Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
David Davies is a Westminster MP
and Welsh Assembly Member
for Monmouth. Unlike others, I do not think that he is a racist. I think that he is exceptionally thick; a man whose mind is so shallow any idea larger than a Sun editorial is unable to find accommodation.
David Davies main gripe appears to be the idea of protecting the rights and interests of minorities. On his blog, for example he applauds the Australian university that has “appointed a “heterosexual rights officer” whose job will be to “promote the welfare of heterosexuals.”” Davies comments; “Ridiculous? Of course it is. But Mr Dave Allen, the holder of the post, knows that it is no more ludicrous than appointing "rights officers" for every other kind of racial and sexual group.”
His first comment is perfectly valid. It is ridiculous. But he is wrong when he asserts that “it is no more ludicrous than appointing “rights officers”” for other minority groups. Does David Davies deny that in both Britain and Australia positions of power are dominated by white, heterosexual men? Does he deny that in the past this domination has lead to the subjugation of and discrimination against other racial and sexual groups?
If David Davies denies either of these then his claim to find it ludicrous that minorities need their rights protecting can be taken as an statement made in good faith. But if he does deny either of these we must classify him as an ignorant fool. Given that this is the most generous explanation of his apparently diarrheic utterances, this is how I will judge him.
David Davies has played two recent ‘pranks’. First, after finding that Monmouth Council planned to make a video to explain the traditions of the travelling community to schoolchildren, he applied for funding to make a video explaining the traditions of the settled community to traveller children. Now, the first reason why this is ridiculous is the simple fact that our media is dominated by images of the settled community. Living in Britain one cannot help but receive an impression of the settled community. Here, again, we see that David Davies misses the key fact included in the description “minority”. That is, those in the groups that are in the minority do not predominate, they do not (in Britain at least) hold positions of power and influence. But secondly, his film proposal described the traditions of the settled community as “their rigid adherence to an ancient code which they refer to as ‘planning regulations’ and the time-honoured custom of clearing up one’s rubbish”. In other words, he was using this as a device with which to demonise travellers, while pretending that literally speaking he did no such thing.
Of course, he does not (we must hope) believe his own defence, but he does hope that the apparent logic of it will convince those already predisposed to seeing travellers as a threat. But, of course, the apparent logic of defending utterances on the basis of narrow literality is an error of Duff-like proportions. Utterances (and words) are given meaning through their context; who utters, where do they utter, what are the histories of the words and phrases they utter. He clearly, despite the defence offered by that odious goon Rod Liddle
, is using ‘humour’ to demonise travellers.
David Davies second prank is to declare himself a traveller
. Under CRE guidelines ethnicity is self-declared. David Davies appears to feel that this is wrong. He says; “the rules on self-definition are very stupid and this will also draw attention to that”. Well, the rule of self-definition may throw up occasional stupidities (and David Davies is such a stupidity vomited forth), but a rule like this is a damn sight less stupid than a system in which officials decide on the ethnicity of others. Would he rather have this system? Can he not see the dangers of this system? Perhaps we use the tradition of measuring noses?
He could, I concede, be in possession of a syphilitically damaged brain, ala the promiscuous Rod Liddle. Liddle writes, in his defence of Davies; “The vast majority of those who live a peripatetic lifestyle in Britain are not, racially, any different from the rest of us — the Roma aside. It is the act of travelling that defines them as different, not their genes.” Does Liddle think that genes make race? Does he not understand that our ethnic divisions are cultural constructions, an understanding that does not deny their very real social effects? In some cases these cultural constructions may rely on genetically determined characteristics such as skin colour, but even in those cases the divisions are built by our actions as social actors, not by biology. Consider our definition of ‘black’. Someone is black if they have the slightest discernable black ancestry. The child of black-white parentage is normally described as black and is never described white. This, plainly, is a social construction of category, and this is also the (apparently) most clear-cut of cases for the biological racists. We have not even considered the existence of ethnic categories within what we might call a single skin colour
Davies thinks that his reclassification of himself as a traveller will mean that it is now impossible for him to make a racist statement. This is plainly untrue. Members of minority groups are patently capable of making statements and holding opinions that are discriminatory, that engage in the cultural construction of their own inferiority. Do you want an example? Consider the sort of statements that some women have made, statements that denigrate their own abilities and the abilities of women as a group, offering sex as an explanation (rather than the more nuanced explanation of their gender position in the existing structures of society). People are perfectly able of serving as ‘Uncle Toms’ against their own groups. This is the role that David Davies has now adopted. If he does not see this he is a fool; if he is aware of this then he is a wicked dissembler.
David Davies has been referred to the Standards Board for racism. Perhaps he is a racist. Really, he ought to be referred to the Standards Board for being mentally incompetent.
In releated news, The Sun
continues its campaign to Stamp on the Camps
. This time they have a council worker describing how “special treatment [was] given to travellers “that ordinary taxpayers could only dream of””. What on earth is it that ordinary taxpayers dream of? Having a tabloid run a campaign against them, denying them the right to any sites, legal or otherwise? Do they dream of being barred, as a group, from pubs and shops? Do they dream of being used as colloquial shorthand for criminal, as synonymous with ‘scum’? Do they dream of being regarded with such hostility that campaigns against them are seen as a vote-winner by the major political parties? Do they dream of having their children spat on and beaten at school?
Some dreams. We can only hope that now David Davies has voluntarily changed his ethnicity he will experience the full range of discrimination and hostility that his fellow gypsies ‘enjoy’ and ordinary taxpayers can only ‘dream of’.