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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
Nicholas, thanks for posting this link.

Mili, thanks for the eloquent post, and apologies for the sentiments of the trolls in the comments.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Jeepers, 558 comments?!?!?!?
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
Yowza. I'm convinced that CiF is mostly read by Mail readers (and that the Mail's equivalent is mostly read by Guardianistas).

On a completely different note, I hadn't realised that you were a Bath graduate (I lived on campus at Bath - my partner was a resident tutor - while working in Southampton).
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
ias was a resident tutor in Eastwood from 1998ish until 2001ish, then senior resident tutor for the on-campus residences (we lived in Westwood) until October 2005. I probably knew the majority of the on-campus RTs in that period.

So yes, there's a very good chance that we have common acquaintances.
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
Since the comment thread on your own blog is already so long, I'll stick my thoughts here.

I live in the Cotswolds - what the education inspectorate calls 'an area of remarkably little cultural diversity' - and what my teenage sons call 'Land of Casual Country Racism'.

Mind you, we now have a Polish deli in the town and one will hear a range of languages spoken in the queue in the Post Office. And yes, alas, elderly people will look narrowly at them with vague Daily Mail-fuelled mistrust.

But those people are living in the past. My teenage sons cannot understand why this is even a news story - because "she is a bigot. All he did was say so and anyway, he was in a car..."

Given the breakfast table conversation today, I'm confident that any of their contemporaries at school, tempted to parrot whatever parental bias they've been hearing at home, will be put right by the youthful majority who know such racism for the outdated stupidity that it is.

Which isn't to say I don't fully understand your reactions, up to and including tears - after growing up in England in the 70s and 80s with an (absent) Irish father and surname...
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
What we know about Mrs. Duffy is that she is a council tenant; her late husband was a painter and decorator; she worked with disabled children - since we are not told she was a teacher/nurse/social worker this means that she was probably a care assistant - very low pay, low status, not much job security either. Given her age it is likely that she left school at 15 having failed the 11+ and attended a secondary modern school.

Firstly, just because immigration is good for the economy as a whole does not mean that people at the bottom of the pile have no reason to fear that they might lose out. Put simply, if you are a home-owner the words Polish plumber are made of win, but if you are a council tenant and English plumber they are not. The fact that Mrs. Duffy finds immigration threatening and I do not is because of our class locations, not because I am morally superior.

Secondly, if people express ill-informed opinions you answer them by giving better information and challenging their perspective, not by attacking their character. Forgive her for not being smarter than the right-wing media who are trying to manipulate people like her.

That is why people who are lucky enough to be, for example, graduates, earning enough to pay the higher tax rate, and/or home owners, should not be calling Mrs. Duffy a bigot. And politicians certainly shouldn't be doing it.
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
I don't think you know Rochdale.
Apr. 30th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
No, I don't know Rochdale, although I did do community work on Belfast's Shankill Road for a year. Boy oh boy.
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
Gosh, I don't often get to disagree vehemently with artw on a matter of politics. :-)

In a *private* conversation, of course, engagement is the only constructive response to ill-informed opinions, no matter how offensive. Mr. Brown quite rightly (for once) tried to give her better information and challenge her perspective - whereupon she lost interest and walked away. Meanwhile, her animosity towards Eastern Europeans is obvious, and irrational. Obstinate & irrational animosity = bigotry. It doesn't make her a bad person, but "bigoted" is precisely what she is.

Mr. Brown's private comment was both fair and accurate; needless to add, he had no intention of calling her a bigot *in public*. He would, of course, have done far better to make a big speech about how much we owe to immigrants as a nation, and how genuinely baseless her fears are, but apparently in this election that's not his job. Obama he most certainly isn't.

I see that I'm a lot more privileged than Mrs Duffy, although I'm not any of those things you mentioned - but whatever her background, whatever excuses she may have, racism is racism is racism. I can forgive her for being ignorant. I can forgive her for being bigoted. I can totally forgive her for not being smarter than the media who are trying to manipulate her. But I reserve the right to be angry - and to shout "bigot!" - when she or anyone publicly demonises my wife.
Apr. 30th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
Yes, good answer. Clearly I've been reading too much Rowan Williams.
Apr. 30th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot

Why Rowan Williams? I still haven't read any.
Apr. 30th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
Re: but you still shouldn't call her a bigot
Not so much any specific thing he's written, more his general 'mud thrown is ground lost' approach. Which is a good thing. I was very struck by my father-in-law's book on Northern Ireland which seemed to me to answer various political extremists by explaining courteously and dispassionately why they were mistaken. But in Williams' case I feel he has repeatedly taken politeness too far, tolerating attacks on other people's rights.
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
What nmg said - thanks for the link, and thanks to elmyra for such an eloquent, timely and moving piece. I was simply staggered to see apparently liberal, left-leaning journalists castigate Brown for his reaction to Duffy's "perfectly reasonable" comments.
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