Many, many years ago my father remarked upon a mixed-race marriage about to take place with some disgust, ‘One of these days the whole bloody world will be khaki coloured!’
Anderson Cooper of CNN has initiated a debate about racism. CNN research has shown that children of all races, aged 6 and under, have zero racial prejudice. By the time that they have turned 13, the white kids have a 70% racial prejudice against black kids – but the black kids have only a 40% prejudice against white kids. The consensus seems to be that this is due to their parents’ inability to contemplate the possibility of a mixed-race marriage and so, as their kids begin to grow towards puberty, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, their brainwashing of their kids begins. It goes so far as parents forbidding their kids to bring home friends of another colour – and even forbidding them to even have friends of a different colour. So much for ‘Christian’ America.
And now, here in Fiji ‘the way the world should be’, one of our paramount chiefs, a mere two and a half years or so before elections, has opened the bidding with a race card. (She reminds me of the parliamentarian, also a woman, who some years ago called Fiji’s Indians ‘weeds’ – televised in Parliament no less.)
Well, this chief gets it half right when she claims that ethnicity ‘is a fact of life’. It is indeed a fact of life – an irrational, unintelligent, and hate-filled fact of life which no chiefly leader should condone, support or propound.
Racism yanks schoolyard bullying out of the playground and into the adult world and it all boils down to S E X sex. Not fear of sex, no – but fear of what sex between people of different races might produce. Someone who is not like US! Someone who is different, and different is unknown, and unknown is scary, and scary is to be avoided at all costs.
Has this paramount chief thought this through? Does she realise what she might have unleashed? One has to ask, does she read anything at all? Does she pay attention to world affairs? Has she ever read a history book? After reading Graham Davis’ report (unfortunately given prominence by the Sun on its front page) I think not.
He refers to this person as the Boadicea of the South Pacific – I’d call her the female Ian Paisley – the rabidly poisonous parson of Northern Ireland who promoted religious intolerance and hatred there, spitting his venom into people’s faces and TV cameras.
The problem is that that sort of venom, religious or racist, actually works. It works for the simple reason that we human beings – each and every one of us – likes to think that we are ‘special’; and the easiest way to go about that is not to work hard to truly be special, but to claim a superior ‘otherness’ compared to others.
Royalty, nobles and chiefs are actually born superior to the rest of us, and therefore ‘special’ – but think about this: they are only ‘special’ because we, the so-called commoners, are prepared to grant them their special status. They are superior because we permit them to claim so: and special because we allow them to be. (This of course ignores the very obvious economic advantages of being ‘superior’ and therefore ‘special’)
So – if we are neither prepared to work hard to become special people in our own right, nor simply accept our lot, there are two (im)-perfect solutions. Religion or Race. We can simply claim that our religion or race is superior, and therefore ‘special’. If we can claim superiority of both religion and race we’ve can really feel ‘special’!
And we human beings have been doing that since time immemorial. Just look at all those ‘hosts’ and ‘nations’ who vanished in biblical times. Remember Ireland and later, Northern Ireland. Think back to Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Cambodia. And as I write, consider Africa and the Middle East. It is all about religion and race.
Most chiefs are getting on a bit – but they unfortunately have a very real grey-power: no longer the GCC and the dough, but certainly the influence, and they are not likely to give that up without a struggle, no matter how many sevu-sevus and apologising ceremonies they grant the PM.
So – here we have an extremely important and ‘special’ chief who one day very soon might have to look back on a blood-bath and eat her words. She has chosen to be divisive rather than inclusive. I quote…’racial calamity’. She is warning us all about a possible ‘racial calamity’? She’s herself will be the cause of it! It is her responsibility to promote understanding, tolerance, and unity.
So what did I reply to my father all those years ago? I told him that the sooner the world was all khaki coloured the better the world would be.