Been spending most my life living in a bigot’s paradox

by Lord Sutch
It's so handy when racism wears a uniform.

It’s so handy when racism wears a uniform.

There’s that old cliche, where the racist old person starts talking. And they’re usually old. When you get to that old stage you find that the racism permeates both genders. At a younger age racism is more pronounced among men than women. Could be a testosterone thing, I’m not sure.

Anyway the cliché is people will open with “I’m not racist but…” and then proceed to say something racist. And there are degrees of racist suffixes to that sentence, you usually get an indication of how racist it’s going to be based on the size of the pause and the length of time the person spends looking around.

“I’m not racist but”…beat…”that Asian guy was a terrible driver”. Here the racism is incidental, you could remove the epithet and be left with an acceptable sentence because people are terrible drivers. Again, especially males.

Then there’s “I’m not racist”…beat…look over shoulder…get up and close any doors and windows…”The [Maori] land grab has turned into a water grab, which in turn has turned into a wind grab. I wouldn’t be surprised if they claimed the sun next since Maui claimed to have slowed down the sun.” This is the extreme end of racism, the crazy end. But both are equally insidious.

“I’m not racist but…” is as true as “no offence but…” Both are equal parts bullshit, equal parts shut the fuck up. There was a furore in the news recently because the Marlborough Express printed a cartoon that implied that Maori would welcome the new Government food in schools policy because they could spend more money on pokies, booze and alcohol instead of cereal. It started a debate in my twitter feed about whether it was racist. Of course it was. To tar an entire race with a characteristic like that is, by its very definition, racist. I realise now that tar is perhaps not a good verb to use with regards to racism unless you are tarring white folk, then there’s no room for misinterpretation. Much like niggardly. A totally acceptable word unless you use it in conjunction with “Jews” or “Scotsman”.

The next question was should the Marlborough Express have printed it? I don’t think they should have. It was a dick move. But are they allowed to? Free speech and all that. If so, free speech also gives me the right to say the cartoonist is bigoted redneck piece of pond scum who should stop being so closed minded. Also to the editor of the paper who would’ve seen that cartoon and thought “this’ll get them talking about us”, fuck you too. You are an astronomical piece of shit.

That’s my right to free speech exercised too. The problem is mine doesn’t conform to an ignorant stereotype that encourages (some) people’s prejudices and compounds racism. My free speech is just one guy having a rant because someone was a tool. While the newspaper in question has a duty to not be a dick. And it breached that duty.

So I guess in conclusion the cartoonist is free to draw whatever racist rubbish he wants, but the editor should have said “no Reginald,that’s not ok”and wheeled him back to his home.

The paradox I speak of in the title is that all through this piece I’ve been tarring old men with a racist brush (safe use of tar). As a young man, I think that’s ok. I’m not prejudiced but.



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Steve June 4, 2013 - 9:22 am

Nitpick: The cartoon didn’t claim that “Maori” were the issue, but “brown people” in general, unless there was a firm identifier of a specific race in the image(s) that I failed to see. As to whether this makes it better or worse, I’ve no idea.

It would’ve been interesting to see if the same cartoon illicited any mention at _all_ in the media if the perpetrators had been depicted as white/european/whatever given how blatant anything levelled against the white folks needs to be before it’s regarded as racism.

Maybe the cartoon should’ve been printed in black & white?

Chelsea June 4, 2013 - 11:54 am

Al tells us in his flimsy defence that his intention was to draw the cartoon characters as all white but felt compelled to ‘balance the ledger’ by giving the central characters brown skin and big lips. What a community service for him to even things out by making one of the children have ginger hair and the central adult characters (who should know better!) have brown skin. Thanks Al!

Al’s defence of racism here:

Editor June 4, 2013 - 11:57 am

Al’s a good racist’s name too isn’t it? They’re seldom called “River” or “Hope”. It’s usually monosyllabic. Like Frank (apologies to any Franks out there who aren’t racist).

Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud June 4, 2013 - 11:15 pm

Nisbett really doesn’t help himself:

“My cartoons predominantly feature white folk, often ugly, fat, lesbian, boof-headed, rugby-playing, skinny, sullen, angry, hoodie-wearing, boy-racer white folk. ”

And yet for these two cartoons about poor parenting and bludging, you chose to depict the perpetrators as Polynesian. Class.

The comments below that are particularly depressing. Essentially – “well it can’t be racist if it’s true…”

Incidentally, why does he include “lesbian” in his odd list. I’m not sure what that list is supposed to tell us…?

I think the worst part of this whole thing was John Key’s suggestion that racism was subjective (not that I necessarily support Devoy’s suggestion that we lower the threshold). Maybe I should have picked him as a solipsist.

Lobby Lud
Lobby Lud June 4, 2013 - 11:23 pm

“It would’ve been interesting to see if the same cartoon illicited any mention at _all_ in the media if the perpetrators had been depicted as white/european/whatever given how blatant anything levelled against the white folks needs to be before it’s regarded as racism.”

I doubt it would have elicited much response, mostly because it doesn’t play into an existing racist stereotype. Nisbett may have accidentally stumbled onto a well-worn racist trope, but if you believe that… [cue overused nigerian prince/bridge for sale quip].

However, we need to drop the suggestion that someone can only be racist if they are in a position of power. It plays into the hands of those who seek to ridicule the suggestion that stuff like this is racist. I’m looking at you Hone Harawira.


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