Richard Herring: What we should learn from the racists
Friday 31 May 2013 6:00 am
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Richard Herring explains how racists just see two types of people (Picture: The Boy Fitz Hammond/ NB Illustration)Richard Herring explains how racists just see two types of people (Picture: The Boy Fitz Hammond/ NB Illustration)
Ive always thought being racist was one of the worst things you could be. To hate someone because their skin, accent or foreskin is different to yours is ludicrous.
And lazy. If I want to hate someone, I have to find out what theyre like and how they behave. It takes a lot of time. Just randomly deciding to despise everyone from Holland would make life a lot easier.
But are racists really that bad? (Bear with me here, I might be about to make some kind of satirical point).
If a man told you he hated all black people, youd probably condemn him. But if someone else told you that he hated all humanity, youd prefer him to the guy who just hates the black people. Even though the second man still hates the black people, exactly the same as the first one, but worse, he hates everyone else as well. I mean, at least the racist likes someone.
But theres no logic to hating someone based on their race. There is a certain logic to hating all humanity. I have to work with you on a daily basis and youre scum.
Im a woolly liberal. I believe all people are the same and should be treated the same, regardless of their race, sex or sexuality. However, Ive got a friend whose dad is English but his mum is from Asia somewhere.
I can never remember where shes from: its either Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines. Its a source of great embarrassment and liberal guilt. Hes one of my best friends; I should know his heritage.
But to a racist, my friends just Chinese. Thats that issue sorted. It doesnt matter that his dads English. It doesnt matter that his mums not Chinese. Hes Chinese.
Lets move on with our lives. To a racist, pretty much anyone from Hawaii, right through Fiji, up through the Australasian islands, Vietnam, Thailand, Siberia even, China and Tibet are all Chinese. A quarter of the worlds population, immediately exactly the same.
I see the world as 195 countries, 195 distinct types of people. To a racist, there are just four types of people. Theyre 191 closer than me to seeing everyone in the world as exactly the same.
To a racist youre either Chinese, black, white or the fourth type of person. The fourth type is the most amazing of all. It encompasses anyone from the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Europe even, right through to Mexico and the Hispanic parts of South America.
Basically, anyone who could be played by the actor Nadim Sawalha. To a racist, or a casting director, there is no difference. You could be from El Salvador or Iraq, youre the same. Its beautiful.
Consider the people of India and Pakistan. They hate each other. Theyre on the brink of a nuclear war that would destroy the world. If only the people of India and Pakistan could see themselves the way a racist sees them!
Why are we fighting? Were exactly the same. Most of the worlds conflagrations happen between peoples that racists would see as identical. Israel/Palestine; Serbs and Croats; North Korea/South Korea; Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Take a step back guys and look at yourself like a racist would. There would be peace in our time. In fact, the most extreme racists see the world as just two types of people.
Youre either white or youre black. Theyre just one step away from seeing everyone in the world as equal. Youre 194 steps away from that utopia, yet you dare judge them? Hypocrite!
For details of Richard Herrings live dates and his forthcoming new Edinburgh Festival show Were All Going To Die! visit www.richardherring.com