Thursday, July 20, 2006

Radical cultural repression

Dennis Dale at Untethered quotes from a news story in The Independent (which requires payment or subscription to read the full article on line -- sod off, Independent):

A branch of one of the world's biggest banks has been found guilty of racism after a senior member of staff told a colleague she would be voting for Robert Kilroy-Silk at the last general election because she said he promised to "get rid of the foreigners".

The remark was overheard by another employee, who sued the bank, HSBC, for race discrimination. Ruby Schembri, 35, a Maltese national, reported the remark. This week an employment tribunal ruled the remark could be construed as racist and ordered HSBC and the supervisor to pay compensation. The case is one of the first to find that a comment not directly made to another person can constitute racism.

The HSBC employee had fallen afoul of one of Britain's strictures against "hate speech":

She said: "Debbie asked Rosemary if she supported the Tory or Labour Party and bluntly stated, 'I am against immigration'. My ears pricked up and then Debbie added 'I hate foreigners'. I was shocked and offended. Debbie made her statement with real conviction." Ms Johnstone had made no reply.

(...) In her witness statement, Ms Jones said that all she had said was that she would vote for Mr. Kilroy-Silk because he would get rid of immigrants. She denied using the word foreigners. But the tribunal considered her contemporaneous statement, made in 2005, when she admitted she had said she would vote for Mr. Kilroy-Silk because he "would get rid of the foreigners". The tribunal chairman said it was reasonable to infer that the remark showed a "substantial dislike of foreigners". [Emphasis added by Dennis Dale.]

Ms. Jones, the offending employee, "had since been given race awareness training," the article says. In addition, "Lawrence Davies, of Equal Justice Solicitors, ... said: 'The intention or aim of the maker is irrelevant, it is sufficient that it caused offence.'" In other words, if counsellor Davies and his ilk have their way, you can be brought up on charges or sent to a re-education camp -- excuse me, given "race awareness training" -- if you're talking with friends in a pub and a person at a nearby table takes offense at an overheard remark.

The European Union has something called the "Race Directive" that says, "The European Union rejects theories which attempt to determine the existence of separate human races." That's right, attempt to determine the existence of human races. Dale comments:

The Directive has been described by some as expanding rules against discrimination in employment mandating the European version of affirmative action, "positive action", to a broader mandate against "social discrimination", hence the apparent outlawing of "racism" in general in the U.K.

It's not hard to foresee the mammoth problems Europe is set to foist upon itself; setting up a vigorous "positive action" program while liberally importing cheap third world labor and at the same time outlawing any frank discussion of why these groups seem less amenable to education and the professional classes; all this while making no effort to assimilate a growing, intolerant Muslim underclass that isn't held to the same standards of restricted expression.
For the record, I think that Debbie Jones's remark was not appropriate in a work setting, regardless of who was or wasn't in hearing range. (In a social setting, she should have the right to speak her mind and accept any hostility she receives in return -- hostility but not punishment.) There are valid reasons why people in an office or place of business ought to stay clear of religion, politics, and extremely personal issues. If I'd been Ms. Jones's supervisor, I would have given her a private, friendly word to the wise. That's how the situation would once have been handled anywhere.

But of course, today's official speech code zealots react differently; they view such behavior like the authorities once did signs of witchcraft or heresy, so dangerous that they must be stamped out ruthlessly.

I'm not, by the way, picking on Britain or even the European Union. The whole Anglosphere is going in such a direction, although it has been carried farther in the U.K. and might not be stated quite so explicitly in the United States.

Make no mistake: this is not just more political correctness but a form of government clamp-down on the rights of free citizens. When the term "political correctness" came into vogue around 1990, it mostly referred to silly euphemisms ("differently abled," etc.) and affirmative action. The first twisted language and thought; the second was reverse discrimination, but at least it was more or less voluntary outside government agencies. Today's legal codification of matters of opinion as "racism" is something else again, a dagger driven right into the heart of individual liberty.

We really need a new expression to cover this tendency to use the force of law to suppress people's right to say what they think. Calling it "political correctness" makes it sound soft and eccentric, rather than what it is, tyranny. The infection began with political correctness, but it has spread throughout the body politic and reached this end stage in which the Western tradition of civil discourse, first developed in ancient Athens and later painfully lost and won and lost and won again, is once more on life support.

The term "cultural Marxism" has been brought to bear on the phenomenon, but I can't see that it has much to do with classical Marxism. "Cultural Stalinism" would be more to the point, but even that doesn't quite work: many Racism Inquisitors could sincerely deny any sympathy with Uncle Joe's brand of Communism.

So I suggest, for your consideration, that we call it "radical cultural repression," which doesn't link it with any established political philosophy, or even the Left per se. Many so-called conservatives, as Lawrence Auster continually points out, have made their peace with the race/ethnic grievance industry. The description "radical cultural repression" makes it clear that this is not just a position on the political spectrum that we disagree with, but an assault on fundamental human rights in a free society. As a bonus, it can be abbreviated to "RCR," which slides easily off the tongue.

Maybe there's an even better combination of words to express the idea: anyone want to have a go at it?

UPDATE 7/20: The great essayist Fjordman has thoughts along a similar line, which you can find here.


Mr. Spog said...

"Soft totalitarianism"?

I bet Ms. Jones really loves foreigners after all that.

Rick Darby said...

Mr. Spog,

"Soft totalitarianism" is a good description, but as a former director of radio commercials, I have to say it's not a "playable" line. Too hard to speak.

Yes, I suspect that Ms. Jones's "race awareness training" has made her aware in a way that the Brain Police did not intend.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

It is "cultural Marxism" for the end of Marxism is the establishment of One World Gov. and for this reason, racism must end. Racism is glue that makes nations stick together. It forms the cohesion. Without it nations fall apart.

"Racism as evil" is very much the program of Marxism.

Anonymous said...

Yup, WLW, I agree.

It is Cultural Marxism, as Bill Lind and others have described it. "Radical cultural repression" just happens to be it's main tool.

We have to see the thing in it's historic setting and know and name the organisations and cultural movements which so weakened our societies, - and their end goal.

PD111 said...

This site is a good companion to yours

Political Correctness Watch
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..