Rant Number 493 12 June 2012
‘I have been a victim of racism!’ I studied the Englishman’s peevish face. Bland, flabby, unmistakeably white-pink. ‘Where?’ I inquired. ‘In Wales!’ ‘Pay-back for Edward I’s hammering, was it?’ I grinned. It got me a dirty look...
Still, racism is no joke. Most recipients in Britain are not white but black or brown-skinned. Legalities apart, I see aesthetics, theology and ethics bearing upon the matter. Here it goes:
Aesthetics. ‘Unbearable whiteness of being’. Something a famous actress remarked about the inhabitants of English counties like Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. Few minority faces meet you there. Whiteness (an absurd word: English natives if anything are pink, not white) rules. I thought the thespian guilty of colour-phobia but no longer. Call it a bias: I am happier when I see black faces around me. Black people in my street usually smile at me, whites look morose, divert their eyes or frown, even scowl. Black faces strike me as generally friendlier, more amiable and open than white ones. Like South Africa’s jolly President Jacob Zuma’s. I’d swap him for posho Dave Cameron’s smarmy visage or atheist Milliband’s cross-eyed, glum countenance any time.
All-whiteness is aesthetically boring, like an all-white canvass. It really irks me to watch 40’s or 50’s British movies like Passport to Pimlico. Not a single black or brown face in sight. How much improved is the England of today. Whiteness is less unbearable. The number of mixed-race couples increases by the day, in London at least. Miscegenated babies and kids will deliver the country from the nightmare of that depressing paleness, as hideous as the whiteness of the white whale in Melville’s Moby Dick. Alhamdullilah!
Theology. In the Acts of the Apostles the Holy Spirit is poured upon all kinds of races and nations (Acts 2:8-10). Bit of a rainbow crowd, surely. Still in Acts Philip the Deacon baptises an Ethiopian eunuch. Black Ethiopia of course is a famous Christian kingdom. It is mere hap that Christianity and white Europe became synonymous. There were Christians of all hues in Africa, Persia, India and China – there still are and the Faith grows apace every day there, whilst in Europe whiteys go increasingly whoring after strange gods. It says a lot...
The bottom line: Christianity is a universal religion. Racism is theological gobbledygook. No coincidence that race theory after the fashion of loony Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg and his ilk had to fall back on the German pagan cult of Wotan. But, unlike Wotan, Jesus Christ died for all. Baptism makes no racial distinctions so...there’s an end of it.
Ethics. You may think this is easy – doesn’t morality entail equality? – I wonder...Could there be a radically diverse ethical concept? The India of the Aryans, for example, was divided into four major castes. The Brahmins, the priests were at the top, then came the warriors, the kshatriyas, then the merchants, shopkeepers and traders, the vayshias. Last came the humble sudras, the servants. (Worst off of all were the pariahs – they had no caste.) Each caste had its own place in society, its occupation and its mode of being. Crossing the caste barrier was impossible. It entailed pollution and caused social and moral opprobrium.
The Sanskrit name for a caste is varna, which means colour. The castes, some claim, went hand in hand with racial distinctions, nay, exclusion. The paler your complexion, the higher the caste. Hence the ethics of the caste system, by which millions of people abided and from which their lives drew meaning and purpose, was intrinsically racial.
Well, modern India has repudiated the caste system. Gandhi, the noble Mahatma, campaigned against it. Believers in the Kali-Yuga say it will come around again but that’s mythology, not reality. Caste ethics is over.
‘Because of Communist rule, Eastern Europe is behind us’ an imbecile said on the wireless. Reference: the abusing chants by football ruffians. Now, the priest cares not a jot about football - ‘a sport for gentlemen played by hooligans’, they called it – but the problem is real. I wonder if the idiot even glimpsed the paradox – how could a putatively egalitarian and brotherly system based on Marxist-Leninist philosophy have generated such reactionary human types? Surely years of pervasive state Communist education should have removed the roots of prejudice, no? But it does not follow. Whiteys’ atavistic hatred trumps even Marx and Lenin. Already in the 60’s African students at Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University were attacked in the streets when they approached Russian girls.
Karl Marx himself was a racist, by any standards. His anti-Semitic tirades in The Jewish Question would have delighted Jew-baiters like Goebbels and Streicher. The road to the gas chambers surely went through that, too. Moreover, in their pamphlet on the 1848 revolution, the two ponderous German intellectuals Marx and Engels pour scorn at the Slavs’ aspiration for national independence. ‘Backward people, destined to succumb before the superior, advanced German race’, these progressive thinkers piously teach about the Slavs. Germans are a higher lot, Slavs must serve. Engels even denies to the Slavs their own language. And in the Communist Manifesto, with more than a whiff of class hatred, the agricultural way of life is dismissed as ‘idiocy’. No wonder Stalin exterminated the kulaks, the peasants, by the millions. All back to those two despicably prejudiced founding fathers, Marx and Engels. Again, it figures.
Today racism is universally execrated. It would take guts – of a vile variety but still guts – to avow: ‘I am a racist’. Most Brits are subtler. Skin colour prejudice is out. Xenophobia is safer. Does your way of life differ much for those around you? Do you do un-English things? Are you too clever by a half and you glory in it? That shows you are different, an outsider, an alien, you don’t belong...
Solution? There isn’t one. Unless...unless the former masters were made to drink the cup of humiliation. Made to bear the unbearable, to feel the ontological pain of difference...Made to feel like sudras, like outcasts, like pariahs...
That might just do it.
Revd Frank Julian Gelli