Wisdom and Stupidity

This is a guest post by amie

I am a fan of Simon Barnes’ sports writing even though I am not a sports fan. In yesterday’s Times, he said one very wise thing and one very stupid thing in the same column.

Thing one:

He points out that Saudi Arabia has become the very last nation of all to include women in its Olympic team, after its Olympic team “operated a policy across the years every bit as restrictive as apartheid.”

“The time-lag really does seem extraordinary- as if women’s rights are 20 years less urgent than the rights of black people.” .. There is, I think, a worldwide feeling that oppressing people on the grounds of gender is somehow less heinous than oppressing them on the grounds of race.”

Thing two:

Re Ferdinand’s endorsement of the tweet about Cole:

“To call someone a choc ice is not a racial slur. It doesn’t attack a person because of his colour. It is an attack on his views, by extension his behaviour. It’s like calling a member of the BNP a white supremacist. I don’t object to his whiteness, just to his assumption that white people matter more than black people. If you call an Indian a brown Sahib, you are not criticising his browness but his assumption of un-Indian values. The tweeter…and Ferdinand, were not insulting Cole’s race. They were insulting Cole’s personality. Which is quite a different matter.”

No. You are saying that Cole is traitor to his race by siding with the white enemy rather than his inherent tribal allegiance to Cole which should override any sense of objective justice. To me, that’s nothing to do with personality. Its racist. The BNP analogy is wildly off the mark.

I went to a diversity training seminar for lawyers recently. The case study was, should a prison warder be sacked if he is a member of the BNP, given that most of the inmates were black and felt intimidated by his membership, even if he did not act in any overtly discriminatory way to them. A black woman barrister in the group strongly argued that, as long as the BNP is not illegal, the decision was wrong. A white male barrister then had a Miriam Margolyes moment.

“You are wonderful!” he marvelled. “I hate the BNP, yet you can argue for them, even though you are black!”

What this sounded like was a kind of inverse choc ice, but equally racist: “Lets praise this black person who, unusually, is able to act contrary to her nature and be objective in considering the legal position”.

Anyway, I go along with the first Thing, and hence I am planning, if things work out, to go to this tomorrow:


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