Magazine article The Spectator

What Idiocy It Is to Regard Whiteness as a Problem in Need of a Remedy

Magazine article The Spectator

What Idiocy It Is to Regard Whiteness as a Problem in Need of a Remedy

Article excerpt

'Oh please let no one call Trevor McDonald a nignog. Oh, please. Oh please!' It was sometime towards the end of the 1980s (before Britain's first black newsreader got his knighthood) and my brother, my sister and I were standing on the pavement watching the village carnival go by, each of us offering up the same silent prayer to the heavens.

The place was Topsham, a village on the river Exe, a few miles outside Exeter, where our mother had just moved in with a lovely chap named Frank. Trevor was the local celebrity, the carnival guest of honour and also the Only Black Man In The Village.

None of us had really thought of Trevor as being black before. (Well he isn't really, is he? He's like one of those cricket-playing Old Etonian maharajah types or those plummy-voiced African princes: whiter than any white person you've ever met. ) But in Devon, the amiable, poetry-loving newsreader's Trinidadian hues stuck out - or so it seemed in our paranoid imaginations - like a cobra at a mongoose wedding.

Sir Trevor McDonald went on to spend many happy years enjoying his weekend bolthole in Topsham and recently described it as his 'favourite place in Britain'. So I can't imagine the local Klan activity was quite as bad as we'd feared. The mistake we Delingpoles had made - and it's a mistake lots of people make when they've lived too long in our sophisticated, bien-pensant, multicultural cities - was to confuse dominant whiteness with pernicious racism.

The actress Emma Thompson made the same mistake just the other day when she declared that Exeter was a place BNP leader Nick Griffin would 'feel very comfortable' because it had so few black faces. Thompson's adopted son - a former Rwandan child-soldier called Tindyebwa Agaba, aka Tindy - had recently studied politics at the university and had had a 'rough time' as a result of racist taunts, once from some 'nerds' and another time from 'three or four tattooed and macholooking bouncers' outside a nightclub. (Small beer, one presumes, compared with, say, Hutu mobs carving open pregnant mothers with their pangas and hurling the foetuses against trees, but still. . . ) So Thompson had gone down to Exeter to tutor the locals in the ways of Islington-style righteousness.

'What can we do to change the whiteness of Devon and Cornwall? How can we expand our university?' one student asked at a lecture Thompson gave called All Africans Now.

Thompson replied: 'This is how we're doing it. Tindy had his experience and now we're having a big week of educational events to try to help it.'

Note that what Thompson didn't do here was question the premise. As all white liberals would, she took it as a given that there's nothing that would improve hideously white counties like Devon and Cornwall quite so much as a healthy influx of splendidly multihued, culturally vibrant ethnic types. And it's not just liberals who think this way. The other day, I was standing next to a reasonably conservative female friend of mine, watching her son playing football in Oxfordshire among a sea of heads so uniformly blond I might have been witnessing Himmler's favourite Aryan fantasy. 'Gosh, you've got an amazingly broad cultural mix here. A real melting pot!'

I said. 'Oh do we?' she said, distractedly, not quite picking up on the sarcasm. 'Good!'

Now I don't think Emma Thompson is especially evil. And my Oxfordshire mum friend definitely isn't. Yet the viewpoint they were both articulating - in their semiconscious or completely unconscious ways - represents one of the most perniciously wrong, dangerous, destructive and pig-ignorantly fatuous pieces of unutterable stupidity in the entire history of Western non-thought: the idea that cultural whiteness is in and of itself a problem in need of a remedy. …

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