The Guardian on Race -- Thinking Inside the Box

Connoisseurs of cliché will find much to relish in the works of Guardian journalist Joseph Harker.

It is fair to say that our Joseph is interested in race. Of the last 50 or so articles that he has written for the Guardian, around 48 (I fell asleep counting) are about race. And I would not be at all surprised to find fleeting references to race within the texts of the other articles.

His countless contributions to 'debate' include classics like "A voice for minorities" (bet no-one's thought of that before), "Labour has not eliminated racism" (just as well really, or Joe would need to find another topic), "What an all-black Cabinet could look like" (to be fair, it couldn't be worse that the one we have), and "The ordinary brilliance of black youths" (maybe they should be fast-tracked into the Cabinet).

He is also in a pother about the "whitewashing" of Mothers' Day, the non-diverse media, Trevor Phillips's problems, the "n-word," and even anti-racists (he is offended seeing white people arguing about "how offended they are by a bigot with hardly a black or Asian voice to be heard").

His latest effusion, "Official; it's fine for racists to teach," was unleashed upon an agog world on the 13th of this month. He starts by referring to BNP leader Nick Griffin's "top-table seat on the BBC's Question Time," as if QT panelists normally sat amongst the audience. Then in the same sentence he goes off at a confusing tangent about International Women's Day and Black History Month. Whoa, steady on, pardner!

But Joe has reason to get carried away. He is mightily miffed by the decision by Maurice Smith, the former chief inspector of schools, that there is no need to ban BNP members from the teaching profession. Smith had said:

I do not believe that barring teachers or other members of the wider school workforce from membership of legitimate [sic] organisations which may promote racism is necessary.

Did you spot Joe's witty "[sic]"? That must have hurt the many BNP members who read the Guardian. Smith also thinks that banning BNP members from teaching would be

taking a very large sledgehammer to crack a minuscule nut.

Smith pointed that during the past seven years, only four teachers and two governors have been revealed as BNP members, and there were only nine reported cases of teachers making 'racist' remarks or having 'racist' materials.

This verdict is "breathtaking," Joe feels. He also feels that Smith has a "one-dimensional and uninformed view." (Now who does that remind me of?)

Our hero expostulates:

Is he not aware of the underachievement statistics for many of Britain's racial minorities, widely believed to be party [sic] fuelled by low teacher expectations?

The [siccer] nicely [sicced]!

But it gets worse, quoth Joe. Existing anti-racism safeguards are "unconvincing." "Schools equal-opportunity [Joe is fonder of hyphens than apostrophes] policies are notoriously ineffective," whereas "social cohesion" is often "used as a cover for anti-Muslim propaganda."

He is also shocked that Smith's recommendations were accepted by the schools secretary Ed Balls. But as Joe goes on to admit, he shouldn't really have been shocked because the political parties are

crawling over each other to win the votes of the 'white working class.'

(I must have missed that.) Ed Balls should say, according to Joe, "Yes, there is a place for racism in schools." Not only that, but he should 'fess up fully by adding:

Yes, parents, when you leave your five-year-old at the school gates, we don't care if you're handing them over to someone who despises your race, despises your faith, and who wants to terrorise you and run you out of the country.

Joe has by now grown warm on the subject, and concludes in a crescendo of cliché.

[F]or evil to flourish, all it takes is for good people to do nothing. As the BNP's message of hate moves onwards, it is time for good people to take a stand.

Perhaps Joe should stand back, take a deep breath and count to 10. Perhaps he could then examine his monomaniacal output objectively. Perhaps he should apply the liberal principles he no doubt applies in all other areas of his life to people with whom he disagrees. 

If he won't do that (and I bet he won't) perhaps the Guardian could even consider laying him off, along with all the other columnists who come out with the same old same old week after week after week, year afer year after year? Or maybe such a course of action would be "taking a very large sledgehammer to crack a minuscule nut."