Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney, Shadow Minister for Health, was having a conversation on Twitter about criticism of “Black leaders” by black communities who feel these “leaders” do not represent them.[Update: As usual – it was more complicated than that.] In the course of that conversation, she tweeted: White people love playing ‘divide and rule’ We should not play their game #tacticasoldascolonialism
She was right of course. There’s nothing to apologise for in a politician having a public conversation about a controversial topic.
And the notion that it was racist because it expressed a negative view of “white people”?
What this absurd flap demonstrates is the desperate longing of some privileged people to wear the rags of victimhood. Any whiff of black-on-white racism, like misandry and heterophobia, is an excuse for these delicate souls to downplay the dominant prejudice and argue that there is a level playing field of bigotry or, on the crazier fringes, that there is a “war” on white people/men/straight people/motorists, etc. Coming so soon after the Lawrence verdict, Abbottgate is a nasty attempt to pretend that, hey, there’s racism on both sides now. A black man gets knifed to death by a white mob; a black MP writes a carelessly worded tweet about white people. It all evens out.33revolutionsperminute: racism vs “racism” – why Diane Abbott was right
In a racist culture, public criticism of white people by a black person is not allowed. Any number of white people suddenly got up and yelled RACIST! Including the white man who was one of her fellow contenders for leadership of the Labour party – Ed Milliband called her when she was live on air to give her a telling-off. White man scolds black woman at a time when he knows the black woman will just have to stand there and take it, in public, on video. (Today Ed Milliband tweeted “Sad to hear that Bob Holness has died. A generation will remember him fondly from Blackbusters.” Yes, Ed, I’m sure.)
To prove the exact point Diane Abbott was making about stuff white people like to do, Ed Milliband seems to have told Chuka Umunna to criticise Diane Abbott’s comment and David Cameron got Tory MP for Stratford Nadhim Zahawi to call for her resignation.
Sometimes it’s so blatant even a Daily Mail columnist (and one that doesn’t like or agree with Diane Abbott) can see what you’re doing:
Interestingly, though, as one of my extremely learned friends pointed out, that very act of Ed Miliband’s intervention, and her subsequent retraction, actually served to re-inforce the truth in what she was saying. Albeit a point she had made poorly.
And who could deny that? The situation was clear for all to see. Here was her boss, the white man, and here was she, the black underling, and she was gagged and undermined and it was right in front of us. No confusion there.
She followed this with a time honoured cop-out ‘taken out of context’ and responded by saying it was ‘a mis-interpretation as it refers to nature of 19th century European colonialism which cannot be explained in 140 characters’. Sonia Poulton, Daily Mail, 6th January 2012