No bigots, I won’t just shut up and be grateful

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 January 2018

Yasmin Alibahi-Brown on the reaction to her freedom of speech. Picture: Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.

Yasmin Alibahi-Brown on the reaction to her freedom of speech. Picture: Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.

Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown talks the attempts to silence her and backlash from Brexiters even after the hypocrisy of the Jo Marney scandal.

Henry Bolton OBE leader of Ukip is 54, is a married man and father of young children. Jo Marney, his fair young mistress, sent nakedly racist texts about Meghan Markle to a male friend. They were leaked. British people (seemingly) were scandalised and hurt on behalf of the mixed-race princess-to-be.

Bolton announced the end of this romantic liaison and is under pressure to resign because, according to his fellow party members, ‘racism is not allowed under the Ukip constitution’.

Did you even know that? Marney is very, very, very sorry. These texts, she explained were “taken out of context”, the usual excuse made by individuals when they get caught saying the unsayable or doing bad stuff.

By the time you read this, the old fool and his reckless lover may be toast. And the country will bask in the afterglow of righteousness.

I was on the The Wright Stuff, on Channel 5, when Nigel Farage backed a second referendum. The man who has riven society and whipped up anti-immigrant hostilities breezily insisted Britain is marvellously tolerant while other EU nations are irretrievably prejudiced. Fantasies and spin.

Nationalist chauvinism in contemporary Britain can be confusing. Wild, overtly racist statements are thought deplorable. Why even the Sun, scourge of the politically correct, won’t allow that. But people of colour and immigrants can be hounded, threatened, demeaned and reproved. It seems we must not become too conspicuous. We must know our place. Every hour of every day, people like me who refuse to do that suffer onslaughts online and in real life too.

My last column in The New European was on England’s historical openness and grey, small island Brexiters.

That raised a particularly vituperative posse of white people – mainly men – online. They want to teach me a lesson. Or several. Perhaps tie me to a horse and drag me through Pall Mall until I become quiet and more pliable? (The poor poppets clearly can’t bear to hear me arguing assertively in the public space because when most of them were growing up, Asian females were cooking curries in takeaways or silently serving punters in corner shops.)

Among those who came after me were some individual Asian and black Britons, including a Muslim doctor – an acquaintance. They so want to be seen as ‘the good immigrants’ who only praise and thank their adopted homeland. Supplication may seem wise to them, but the more politically literate of us know it leads to a dead-end and gives succour to the next generation of jingoists.

I have been settled in Britain for 45 years, but they say I must go back where I came from.

I am a metropolitan snob, because I quoted the quintessentially English poet Rudyard Kipling on the ‘poor street-bred people, that vapour and fume and brag’. Well he can say that. But I can’t quote him.

Freedom of speech is for the likes of Rod Liddle and Richard Littlejohn, Sarah Vine and Simon Heffer. But not an ‘effing migrant’. Some broadsheet newspaper columnists dog-whistled about my ‘contempt’ for ordinary, trueborn Brits. I doubt any of them mix with many plumbers and road repairers, but their championing of the white working class is a coded rejection of multiracialism and diversity.

Sorry guys, I don’t fall for these trickeries. White working class Britons have never before been supported by, say, the Times, or Telegraph. Those who lost out under Thatcherism and all Tory governments that came after, are now ignominiously used and manipulated by uncompromising Brexiters. And they ask me to feel shame?

Smart bigots, born again nationalists, white supremacists and a growing number of new, middle class ‘patriots’ are on a mission to redefine Britain post-Brexit. They say they want to take back their country not only from the ‘distrustful, unreliable’ EU but from those of us who came from elsewhere, those of us with dark skin colours, those of us who are culturally and religiously diverse, those of us who born to the subjugated children of the vainglorious British empire.

Their emotive messages about repressing their land are pure propaganda. The truth is less colourful. Power has been and continues to be held by white middle and upper class men (and now some women). The only change that has slowly taken place is that a few more black and Asian individuals are finding success in business, sports, the arts, media, politics, science, medicine and education. We are no longer invisible or silent. That is just too unbearable and provocative for those white people who cannot accept us as equals.

For them I reproduce a tweet I sent out last week: “Listen bigots. I will not be a grateful, little brown migrant. I am a citizen and a taxpayer. So will express my views freely as a columnist. If you find that hard. It’s not my problem”.

PS, I will not be going back to where I came from. Get over it.

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