Thursday, February 05, 2009
So her Maj has been flogging gollies. Once again I ask, who knew? Well, I did, sort of. Long before all this Carol Thatcher stuff blew up, you will have read of the remarkable and enduring prevalence of golliwogs here on Thought Experiments. Somehow gollies slipped under the anti-racist radar and now they lie around the place like Triumph Heralds or branches of Woolworths - who now remembers them? I don't doubt that they are, in the current climate, offensive and distasteful. The image of blackness they represent is of supine, happy idiocy. But it is peculiarly vile that the creepy little thought police who still infest the BBC used them to a abuse a woman whose only real crime in their eyes is probably that she is Margaret Thatcher's daughter. I don't know Carol Thatcher but I know people who do and the word is she is nice, if a touch dim, and it is inconceivable that she is a racist. So, while acknowledging contemporary sensitivities, it is worth asking: do golliwogs really pose such a threat to social order? The truth is that in a sane, colour-blind society they would not. You could buy toys representing any old race, religion or creed in any old stereotypical way and nobody would bat an eyelid because nobody woud care. But we are a deeply racist society, not just because we discriminate against minorities but because we all discriminate against each other by insisting on this hypertrophied awareness of difference. Not to notice differences that should be irrelevant is to risk being accused of bigotry, which is absurd. It happens to me and I'm honestly incapable of racism. And what's the big thing about Obama? He is black. In fact, he's as white as he is black. There are good, historical reasons for being sensitive about race. But, in the Thatcher case, it's the BBC oiks who are racists. They are the ones who are oppressed by an inhumane awareness of irrelevant difference and by the priggish and hypocritical urge to use it as a weapon against innocent victims.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:24 am