture wars might be Mr Johnson’s undoing in the end’

IT’S not good enough just not being racist. If you want to end discrimination, you have to be an anti-racist.

Call it out when you hear it. When you can’t, back the campaigns and groups working to end hidden discrimination.

Be aware of your own prejudice, or “unconscious bias” as it has become known. Think about how it might be affecting others around you.

Acknowledge the systemic racism in this country: in politics, the police and the media.

You would imagine this is the way most people, in a progressive society, would lead their lives. But there will always be those who seek to reduce us to the lowest common denominator.

When Boris Johnson was asked by Keir Starmer at PMQs yesterday (Wednesday) about his frontbenchers’ failure to criticise booing of footballers “taking the knee”, he pumped his fist and spluttered back: “Nobody defends booing the England side”.

It appears he sees criticism of England as worse than criticism of racism.

Despite the condemnation from some of the national side’s players themselves, the Prime Minister still refuses to kowtow to what he sees as a woke agenda and gesture politics.

Stoking culture wars may have worked for Donald Trump, for a while, but it might be Mr Johnson’s undoing in the end.

The stronger enforcement of football banning orders he proposed may teach some people a lesson.

It will hopefully have some impact on reducing racism on the terraces and new social media laws may help banish the hate to faraway fringes of the internet. But the anti-racism debate must not end there.

Groups like Kick It Out, The Black Lives Matter movement, taking the knee, the statue-topplings and protests have maintained honest and sometimes painful discussions for well over a year now.

Demand has risen for books about British imperialism and there have been questions about the gaps in what we teach as history in schools.

We should be educating our children about the politics of fear. Minorities are only thought of as such when they constitute a threat to the majority, whether that is real or imagined. That threat is what people like Mr Johnson – our 20th Eton-educated prime minister – are worried about.

While many people wanted to use the death of George Floyd as a platform for positive change, it was also apparent that others sought to use it as a means of driving an even greater divide.

But what is more important is that many people, from all backgrounds, have been set on a path to doing something more than just not being racist.

And the next generation will be better for it

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