Saturday, 14 March 2015

Them and us

The best way to eliminate descrimination is to create a social climate in which difference simply does not matter: nobody notices it nor cares about it. Short of that, a social scene in which legal sanctions enforce the acceptance, and gradually make habitual, a conscious attitude of non-descimination. In the UK we still need those laws, for there are many people around who consider themselves better than others, more British than others, and want to put the Outsiders and Different Ones in their place, and hold them down. Or better still, keep them out of sight - and if possible shut them out completely. It's not just 'foreigners'. It's the disabled, it's the ones who rebel, and, above all else, it's the entire female half of the population. All of these are potentially second-class citizens, all can be descriminated against by the 'better ones' - who are typified by ignorant but self-satisfied men, bluff salt of the earth sorts, who have complaining minds, chips on their shoulders, nurse grievances, and claim credit for being opinionated and 'speaking up for Britain'. They make me sick.

So it was appalling to hear that UKIP would get rid of many of our anti-descrimination laws. I don't care if they have said it tongue-in-cheek, 'just to make a point', on the basis that in real life, after May's General Election, UKIP will still only be an influential minority party - not the government itself - and therefore not actually a threat to legal freedoms. A throw-away remark one might indeed make while swilling beer in a pub and putting the world to rights, they would say - so nobody need worry. And yet they want to be taken as a serious party. It must then be a serious suggestion on policy. I think it's a clear and obvious message: UKIP (or their inheritors) will - if ever placed in power - remove livelihoods, education, safety and security for non-Britons. And remove it too for anyone else considered different, or who is stepping outside of their 'natural' place in society. Which will certainly bury the independence of all women.

I absolutely hate anything that encourages a dangerous 'them and us' mentality. It leads only to strife and tragedy. I'd go so far as to say that any group who, through its policies, rules, dogma, promotional material, speeches, and acts, claims to be special and superior is a group to watch, and if necessary curb. If such a group actually identifies and demonises other groups, and incites bad feeling against them, it is - let's not mince words - committing a crime against humanity as a whole. The irony is of course that most human groupings do involve some or all of these unwanted bad attitudes. For which I blame basic human notions like identity, territory and tribalism. Which lead on to the distrust of strangers, a reluctance to mix blood, a fear of losing the True Image of what makes 'us' so special and superior - and 'them' so degraded. Very much the Nazi theme, of course, but really the expected outcome of any slide into a discriminatory black hole.

Once upon a time, it was possible to sail away across the ocean and found a new and better society elsewhere. Impossible to do it now. And why should anyone be forced to escape? We must all make the effort to get along with everyone else. And that means cleaning-up all corners in which the dirt of discrimination festers and breeds germs of hate.

So I won't be supporting UKIP and its point of view. It's a bad-attitiude party. Indeed, I won't be supporting any body that offers me membership of a Chosen Elite, because elites always look down on others. I will feel drawn only to bodies that want to embrace everyone, and get the best out of everyone, and leave all human beings free to live unbound by rules and threats and guilt and a requirement to suck up to their moral or economic 'betters' if they want to be content in their lives. Creating gulfs between people where none really exist is the enemy of fairness and equality.

Look at all those institutions that differentiate between their members and outsiders! If must be a key feature of human society, this wish to define and separate. Even in the world of gender. You'd think that all trans people, for instance, would want to present a universal case to the world that they are just people, and want only to be themselves and fit in. But no. There are endless subdivisions based on slippery definitions, masked by largely meaningless names and abbreviations for one's personal position. Thus we have the unpronounceable 'trans*' and terms like 'genderqueer' and 'cis' - what on earth does the general public make of them? Do all trans people understand precisely what these terms mean, and how they are used? I certainly don't, and would never walk up to someone and ask, for instance, whether they or their nearby friends were 'cis', or something else. And I don't want to learn any of this stuff, because it will give me a vocabulary of difference - and possessing that would force me, against my will, to conform to a system of unreal definitions that seem to serve no vital purpose whatever.

And yet people do like labels, don't they? As if they yearn to be separate and distinct, for which an interesting but obscure label may actually be a psychological asset. But it doesn't help their chances of blending into society. Perhaps they really don't mind about that, just as one anti-trans vigilante grouping, the TERFs, prefer to be stringently defined and exclusive, on the defensive against attack, women at war with other women.

Me? I just want to be a person who interacts with other people at every level. My only 'label' is the one that everyone I meet gives me: woman. It's not even self-chosen. And that's what I call being part of the Big Society. I'm simply a responsible citizen who excludes nobody on grounds of difference. I might stay away from people who want to exploit me, or steal time or money from me, or whose attitude lacks merit, or those who have fallen into the traps of self-importance or self-martyrdom. But that's just exercising a personal preference for company I can get along with, and isn't discrimination in the pernicious and socially-destructive sense that I've been discussing. Well, I hope not!

1 comment:

  1. UKIP frightens me and Farage's double-speak – saying one thing, then denying later that he ever said it – smacks of downright dishonesty and headline grabbing.
    I can understand why many support UKIP through their vehement opposition to the EU – or even because of their interpretation of the book of Revelation (and I know quite a few like that) – but UKIP is much more than an anti-EU party. As The Spectator put it last year, "If UKIP aren't racist, how come many racists seem to like them?" And simply saying "We're not racist" will not do... as recent revelations by the BBC and Channel 4 have shown.

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Lucy Melford