Friday, January 06, 2012

Invitation to Tweet

I don't know about you, but if you're white like me you're undoubtedly sick of all the racism you have to confront on a daily basis. If I'm not being complained at for stinking the room out when I eat my national dish of fish and chips, I'm being stared on when I'm on public transport as my glasses, short pepper-and-salt hair and light grey jumper (and otherwise seasonal clothing) clearly indicate I'm some manner of terrorist. Thank God I'm lucky enough to have a job, because us whites find it next to impossible to get work these days due to outdated attitudes which I thought were left behind when white slavery was abolished back in 1833. Did our civil activists die in vain? Did the "I have a dream" speech of Colin Derek King (Jr.) fall on deaf ears? We don't seem to have moved far from the days when us whites had to sit on the grottier end of the bus and eat and drink in segregated spots designated for us - The days when we had to live in fear of men in black hooded robes coming and lynching us whilst setting fire to crosses in our gardens.

But of course that is all utter bullshit. As a white middle-class male the only prejudice I've ever had to face is being called "four eyes" (which is because I wear glasses, I hasted to add, and not as the result of an unfortunate mutation. Those mutants really know prejudice - I've seen X Men). If only there were some way that I, as a pampered white skinned individual lucky enough to be born as a native of an over-privileged society, could get uppity and pretend that I've been racially abused - for the first damn time in my life.

*Cue Steptoe and Son music*

And then Diane Abbott saw fit to tweet the following:

Naive? Certainly. An ill-thought out thing to post via a medium not well known for its preservation of context and subtlety? Oh, Absolutely. 

But is the tweet Racist, as it's being claimed? I'm not so sure. Of course I'm not stupid enough to believe that as a white man that I am immune from racism - of course there are sections of society that hate my race and everything it stands for. There may be even be subsections of humanity who, even I type this, are plotting the demise of spectacle wearers as well. Maybe I'm that far removed from prejudice that I can't even see it when it's blatantly staring me in my pale bespectacled face, but I suspect not.

It's easy to claim the old "taken out of context" defence, but in this case I think it's justifiable. The majority of the news stories about this conveniently forgot the hash tag of #tacticsasoldascolonialism which, if you know anything about the mysterious world of twitter, is most of the context thrown out of the window straight away. Or they simply ignored the conversation that led up to this remark from Abbott. Reality can throw up terrifying things we don't want to hear about, if you filter it sufficiently.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a fan of Diane Abbott, and this certainly isn't the first misguided thing she's said, but I rather think it's been blown out of all proportion. It's difficult to put your point across in the limited space of 140 characters, so maybe Abbott shouldn't even try - it just might not be the proper medium for her. Although one suspects she'll be ultra-vigilant about every single tweet she makes in future, based on how many column inches (and calls for her resignation) this one received.

I think what has most amused me about this whole story is that I often frequent EDL facebook pages - sometimes to wind them up, but mostly to laugh at the nonsensical vitriol filled bile that they expel - and they're all absolutely up in arms about it. The dangerous thing about this rather poorly thought out tweet is that it's given justification to their worst fears - that the white man is being subjugated in his own country. "How dare she be so racist", they cry, before following it up with several dozen racist paragraphs about muslims (who, for reasons I'm still not entirely sure of, are almost without fail grouped under the word "paki") without any sense of irony.

But what do I know, eh? As long as "the man" keeps me down, I'll never have the benefits of free speech anyway... Am I right, brothers?

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