Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Political correctness in Britain

Rod Liddle writes about political correctness in modern Britain:

There are some things that you can say and there are some things that you can’t say. Paradoxically, they are sometimes the same things.

For example, did you know that black and Asian women commit far more crime than their white counterparts? Almost one third of the total female British prison population is drawn from black and Asian communities.

Now, that’s one of the things you can’t say, or shouldn’t say, unless you’re the British National party. Indeed, you may already be twitching at your breakfast table. Those who point out that black people commit more crime than white people tend to be racists, don’t they? To highlight the apparently greater propensity of black and Asian people to commit crime is what we call “playing the race card”. It foments resentment and antagonism, true or not.

Last week an organisation called the Fawcett Society said just this, however. The Fawcett Society is not a descendant of the League of St George or an ally of Migrationwatch UK or Robert Kilroy-Silk. It is an impeccably liberal pressure group. “Our vision is of a society in which women and men are equal partners in the home, at work and in public life,” it proclaims, and its latest report is about how women from ethnic minority backgrounds are having a rough time.

They are far more likely to be put in prison, for example. Now, that is one of the things you can say. Black and Asian women make up 8% of the general population and 29% of the female prison population, ergo they are the victims of an institutionally racist society.

But you can’t say that black and Asian women commit more crime. Just as you can say that our schools are failing male pupils from a Caribbean background, but not that boys from a Caribbean background are, for whatever reason, academically not up to scratch. It would seem to me to follow that if children from most other ethnic minority backgrounds do well in school, and that girls from a Caribbean background do very well in school, then the problem might lie with some facet of Caribbean male culture, rather than with the education system.

The Fawcett Society report is a perfect model of its kind; disingenuous, simplistic and quick to draw fatuous conclusions from selective data. We are told that British women from ethnic backgrounds (BMEs, as they charmingly put it, for black and minority ethnic) are subject to “systematic discrimination” and that they are “powerless, poor and passed over” and, worse still, “almost entirely absent from the rank of decision makers in the UK”.

The report’s conclusions ignore entirely the enormous and complex differences between the various British ethnic minorities: the implication is that all women from an ethnic minority background are discriminated against by the white male hegemony — and it’s bloody well got to stop.

The truth is rather different. In terms of employment and income (and education), British people from Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian backgrounds easily outperform their white counterparts, both male and female. In terms of earnings, women from ethnic minority backgrounds (excepting those from Pakistan and Bangladesh but including, for example, African and Caribbean women) easily outperform white women. The average weekly wage of a white British woman in 2002 was £180, compared with £187 for all black and Asian women, £199 for African women and £210 for Caribbean women. These figures come from the Cabinet Office.

One year later the Downing Street policy unit concluded, in a report entitled Ethnic Minorities and the Labour Market, that “the old picture of white success and ethnic underachievement is now out of date”.

Around the Blogosphere:

What you can't say...

This will have to stop

Fightin' Words

Playing the race card

A Daniel Come To Judgement

Things You Can't Say

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