You're out at a bar having a good time with your friends. It's one of those nights where everyone is loosening up, riffing off one anothers' gags and getting laughs and it's looking likely to be one of those surprise nights where you end up staying out and having an absolute blast, cabbing it home at four in the morning, listening to the birds tweeting above the ringing in your ears as you try to go to sleep. We've all had nights like that, right?
You've been sitting outside in the beer garden, but now it's getting a bit chilly so you all duck inside and grab a table. You sit down, get a round in and the laughs kind of subside a bit. One of your number, new to the group, isn't really joining in as much now. His eyes keep darting around as he nervously sips his pint. Someone asks, "Are you alright, mate?"
"Umm, yeah," he says, "it's just...there are too many brown and black people here. And have you heard the accent on that table of white people over there? Polish or something. It ruins it, doesn't it? It's alright, the bouncer won't let too many more in."
That guy wouldn't be invited out any more, huh? It wouldn't be unfair to say that he was being a little bit racist, would it? It's kind of the very definition of racism, complaining about the number of brown people and foreigners.
The Daily Mail want you to belive that it isn't. If you were to call your new acquaintance out for saying something racist, that would apparently make you sanctimonious. Complaining about people's presence based on their race is apparently not racist. Kind of makes you wonder what would count as racist in the Mail.
Here's what I'm farting on about. Today, the Mail has sailed into the same waters as the Express did last month, with its 'One in 5 Britons will be ethnics' headline. It's a teensy bit more subtle, what with not being on the front page, not using BNP style pejorative language and not being based on possible projections - but saying you're more subtle than the Express is like saying you smell less than poo.
'Revealed: The UK maternity units in which only 1 in 10 mothers is of white British origin' is the headline. It tells the shocking story of how some areas of London have around 10% of new mothers ticking the 'white British' box for their ethnic origin.
A version of the story appeared on the website last night and disappeared very quickly, which I thought meant someone at the Mail had seen the thing and had a panic. A while back, it implied that people whose parents were immigrants are immigrants themselves, despite not having migrated from anywhere. That implication was cut after Sunder Katwala wrote to the paper, objecting.
Turns out I was right this time, but for the wrong reasons. The story was taken down because it apparently needed a little more urgency injected.
Originally, it opened:
New statistics taken from NHS records of women who have just given birth show that white Britons now account for an average of just six in ten of those receiving maternity care.That detail is now buried halfway into the article. The page title also mentions only suburban areas where 'barely half' the mothers are white British, so we've had the focus shifted to the areas with the lowest numbers of white British mothers, which are all apparently in London but are described as 'UK maternity units' and 'some parts of the country', just to make you that little bit more scared. Of babies.
There's also a sneaky litle reference to North West London covering Harrow to blast on that dog whistle for people following the Halal meat nonsense of last week.
This information isn't in the public domain, so it's impossible at the moment to witness the extent to which it has been cherrypicked, but that doesn't really matter, does it? The article is pretty clearly making an issue of the number of non-white people having babies and alarming us with it.
The rest of the work is done by the editorial, 'It's time to show some bottle on spending cuts, Mr Cameron', which says:
Our demography is changing with breakneck speed, and it is not - as many sanctimonious voices still maintain - racist to question whether this a good thing.I'm afraid this is wrong, for a couple of reasons.
The editorial's description of what the Mail is doing is a little bit of a soft soap, but you'd expect that. It is not 'questioning whether' our 'changing demography' is a good thing. Mothers' race and birth country are only a couple of aspects of 'demography'. Age, gender, education, income and life expectancy are others, but the paper hasn't mentioned them. What the paper is doing questioning whether a high number of ethnic minorities or people whose mother was born overseas is a good thing.
And it is concluding, purely on the race or nationality of people's mothers, that it is a bad thing. No other data. Race or nationality of mother.
Here's how it follows up that lame 'I'll pre-empt you calling me out for saying something racist by calling you a name for soing so' defence:
A generation from now, the prospect is of an urban Britain dominated by ethnic minorities, surrounded by predominantly white British shires.Yes, dominated by ethnic minorities. Like one of those low budget 80s films with 'Bronx' in the title.
Laughably, after a ridiculous allusion to the secret plot that never was, the piece attempts to make us believe it's balanced with:
Whether you are alarmed or relaxed about what could be the most profound change to the British way of life in recent history, this was a scandalous affront to democracy.Hey, you might want to be relaxed about this most profound change to the British way of life, where urban Britain is dominated by ethnic minorities, but it's still a scandalous affront to democracy. What? What do you mean we're not balanced?
Tell you what, I'd rather be called sanctimonious than be called out for saying something racist. Which is what the Mail just did, subtly or not.
It's been churned by the Express and the Star, which is a bit more openly racist with its dropping of 'British' from the headline and cute picture of a black baby covering its ears.
Anton Vowl and Minority Thought have already covered this today, so head on over there for more. You can hardly blame me for not leaving this one alone though, huh?