The tyranny of stupidity….
Diane Abbott has caused something of a Twitter/Media storm with her tweet saying that white people play at ‘divide and rule’. Obviously, this is a state of affairs that exists within Abbott herself, with a fundamental divide existing between her brain and her mouth which seems to run wild and have a life of its own. Were her remarks ‘racist’? In the sense that they made a generalisation about people based purely on their ethnicity then the answer surely has to be yes.
One of the problems of the left is that it sees any structurally oppressed group through rose-tinted spectacles and automatically capable of being totally incapable of doing any wrong purely by dint of their undoubtedly low social standing. However, it is perfectly possible for anybody, regardless of ethnic origin to be racist, to make generalisations based on ethnicity. I take the view that it is as unacceptable for somebody to be called ‘white trash’ as it is for somebody else to start using the n-word. This is what equality is all about, equal treatment and an equally dim view of intolerance and prejudice no matter who is directing it and in which direction it is headed.
So, what Abbott said was crass, unacceptable and stupid. She richly deserves the stinging rebuke she received both from Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. However, I don’t automatically see that as being grounds for a sacking. For me, broadly speaking there are three criteria to judge a case by:-
a) Was the person in question being obviously hypocritical? Here, I am thinking, for example, of people who preach, quite openly and forcefully ‘family values’ but have affairs. This is an issue because it calls into question their ability to function as an honest servant of the people.
b) Was the person in question abusing their position to unfairly advantage themselves or those close to them? The reasons why this should be a sacking offence should be painfully obvious. In this instance, the person in question has abused the power and trust vested in them for their own personal gain.
c) Is the person in question clearly incompetent? Abbot’s stupidity make this one the strongest case against her but on the other hand nothing she said directly speaks to her competency to be a junior shadow minister for health.
If a case meets none of the above, I struggle to see why it should be a sacking. Of course, the Conservatives feel differently but they would, wouldn’t they? Many of us would feel differently were it a Conservative minister in the dock but that’s the problem – this is where party politics becomes utterly cynical because there is no consistency and people see that. Idiots, with idiotic views exist in many walks of life, I tend to think letting them mouth-off is not altogether a bad thing because they stand as a shining example of why they are being idiotic. Let them carry on in their jobs and either mend their ways or serve as an example to others as why they need to change theirs – don’t make martyrs and even bigger idiots of them.