“Don’t Call Us Racist! It’s Offensive!”
April 22, 2015
by Martin Odoni
Apparently, Nigel Farage is upset. He is offended and hurt. People have been saying things about him and his party that he feels are unfair and uncalled-for, and he has spoken out on Channel 4 to object to it. Apparently, it hurts him when he hears that the UK Independence Party, of which he is the leader, is routinely associated with racism.
Leaving aside the reality that the number of UKIP members who have uttered racially-charged, or at least xenophobic, public remarks is almost startlingly high, and that homophobia and ‘pestilence’-fear-mongering are also unsettlingly commonplace, it should be conceded that calling the party as an organisation racist is perhaps hyperbolic. There is no doubt that its outlook is very insular and abrasive, and opens the way to ideas driven by stereotypes instead of nuance or real-world issues. It is also reactionary, inward-looking, and anti-minority enough to attract precisely the sorts of people who are prone to colour-feeling. But there is nothing in particular in UKIP’s thinking or ideals that indulge in, say, white supremacy, or even in old-style Imperialism.
So technically, we could concede the point to Farage and accept that he is right that his party – again speaking strictly about it as an organisation – is not racist.
But the problem is, even if the party organisation is not racist, a great deal of its support-base quite emphatically is. Some of them, especially those who have historically supported the British National Party, are downright ‘pro-Final-Solution’. This raises the question as to whether a party can ever really be anything other than the sum of its membership. Even if we are safe to assume that Farage is not a racist – and we would be assuming rather than certain – that does not make him UKIP. He does not control the thoughts of his party, and I doubt he would want to claim that he does, as it would cast a totalitarian shadow over his presence. So those sorts of people are in his party.
Add in all the rather unpleasant and ill-informed, reactionary views Farage has expressed, especially about HIV-sufferers and ‘benefit-tourists’, and even if he and his organisation can be said not to be actual racists, what they really are will not be any better. Their manifesto platform and wider rhetoric mark the party down as homophobes, xenophobes, Christian Imperialists, Big-Money-sycophants, benefits-bashers, Islamophobes, 40’s-style jingoists, climate-change-denialists and misogynists (especially Roger Helmer). None of these mindsets are noticeably more creditable, either morally or intellectually, than racism.
Offended as he is at the racism accusation, I somehow suspect that Farage would be equally offended if he knew that I have called him and his party homophobic, xenophobic, Big-Money-bootlicking, benefits-bashing, Islamophobic, jingoistic, misogynistic, climate-change-denying, Christian Imperialists, even though every word of the accusation is true. So what he really dislikes, it appears, is receiving condemnation.
In some ways, I do not mind that. After all, who does like getting condemnation?
This is UKIP we are discussing.
This is the party that massively exaggerates the scale of immigration. The party that massively exaggerates the British resources that immigrants consume. The party that seriously understates how much immigrants contribute to society. The party that vilifies and scaremongers Islam and its adherents. The party that attacks women’s rights, and implies that feminists want to conquer the world. The party that castigates the European Union as some evil foreign Empire that has colonised the United Kingdom and is in the rapacious process of stealing all its resources. The party that falsely asserts that more than half of HIV-positive diagnoses in the UK are non-British nationals. The party that accuses the Scots of lazily depending on English subsidy. The party that accuses climatologists of being part of an International Marxist Conspiracy to take over the world.
Any time anyone objects to UKIP making these untrue – or at least wildly exaggerated – and often hurtful remarks, the objector is accused of being too ‘politically correct’, of being ‘weak’, and of being too ‘soft’ to cope with hearing ‘hard facts’, even though the remarks are measurably not factual. Being abusive and spreading hyperbolic, offensive rumours are not irresponsible or shameful behaviours. Understood, everyone? It is ‘politically correct’ to describe them as such.
We get that stance from UKIP all the time. And with that being so, UKIP, I have decided to say that your party are all racists.
Yes, Farage, I know, you say that it is untrue. It is probably, as I said above, hyperbolic. But I shall say it anyway.
UKIP IS A RACIST PARTY.
Do you not like that, Farage? Is it not fair? Does it upset you? Do you think of it as a hyperbolic, offensive rumour?
Well, tough. Stop being soft, Farage! Stop being weak! Deal with hard facts when you hear them!
Oh well. I guess I am just not as politically correct as you, Farage.