It seems almost every week, there is a new racism row; so much for the multicultural Britain. The recent racism row is courtesy of Rod Liddle, the journalist and magazine columnist. A very short but explosive blog by Liddle on the Spectator Magazine website has drawn a lot of criticism from MPs and anti-racism campaigners.
Liddle, referring to the recent criminal trial where two teenage rappers tried to murder a pregnant 15-year-old by throwing her in the canal, suggested that African Caribbean men are responsible for the "overwhelming majority" of violent crime in London.
"The overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community.
"Of course, in return, we have rap music, goat curry and a far more vibrant and diverse understanding of cultures which were once alien to us. For which, many thanks."
His comments have not gone unnoticed. Diane Abbot, the MP for Hackney North, said:
"It is obviously statistically false to say that the 'overwhelming majority' of the crimes listed by Rod are committed by young black men...We have all got so used to Rod Liddle's low-level racism that it has lost the power to shock."
Operation Black Vote’s (OBV) director Simon Woolley condemned his latest comments, saying:
“Rod Liddle abandoned rigour for bigotry a long time ago. In recent months he has become more emboldened about expressing his racism. That Rod Liddle is a racist is in no doubt. The real crime is that he is published by The Spectator.”
Bonnie Greer, the playwright who you may remember as she recently appeared on Question Time to oppose the BNP leader Nick Griffin, said that she understands why the comments can be interpreted as racist and went on to add:
"My response would be to say that the overwhelming majority of paedophiles, murderers, warmongers and football hooligans are white males and all we got in return was beans on toast and Top Gear."
Even one of the Liddle’s colleagues at Spectator magazine, Alex Massie, openly criticised him for his repulsive blog and said that he had considered resigning.
However, if you thought that such filth by Liddle would get an all round condemnation, you are in for a shock. The editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson, said the magazine
"Stands up for the right to offend; our blogs often say things that people find offensive but that's part of our right of free expression...Rod is one of the greatest writers in Britain today. His column and blog are loved by readers. It's a significant part of my job as editor to defend people's right to be offensive."
It’s all well claiming freedom of expression but such freedom come with responsibility. There is a thin line between freedom of expression and offence. In circumstances, where such an offence relates to race, it is racism. I think that Liddle has clearly crossed that line.
The defence by Spectator editor Nelson, that Liddle’s column and blog are loved by readers is no defence. As Mohandas Gandhi once said, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth”. The truth or what is right is not determined by the majority. After all, the majority had supported Hitler once.
My repulsion at Liddle’s blog is on many grounds:
1. His statement is clearly statistically false as per Diane Abbot’s response. This is also backed up by various other sources such as Martin Bentham
, Home Affairs Editor at the Evening Standard who said that the figure does not tell the whole story and by Ed West
at the Telegraph who admitted that the statement by Liddle is slightly exaggerated.
I am repulsed that Liddle would condemn the black race with exaggerated information that does not tell the whole story.
2. Liddle also appears to have very selective thought process. For he was willing to point out the crimes that are committed by black men but failed to mention other crimes that are committed by white men.
Per Bonnie Greer, the overwhelming majority of paedophiles, murderers, warmongers and football hooligans are white males. Are these not crimes? Are these crimes not serious enough? Why therefore did Liddle focus purely on the crimes that he alleges are committed overwhelmingly by black men, even when he had to exaggerate the figures to fit his views?
3. Having established that the figures are exaggerated above, Liddle made no effort whatsoever to explain the issues behind the figures such as the fact that there were nearly eight times
more stops and searches of Black people per head of population than of White people according to the Ministry of Justice.
It does not take a genius leap of logic to understand that the disproportionate stop and search rate in the black community would result in an increase in the number of black offenders caught. Perhaps, if white community were targeted at the same rate as the black community for stop and search, the crime figures would significantly change.
4. Liddle also made no attempt to explore the proven fact that poverty, unemployment are key triggers of crime in any community. When you have young men and women unable to find jobs, unable to feed their families, they are likely to result to crime. This fact is irrespective of race.
This has been so well explained by Operation Black Vote:
“Yet Liddle’s outrageous implication – that there is something in the DNA of African-Caribbean’s that predisposes them to crime – is starkly different from the debate about (for example) gun and knife crime in predominately white working class Glasgow estates. That debate is framed around lack of opportunities and values”.
5. Liddle’s views are an extension of the negative portrayals of blacks in the UK especially in relation to crime.
There is an overwhelming effort by the media to spell out crimes committed by blacks – it feels like a dart is being thrown at the black community each time a crime is committed by someone black.
An example is of course the term ‘black on black crime’. To my knowledge, this term is only applied to the black community. This issue about how the media portrays the black community with regards to the crime is only black specific. It does not apply (to my knowledge) to any other minorities in the UK.
I think that we can all accept that the vast majority of crime committed in the UK, are committed by white people against white people. When such a crime happens, it is not called ‘white on white crime’. When an Asian kills another Asian, it is not known as ‘Asian on Asian crime’. There is no ‘Jew on Jew crime’ or ‘Muslim on Muslim crime’. So why on earth is there a term ‘black on black crime’ to describe the crimes committed by blacks against blacks?
But I digress and maybe, I will explore this further in another article. My point however, is that Liddle selection of crimes allegedly committed by black is an extension of the negative portrayals of blacks in the media.
6. Finally, although, I can continue to state my never ending repulsion at Liddle; his comment about black people’s contribution to the UK being goat curry and rap music was said with the intent to make it distinctly clear to anyone reading his blog that it was racist. If you were in doubt before whether his blog was intended to be racist, this comment leaves no room to doubt.
Tell us what you think. Is Liddle racist or just exercising his right to freedom of expression? Do you agree with Liddle?
Labels: Black Community, Crime, Rod Liddle