Yesterday, an MP got suspended for using ‘a racist term’ in public, while talking about Brexit.
Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot used the term “n****r in the woodpile“, in a similar context to ‘the elephant in the room’ – i.e. something that shouldn’t be discussed, but needed to be.
Her excuse afterwards was “The comment was totally unintentional.” – which is what I have an issue with.
You see, if a comment like that, with such a loaded word – and particularly if you’re also a politician, and thus likely to be recorded on everything you say, for fuck’s sake – then I agree, it probably was unintentional. As in “not thought about”.
But really all that tells me is that it’s likely that such words and attitudes are part of her everyday life, thoughts, and experience. And that’s where the story should really be – that she perceives these words and phrases as ‘normal’, that they’re something that’s part of her unconscious thoughts and speech.
It’s not “I used the wrong phrase”, or “I mis-spoke”. It’s just “unintentional” – used so normally it wasn’t even worthy of a thought.
I can (sorta kinda) live with people who use racism intentionally. They’re at least voicing an opinion – albeit one I don’t like – and a mindset that goes with it.
But unintentional and unconscious racism? That shit’s pernicious, because the people who do it don’t even realise it’s bad…