Tag Archives: tolerance

Racism

This is a difficult post to write. As someone born and raised in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, I have, for as long as I can remember, had (and still have) a deep love for the culture and traditions of these islands.

Britain has been instrumental in assisting in the spread of parliamentary democracy across the globe. And Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dickens are literary figures known and celebrated throughout the world.

The area in which I live is composed of groups from all over the world. Friendships (and love) exist across the artificial barriers of race which is, of course as it should be for love and friendship should not be dependent on skin colour, religious affiliation (or the lack thereof), or any other artificial barrier.

Yesterday evening I popped into a pub with the intention of enjoying a few pints and perhaps catching up with a few of the regulars there. I was engaged in a pleasant conversation with a customer when another drinker said to the young man behind the bar “you don’t belong here”. It was an ugly thing to say, as the gentleman serving behind the bar is of asian heritage. He was, however born and grew up in London and is as British as I (a white man) am.

I don’t usually embroil myself in other people’s business. However I did say that what had been said was wholly unacceptable and that the young man behind the bar did belong here/was British.

I have, of course come across the expression of racist opinions previously. However these have been in the form of diatribes and/or rather more veiled comments regarding people who are not white. This was, however, the first time I had seen racism directed at an individual human being and it upset me.

The target of the abuse is, I believe 19, while the abuser is considerably older. Other than the racial element (which is shocking in the extreme), I felt that the man uttering the racist comments felt emboldened by the youth of the barman. I don’t believe that he would have aimed such abuse at a non-white person of his own (or similar) age.

After the incident, the young man behind the bar thanked me for my intervention. All I could say in response, was that I was upset by what the customer had said, but obviously not as upset as he (the barman) must have been.

The London School of Economics has a good article about the spike in “hate crime” following the referendum to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2018/03/19/hate-crime-did-spike-after-the-referendum-even-allowing-for-other-factors/.

Of course many people who voted in favour of leaving the EU are not racists (and members of the non-white communities did, themselves vote in different ways, some for leaving the EU and others in favour of remaining). It should also be pointed out that there are undoubtedly amongst those who voted for remain, people who harbour racist opinions. However one can not ignore the spike in crimes of hate following the Brexit Referendum, or say that racism did not play a part in explaining why some Leavers voted to leave the EU.

I do believe in immigration controls. This is a small island and one can not ignore the adverse impact that uncontrolled immigration would have on the country. However immigration controls should not be based on race, but should be predicated on the needs of the economy, and bringing families together (where relatives are already legally present in the UK). In short, racism is an ugly cancer which has no place in a decent, tolerant society which is, at bottom what Britain is.

Can I Pray for You?

“Excuse me, can I pray for you?”

“Yeah, do what you like”!

There I was, on my way home earlier this evening, when a random stranger accosted me (and I responded), in the manner set-out above.

Some may interpret my reply as brusque, perhaps even rude. However I am blind and a guide dog user and my gut instinct screamed “this man is a religious zealot who believes that by praying for me he will, with god’s assistance, help me in regaining my eyesight”.

I don’t have a problem with religion. If religious belief gives a person a sense of wellbeing and (hopefully) makes them live a good life, then I am all in favour of religion.

I also believe that if religion helps believers to cope with the death of a loved one (due to their belief that the person who has passed away has gone to a better place), then I have no right to disabuse them of that conception, as to do so would be cruel.

Furthermore, as a child/teenager, I derived tremendous pleasure from the traditions associated with religion, including the singing of hymns and the sense of peace I gained from being in the school chapel.

I would describe myself as an agnostic (rather than an atheist), so have no anti-religion axe to grind.

No, what I object to is people (religious or otherwise) ramming their ideas down the throats of others.

Indeed I have experienced equal annoyance when being brow beaten by atheists who insist in disparaging people of religious belief.

If you don’t like religion you are, of course perfectly entitled to your point of view, but please don’t corner me in the pub and ram your dogma (which is equally as unpleasant as that of the religious zealot) down my throat as, quite frankly I wish to enjoy a quiet pint without being lectured by a saloon bar bore.

The above should not be taken as indicating an unwillingness on my part to engage in friendly debate on religion or, indeed any other subject. I enjoy discussion with open minded individuals.

What I object to is having a particular view rammed down my throat by those who are not prepared to listen to counter arguments.

I defend the right of people to hold inflexible views on religion or any other topic. However I also stand up for my absolute right not to be asailed by zealots, religious or otherwise.

The Face Of Bigotry

This morning I popped into my local Whetherspoons pub for breakfast. As I sat tucking into my fry up the words of a fellow customer reached me.

“I don’t go into Croydon because of the blacks”.

The man then proceeded to regail his fellow patrons with his views on race relations which where reminiscent of those expounded by the late Enoch Powell in his “Rivers Of Blood” speech delivered on 20 April 1968, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3643823/Enoch-Powells-Rivers-of-Blood-speech.html. The speech derived it’s title from Powell’s statement

“As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like

the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

I am white and my first girlfriend was of West Indian origin but born in the UK which makes her as British as I am. It is not the colour of a person’s skin but what lies within which renders them human. The colour of one’s skin is a mere accident of birth and to imply (as my fellow pub goer did) that an entire section of the population ought to be avoided due to the colour of their skin is monstrous. I was sorely tempted to walk across and express my displeasure to the speaker, however this would have served no purpose other than making me feel better and could have resulted in a blazing argument. Such an argument would have benefited no one so I held my tongue.

One of the strengths of the area in which I live is that people of many races live together in harmony. People are just that, people. Skin colour is surface deep, it is the heart which beats within that matters.