Monday, August 29, 2011

Lighten up?

On a whim yesterday, I bought the Independent on Sunday rather than the Sunday Times and came across this article on page 3. One positive thing about the story - a Plaid Cymru MP makes page three of a non tabloid UK paper. The negative - it is a completely ridiculous and ignorant piece of journalism.

First of all Mr Matthew Bell, who wrote the article, could you please interview some actual Welsh people if you want to find out what we're thinking? The way you've gone about it is a bit like asking white people after a white person has made a racial slur against a black person if they think he or she was being racist!

Lembit Opik MP is not Welsh. He may have represented Montgomeryshire at one point, but he is most definitely not Welsh and not a natural spokesperson for us.

Chris Bryant the MP for Rhondda was brought up in Cardiff, Spain and Cheltenham. I would not say that his identity is one of a Welshman.

The reporter then goes on to say that Stephen Fry and Gyles Brandreth also support the criticisms. Both NOT Welsh.

However, he did find one genuinely Welsh person to support his view that we are being ridiculous to take race slurs so seriously: Carol Voderman. Her words of wisdom: "Shrug your shoulders and have a glass of something fizzy to celebrate that life is never dull". Oh dear...

And so it seems that the UK press, even the Independent, believe that racism towards the Welsh is one of the last acceptable forms of racism. Jonathan Edwards was completely right to complain about the article. It was sick and racist, and to be honest, the article that appeared yesterday was racist as well. Why should we allow people to slur us in this way? I hate the way that if we complain about our treatment by the UK press, we are always accused of being oversensitive, thin skinned and paranoid. If that's the case, then surely that's the advice that should be given to everyone who feels discriminated against? Luckily, that's not the case, and the police do take forms of discrimination seriously.

That's not to say that we shouldn't ever be able to laugh at ourselves. Everyone needs to have a sense of humour and accept that people will make fun of different attributes and characteristics of a nation. But there is a line, and when it is crossed, some attacks are racist rather than funny. And we are right to stand up for ourselves when such a line is crossed.