The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

by Joshua Gaskell

Tag: Identity Politics

Saturday, 23rd May 2015

Glams | GLAMS, n.

Pronunciation: /ɡlamz/
Etymology: Acronym < the initial letters of gay, lesbian, and minority sexual, after BAME; sometimes also pronounced as an initialism.

Gay, lesbian, and minority sexual: designating (members of) gay, lesbian, and sexual minority communities in the United Kingdom.

Advertisements

Monday, 27th April 2015

I keep coming across the phrase Anglo-Saxon Capitalism, and looking it up find that it is an established political term. It denotes

A system of capitalism characterized by extensive market coordination by economic actors and relatively neutral patterns of governmental market regulation aimed at maintaining property right institutions without privileging particular social actors. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics)

I believe the phrase to be a slur against my communally minded ancestors. David Starkey began his Monarchy series by saying of the Anglo-Saxons,

This was a community without sharp social distinctions, and a people without kings. […] Nothing [in the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village] suggests that anyone was much more important than anyone else. We’re a long way, here, from the exalted autocracy of the Roman Empire, with its huge gap between rich and poor. Instead, the folk of West Stow […] seem to have been, essentially, an egalitarian people…

As an Anglo-Saxon socialist, I feel deeply offended by the term Anglo-Saxon Capitalism, and therefore believe that it should be consigned to the ashcan of politically incorrect history, along with the likes of Eskimo, chairman, and you’re going to feel a little prick.

Saturday, 31st January 2015

As a ——, I feel ——, phr.

Pronunciation: /az ə — ʌɪ fiːl —/
Etymology: < as prep. + feel v. const. either with direct object, subord. clause, or obj. with complement or infinitive.

Used to introduce statements of identity politics in place of the robuster I think ——.

I’m prompted to write this definition by the memory of the edition of Question Time the week before last, and particularly the panel’s discussion of the judge who said to the teacher she was sentencing for having sex with his sixteen-year-old pupil, ‘If grooming is the right word to use, it was she who groomed you, [and] you gave in to temptation.’ Clearly grooming was not the right word to use, but the only member of the panel who attempted an interesting and nuanced answer was David Starkey, and he was shouted down for it. The rest of the speakers simply rephrased each other’s platitude, i.e. that the teacher was wrong to do what he did. As Starkey said to Anna Soubry, ‘you’re very good at saying the obvious’, which is true of many of Question Time’s panellists.

What particularly irritated me in this case was the way in which two members of the panel prefixed their answers with, ‘As a parent, I ——’. This style of answering is, I think, on the increase, and the reason I dislike it is that it’s unconducive to constructive, dialectical debate: instead of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, it’s I’m this, I’m that and I’m the other. Argumenta ad hominem (as opposed to ad rem) have always been thought of as the personal attacks resorted to by someone who’s losing a debate. Yet users of the As a ——, I feel —— construction actually volunteer themselves to be attacked ad hominem. ‘As a Muslim, I’m offended’, ‘As a parent, I’m disgusted’, ‘As a Scot, I’m sick and tired of ——’. These are formulas. They abrogate the responsibility to really engage with an issue, and dispose people to overlook the wood for the trees, society for the communities. It’s not that people who identify with a particular group and its politics shouldn’t have a say in the broader debate, it’s that they should have a proper say. I don’t think Germaine Greer got where she is by prefixing her every utterance with, ‘As a woman, I feel ——’.

If these formulas become dominant, then playing the man as opposed to the ball will be not so much an aberration of the rules of the game, but the rule of a new game altogether; one of which the spectator would undoubtedly see more, if he could be bothered to watch.

Saturday, 13th December 2014

A late-sixteenth-century manuscript, newly discovered in the Duke Humfrey’s Library of the Bodleian, apparently contains an account of literary London in the 1590s – the flowering of English poetry – written by none other than William Shakespeare. This sentence taken from it will no doubt be an entry in a future edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations:

Though it be a thrilling and marvellous thing to be merely dead-white and European in such times, it is doubly so, doubly dynamic—to be dead-white, European and male.

To Be Dead-white, European and Male: William Shakespeare in His Own Words

Wednesday, 8th October 2014

On yesterday’s Today programme, in a piece about Rotherham, I hear reference to tensions between the ‘Muslim community and white population’. The attitude behind that phrasing is, in miniature, the same as that apparently taken by the police, which led to the cover-up in the first place. Whereas whites are a population – simply ‘the collective inhabitants of a country, town, or other area’ (OED) – Muslims are a community – ‘a group of people distinguished by shared circumstances of nationality, race, religion, sexuality, etc.; esp. such a group living within a larger society from which it is distinct’ (OED). This is killing with kindness: well-intentioned political correctness that actually serves further to exclude a group from the society whose norms are a guide to what is acceptable and what unacceptable.

%d bloggers like this: