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Inventing racism where none exists

David Green, 8 October 2004

Ethnic minorities suffer from ‘passive apartheid’ in rural Britain, according to Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. Speaking on the Today programme, he pointed out that in the South West region of England ethnic minorities were found in the ratio ‘one in 85’, whereas in the UK as a whole the ratio was ‘one in 11 or 12’. John Humphrys put it to him that immigrants go to the cities because that is where the jobs are. Phillips strongly denied this and claimed it was due to hostility.
But, the only proof of this hostility was that, when you go in a local village shop, the shopkeeper tends to be a bit suspicious. Humphrys pointed out that people were suspicious of him when he went back to Wales, the land of his birth. In other words, they were not hostile so much as wary of strangers. But that did not satisfy Phillips, who was intent on inventing racism where none exists.
His underlying assumption is that any disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities must be the result of discrimination (passive apartheid). But there are many reasons for disparities in racial representation that have nothing to do with discrimination. Some of some are described in Liberal Anti-Racism, published in Prospect Magazine.
The original reason for establishing the Commission for Racial Equality was to improve racial harmony. But, this most recent of the periodic outbursts from the CRE, will have the opposite effect. Perhaps the time has come to abolish it.

1 comment on “Inventing racism where none exists”

  1. I very much agree with these comments. Racism is undoubtedly a problem, in Britain as elsewhere, but there has been huge progress in eroding it bit by bit in recent years. However further progress is now threatened by the zealots of the anti-racism industry who see racists under every bed, as Joe McCarthy used to see reds hiding there. The greatest folly has been the invention of “unconscious racism” and “institutional racism”, according to which people and groups who aren’t in the least racist in their words or behaviour are accused of being racist deep down without realising it. This has the authentic whiff of the Salem witchcraft trials, and needs to be resisted, although we have reached the point where it requires a degree of courage to confront the witch-hunters and risk being accused of racism yourself! (Not sure about abolishing the CRE, though, if only because of the wrong signal that would send.)
    Keep up the good work.

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