Saturday 28 October 2023

Humza the hypocrite


I grew up in a Scotland that was completely white. In rural Aberdeenshire there were no ethnic minorities. There were no religious minorities either. I didn’t know any Catholics let alone Muslims or Hindus. The only kids we knew who were even slightly different were from England. Some of them were mocked and bullied. I can’t imagine the treatment that a little Humza Yousaf would have been given if he’d grown up where I grew up. The racism and religious prejudice he would have received would have been extreme.

I think it must have been quite tough for Humza Yousaf growing up in Glasgow. Casual racism was much commoner in Scotland then than now. Racist insults and attitudes were expressed without thought. It would make most people on the receiving end rather bitter.

The same can be said about hostility to people of Irish descent. There is no question that when their ancestors arrived in Scotland many experienced prejudice. Some were able to move on and integrate so that the only thing that distinguished them was a surname and a church, but others formed a sort of mental ghetto if not a literal one. They stuck with others who were also part of the Irish diaspora. They hated Britain while not wishing to return to Ireland. They felt themselves oppressed victims of colonialism and sided with what they thought were other oppressed victims of colonialism.

The experience of Humza Yousaf and some Celtic fans is that of people who see themselves as outsiders. They both hate British people and long to be free of the British state. It is as if Irish people were the lost tribe of Ishmael with its relations in Gaza and the West Bank.

As I grew older racism moved from being casual and universal to forbidden to such an extent that Scots with any sense learned to erase it or suppress it. But at the same time the people who had been up until then the main victims of racism learned that they could say what they liked about their former oppressors.

This is ably illustrated by the story of the black South African Rugby player allegedly calling his English opponent a “white c*nt”. There have been all sorts of excuses such as he was speaking Afrikaans or was misheard or whatever, but if a white player had said something remotely similar to “black c*nt” he would not have got away with the excuse that he was speaking Polish. He would have been banned forever. But nothing happened to the black player. There wasn’t enough evidence.

Black people can’t be racist. They are oppressed and according to the latest theories on race this means that they can’t be racist.

It is for this reason that Humza Youzaf was allowed to express his bitterness about Scotland in the video shared by Elon Musk where he complained about people in Scotland in senior positions who were “White, White, White”.

Imagine if Humza Yousaf’s family had instead chosen to move to Kenya and he had grown up there only to complain that “The president is black, the MPs are black, the TV presenters are black”. How would the Kenyans have responded? They would have called it racism. What did he expect in a country where most people were black?

But in Scotland there was minimal condemnation at the time. Now Elon Musk has described the “White, White, White” speech as racism. How does Yousaf respond. He says all the racists are frothing at the mouth, but he is indifferent. Everyone is a racist except me.

This is someone who is so sure of his victim status that he feels able to respond to an accusation of racism by declaring that everyone else is a racist. He feels untouchable.

Contrast this with the experience of ordinary British people who are accused by black people of being racist. If a black colleague reported you, would you say he was a frothing at the mouth racist? No, you would get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness.

What would you say if someone with 161,000,000 followers on Twitter called you a racist? If the whole world had seen, you speaking about black people with sneering disdain would you really have described them as frothing at the mouth racists?

This is now the most famous speech ever from the Scottish Parliament. It is the only speech most people will ever see, but Humza Yousaf is not able to find the beam in his own eye, he can only see the froth in someone else’s mouth.

There is no question that British Muslims experience prejudice both because of their race and religion. The same though to a lesser extent has historically been the case with Irish Catholics. But we are all human beings, and we are all equally capable of being prejudiced.

Many British Muslims choose to live in separate areas of cities like Bradford, many go on demonstrations calling for the destruction of Israel and express joy at the rape, murder and mutilation of Jewish people.

On each occasion since he became a politician that Israel has had a conflict with Palestinians Humza Yousaf always and immediately calls for a cease fire. It is always clear that he is on the side of the Palestinians. The same goes for large numbers of Celtic fans.

There is nothing wrong with expressing solidarity with Palestinians. But I would ask those on the demonstrations and the Celtic fans and Humza Yousaf. Did you once think of Israelis with prejudice in your heart?

This is the problem those who have been victims of racial and religious prejudice don’t think that they too can express racial or religious prejudice. This is why mobs feel free to be antisemitic on London’s streets and why Celtic fans feel free to display the flags of terrorists.

If my family had been trapped in Germany in 1939, I would have said some awful things in private about Germans and would have called them every name and swear word I could think of. Are we really to suppose that Humza Yousaf and family have no prejudice at all against Israelis? Perhaps he is a saint rather than a First Minister.

No Yousaf is a human being with the merits and also the flaw of all other human beings.

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

If someone has exposed your prejudice don’t accuse the whole world of being prejudiced except you. Instead do your best not to feel prejudice and not to express it, then you will be able to see more clearly not only what needs to be done in Scotland but elsewhere too.


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