I have had some angry emails about ‘political correctness’ linking President Trump and Sarah Champion.
I am always cautious about what people call political correctness because it means so many things to different people. Some of its agenda is just so daft that it becomes funny, or infuriating, dependent entirely on one’s natural disposition. Other aspects of it strike me as just politeness and gentleness. I shudder to recall some of the terrible things that we called one another at school, which now would be considered beyond the pale.
I doubt that Donald Trump and Sarah Champion would welcome being linked in any way. For my own part I do not see the link between the news stories about them that my correspondents think they have identified.
My email correspondents insist that President Trump was right to condemn the violent behaviour of anti-fascists at the same time as he deplored the violence of neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville.
I hold no brief for agitators who hijack every issue from the Grenfell Tower, to trade union disputes, to anti-racism, or whatever. On 9th July, in this column, I pointed out the similarity they bear to the ‘sans culottes’ of the French Revolution. In my estimate the fascism of so many anti-fascists differs little from UK to USA.
The fact is however, that a known neo-Nazi committed an act of terrorism by using his car as a weapon to kill a woman. Any attempt to add a ‘but’ in those circumstances creates the impression of some sort of excuse, be it ‘they started it’ or ‘the other side are just as bad’. That, in my opinion was the President’s error of judgement.
As for the notion that there were ‘good people’ demonstrating with the neo-Nazis, surely the sacrifice made across Europe and USA in defeating Nazism should warrant that anyone parading with swastikas should attract the universal condemnation.
That there is a wider agenda at stake involving the survival of US heritage and monuments commemorating the Civil War is an irrelevance when it comes to condemning a terrorist murder.
I have sympathy with some critics of the iconoclasts. We have seen campaigns here to judge the past by the standards of the present and to remove statues and change names. Are we to demand that statues of Roman emperors be removed from public view on the grounds that they too supported slavery?
The prophet Muhammad condoned the sale of captives into slavery too, crikey! now we really are getting into politically correct hot water.
As for Sarah Champion, her analysis was correct and she should have stuck to her guns. It is nonsense to speak of a problem with ‘Asian men’ grooming white underage girls in Rotherham and other northern towns. How many Chinese are involved, how many Indonesians, how many Tamils? Why should all Asian men be so branded when the reality is that the problem is with a tiny proportion of men from Pakistani backgrounds?
We need to say so, and recruit their own communities in condemning their behaviour. If we are in denial, than we can hardly blame their communities from remaining in denial too.