Tuesday, July 01, 2008

James McGrath

I think Sunny Hundal and Chris Dillow have this wrong. Racists do tell people to go home, and they are being racist when they do so, but that does not mean that everyone who says "well, leave then" is being racist.

Chris argues that only certain groups (and the implication is, certain races) are ever told that they should leave:

"When Melanie Phillips bemoans Britain’s moral decay, no-one replies: “well go to Israel then”. And this would be a foul thing to say."

I can come up with another example: sensible lefties wouldn't tell Milton Friedman, in exasperated tones, to just move to Hong Kong.

Chris draws the implication that the divide is a racist one:

"In applying the meme so selectively, the impression is created that some people are less than full members of society - that their ties to the country are weak, and that they wouldn’t be missed if they left. This is certainly inegalitarian."

I don't think the divide is always based on race. Here are a couple of groups that I have definitely heard told "if you don't like it, just leave":

  1. The rich. I have definitely heard lefties say, when it is argued that businesses and the wealthy may move abroad in the face of higher taxes, that they should just leave. The Toynbee Tendency.
  2. Commies. Plenty of middle class, white Socialists were told "why don't you just move to Russia" by enthusiastic conservatives.
It isn't a divide based on race but whether the person's complaint is felt to be legitimate. While - as Chris Dillow says - a politician should want to appeal to all their constituents sometimes someone just seems a little too unreasonable. Now, applying that to entire races and writing them off as you have no interest in reconciling them with your country and beliefs could be described as racist but McGrath definitely isn't doing that. See the context:

"McGrath was far from politically correct, David-Cameron-new-cuddly-Conservative Party, when I pointed out to him a critical comment of Voice columnist Darcus Howe that the election of “Boris Johnson, a right-wing Conservative, might just trigger off a mass exodus of older Caribbean migrants back to our homelands”.

He retorted: “Well, let them go if they don’t like it here.” McGrath dismissed influential race commentator Howe as ‘shrill’."

He isn't writing off any actual ethnic group at all. The people he has no desire to appeal to aren't actual Carribean migrants but the hypothetical group summoned up by Darcus Howe who can no longer stand to live in London for no reason other than the election of a right-wing Conservative. It isn't him who has conjured up the idea that non-whites and right-wingers just can't get along but Howe.

McGrath isn't writing off ethnic minorities - he's simply exasperated by Darcus Howe's suggestion that ethnic minorities write off right-wingers. He isn't a racist, wasn't saying anything racist and shouldn't have been fired.

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