Wednesday 14 October 2020

Let's just cancel everyone


What is it that holds a country together and gives its people a sense of shared identity and the idea that they all belong to a place together? It isn’t democracy. Lots of countries have democracy. It isn’t human rights or any of the other values that are shared by western countries.

The French have human rights and democracy, but their glue is different from our glue. What holds the French together is a feeling that they are all connected to the French land, they all speak French and are all equally French citizens. In the end what joins the French together is that they feel that they are all part of a story beginning with Clovis and continuing unbroken until today. It is shared history that unites a country.

Britain, I think is unique at least in Europe in that a large group of British people hate our country, despise our present and loathe our past. There have always been such people, but they have grown in number in recent years particularly after the EU referendum in 2016. Some of them want to take revenge for the fact that the majority dared to vote for Brexit. They want to damage Britain not merely as an act of self-hatred, but to reveal to the foolish Brexiteers the consequences of their folly in not following Remainer advice. 

The Left take delight in trashing the reputation of any and all famous British people from the past. But what do they hope to achieve by these attacks?

The other day I read about Nelson being a supporter of slavery and Dickens being a racist. I would go further than this. By the standards of today, everyone in Britain prior to 1945 was a racist. Not only that they were all homophobic without exception and they would have been transphobic too except it would never have occurred to them that such a thing was possible.

So now we have admitted that not merely Dickens, but everyone else was racist.  Not only Nelson, but almost everyone in his time and before thought slavery was normal and natural, not least because it had existed in one form or another since time began. Now that we have made this admission need, we continue the investigation of historical racism and slavery. Take any important person from British history any writer, any politician, any king and any queen, they were almost certainly racist slavers who hated homosexuals.  Not a single one of them would pass a woke test today.

But what makes Nelson famous is not his views on slavery. What makes Dickens worth reading is not his racism. There are any number of bad writers who were also racists. What is interesting about Nelson is his feats as a military commander. What is interesting about Dickens is that he wrote great books that were also enduringly popular. The interesting thing about these people has nothing to do with their racism, which was shared by the dull and the talentless. What is interesting is what they did not share with the dull and the talentless.

What is the purpose of digging around British history in search of slave holders, slavery supporters and racists? Is it to make life better for British people today or indeed for black British people? Let’s imagine we all watched lots of television programmes and read lots of books demonstrating that every important figure in British history was a racist, slavery supporting homophobic, transphobic wife beater who was neither kind to children nor animals. Would the sum of human happiness be increased by this knowledge? Would it improve the life of even one British citizen?

There has been a tendency in recent months for people on the Left to go on a racism witch hunt. If the police stop a black MP's car it is with delight that she revels in exposing the wickedness and racism of the police. The poor policeman is terrified of losing his job. The MP isn't. 

If insufficient respect has been shown while kneeling there is glee in pointing out the miscreant. The merest slip of language or thought is pounced upon by a mob gloating that someone else has made an error that the virtuous would never make. The Internet is searched and the speech and writing of everybody is carefully assessed to discover if anyone has even unconsciously shown signs of racism. There is eagerness and joy at the chance to point out that someone has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

But why go to all this trouble? Wouldn’t it be easier to accept that all white people are racist? They may do their best to avoid racism, but they are bound to give in to temptation. No matter how hard they try there is always a racist lurking beneath the surface of their unconsciousness and this racist guides everything they say and everything they do.

I believe that the same could be said of all white people. Racism, just like all other prejudices is a universal part of the human condition. We judge people by appearances. We generalise. These two things lead us to think in prejudicial ways. We prefer to live with, work with and marry people who look like us, think like us and speak like us. This is why we have countries. We think of people from our own country as more important than those from other countries. This is why we are willing for our taxes to be used to look after them. This is also why we are willing to fight for our own country even when it might lead our own death. The only people we are less selfish towards than our fellow countrymen are our family members.

So, the great hunt for racism has succeeded. Every white person has correctly been judged to be racist. Not only every white person now, but also every white person who has lived or will live in Britain has clearly and distinctly been shown to be a thorough rotter guilty of the worst sin of all.  They are all racists. Are those running the witch hunt for racists happy yet?

Having succeeded in trashing British people living now and in the past and the future, they will have succeeded in making no British person have any pride whatsoever in Britain. We are the worst of all people. We are racists. They will have succeeded also in destroying the sense that British people, including those whose families arrived relatively recently, have a common purpose. No more will we be taking part in a shared story that began at some point in the dark ages, led to the unifying of the peoples of Britain into one country and continued with the embrace of people from all over the world who chose to make Britain their home. How can British racists embrace anyone let alone someone from a different race? All they can do is oppress and enslave and exploit.

What will hold us all together when the trashing of our history has meant there is no more glue holding us together. Will this improve the lives of black people or make them worse? Without the glue holding British citizens together we are all liable to revert into tribes defined in other ways than our shared Britishness. Instead we might fix on external characteristics and find our identity in something that is not shared.

But worse than that if white people are continually told that every British hero and everyone living in the present is a racist brute what is to stop them embracing the story that is told of them. If even our heroes and great writers were nasty racists, how can we expect to do any better?

The biggest danger of the present way of viewing history is that it divides the world into the sheep and the goats. White people are racist, homophobic transphobes and they are to blame for every bad thing that ever happened in the world. Non-white people are never racist and incapable of being nasty either to homosexuals, transsexuals or anyone else. In fact, they are so close to perfection that they resemble angels rather than human beings.

But the key to moral improvement is for me to look at my own conscience and judge myself severely, while judging everyone else leniently. It’s only when someone looks at himself and reflects on what he himself could do to improve that change happens. Blaming something or someone else is simply an excuse for inaction.

If someone is poor or unhappy or unsuccessful, he will not achieve success by blaming his dyslexia, his skin colour, or white people. For as long as he continues to blame others, he will not be in the morally serious position of self-reflection where he finds the solution within himself to overcome whatever challenges including racism that holds him back. Blaming others is always the excuse to do nothing. Lead me not into this temptation above all others.

Reducing the world to white sinners all guilty of the unforgivable sin of racism, versus pure innocent victims of white oppression, simply reinvents the world of puritans full of sin and the innocent noble savage they encountered. Make us all wear a scarlet R for racist if you please, but the descendants of Hester Prynne will still inherit the world. The feeling of virtue of those who condemn others without investigating their own self  will keep them noble but also savage, for innocence is the stage where you haven't even progressed beyond the Gates of Eden. It is an ignorance that cannot chose between good and evil and so knows nothing serious about morality. 

Britain needs all our British citizens to be flawed humans no angels need apply. We need to be better human beings. We must accept that the past includes the faults of all of us. Nelson and Dickens were no different from any of us, because they too could do wrong just as we can. Every British citizen must reflect on our own sin, before being quite so judgemental about someone else’s. Only in this way can we contribute to making the present more pleasant for all of us. Seriousness about morality is reflecting on what I can do to improve myself. It is judgemental only about myself. It has nothing to do with blame, nor pointing out the faults of others.

Our country has not faced its present challenges for decades. We have a pandemic. We have Scottish nationalists who would like to destroy Britain. We have people on the left who want to undermine our natural pride in our country in ourselves and in each other.

But such people will not improve the lives of those British people who want to share our common humanity no matter where our families came from. We should refuse to let them or anyone else divide us. We are all equally flawed and we need to forgive each for the fact that each and every one us has been unkind to someone. We each have a neighbour we didn’t love.

Only in this way can we start thinking of each other as part of one British family that shares our island and our island’s story. All British people must unite and reject anyone who wants to divide us.