Thursday, January 5, 2012

Changing Places

Ever since we've been able to get Sky News on Cable - about a year now - I've felt a lot more connected with what's going on in the UK. I generally watch it for ten or fifteen minutes of a morning on weekdays, whilst imbibing a cuppa, and quite often give it a glance in an evening.

So that's why I'm more aware than I normally would have been of a confluence of stories in the news there circling, one way or another, around issues connected with race: the Suarez mess, ditto for Terry, the Stephen Lawrence case, M.P. Diane Abbott getting into trouble with her comments on Twitter, and the like. The connecting feature of all these (without passing particular judgements on the various actors therein) is the extremely wonderful fact that it's now absolutely, entirely, unequivocally impossible to get away with any kind of public racism without a deluge of opprobrium descending upon your head. And this from even the most reactionary elements of the media.

Sadly this was not the case even twenty-five years ago. I know, because I was there. I remember vowing not to attend football matches in certain parts of the country because of the appalling open racism of crowds towards black players particularly. (Unless you've seen middle-aged fathers, their young sons at their sides, making monkey noises and doing 'funny' things with bananas because a black player has touched the ball, you won't really know what I mean.) Now, as far as I can tell, that's gone. Impossible to imagine - as it rightly should be.

Proof that with determination the moral climate of a society can change for the better. If there is such a thing as progress in human affairs - and I'm something of a nay-sayer on this one - this is it.

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