I’ve been writing about the recent Harvard Law School flap, in which third-year student Stephanie Grace was excoriated for daring to suggest in a private email that there might even be a possibility that some of the gap in intelligence scores between whites and blacks could have some sort of genetic basis.
Which got me to thinking—it seems to me that cries of “racist” and “bigot” are coming faster and more furiously these days, despite (or perhaps because of?) the election of a black man to the presidency. But I can’t really blame this on Obama, although I think he’s done plenty to fan the flames and nothing to douse them—because he can hardly be held responsible for Gordon Brown’s big mouth.
Here’s the full transcript of the now-famous exchange between Brown and 65-year-old grandma (and previous lifelong Labour voter) Gillian Duffy. It was meant to be a run-of-the-mill photo-op. Brown was wired for sound, and had a seemingly cordial exchange with Duffy which included the following:
Duffy: But what I can’t understand is why I am still being taxed at 66 years old because my husband’s died and I have some of his pension tagged onto my pension?
Brown: Well we’re raising the threshold at which people start paying tax as pensioners, but yes if you’ve got an occupational pension you may have to pay some tax but you may be eligible for the pension credit as well, you should check –
Duffy: No, no, I’m not, I’ve checked and checked and they said I’m not
Brown: Well you should check it again just to be sure, to be absolutely sure…
Duffy: But how are you going to get us out of all this debt, Gordon?
Brown: We’ve got a deficit reduction plan, cut the debt by half over the next four years, we’ve got the plans that have been set out to do it – look, I was the person who came in and said -
Duffy: Look, the three main things that I had drummed in when I was a child was education, health service and looking after people who are vulnerable. There are too many people now who aren’t vulnerable but they can claim and people who are vulnerable can’t get claim.
Brown: But they shouldn’t be doing that, there is no life for people on the dole anymore, if you’re unemployed you’ve got to go back to work. At six months –
Duffy: You can’t say anything about the immigrants because you’re saying you’re – but all these eastern Europeans coming in, where are they flocking from?
Brown: A million people come in from Europe, but a million British people have gone into Europe, you do know there’s a lot of British people staying in Europe as well. So education, health and helping people, that’s what I’m about.
Duffy: I hope you keep to it.
So we have a woman who’s been a liberal all her life but is concerned because (a) she isn’t getting the money she feels she’s entitled to, while at the same time (b) others she feels aren’t entitled (such as, for example, recent immigrants from Eastern Europe who are now allowed into Britain with few or no restrictions because of the EU) are getting benefits ahead of her, and (c) the deficit is out of control. The entire discussion is about money and how to distribute it.
Brown still had a live mic on when he got into his car, where he was heard to say the following about Ms. Duffy, to whom he’d been so pleasant just a moment earlier:
[In car] That was a disaster. Should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?
Aide: I don’t know, I didn’t see.
Brown: Sue’s, I think. Just ridiculous.
Aide: Not sure if they’ll go with that one.
Brown: Oh they will.
Aide: What did she say?
Brown: Everything. She’s just this sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be a Labour voter. Ridiculous.
One can almost feel a certain sympathy for the hapless Mr. Brown. Who among us can say that he/she has never been polite to someone and then complained about them behind their back? But few of us are caught in the act, and then broadcast for all to see.
Anyone who thinks all politicians don’t do some version of this is hopelessly naive. But Brown was especially vulnerable because he was not the most likable guy to begin with, and this made it harder for people to ignore the evidence of his blatant two-faced hypocrisy recorded on tape. But I think it’s also interesting that Brown’s charge was that Duffy was a bigot.
I didn’t even know that Eastern Europeans immigrants now qualify as a race; when last I checked they were as white as Duffy herself. To me, her remarks read as a combination of Tea Party-like concerns about fiscal restraint, and an echo of the same sentiment that’s behind our own recent Arizona immigration law—only in her case the immigrants are legal, whom she sees as getting in line ahead of her in order to get benefits from a welfare system that she feels is unresponsive to her own needs.
All of these recent “racist/bigot” brouhahas (Harvard Law and Minow, the Arizona illegal immigrants bill, and Brown v. Duffy) demonstrate the new liberal definition of bigot: anyone who says anything non-PC about any ethnic group or national group that liberals consider disadvantaged.
Note that it’s not bigotry of racism if someone says something negative about an advantaged ethnic or national group. And truth is not a defense when you’re expressing concern about the actions of a disadvantaged group. One must be utterly racial-, national-, and color-blind, willing to give over every advantage to others, and not remark on it but be happy for it. The only people who can even take note of racial and/or national differences are those who do so in order to confer benefits on underprivileged racial and/or ethnic and/or national groups.
The readiness of Gordon Brown to call Ms. Duffy a bigot when he thought he was off-mic made me wonder whether it dovetailed with the Minow flap in still another way: does Brown have a background in academia, where this sort of kneejerk name-calling is not only prevalent but meets with approval? When I looked Brown up I discovered—somewhat to my surprise, I must say—that indeed he does, and a history as a journalist as well (another group where using the racist/bigot accusation is favored):
Brown graduated from Edinburgh with First Class Honours MA in 1972, and stayed on to complete his PhD (which he gained ten years later in 1982), titled The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918–29. In 1972, while still a student, Brown was elected Rector of the University of Edinburgh, the convener of the University Court…
From 1976 to 1980 Brown was employed as a lecturer in Politics at Glasgow College of Technology. In the 1979 general election, he stood for the Edinburgh South constituency, losing to the Conservative candidate, Michael Ancram. From 1980 he worked as a journalist at Scottish Television, later serving as current affairs editor until his election to parliament in 1983. He also worked as a tutor for the Open University.
Decades of relentless PC hammering on the evils of bigotry and racism have not only corrected many of the actual racist offenses that used to occur more frequently, but have sometimes over-corrected to the point of absurdity. It used to be that, in order to be a racist, you had to actually advocate discriminating against racial and/or ethnic groups. Now bigotry and racism are thought-crimes that are defined by the eye of the offended beholder: simply put, you’re a racist if a liberal says you are.