He was a man with a chip on his shoulder. Everyone seemed in a conspiracy to slight or injure him.’
There is nothing new about people having chips on their shoulders. It’s a human condition described so well by Somerset Maugham in his 1930s travelogue The Gentleman in the Parlour.
Who would have thought that what once was viewed as a not very admirable attitude would converge into a politics of complaint and feed what in modern parlance is known as identity politics? Grievance has been institutionalised. Whether it is to do with race, ethnicity or gender, ‘unfairness’ – injustice and discrimination – is now proved by numbers. Under- or over-representation in any way or in respect of any matter is a ground for complaint. ‘Disproportionality’ is a subliminal negative prejudice of which we are now all guilty.
Call out the purveyors of the politics of negativity, dare question the validity of the complaint and you risk turning yourself into a social outcast. Last week Donald Trump voiced his objection to Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who refused to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner in protest at the ‘over-representation’ of shootings of black people by white police officers, did that and confirmed his pariah status.
Breaking all the rules, he ignored the complaint and the colour of the complainant and said the behaviour was disrespectful. It was.
He then demanded the NFL be boycotted if it did not fire players who disrespected the American flag. But America’s self-confident and disproportionately represented (at 85 per cent black to 15 per cent white) football players were having none of it, and to fanfare staged their biggest ant-racism protest yet, here at London’s Wembley Stadium.
This episode bears all the hallmarks of ‘if you are not with us, you are against us’ grievance politics: a flawed premise, reliance on contentious evidence, endorsement of virtue-signalling celebrity backers and a mainstream media response that fails to interrogate the data or question the prior justification for the complaint.
It is received wisdom now that the police, whether consciously or subconsciously, are targeting young black men, and in the US killing them at a disproportionate rate; it is accepted as fact that young black men are unfairly ‘over-represented’ in prison over here; likewise that ethnic minorities are under-represented in the elite occupations. None of this can be disputed. Neither President Obama nor Mrs May have done. Mrs May has even promised an audit into racial disparities in the public services. According to social policy commentator Munira Mirza we are being prepared for the worst. Or you could say she (Mrs May) is orchestrating a race storm.
No corner of society is safe – racial injustice is understood to be perpetuated everywhere. Private banks as well as public institutions live in fear of the diversity police – they even encourage informing – to keep on the right side of the law.
The BBC confirms the injustice on a daily basis. That 85 per cent of press journalists are white and have university degrees now requires investigating. Common sense flies out of the window. Wouldn’t we expect most journalists to have degrees? And 86 per cent of the population is, well, white . . .
Hollywood, too, is said to be guilty of ‘whitewashing’ – of casting white actors to play black parts while ethnic minorities just play stereotyped racial roles. Sunday Morning Live devoted a significant section of a programme to this without questioning the premise.
But what if these are not matters of fact? What if race actually has little causal effect on police shootings? What if there is no whitewashing in Hollywood; what if black men are treated fairly in our criminal justice system? Far from black and ethnic minority individuals facing bias, as Labour MP David Lammy claims, his stats show that jury conviction rates are actually similar.
Black Lives Matter activists proclaim that we are living through an epidemic of racially-driven police shootings of black men, a message that has been relentlessly amplified through the media, as Heather Mac Donald explains here.
But at least four studies show that if there is a bias in police shootings, it is in favour of blacks.
However false the Black Lives Matter narrative is, no matter. No matter its lethal consequences, as police officers back off while dangerous levels of hostility are directed at them in inner city areas. The mainstream media continues to buy into the myth.
Our journalists are equally gullible. A few weeks ago Janice Turner took up the Hollywood whitewashing complaint in The Times. Box office hits are not just for white men, she parroted. If Hollywood doesn’t cast more black and Asian characters then every leading role will be played by Matt Damon.
Really so? A pretty baseless article, you might say, but it does its damage.
There are countless films with black leads nor do they all play slaves! And if Turner wants to see more Oriental actors in leading roles, how about she goes to China? For she can’t have noticed all those (over-represented?) high-profile film directors like James Wan – THE CONJURING, Justin Lin – FAST AND FURIOUS, Cary Fukunaga – TRUE DETECTIVE, Ang Lee – LIFE OF PI
M Night Shyamalan – THE SIXTH SENSE and Tarsem – THE CELL, all at the helm of Hollywood blockbusters.
These are directors who are free to choose what stories they want to tell, and what actors they want to cast. Does she think that these Asian-American directors should have always to cast Asian actors or tell Asian stories? Wouldn’t that be stereotyping them?
Instead of, from a creative point of view, letting them cast the best people for the roles, would she rather they engage in affirmative action and risk making a worse film in the process?
That is the ludicrous logic of chip-on-the-shoulder politics. As freedom and creativity are sacrificed for spurious quotas, the idea that there is a conspiracy to injure minority groups is confirmed.