Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Storms and Teacups   posted by DavidB @ 1/23/2007 03:12:00 AM

As GNXP's only British contributor I feel bound to say a few words about the Big Brother controversy. For the past week Britain - and perhaps also India - has been gripped by a bout of collective insanity. I'm not sure how far the rest of the world has taken any interest in the affair, so here is a report from CNN.

In commenting I am somewhat hampered by having hardly watched the show - honest - but it has been impossible to escape it entirely. As far as I can judge, the alleged 'racism' has been hugely exaggerated. Tensions of social class and personality were far more important, though it would be difficult to deny an undercurrent of racism in some of the comments about Shilpa Shetty. But it is worth pointing out that the only overtly racist comment was made by Jermaine Jackson, whispering to Shilpa (perhaps underestimating the sensitivity of the microphones) that "we are people of color, they [Jade and her friends] are just white trash". Shilpa, a high-caste Hindu, does not seem to have been overjoyed by this gesture of solidarity.

Which brings me to my main point: I question the smug assumption among the liberal commentators, including those of Asian origin, that racism is somehow a preserve of the white working classes. The commentators can hardly be unaware that prejudice exists in all ethnic groups, but with a few honourable exceptions, like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown here, there seems to be a tacit conspiracy to ignore it.