Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Racist Thought

There is no subject on which people so quickly lose their heads and contradict themselves as race. People who vehemently deny the scientific validity of the concept defend with equal vehemence the necessity for positive discrimination in favour of certain races which, presumably, they are able to distinguish one from another. Anti-racists collect statistics about race with a celerity and obsessional intrusiveness that would have put the apartheid regime to shame. The opposite of a racist is not an anti-racist but someone who does not think in racial categories at all.

This is surprisingly difficult to do, however. All those who, for example, categorise Mr Obama as ‘the first black president of the United States’ think in racial categories; I suspect that they are in the great majority in the world. Here, for example, is a sentence from a recent editorial in the leftist French daily newspaper, Libération (liberation from what, incidentally?):

Will this young president, the first Black in the White House, take his place in History?

There is something distinctly odd – and revelatory – about this. Mr Obama, after all, is the son of a black father and a white mother; in other words, he is a half-caste, or of mixed race. There is no reason to suppose that ‘black’ genes have predominated over ‘white’ ones in his case. And yet, in the Libération editorial (which I take only as an example, there are millions of others) he is taken quite simply and unequivocally as being black.

Libération would, of course, be horrified at being thought racist, and yet its categorisation of Mr Obama as black would accord perfectly with that used by the crudest Texan redneck. The difference between them is not in the categories used, but in the value they ascribe to their categories: whereas black for the Texan redneck would be a term of hatred or opprobrium, for Libération it is a term of affection or praise. But either way, the mode of categorising and judging the world is racist.      

If Mr Obama’s race were unimportant or insignificant, why should the editorial, shorter than this article, have mentioned it? The newspaper might reply, I suppose, that it mentioned his race only to reflect the importance ascribed to it by its (predominantly left-wing) readership. But that is where we came in: it seems that it is not only Nature that returns if you pitch it out of the window, but racism also.

First published in the Salisbury Review.

Posted on 01/08/2013 5:56 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
8 Jan 2013
Arthur Lincoln

 I had not experienced the 'left's' concept of racist thought until I was employed as a training manager in a northern British city during the eighties. I was informed that I, as well as all the staff of the training centre, had to attend a course on 'Racial Awareness' training. I could not see any benefit to the training and while all the other staff attended I did not.

Some time later I was visited by a young, female sociology graduate who was employed in the organisation's Personnel Department. She explained that she was instrumental in organising the course and was conducting interviews with those who had refused to attend.

Her first question to me was why I had not attended. I answered her with what I thought was a very reasonable standpoint that, as the manager, I would not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever within the centre and all trainees, irrelevant of any personal trait, would be treated equally. I, therefore, would not have gained any benefit from attending.

Shocked by my 'old fashioned' attitude this young woman, who must have been less than half my age,  then continued to berate me and suggested I was, perhaps, the one who needed to attend above all others. The reason she gave for this assumption was those who were visibly different were already disadvantaged and therefore we Caucasions had to go the extra mile to ensure those different to us had the best possible chance of success.

Confused, I asked how I was expected to make any person more adept, academically or skilfully, than they were capable of. The answer I received was pure lunacy. For Black or Asian students that were struggling with any of our course content I would have to consider lowering the benchmark of standard attainment for them to ensure they came away with a 'pass'.   

I was amazed that any rational being could even consider that such behaviour could be tolerated. I informed her that the standards were set by an awarding body such as City & Guilds and it would be fraudulent to manipulate outcomes. She suggested then that we could always give extra marks for any module based on things like attitude, personality, presentation or difficulty with the English language that would increase the overall mark.

I then related to her an incident I had witnessed In Papua New Guinea where I had worked previously. A company adjacent to our workplace decided to have walls built around their stores area to combat the incidences of theft. I watched as the work progressed and couldn't understand why the rows of bricks were not running horizontal or plumb. The Papuan bricklayer was using a spirit level continuously and seemed to handle the trowel well. Intrigued I decided to walk over and have a general chat to the bricklayer and find out what was going wrong. As soon as I arrived I noticed there was no 'bubble' in the level.

I asked the young woman if she would have been prepared to pay for such work in the interests of inclusivity? I never did get a suitable response from her but I was forced to attend the course under threat of disciplinary action.  


8 Jan 2013
Send an emailBo

Associating racism with the "crude(st) Texan redneck' is kinda like associating pantywaistedness with English psychiatrists. Might be true, might not.  

Betcha never watched NASCAR, have ya? 

8 Jan 2013
Send an emailSue R

I had to laugh when I found out that there were slaves in Obama's family history: a white ancestor had married a black freed slave.  Not sure if it was on the mother's or father's side.

8 Jan 2013
Send an emailSamantha

99% of mulattoes identify as black since they look black, and there's a genetic reason for this.  The black phenotype is dominate.  As Steve Sailer has noted on his blog, people who are only 1/16th black will often look and identify as black.

See mulatto at:

9 Jan 2013
Send an emailAndrew J Chandler

 I am a traditional Christian Social Democrat, which I suppose places me on the Left of the political spectrum, but I agree with this, up to the point where you have a go at 'the Left' in general. Are you not also guilty of labelling and prejudice? Shouldn't you try to unite social conservatives across the spectrum, rather than alienating them? I agree with you about the false divisions of society into 'Racist' and 'Anti-Racist', 'Pro-Gay' and 'Anti-Gay'. I'm also a refugee from the strange liberal authoritarianism which seems to be developing in the Uk under this even stranger coalition.

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