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Acceptable Bigotry

October 13, 2012

No, this is not what you think it is going to be; I am not going to go on about how the privileged groups exert prejudice by action and inaction.  That is another topic (and I have discussed it, slightly tangentially, here.), although having re-read it there is so much more I will eventually say about it…

This is about how it seems to be fine to show prejudice, discrimination, even outright bigotry, towards people as long as they are in some way privileged.  This is most often shown against the upper classes in the UK, and especially against the royal family.

How often do you read that the Queen is German?  That she is a foreigner, and this somehow makes her position as our Head of State even more untenable?  The criticism of her position and the privilege she is afforded is valid. The pointlessness of having a monarchy in this day and age, when she has no power and is merely a decorative figurehead used to bring in the tourists (so why does she need so many homes?) is valid.  But to criticise her as being a foreigner and imply that is why she is unworthy validates racism.

Think about it.  She was born in the UK, at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London to be exact.  Last I checked, London is definitely in the UK.  Her parents were born at the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk (George VI) and St. Pauls Warden, North Hertfordshire (Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon; that’s right, she isn’t Scottish, but is also English).  That’s both her parents being English, let alone British or UKish (we really need a word for that).  Go back another generation and we have George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert) and Queen Mary (born as Princess Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes of Teck) on her father’s side and Claude George Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis ( 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne) and Cecilia Nina Cavendish-Bentinck on her mother’s side.  In order they were born in: Marlborough House, London (just checked again and London is still in England), KensingtonPalace, London (hmmm, London has not yet left the British Isles), Lowndes Square, London (I’m sensing a theme here…) and London (no exact address; my goodness these privileged nobility types didn’t get around much).  So that’s all of the Queen’s grandparents being emphatically English, also.

I am not a monarchist, by any stretch of the imagination.  I believe monarchy is outdated, irrelevant, expensive and a form of privilege society can no longer afford.  To deal with the topic fully would require another blog.  What I do object to, though, is argument against the monarchy based on fallacious, incorrect, bigoted rhetoric.  Even worse is that this particular argument supports the racist ideology that personal historical heritage negates one’s identity as an English/British or UK-ish person (whichever one prefers).  This is an argument I hear far too often from those who would wish to remove anyone who is not white from the United Kingdom.  It is racism, and to use the argument when one is arguing against the monarchy is to support and perpetuate racism.

What is most ironic is that those who spout racist ideology are also usually monarchists (there is strong correlatory evidence as the monarchy is held up as a bastion of British pride), and those who claim the monarchy is German are usually those who espouse left-wing, liberal and/or anti-racist ideology.

Am I the only one who sees this?  Please tell me I’m not the only one…

When arguing against prejudice, and fighting bigotry, I think that if one does not fight ALL bigotry then one has lost the argument before one has made the opening salvo.  That absolutely does not mean the privilege the people are afforded should be forgotten, or accepted, or not fought against as the inherent perpetuation of bigotry that privilege, in itself, is.

Just because a person has privilege in one way does not make it acceptable to discriminate against them in other ways.  Discrimination, prejudice, racism, sexism, transphobia, disablism, homophobia, bigotry, ANY prejudice is wrong, as far as I am concerned.  I hope I do not perpetuate any bigotry when I fight prejudice.  If I do exert my privilege through ignorance, I hope someone will point it out to me so I can learn from my mistakes.  I have used the joke that the Royal Family are all German myself, many times.  I will not do so now, in public forums or where I can not be sure people will understand I am being ironic, and that the context is fallacious and the argument is not the true one.  I want to see my privilege, as a white English person in a white-dominant English privileged culture, and I want to address the bigotry that perpetuates.

Ultimately, there is no acceptable form of bigotry.  End of.


From → Ideology, political

  1. I’ve used and heard used the “queen is German” argument, often in fact, it is a useful foil precisely against the “100% British” idiots as an illustration of the fact that it doesn’t actually matter where the queen is born, nor whether or not she were to consider herself as German or English, she is from immigrant stock, her family trace their heritage elsewhere, she is as hybrid as the country over which she erroneously rules. Were the monarchists merely to be arguing in the validity of a hierarchical monarchist system we would have a debate to go on, one in which they will lose since their argument lacks merit or substance, however is not bigoted! The portrayal of the queen as German is part of the narrative expediency with which things such as the patron saint being Palestinian, the English flag being that of Genoa, the language being from all over the fecking shop are used to highlight the fallacy of any accuracy to a term such as British, not Irish mind, that’s different!

    I would imagine that this is a similar context in which you have used the term in the past, and I like the fact that you have analysed your usage in order to question whether it is appropriate. However the self-censorship of which you speak is troubling. Were you to be curbing some genuine bigotry I would understand it but to do so on account of much of the audience being too bigoted to recognise the irony denies them surely the chance to learn to see the ridiculous nature of the differentiation as a whole doesn’t it?

  2. Jessica permalink

    this is england the land of many wars and hostile take overs… as far as I am aware there isn’t a 100% genetically british family line?… I think the romans, normans, saxons and any bugger else who came here, raped, pillaged and settled kind of make many race based things seem a little stupid…

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