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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jaded opinions

Celebrity Big Brother 5 might be closing, but the row over race carries on. I've chipped in my two penn'th for BBC local radio, so I won't repeat myself here. Except to say that if Britain was as racist as some commentators make out - based on projecting "Jade Baddy's" mindset onto everyone else - then Shilpa Shetty would have been voted off the show by now.

Part of Goody's problem is that she is seen as white trash, therefore a legitimate target. The sentiments that fuel the bashing of 'rough estates' get personalised in the name of anti-racism. (For a snapshot of this more general snobbery, see Paul Barker, 'Homes for heroes, or designs for despair?' [r. Lynsey Hanley, Estates: an intimate history], Independent Art & Books Review, 12 January 2007, p.22.) The transformation of official anti-racism into elite etiquette is pretty breathtaking.

That's not to say that this is the first time such ideas have been chopped and changed in line with other priorities. Right now I'm reading Popular Eugenics, edited by Susan Currell and Christina Cogdell, which shows how support for eugenics flourished and crumbled at the same time. Ideology is of necessity flexible if it is to be effective.



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