Friday, 21 June 2019

Is Johnson racism accusion justified?

Earlier this week, there was a hoo-hah about the way in which the SNP’s Westminster leader called out Boris Johnson in the House of Commons for being dishonest and a racist.  Given Johnson’s history of lies and distortions, the ‘dishonest’ part is hard to argue with, but is he a racist?  By all accounts, his team when he was Mayor of London was very diverse, which suggests a degree of openness to other cultures and races which would be unusual for an out-and-out racist.  The accusation of racism was based on the words he has used in the past usually in his newspaper columns.  Those words certainly sound racist, but if there’s one thing we know for certain about Johnson it is that he doesn’t always (and perhaps even much less often than that) believe what he says and writes and that he is rarely consistent.  That is, after all, part of the basis on which the accusation of dishonesty is a fair one.
He certainly suffers from that casual sense of superiority which marks out people of his background and class, who ‘know’ they are better than others.  But it isn’t just brown people, black people, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh to which they feel superior, it is also the vast majority of those of their own race and nationality.  Johnson has never put it quite as bluntly as his mate Jacob, but I suspect that he basically agrees with Rees-Mogg’s suggestion that those of us educated in the state system – the overwhelming majority of the population – have the intellect of potted plants.  Such a belief in his own superiority might make a person unpleasant, and completely unsuitable for high office, but it doesn’t make him a racist.
I’m not convinced that Johnson is a racist as such; I think it’s far, far worse than that.  I believe that he is, rather, someone who is prepared to inflame and channel other people’s racism for his own ends, whether those be related to his ‘work’ as a columnist or his political ambitions.  I can’t believe that he doesn’t know or understand the appeal which his words might have for his target audience, and it’s not even a question of not caring about that – it’s the effect which he actively desires.  Not being a racist isn’t at all the same as not using other people’s racism to support his own ambitions.  Those who defend him by pointing to the diversity of his staff as Mayor are missing the point: what he thinks and does are irrelevant; what matters is what he wants a particular audience to think that he probably thinks.  Perhaps, just this once, words speak louder than actions.  In accusing him of racism, Ian Blackford is being far too soft on him.


Spirit of BME said...

A good post and much of which I find acceptable.
I believe the SNP remarks should have been ruled out of order ,as the hard fought for right of the Commons through the bloodshed of the English Civil war ,to hold the feet of the monarchist government to the fire ,was not designed to question what was or was not printed in a paper, but to question the business of her government.
The definition of “racist” has been very successfully changed into a code word for anything you might think is nasty. Those that talk against Islam have been called a racist in the mistaken belief that those of that religion are of one race. Many comments that are made about people, are indeed race related, but that does not make them racist.
Another “code word” is Nazi which I sure the Boy Johnson will be called as has Donald John, now one of the basic qualification of being a Nazi (it’s in the title) is hold a socialist believe ,I do not think Donald John is there yet ,but looking at his plan to spend millions of tax payer dollars on infrastructure – who knows.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, an interesting post.