Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 April 2022
Oh, good book and a read that I enjoyed. The basic precept of the volume is the damaging effect, on the West, that runaway anti-racism wokery and the whole orbit around Critical Race Theory. Of course, this is a difficult subject to tackle as a bit like the fact that poverty is falling across the world – so many vested interests don’t want to hear it and would rather destroy you rather than listen to a reasoned argument backed with facts. Then, of course, we have other detractors, in other areas such as the gender debate, poverty, nationalism and more. To his credit, the author shows that he is more than happy to raise his head above the parapet and produced some wonderful well thought through deconstructions of some of the recent flash points and backed these with objective analysis, which is compelling.
The accusation of ‘Racist’ of course is a wonderful weapon for any of the disaffected. If someone wanted to traduce another then all they’d have to say is something like, “Oh, he’s a racist” It would require little proof, little justification and would have an immediate and far-reaching effect, their reputation and all that they hold dear. It is, I guess, a cheap weapon and one that is easily and regularly deployed and of course especially in the West. By contrast, if they wanted to say that I was a rubbish doctor, then they’d have to produce much more proof and an analysis say that I couldn’t distinguish heart failure from a chest infection would require more detailed knowledge than the average man in the street has or could recognise and even then; it still wouldn’t have the same destructive potential. Not only this, but the ‘abused’ gain immediate fame, publicity and ascend far more than the person so called descends. Moreover, as the author makes clear they also make a substantial living from such practice. You’ll have noticed on the telly that just about everyone these days has either been bullied, has depression, visits a food bank, has been the victim of racism, has been abused…the list goes on.
Of course, it’s prevalent in the West simply because this is where the money and the focus is held. It is also where the tolerance is and certainly the right for people to voice their opinions – which of course is available to all. More than this, as the author clarifies in his final chapter such things would not be either ignored and quickly repressed in other countries and I sometimes wish that the tub-thumping environmentalists for instance would lay down in front of petrol tankers or glue themselves to motorways In – well just about anywhere but the West - and how long do we think they would last?
The book is more America-centric than I would like, with spelling to match. I’m not saying that England does not have problems of its own but they are often very different.
A few countervailing points if I may? The book was ‘full on’ and points were hammered home with an unceasing flow. The first chapter just kept on going, long after I was happy to accept the principle and the reasoned discussion about the excesses of the anti-racist lobby. By the time we got to 2+2 = 5, I was ready to jump in the canal.
My other point is that the West faces problems that are every bit as destructive, if not more so than runaway anti-racism, such as – off the top of my head. Lack of decent leaders. I think the UK has only had one decent PM since Churchill and America, France, Germany – just about every country you care to name has fared no better. I think that it will take many years to recover from Bush and Blair’s foray into Iraq and we are all less safe and disadvantaged as a result. Then there are the despots who vote themselves in as permanent leader and don’t bother to expose themselves to the wishes of the people. Politicians that lie and just seek their own vested interests. Lack of a decent quality state education for rich and poor kids alike. The wealthy of course will do what the politicians do and send their kids to private schools but what about the brilliant child who is from a poor home and is destined to spend his/her school life in the local sink school. Students who are being encouraged to take ‘none’ degrees and rack up loads of debt when vocational training would serve them and the country better. A self-absorbed populace that thinks how much you earn is better than what is your character and of course believe what their smart phone tells them rather than choose a good book. As the author states lies are easier to peddle in empty minds.
Lastly if I may, one or two examples that may encourage what I am hoping is the way forward: reasoned, respectful and honest debate.
In 1923 my dad was a young lad. HMS Hood had just steamed into Cape Town Bay on its Empire Cruise. He told me when I was little, that everyone there that day ran down to the water’s edge just to catch a glimpse. He said that all were in awe as to how a nation could design and build such a powerful and beautiful warship and then send it for the view of others. He was hooked and his further experiences did little to diminish his faith in the country he came to love so much. At 17 his family staked everything on sending him to Scotland where he received a world class education in Medicine. When war came, he naturally wanted to fight as he regarded it his war too, but was told he had to join the RAMC. After the war he settled in Manchester and his regard for the English and his delivery from a cruel apartheid state knew no bounds. As the author mentions in one of the more powerful chapters, he was – grateful - every day to the English in particular. When out shopping he would turn things over and buy them if they were made in England or else do without. He wanted, day by day, to become more like the English people he admired so much.
At the age of six I went across the road at the top of our street where the pavement was smooth to run my little car. An angry woman hurtled out of her house and asked me where I was from, where did I live; that I was to return there at once and never play in front of her house again as she didn’t want people of my sort anywhere near. I ran home and knew that I couldn’t tell either my mum or dad as my mum would have gone up there and ripped her head off and my dad would be very upset. Interestingly the woman was not just angry but also frightened as if I represented some sort of pollution. Truth is, that this woman made me. Something began inside that I could not stop or change. I reasoned that I just had to do very well at school so that nobody could look at me and judge me just on my appearance. I was given a grammar school education which didn’t cost a penny and within a few years and after medical school I entered one of the higher professions and a job that I loved.
When I was 11, I broke my arm really badly. The registrar told my mum that he was going to have to amputate it. They reached the senior orthopaedic surgeon who was just boarding the boat train in Southampton. He returned that night and saved my arm. I was in hospital for two weeks. Can you imagine being in America and being asked for payment as soon as you got there. And what if you couldn’t afford the two week stay and were left facing the amputation because it was cheaper?
When I was a lad at school, Enoch Powell was giving his Rivers of Blood speech. My dad, the coloured South African (his words) descended from slaves brought from the far east, a devout Muslim who prayed 5 times a day despite being on call 24/7 and running three surgeries a day, sat there very quietly. My mum, the English girl who was a devout Christian and much more right-wing, was on her feet and shouting at the telly. “Yes, that’s right, kick them out, kick them all out!” Somehow, they not only held it together but also created a calm (!) and loving home family life where I grew up.
At 19, I was on the train back to Med School in Cardiff. At one stop an absolutely gorgeous girl got on and asked me if the seat facing was taken. I grunted “no” and she sat down facing me. I wondered if I could possibly summon courage to speak to her. A few moments later an older chap on the train had been outraged by what he saw and came over and said that she would be much more comfortable further down the train with him and his wife. She went with a little smile. I would love to tell you that this man was a racist and didn’t want this stunning girl to be sat facing a grubby mixed-race person – and yet the truth is rather different. If you wind back the scene you will see this poor girl struggling with this really heavy bag as she tried to get it in the overhead rack. I sat on my useless bottom. This was the 70s when men held the door open for ladies and also invariably helped out when females needed assistance. If I could go back to that scene of course I’d want to apologise or perhaps even better – help her with her case. In any event this had nothing to do with racism but my poor behaviour.
I used to do DNA tests for the Home Office. People would come from overseas and in order to bring their children they’d need to prove that they were all theirs. I did the test on this chap from Kenya. A week later my secretary asked if the test had come back, the chap had been on the phone as he wanted to know when he could bring his 6 kids. I asked her to phone him back and say it usually took 10 working days. She started shaking and said she was dreading this as he had been so rude to her. I said that she didn’t have to phone him, that I would do so. I informed him that his test would be a few more days. I then berated him for being so rude to my friendly and helpful receptionist who really was a gem. I told him that she was shaking at the thought of speaking again to him and I was surprised that the country wanted people like him. He then accused me of being a racist and that he was recording the conversation and would report me. I told him that he was incorrect, that he shouldn’t let himself off so lightly and this had nothing to do with his colour and more to do with his unacceptable and obnoxious behaviour with someone who was trying to help him. I told him I’d look forward to being contacted.
Lastly, very lastly. If I could have one wish it would be for English people to see themselves through my dad’s eyes, perhaps just for 24hrs. He died 40 years ago this month, but I think nevertheless they would be amazed and re-invigorated by what they would then see and this is precisely why we are such a target for detractors and also why so many people want to come here.
NB May we please have a better word than 'graffitied' - ?Bedaubed?
and I never knew you could spell Lambaste with an E !