J. Walter Thompson, Maureen Lipman and BT famously exclaimed “You’ve got an ‘ology; you’re a scientist”.
That’s got our ‘ologies sorted. Now what about our ‘isms?
Racism is a bad thing, right? It means that black people (or whatever you choose to call people who aren’t white, this season) get a bad deal. That often means they are under-represented in the most privileged places in society and their voice is not heard. They don’t earn as much as white folks, their health outcomes are worse, they are more likely to be victims of crime, they stand the highest chance of dying in custody etc.etc. You know the kind of thing.
Sexism is a bad thing right? I could reel off a similar list of ways in which women are disadvantaged in society, by virtue only of the accident of birth that made them female.
There’s another dimension too – isms often overlap with ‘phobias‘ like the ‘hate’ issues – homophobia, islamophobia and so on.
Which brings me (by a questionable logical twist) to the issues facing the British Labour Party right now. And anti-semitism. According to The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph, the prospect of a government led by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would be “an existential threat to Jewish life in this country”. Various Labour figures are up in arms about Corbyn, and the British press has perpetuated a picture of his behaviour, his past and his associations as somehow anti-semitic.
Please can we be absolutely clear about one thing here:
Racism in the UK is a thing. Sexism in the UK is a thing. Homophobia is a thing.
Anti-semitism is not a thing.
Run down the earlier list of the ways in which non-white people are disadvantaged in the UK and try substituting the word Jewish for non-white (or black or whatever is your preference).
Under-represented in privileged positions in society? Nope. Voice not heard? Nope. Earn less money? Nope? Worse health outcomes? Nope? Deaths in police custody? Nope? Is anti-semitism more like sexism then? Are Jewish people subject to domestic abuse? Nope. Is there a kind of weird Jewish glass ceiling? Nope.
It’s simply a cheap and spurious attack on this particular Labour leader. I’m not a massive Corbyn fan either, but all this anti-semitism rhetoric is clearly nonsense.
Anti-semitism not a thing in the UK today.
Please stop talking as though it was.
Worse that that. One of my favourite authors recently wrote that saying something is a thing’ is no longer a thing. So this post may look quite badly dated in the not-too-distant future.
Sorry about that.
And to my Jewish reader(s). No offence.