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Notes from New Sodom: Calling a Spade a Spade by Hal Duncan
Of Polls and Poles
It’s polling day here in the Royal Borough of Kentigern, in the nation of Grand Albion — my country of origin back before I became a fully-naturalised citizen of New Sodom. It’s all terribly tense, with Labour terribly unpopular, but the Conservatives in a bit of a mess and the Liberal Democrats on the rise. To be fair, I don’t have a lot of faith in either of the two that aren’t, well, right-wing fucks, and the internationalist ethos of New Sodom draws me to a less bounded outlook when it comes to political borders anyway, but I do still have a soft spot for the old country, so I’ll be watching the election with some interest. Hell, I may dwell in this New Sodom of the soul in virtual terms, in this artifice constructed of cliques on the internet, conversations in pubs, movements in this field of the arts or that, but yeah, in practical terms, sadly, my meat body still abides in my scuzzy bachelor pad in Kentigern, so I have no choice but to pay attention to the politics it’s going to be saddled with for the next four years.
Where do my own politics lie these days, in this particular election? It’s hard to say. A little bit socialist, a little bit liberal maybe. I’ve some sympathy, I’ll admit, with those Caledonians who advocate independence when it comes to Albion, but only where that’s paired with strong support for a presence in a federal Europe; it’s a sort of Caledonian internationalism that resonates with me. I’m not immune to the whole tribal pride thing, so there’s part of me that admires the Red Clydesiders who fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. It’s the part of me that’s proud of that heritage but paradoxically proud because it’s all about an outward-looking spirit recognising greater territories than those drawn on a map. A man’s a man for a’ that, as a wise man once said. Or the gender-neutral equivalent.
Of course, this is the same part of me that hears Little Englanders railing against the Germans and the French, against the EU in general, and thinks maybe we should just give those johnny-come-lately Anglo-Saxons their independence. Fuck it, we could just ditch England and invite other Celtic nations in — the Irish, the Cornish, the Manx, the Bretons. (Maybe invite in Liverpool and suchlike as city-states given their Irish-immigrant communities.) Call it a Federal Union of Celtic Kingdoms! Or a Celtic Union of National Territories! (I like the acronyms.) And if that sounds horribly ethnocentric, I should say that I work on the principle that membership of a Celtic clan is merely a matter of the correct initiation ritual a la Richard Harris in A Man Called Horse getting hung by his nipples. Only we replace the nipple-pain with the hangover that results from a night on the tiles getting shit-faced with a Celt. If you can hold your own with us in a pub, you’re in. Internationalism and inclusiveness, that’s what it’s all about, I say. Fuck blood-ties and birthplaces. Will you get the round in when it’s your turn? That’s what I want to know, brother.
Still, my pipe dream of an international supernation of beery bleary bletherers is not, I recognise, a particularly pragmatic approach to politics. So I’m stuck with the mainstream parties and their policies as they are. Don’t worry though; this isn’t going to be about which I’ll be voting for and why. Rather this is going to be about the exact opposite — what I won’t be basing my vote on. And it’s less about party politics per se than it is about a subject relevant to this column in general — the power of words.
For the benefit of those outside Albion, you see, there are two gaffes I want to explore, one on the part of the Conservative leader, David Cameron, and another on the part of the Labour leader, Gordon Brown. The former fell apart during what he thought was going to be a puff piece interview with Gay Times, when the reporter challenged him on actual facts. This clip speaks for itself. The latter was caught in his car after a meeting with a member of the public, describing her as “just a sort of bigoted woman.” Their full encounter here is… more interesting. Go on and watch them; I’ll wait. If you want to skip to the chase with the Brown/Duffy encounter, around two and a half minutes in she comes out with a few comments on immigration — about how you can’t talk about it, how there’s all these Eastern Europeans and, to quote: where are they flocking from?
(Um… Eastern Europe? I say.)
Anyway, the rhetoric embedded in that question is really the subject of this column. So yes — be warned — it’s going to be a bit political, but what it’s about more than anything else is the import of one little word, the power of metaphor particularly when it comes to matters of opinion and ethnicity. Of polls and Poles, so to speak.
Unleash the Behemouth!
Let’s get the Cameron interview out of the way first, cause it’s really only here as a comparison. I’ll make no bones about it: I’m deeply fucking worried about a country where Cameron’s utter fucktardery is forgotten in a televisual instant. The man basically admits to not even attempting to do his job of running his party — which includes things like, you know, being aware of how his MEPs are voting. Actually controlling how his MEPs are voting when it comes to fundamental human rights issues, matters that have not been left to the discretion of ministers for decades in mainstream UK politics. And I’ll happily admit that I see Cameron’s flailing as proof of the emptiness of his words; to me this is pure weaseling bullshit from the party that gave us Section 28, the party still full of fuckers who support discrimination by B&B owners (who just, you know, want to go back to the good old days of “No Blacks, No Irish, No Gays,”) the party that’s got a rising star, Phillipa Stroud, who prayed for gays to be cured. It’s mildly entertaining to see Cameron squirm like a worm on a shitty stick, but my laughter turns hollow at the thought that this arsehole could actually get into power. Never mind the gay rights issue that makes it personal to THE…. Sodomite Hal Duncan!! (as I’m proud to have been dubbed in hatemail.) That interview exposes him as just plain fucking incompetent.
But here’s the real point: does that cock-up by Cameron become a serious shitstorm? No, instead everyone gets in a days-long fucking tizzy about Brown… um… referring to a woman he thought was a bit bigoted as — shock fucking horror! — “a sort of bigoted woman”. What the fucking fuckety fuck?! When someone throws out some deeply dubious rhetoric about immigration that you think is bigoted, and you refer to them in a private conversation after the fact as “sort of bigoted,” this is a Terrible Outrage requiring amends to be made? I repeat: what the fucking fuckety fuck?!
Bollocks to that. It’s time to unleash the Behemouth, methinks.
Fuck Brown’s apology. Fuck it with a pneumatic drill up the jacksie. That apology was bullshit fucking moral pressure in action — not individual ethics guided by empathy, attempting to navigate the existential quandaries of the human condition, but rather the knee-jerk pre-programmed societal groupthink that deems this and that action to be subject to absolute “Thou Shalts” and “Thou Shalt Nots,” with little thought for the genuine rationality of such sweeping dicta. The Behemouth doesn’t like such moral dicta. These are like red rags to a bull as far as the Behemouth is concerned. The Behemouth is inclined to roar with unbridled fury and charge full speed at such moral dicta.
Sometimes these moral dicta seem harmless, beneficial even, maybe even downright obviously so: Thou Shalt Not Cause Needless Offense. It’s hard to argue with that, right? But sometimes those moral dicta are precisely as unethical as they are moralistically “righteous”: Thou Shalt Not Miscegenate, say. There’s your fucking morality for you. It’s 100% accurate to call this moral, by the way, even if you think its dead wrong, as I hope you do; it was one of the mores in place in various (sub)cultures at various times. Technically, it is r was a moral judgement even if we now deem it beyond the pale. But this is a key distinction the Behemouth makes as regards morals and ethics, the former being societal injunctions, the latter being a matter of individual judgement. Just cause it’s a moral dicta doesn’t mean it’s a fucking ethical judgement.
So what moral dictum did Brown run up against? A sound one or a dodgy one? Well, we’ll come to that. The Behemouth needs to break some shit first.
The Might of the Moralistic Gaze
First, let’s be crystal clear about how such mores work: Such dicta are the ethically retarded wank of those who can’t think past what psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg called the law-and-order level of moral development, can’t think past the notion of social order and essential transgressions, black and white lines in the sand that must never be crossed. It’s neither unnatural nor uncommon. It’s even functional as a stage in developing one’s autonomous ethical faculties. We all, so the theory goes, progress from infantile understandings that if we get caught we’ll be punished, through comparative models of what constitutes a “good boy/girl” and a “bad boy/girl,” to a notion of a sort of abstract social order which wrongdoing breaches, transgresses. So far, so good.
The problem is that this infantile authoritarian mindset has a nasty tendency to institutionalise prejudice in the guise of “right and wrong,” arbitrarily condemning acts that spark bigotry-based revulsion as transgressions of the Laws of God, Man and/or Nature. Where it does not take the entirely logical step of incorporating a moral dictum that Thou Shalt Scrutinise All Moral Dicta For Injustice, where it in fact incorporates a dictum that Thou Shalt NOT Question ANY Moral Dictum, it becomes absolute anathema to a mature ethical judgement. No matter how many of those moral dicta function as workable ethical rules-of-thumb, the entire mindset is ethically bankrupt. Ethically fucking bankrupt.
Why so? Because it not only allows the unethical dicta to arise — e.g. prescriptions on “miscegenation” or “homosex” or whatever — it actively pressures for them. Because the generation, propagation and punitive imposition of rules — no matter how arbitrary — is deemed virtuous in and of itself. Condemn someone else for their transgression and that renders you a defender of the social order. Teach a child to hate faggots and you’re a fucking pillar of the community. Worse, with that Thou Shalt NOT outlined above this mindset pressures against reform, rules out challenges to unjust mores on the grounds that these constitute some sort of dread destabilisation of that social order, a preliminary to wholesale collapse. This is why arguments for gay marriage and such are always met with the rhetoric of “the moral fabric of society,” dig?
So, the Behemouth growls at this fucking infantile moralism. It engenders dodgy dicta and it outlaws the very ethical judgements that challenge them. It fosters prejudice and then defends it against progressive thinkers who’ve stopped, thought for a whole millisecond and come to the conclusion that… uh… lynching a black guy for having sex with a white woman is fucking abhorrent, you fuckwits! The Behemouth would very much like to bite the fucking heads off those who seem themselves as valiant defenders of the social order, and would like to do so, actually, whether or not they happen to be railing against miscegenation or something the Behemouth actually does consider generally wrong, because operating with that mindset means you won’t fucking miss the head you’re not fucking using. To the Behemouth, Thou Shalt Scrutinise All Moral Dicta For Injustice is pretty much the only moral dictum that really matters, and denying that is the action of a child clinging to a rulebook, refusing to think for itself.
“Miss! Miss! Gordon called Gillian a bigot, miss!”
Fucking grow up, growls the Behemouth.
But the Behemouth hates the effects of that mindset too, the way it all too often plays out in the forced capitulation of the offender in a public recanting of their own individual — and potentially ethical — judgement. We’re living in the fucking Society of the Spectacle, and morality in that system seems to have become a way for the media/mob to exact a petty desire to see the denounced offender jump through flaming fucking hoops of apology. It’s like the bite of a million gnats on the Behemouth’s skin to see the press and public playing the shame game, to see Brown pressured by misplaced shock into the posturing of abject penitence. It loathes such sideshows of self-reproach with the same bile and venom that once rose in it, many years back, when we saw Lizzie Windsor forced to proclaim her grief over Diana on the telly just because a bunch of hysterical cretins didn’t think she was putting on a good enough fucking show of sorrow. Remember that? The Behemouth is as hardline anti-monarchist as you get, but Mrs Saxe-Coburg had all its sympathy that day, as a victim of vituperation on the part of a public who Her Regal Mummery should have been telling to go fuck themselves.
But let’s drop the Behemouth conceit, cause the Behemouth is, of course, just me. You want to understand how deeply I revile the might of the moralistic gaze? How profoundly I hate this notion that the individual should kowtow to an arsewipe consensus of what constitutes “propriety,” of what makes up an acceptable performance of regret or remorse, sorrow or shame? At my brother’s funeral, many more years back than that of Crazy Dazy Di, my family deliberately did not wear black, decided that in this ceremony of remembrance we wanted to reflect the positive aspects of that life now lost. Some time afterwards, a friend confessed that he’d been shocked to see us spurn the customary colour of despair. It seemed a breach of the protocols of bereavement, a transgression of societal mores.
We’d rejected black garb in order to make the day an affirmation of what my brother brought to our lives, rather than an empty ritual of abandoning what was gone into some conceit of a happy-ever-after. Or at least that’s how I thought of it; I won’t speak for my folks. My mate, bless him, was gobsmacked at the impropriety of us not wearing black. He didn’t condemn us for it, right enough, wasn’t a fuckwit about it. But imagine he had. Imagine society in general did. Imagine a baying mob of self-righteous fucktards crying out that we weren’t following the correct protocols as regards grief, weren’t playing the bereaved family the way society ordained. Imagine the sheer fucking wrath with which I’d meet such arrant fucking presumption.
That’s what I feel when I see the Society of the Spectacle make its selected miscreants perform their pirouettes of penitence, whether it’s Mrs Bettie Saxe-Coburg or Mr Gordie Brown. That’s what makes the Behemouth roar.
When Is a Spade Not a Spade?
But all of this is just groundwork so you (hopefully) understand where I’m coming from here. Let’s look now at this specific crime, at words condemned for their import and words tacitly deemed acceptable even as they shape a metaphor of the most dubious nature. Cause spitting and snorting at morality itself is all very well, but no matter if you consider the reaction against Brown to be motivated by petty moralism and avarice for a carnival of contrition, wasn’t Brown still, ethically speaking, open to critique? Cause, you know, he did call a wee old lady “bigoted”! And that words have deep import is precisely my point. It’s a recurring theme of these columns in general, these Notes from New Sodom, that the words with which we shape our stories of this reality do actually impact on this reality in ways we should be aware of. Calling a spade a spade is all very well as a straight-talking principle, but what happens when the term is coming from the mouth of a racist in reference to a person of colour?
Put it another way: which version of “calling a spade a spade” best fits Brown refering to Duffy as a bigot and which version of “calling a spade a spade” best fits Duffy referring to Eastern European immigrants as “flocking”? When is a spade not a spade? When is a literal word so charged with negative import that applying it to someone undeserving is a gross insult? When is a word that doesn’t literally fit at all, an idiomatic usage so charged with import not just negative but dehumanising that I know I’d find it pretty fucking offensive… when is it fine to just gloss over such an application as entirely acceptable?
Yes, Brown called that wee old lady “bigoted.” In the privacy of his car, after the event, after being slammed on various fronts by this woman — who had plenty of points to make but was too busy scoring them in a full-on assault to give him a chance to respond — he went away muttering about how he’d been forced to deal with a woman he felt was bigoted. And so the media/mob condemned him for the heinous crime of thinking ill about a poor wee old lady. For the crime of speaking his mind in private, dismissing her as “sort of bigoted” because… let’s see… she struck him as sort of bigoted.
I’ll say it again: What the fucking fuckety fuck?
I mean, given that he said goodbye to her with all manner of pleasantries, this is certainly hypocritical. No contest. Given that she was nailing him on all sorts of counts and only spoke of immigration in a sentence or two, I’d even go so far as to say his focus on that one part of her attack comes across as self-serving, an expedient way to dismiss the validity of her other arguments by putting her in the pigeonhole of “bigot”. But you know what? The former is the hypocrisy of daily etiquette, in which you show people respect even if you find them utterly objectionable, and the latter is just the natural tendency of human beings to shroud reality in denials that validate their own viewpoint. So he remained civil to the end even as she was lambasting him. So, one might presume, caught off-guard by the force of her ire and scattershot venting, he latched on to the anti-immigrant rhetoric as a marker of illegitimacy. Licking his wounds, he focused on that rather than the challenge(s) to his policies.
Wow. What an outrageous affront to common decency.
Not that I’m going to defend his conventional but insincere civility or his defensive dismissal. Bollocks to that. But I find it abhorrent that the backlash wasn’t really about either of these things; it was about him having the audacity to call this little old lady “bigoted” when she’d proven her value to society through decades of good works. Cause, you know, little old ladies couldn’t possibly be bigoted. People who’ve served a community all their lives just can’t conceivably be prejudiced about those who they see as not properly belonging in that community. It seems to me that this is what was deemed so offensive — that Brown labeled as a bigot someone who people saw as deserving of respect for her altruistic deeds, someone who was perhaps expressing the frustration(s) they themselves feel in the current climate, someone who was seen as representing the general public — a pillar of the community, an elder, and a woman to boot. A widow! A grandmother! How dare he!
Fuck that shit. His real gaffe was not calling her a bigot to her face.
People Call You Racist!
Go back to that BBC report and listen to her words again. It’s not a terribly venomous statement, by any means, but neither is it entirely innocuous. You can’t talk about immigration, she complains, because you’re saying… and she trails off into mumbles, changes tack. And there’s all these Eastern Europeans flocking into the country, she says. That’s pretty much the entirety of it, but if you’re attuned to subtext, it’s not hard to hear in that the rhetoric of the bigot. The “not allowed to say what one thinks” argument is a classic conceptual maneuver in which the person espousing prejudice casts themselves as victim when they’re slammed for it, and it rather seems as if Duffy can’t complete her statement because the only way to complete it would be to acknowledge the accusations of bigotry that are the so-terrible, so-unwarranted repercussions of, well, venting angry anti-immigrant sentiments.
But, wait. Unwarranted? Really? When one wants to talk about “immigration” it seems it’s nothing to do with, say, a good friend of mine who happens to come from Australia but live and work in the UK. No, it’s not those sort of immigrants we’re talking about in the discourse of immigration constructed by the media and the mob. It’s that specific group of immigrants delimited as Other by their Slavic heritage. It’s those Poles and Romanians and Moldavians and whatnot, those Eastern Europeans. The lumpen mass of them, the de-individualised, dehumanised throng of them, coming into Grand Albion in veritable droves. Flocking.
Now maybe this is simply a bad phrasing on the part of someone who doesn’t truly, in her heart, harbour the classic racist animosities that previous generations in the UK directed against Asian immigrants, Afro-Caribbean immigrants, Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants and so on. Maybe she does just think one specific aspect of immigration — that resulting from the entry of ex-Soviet countries into the EU — has concomitant problems that must be dealt with, but with no blame or aspersions to be cast on those individuals who’ve simply come to the UK in the hope of making a better life for themselves — immigrants who, the statistics show, are of a net benefit to the nation. Maybe it’s reading too much into her words to see the same old same old: that bitter bile about all those “pakis” and “spades” and “micks” and “kikes” coming into the country and “taking our jobs” and blah blah fucking blah, and how, you know, you can’t even complain about it, because if you moan about how all the bus drivers are darkies these days, people call you racist! Maybe it’s not entirely fair to judge this sort of statement by the associations it has with classic UK-style anti-immigrant racial prejudice.
But it is a statement taking its terms from that discourse. It is a statement couched in the rhetoric of abjection, accepting the profoundly dubious Othering strategy coded into the term “flocking,” a word that recasts individual human beings, each with their own skillset, their own contribution to make, as an unthinking animal mass that constitutes little more than a problem be dealt with. A herd to be penned. A flood to be curtailed. Words have import, and make no mistake, the import of Duffy’s words is far from innocent; they tacitly accept and espouse a thoroughly ugly-minded metaphor that abjects those Eastern Europeans just as countless Roma, say, were and still are abjected here or elsewhere. Without any statement to the contrary, without any specific complaint about practical issues, Brown was perfectly fucking entitled to take that word “flocking” as an indication of bigotry, I reckon. That is the import written into it.
That’s why he should, I think, have called her on it then and there. I can’t blame him for not doing so, because it was in the midst of a full flow of complaint upon complaint. But in the context of a political culture in which anti-immigrant racism is undergoing a visible resurgence, in which the BNP and UKIP present an “acceptable” face to fucking fascism while bootboy factions like the fucking English Defence League are recruiting their latter-day SA street-thugs from the ranks of football hooligans, in which that mungmunching gleetlicker Cameron is happy to let his MEPs ally themselves with fucking far-right factions in Europe, I like to think that if I’d been in Brown’s position, if I’d had the wherewithal to cope with the tonguelashing, I’d have told her to stop right fucking there. Back up a minute, Mrs Duffy. Baby, if you want to talk about immigration, go right ahead. Cause I’d really like you to clarify exactly what you mean by characterising Eastern Europeans as flocking into the country.
Like, would “swarming” be equally acceptable to you there? How about if we talk about them “pouring” in? Or “flooding”? If a good old-fashioned Biblical “deluge” metaphor would work, maybe a “plague” conceit would express the same sentiment more cogently, no? A “plague”, a “pestilence”, an “infestation”? On you go, don’t be afraid to… call a spade a spade, as they say. Don’t be afraid like the woman in Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech who, “[w]hen she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. ‘Racialist’, they chant. When the new Race Relations bill is passed, this woman is convinced she will go to prison.”
I know, I know, you can’t even talk about immigration because… well, you know, but don’t be scared to say what you really think, baby. Enquiring minds want to know.
Nil paseran, amigos. Nil fucking paseran. With the islamophobia and anti-Asian bigotry that’s come in the wake of 9/11 and the War on Terror, with a decade of tabloid bullshit turning “asylum-seeker” into a pejorative term, with political groups that are fucking Nazis in all but name pushing their way into the mainstream here in Grand Albion, with the media and the mob buying into that bullshit, regurgitating it in the sort of casual fucking racism that belongs in the 1930s rather than the 2010s, we should not be castigating Brown for muttering the word “bigoted” into a mic he didn’t know was still on. We should be asking why any politician with an ounce of backbone and an iota of social awareness, when confronted with such rhetoric, isn’t hauling out a fucking mirror and saying, back the fuck off off, motherfucker; and take a good look at how ugly you’re coming across here. If Mrs Duffy isn’t bigoted, calling her on that rhetoric would at least serve to establish the fact. But the horrible possibility that sprung to my mind on hearing about the encounter, and that remains in my mind after viewing it, is that Brown was fucking right. And if he was… the country just raked him through the coals for it.
Little old ladies are not immune to bigotry. People who’ve worked for a local council for 30 years are not immune to bigotry. People who’ve cared for children with or without disabilities are not immune to bigotry. Pillars of the community are not immune to bigotry. Widows and grandmothers are not immune to bigotry. They are most especially not immune to that subtle and pernicious bigotry that exploits working class privation particularly well, where the general inequities of a shafted capitalist society make one’s own life hard, and the blame for that is slowly, through a discourse of abjection, laid at the door of a scapegoat ethnic group perceived as a strain on societal resources… regardless of the reality.
You don’t have to look far in the UK to find someone struggling to get by in a financial crisis and all too ready to sound off about those who’re “coming in just to sponge off benefits.” You don’t have to look far to find people who see themselves as fundamentally decent and upstanding — little old ladies even! — who may well be seen by others as particularly decent and upstanding, but who nevertheless have marked out a certain sub-group of society as outsiders, as illegitimate uncitizens who’re getting the benefits of the system without contributing their due, who don’t belong or don’t conform, don’t pull their weight, don’t give back what they take. Oh, those Romanian beggars! Oh, those Roma thieves! Oh, those Jewish Shylocks! And if there’s a rhetoric of abjection underlying a complaint about all those Eastern Europeans flocking into the country, damn straight I think the veil of reasonable grumbling should be ripped off it, the bigotry exposed and challenged.
Or would we rather let it take fucking root? Again?
And again and again and again and again and again and fucking again?
See, this is where my “what the fucking fuckety fuck?” reaction really kicks in, because we’ve actually — I mean, genuinely, seriously, for fucking real — just seen the fucking Prime Minister of our country cowed into apologies both public and private for having the fucking temerity to condemn a little old lady as bigoted in a private fucking conversation. For the terrible thought crime of reading a potentially 100% accurate subtext of bigotry into a dubiously phrased complaint about immigration.
Are you fucking shitting me, Albion?
What’s next? Cameron gets caught bitching about how the history of homophobia in his party, particularly via such policies as Section 28, utterly undermined his electioneering attempts to court gays, and is forced into a public apology to Margaret Thatcher for daring to call her beliefs homophobic? Cause, hey, a little old lady couldn’t be bigoted, could she? Or maybe some BNP fucker trots out Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech verbatim and when Nick Clegg, say, is caught on tape calling him a nazi, Clegg is the one denounced by the media and the mob because, you know, voicing concerns with immigration is perfectly reasonable but hey, it’s just not on to insult the BNP guy by calling him a nazi, when — by golly, look! — he’s spent twenty years caring for a sister in a coma?
In a private fucking conversation, Brown can’t make an offhand dismissal on the basis that a comment implicitly dehumanising Eastern European immigrants was, in his opinion, bigoted? So the Prime Minister isn’t fucking allowed to have that sort of opinion now? Or is it that he’s just not allowed to fucking express it about someone the media and the mob deem right-on, not without having to make grand remonstrations of repentance? Cause, yeah, the media and the mob have always been fucking great arbiters of what’s “not really” racist. Yeah, I trust the Telegraph and the Sun and the innumerable fucktards who’ve used the phrase “I’m not racist but…,” trust them to decide which bestial metaphors are valid to apply to ethnic groups. Hey, if they think “flocking” like sheep or birds is fine, fair enough. And if they think “infesting” like rats is fine too, well, whatever. Hey, the media and the mob have really proven themselves in that department, haven’t they? It’s not like we want to be on our guard against the subtle and insidious type of racism that’s articulated in idioms accepted as just everyman plain-speaking, in metaphors taken for granted in news stories and editorials, in populist rhetorics of abjection that lump entire ethnicities together as some sort of non-human mass we need to find a solution for.
That’s never gone wrong before, has it?
No, let’s not question the import of a word like “flocking.” Let’s challenge the usage of a word like “bigoted.” Let’s condemn a politician because his ethical judgement of what constitutes bigotry is… too strict for our liking, too harsh in its rejection of our perfectly justifiable resentments, too mean to that nice little old lady who’s simply voicing the word on the street. Why, it’s a moral outrage that he’s not reflecting our animosities the way she is! It’s a travesty of all that’s good and decent that he sees prejudice where we see righteous indignation! How are we expected to come up with a reasonable (to us) way of dealing with this pox of benefits-sponging immigrant thieves and beggars when the Prime Minister himself is scurrilously dismissing our xenophobia as “sort of bigoted”? Oh, wait. Did I say “pox”? I didn’t mean to. Cause you can’t even talk about the immigrant scum in those terms these days without… um… the media and the mob savaging the Prime Minister for calling you a bigot. In private.
Oh, yes. Words have power. If you don’t think a word like “flocking” has an import to be concerned with in a context like this, just look at the import afforded the word “bigoted,” the real power struggle that’s just taken place over when using that word is not just inappropriate but an outright crime against mores. Look at the Prime Minister who didn’t even make an effort to justify it, just accepted his defeat, that this struggle against media and mob was one he couldn’t win. Whatever the results of the election, look at that political struggle for the language and see the face of the future mores we’re establishing for ourselves, in which politicians are to be raked over the coals for daring to call “bigoted” what the media and the mob deem just and true. See the face of the future mores we’re establishing, in which the leader of the country must beg forgiveness for saying it’s “sort of bigoted” to speak of an ethnic group as a flock of sheep, a herd of swine, a pack of rats, a nest of vipers.
And weep for Grand Albion. Fucking weep.