The British colonial mindset
We're not even Greece to their Rome
‘In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote.’
Abbott almost immediately apologised, although as excuses go it was quite feeble: she clearly believes what she wrote, which is consistent with a form of thinking in which racism = prejudice + power.
But what’s striking, as Owolade pointed out, is ‘that in response to a piece that is specifically about Britain, she cites the examples of America and apartheid South Africa.’ Owolade’s upcoming book makes the argument that the black British experience is not the same as the African-American one, and yet here we have a British MP writing in a British newspaper in response to a letter about British history – and she cites segregation on buses.
Like many British conservatives, I have grown far more pessimistic about American influence since the summer of 2020, in part because so many British people seem unable to view the world through any other framework now. And no other framework seems acceptable.
After the bus letter blew up, Samuel Rubinstein argued in The Critic that the idea of power dynamics ‘is a conception of racism that takes the American experience to be its default, chauvinistically imposes it onto all other contexts, and cleaves firmly, as a result, to the notion that it is somehow wrong or improper to apply the concept of “racism” even to Jews under the Nazis, let alone Jews today. Since Jews, in countries like America and Britain, tend to be perceived as white — even if they weren’t in Nazi Germany — it is natural that such ideas about racism will lead one to some very strange places.’
This is clearly true. Indeed in their book on (American) academic insanity, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay wrote that ‘Critical Race Theory is, at root, an American phenomenon,’ and that even when used outside America it is basically using an American way of seeing the world.