No Laughing Matter
by Frederick Dixon
I NEVER WAS a great fan of John Cleese, his style of humour being a bit too manic for my liking, but I have to hand it to the old boy for stirring up a hornet’s nest a few days ago. You’ll remember the enormous stink that ensued when he said that London was “no longer an English city.”
He has inevitably been accused of racism by the usual suspects including Piers Morgan and someone called Dom Joly (a fellow comedian by all accounts). But Cleese’s remark does raise interesting questions about the meaning of racism and of the word “English”.
No doubt most of us would be happy to describe ourselves as racialists or racial nationalists meaning that ancestry and human difference are central to our understanding of personal and national identity, and fuel our determination to defend those precious things. Racialism, as I have tried to describe it, implies no disrespect for those who are not of our race nor any wish to rule over them. Every ethnicity should have its own more-or-less exclusive homeland in which its racial and cultural identity is secure; racialism is for everyone.
But our enemies make no distinction between racialism and racism, no distinction between love of land and folk on the one hand, and screaming racial abuse at a football match on the other. They do not understand our love of land and folk but they do understand — and fear — the power of that love to move hearts and minds, and that is why they seek to make it unmentionable by tarring it with the dread word “racism”. Racism, if the word ever had any validity, surely means the subjection of people to inferior treatment on the grounds of their race. But its use has been cynically and deliberately extended to cover every manifestation of preference for one’s own — but only if one’s own is White and especially if one’s own is English. Somehow even the mildest expressions of regret for the passing of Englishness, as in the case of Mr. Cleese, have come to be condemned as racist and are therefore to be suppressed. Douglas Murray, author of that brilliant book The Strange Death of Europe (Bloomsbury 2017) remarked in a recent article that the Left makes full use of all the weapons in its armoury, however mendacious — he surely meant the racism slur — while the Right is too timid to use those at its disposal, including what he calls “country and people”, surely not too different from our own “Land and Folk”?
So successful has been the inversion of values by the Left that our love for our own is now “hate” while their hate for us is “hope”. The old saying that the Devil ( also known as “the Lord of Lies”) comes with a fair face and sweet words, the better to deceive, has never been truer. The Left has even invented a new, and virtuous, racism of its own — Anglophobia. Loathing of England, presumably because of our proud imperial past, is permitted and encouraged — as exemplified in the recent outburst by Reg Dwight (Elton John): “I am sick to death of Brexit. I am a European. I am not a stupid, colonial, imperialist English idiot.” Substitute for “English” the name of any other ethnicity, especially a non-White ethnicity, and imagine the grovelling apologies and cancelled tour dates which would have followed the media storm, but because he said “English” — nothing.
Which brings me neatly on to my second question — who now are the English? There is a problem with defining Englishness and it stems from the unmatched success of England, expanding from a prosperous but fairly marginal European power in the Middle Ages, to the mastery first of the British Isles and then of vast new worlds beyond. That the countries of North America and Australasia are English speaking lands inhabited by scores of millions of people of English descent, together with the wider legacy of Empire, means that some major characteristics of English identity, such as our language and much of our higher culture — especially literature — are now universal. Given that fact, it would not be entirely unreasonable to suggest that anyone whose first language is English is entitled to claim to be English, but of course that would be going much too far — and is unlikely to please the Irish and the Scots! But if that definition is too wide, any attempt to limit Englishness to people of Anglo-Saxon descent living in England is too narrow. I suggest that a reasonable modern definition of an English person is one who is White, whose first language is English, and who reasonably considers herself or himself to be English — meaning either born and brought up in England or born and brought up elsewhere but of English descent.
Probably the only controversial element in that definition is the insistence on Whiteness. This is necessary because the English are a European ethnicity, and Whiteness is the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of all European ethnicities. White is what we are, we cannot be otherwise any more than a Zulu could not be Black. Most ethnic minority people in England are aware of this reality, defining themselves (if they are British citizens) as British, not English, recognising that Englishness is an ethnicity to which they do not, and cannot, belong. But what, some may object, about all those Black and mixed race footballers/cricketers/rugby players who play for the England international teams, are they not English? No they are not — they are ethnic minority individuals who are living in England; they are chosen to play for representative teams by the various sporting bodies whose job is to pick the teams most likely to win, not to define Englishness.
As for London, several newspaper columnists have made out that London has always been multi-racial and multi-cultural. This not altogether wrong, merely a great exaggeration. All great port cities have foreign communities living in their midst and always have done and London is no exception. But until quite recent times the foreign communities in London were overwhelmingly from near at hand — Dutch, Flemings, French, Germans — people who melded seamlessly with the English. Nor did these communities ever come anywhere near majority status. For nearly eleven centuries from its refoundation by Alfred the Great in the 890s London was unquestionably an ethnic English city. But no more — according to the census of 2011, only 45% of the inhabitants of London were then White British, and the position will not have improved in the eight years since, nor will all of those White British have been English. So, except in purely geographic terms, Cleese was right — London is no longer an English city.
The general response of the great and good to the news that we White British are no longer a majority in our capital city was enthusiastic — “it can’t be stopped” was the observation of one of them, a certain Boris Johnson.
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Source: Western Spring