SELWYN DORFMAN

‘Institutionally racist Labour’? No, that’s lazy, stupid and wrong

I WAS disappointed not to be invited to meet Donald Trump last week. It would not have inconvenienced me in the slightest as I happened to be in London last Friday and saw the American fleet of helicopters hovering above.

I’m sure the president would have been very interested to hear my views on immigration, the Middle East and Brexit.

I have certain reservations about Trump’s suggestion that Boris should be our next prime minister.

But I think Boris was on to something when he was secretly recorded saying that Brexit was a mess, that we should stand firm against the EU and if Trump were negotiating on our behalf he would shake things up and make a much better job of it.

As things stand, we are aiming for the worst possible outcome imaginable — a slight shift from being half in the EU to being half out but with no say in how the club is run.

Whatever your views on Brexit, you must agree this is utterly pathetic. What is the point of “leaving” if we’re not actually going to leave?

In view of the “special relationship”, surely it must be possible to arrange a job swap. Let’s lend the US our dithering, indecisive, zombie prime minister, who will at least provide Americans some respite from their tweeting, shoot-from-the-lip president.

Not for long, mind — just a year or even six months.

And in return, can we borrow their deal-making Trump so that he can tell that condescending, patronising Barnier where to get off; either give us a good deal that works for both sides or we will leave without a deal — and take our 40 billion quid with us.

That should take the smile off Barnier’s smarmy face.

Nothing on earth would have made me join the thousands of anti-Trump protesters in Trafalgar Square. What a bunch of hypocrites and humbugs. I don’t question their right to protest, but the same protesters would never venture on to the streets if some really nasty despot were to come on an official visit.

Instead they preserve their rage for the leader of the free world who, despite his many faults, is democratically accountable and subject to the constraints of the American constitution.

There was more cant and humbug closer to home when Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of that assembly of self-appointed, unaccountable plutocrats and busybodies known as the Jewish Leadership Council, labelled the Labour Party “institutionally antisemitic”.

I defy anyone in the community to be more vociferous than I have been in my denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn and his hard-left cronies. They have a problem with Israel and also, though they will never admit it, with Jews who don’t subscribe to their world view.

But the phrase “institutionally racist” was first coined by Stokely Carmichael, a virulent antisemite who was so extreme that he was expelled from the Black Panthers.

Why do I find the phrase so objectionable? Because institutions, as opposed to individuals, cannot in my view be racist or antisemitic unless, like the Klu Klux Klan and Hamas, they openly espouse racist values. And here’s another, more philosophical problem. What would Dr Martin Luther King Jr have said?

You must have seen footage of his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s proclamation which freed the slaves.

Have you forgotten what Dr King’s dream was? That “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Dr King was focused on racism, but he hated religious bigotry too. I am sure he would also have objected to Sir William Macpherson’s branding of the Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist” in his report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Some officers are undoubtedly racist, but that doesn’t make it open season against everyone in a police uniform.

And I can’t imagine Dr King agreeing with Jonathan Goldstein about the Labour Party.

There are antisemites in the party and it’s deplorable that the current leadership turns a blind eye, save in the most egregious instances.

But to call the party “institutionally antisemitic” is lazy, stupid and wrong. There are thousands of decent people in Parliament, in local councils and in the membership who espouse Labour and are not antisemitic.

Judge them by their character, not their party affiliation.

The anti-Trump demonstrations and Goldstein’s remarks about the Labour Party have this in common: they display unthinking prejudice which has little, if anything, to do with the character of the persons under attack.

Wouldn’t it be marvellous if we could banish prejudice based on race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, membership of a liberal organisation as well as political allegiance to democratic institutions and ideas?

Then, and only then, can we join Dr King in his rendition of the old negro spiritual:

“Free at last, free at last,

Great God almighty, We are free at last.”

E-MAIL: comment@jewishtelegraph.com


Site developed & maintained by
MICHAEL PAYSDEN/FIREIMAGE
© 2018 Jewish Telegraph
www.JewishTelegraph.com