The ‘progressive’ movement – the result of the left abandoning real politics in favour of a focus on rights, ‘sensitivity’ and ‘identities’ – has certain features. One of the main ones is a unique single-mindedness which cannot tolerate any kind of difference of opinions. There is a single truth and everyone must subscribe; or they are an an unspeakable bigot. Another feature is the absence of serious argument; ‘truths’ are bandied about as if incontrovertible, when, in reality they are a point of view in a discourse which is far from resolved. For adherents of this ideology their truth is the truth and everyone else is to be denounced and, ideally, eliminated from the social sphere altogether. This is very immature. People used to transition from being a student to being an adult. Now they don’t bother and public discourse takes place at the level one would expect from a meeting of the most facile of first-year undergraduates.
The government has recently started a campaign of putting anti-knife crime messages on boxes in which chicken is served in chicken shops. A gimmick certainly; (part of a trend to solve social problems with advertising campaigns) but hardly ‘racist’. Yet there have been cries of ‘outrage’ from members of the media and political classes that this is racist or “unfathomably stupid”.
David Lammy MP explained in the Guardian that the scheme was “racist or at best unfathomably stupid” because it played to a stereotype that “black people love fried chicken”.
Senior Guardian journalist Coco Khan explained that the scheme was racist because of its assumption that knife crime is solely an issue for ‘brown people’ ..”rather than the product of growing nationwide poverty impacting all communities”.
David Lammy seems to accept that black people may be more implicated in knife crime than white people but is complaining about the link between black people and fried chicken. Ms Khan, on the other hand, seems to accept that “brown people” frequent chicken shops more than their white counterparts but is upset by the link between “brown people” and knife crime. The messages are quite contradictory. One suspects that the key point in both cases is that the speaker has found a way of aligning themselves publicly on the side of anti-racism. Whether or not their complaints have substance is probably not important to them.
Meanwhile, in the real world, evidence to the Youth Select Committee showed the connection between youth crime and chicken shops.  This is evidence provided by organisations such as the Youth Justice Board – and local authorities – i.e. the people who are in the ‘frontline’ of this kind of problem.
Public discourse these days is not pleasant. Many people who have a voice – because they work in politics or the media – seem to have a finger perpetually on the trigger to denounce someone for something – for a deviation from a certain ideology. Accusations (of a most serious kind) are hurled about with no restraint. It is as if these people believe that the sheer act of making a public denunciation of someone has some kind of a value – is worth doing for its own sake. But denunciations alone do not solve social problems. We have to work together….