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Let’s hope Liddle’s half-apology marks an end to his race stereotyping

Rod Liddle made an apology (of sorts) for causing offence with a blog that suggested African-Caribbean men had only contributed rap, crime and curry goat to Britain.

Challenged by Operation Black Vote’s Simon Woolley to apologise, the Spectator columnist said he was sorry for the way people had interpreted his original article, and said he believed African-Caribbean people had contributed other things.

While the half-hearted apology is unlikely to satisfy many in the black community, the more humble tone adopted by Liddle in the reader comments section below a New Statesman article at least shows that Liddle regrets the impact his words may have made.

His acknowledgement that offence has been caused will no doubt lead many to hope that Liddle will adopt more journalist rigour and less of  the fast and loose approach, which is his favoured form particularly on blogsphere to shock  generate a psuedo debate.

Sadly, for Liddle the only debate we are having is whether or not he is a racist.

The whole controversy now marks a watershed for Liddle. If the tone he struck in the New Statesman comment thread is genuine then some may say individuals such as he can be encouraged to behave within the parameters of decency.

Writing on the New Statesman threat yesterday, Simon Woolley challenged Liddle:

Rod Liddle, as you are looking at these threads, can I ask you to show me, and the rest of the Caribbean community here in the UK, how big you are by having the basic decency to apologise for suggesting/stating that, our only contribution to this nation has been ‘shootings, knife crime, rap music and curry goat’.

You know Rod, there are many of us who spend a great deal of time and energy trying to inspire young Black men to take a different path: not to accept their impoverished start, but do something positive to find a way out. The REACH role model programme is one such effort. There are many more. Your piece Rod, was a kick in teeth.”

Liddle responded:

Simon – of course I’m sorry if that’s what you took it to mean, but it’s not what I said and, in context, very far from what I meant. I blog very differently from some people.

That last sardonic line was intended to lampoon those who will entertain no debate whatsoever about multiculturalism (as opposed to multiracialism, with which no sane person could disagree). Rip the line out of that context and sure, it will offend – and ripped thus it was.

But you have my assurance at least that it’s not what was intended. if you took it to mean that I thought black people had contributed nothing more than rap etc, then the best I can do is apologise for the process which led you to think that. I realise you will consider that not enough. I applaud your work and wish you the very best of luck and I’m sorry you thought it a kick in the teeth.”

While Liddle fails to rebut the impression in his original blog that there was a causal link between crime and skin colour, his latest comments are at attempt to draw a line under the controversy.

Liddle and others should be under no illusion that the crude racialisation of crime that somehow suggest that something inherent to Caribbeans partially explians the problem will not be tolerated. And in regards to our positive contribution to this society past and present  its about time commentatators told the truth.

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2 Responses

  1. Well done Simon for getting him to apologies, even thought it was half hearted, you made him apologise! We need more people like you who are willing to challenge these types of blogs. Thank you again.

  2. FFBJ Facilitators for a better Jamaica, the name speaks for itself and that is what many of us envision to do, work within the community to rebuild the
    ill negative stereotypes of the young black males and assist in building an identity which our forefathers- Martin Luther King Jr, Marcus Garvey,
    Kwame Nkrumah and many others have done. These were great black leaders whose work paved the way for Obama and other black leaders of today.

    Thus, instead of stigmatising and blaming Afro Caribbean males as the root of society ills we, as a community need to offer an antidote, this can only be
    done if ALL races work together not creating divisions which are unhelpful by Mr Liddle. It is good that Simon Woolley took Mr. Liddle to task and it is hoped that many of the racial stereotypes out there who try to justify their racist antics and disposition will be further exposed.

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