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Deadly Silence

Simcountry: Simcountry Bulletin Board  Deadly Silence

Zetetic Elench dam Kahveh (Golden Rainbow)

Friday, November 7, 2008 - 09:23 pm Click here to edit this post
Yes, there are racist elements in Europe. But Europe, with certain notable exceptions (Nazi Germany), has not had the same institutionalised racism of America or South Africa. Most European countries are unlikely to see a Black leader because the community is smaller and younger. Black people make up about 13% of the States, but here in the UK all ethnic minorities only make up 8%, most of whom have arrived within the last 60 years. The Black population in the States has been established for some centuries, although only thought of as equal for the last 40 years or so.

It stands to reason that there are fewer leaders from Black and Asian communities in the UK because the second generation are only just reaching the age when they might be considered for high-level politics. Low-level racism in the electorate in past decades will have ensured that only a few minority-figures will have reached the top and we are likely to have to wait another generation or two before minorities are able to reach the top posts. However, I have little doubt that we will get there.

We also have the added element of class which, no matter what people say, is still with us. The House of Commons is still dominated by public-school educated MPs. The lack of a large Black middle class in Britain (in part because of the short history of the community, partly due to poor educational prospects tied in with policies over education in inner cities), means that there are few Black parents who can afford to put their children through public school which reduces the chances of someone gaining acceptance in the House of Commons.

With regards to slavery, Britain played a huge part in the slave trade, but enslaved few people. We simply bought them off African slavers (blacks selling blacks) and shipped them to the plantations in the Americas. It is without any doubt a shameful period in our country's history, and was the result of extremely racist ideas that viewed blacks as less than human. BUT, we stopped the trade, and one of the goals of extending our Empire in the late 19th Century was to eliminate the slave trade. We must get a bit of credit for that!

I think what distinguishes the electorates of Europe and America more than attitudes to race, are attitudes to religion. Some voters in Europe still have issues over voting for Muslims, but by and large, we don't mix religion and politics here with a few exceptions - the British Monarch cannot marry a Catholic, a legacy of the establishment of the Church of England. There is still a certain amount of mistrust of Catholics in politics in Britain, perhaps more so than Jews (we've just celebrated the failure of a Catholic plot to blow up Parliament where the perpetrators were hanged, drawn and quartered before having their severed heads displayed on London Bridge, by burning effigies of the most well-known of them). Ruth Kelly was often the centre of controversy as a result of her membership of Opus Dei (a Catholic movement), although putting someone who believes that homosexuals are evil sinners in charge of the Equalities Commission was hardly a sensible move.

Conversely, most European voters wouldn't bat an eyelid if a candidate professed to be an atheist. Gallup polled Americans last year on their attitudes to politics and found that 5% wouldn't vote for a Black candidate, but 53% wouldn't vote for an atheist. In fact, a gay candidate would be more likely (43% would vote against) to win than an atheist!

One last (more humorous) point to end with. Frank Skinner (straight, white and English) was on TV with Graham Norton (gay, white and Irish) last night. He pointed out that Obama is being hailed as the first Black President when he is actually mixed race, in theory appealing to both blacks and whites. Frank suggested that we should go for a bisexual Prime Minister next time to appeal equally to gays and straights. Think you Americans would go for that?

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