Superiority complex

August 8, 2008

My personal privileges as a white middle class UK citizen were brought to light this week by two very different encounters. The first was when a large group of black teenage boys wanted to get on the bus, weren’t allowed, then one of them sabotaged the bus. Although sabotaging a bus is rarely the best cause of action I sympathise with the boys. They are one of the most despised groups in our society, and one that it seems socially acceptable to despise since all the press about gangs, knife and gun crime. They were probably correct when they claimed the bus driver was being racist. I can appreciate the driver was intimidated by the number of them and only wanted to admit some to reduce the chance of rowdiness, but the fact that they could see there was space for them all to fit antagonised them. Unfortunately they did get a little rowdy then, proving in the minds of the passengers what they had suspected all along.

It’s actually that part that happened after that I had most problem with. The boys were not a gang, they were a football team on their way to practice. Despite that the disruntled passengers complained the driver should have done something sooner, they shouldn’t have been allowed onto another bus, and one of them called the police. These were all middle class white people, all very annoyed that their bus had been messed with. The guy who called the police actually shouted at the rest of us for not standing up with him when he confronted one of them (he’s obviously been reading too many opinion pieces on the Independent website). No one spoke up for the kids, but I guess there could have been some secret sympathisers.

I understand why they feel safer in large groups now, with so many suspicious glances.

Not that I understand their entire lives, obviously, though I do think hating teenagers is one of the first signs of aging.

My second encounter was with my new friend Neighbour. Neighbour lives next door (duh) and gets the same bus as me in the morning, giving us the opportunity for a five minute chat before the bus arrives. He is about 60, a working class Brummie who builds staircases for shops. I, being middle class and highly educated, assumed that I was so very much more clever than Neighbour, until we had a chat about books. He is a sci-fi fanatic and loves to read at any given opportunity, though for unspecified reasons (probably since he started living in pokey bedsits) he hasn’t read a book for 3 years. I could not allow this so I lent him A Brave New World and Oryx and Crake the next day: the only sci-fi books I could find at short notice. He was most pleased, and promised to lend me a book of his when another friend returns it, about a half-human half-martian and featuring philosophical discussion on the value of marriage. That is a book I would like to read. Which surprised me. Because I do have huge prejudices in the way I see the world, and I judged Neighbour on his appearance and class and his current main hobby of drinking Carling.

I am glad Neighbour befriended me, he has helped me see flaws in myself that I can address.

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What is wrong with right-wing people?

June 12, 2008

To my mind, and in my experience, those that loudly proclaim themselves to be on the right-wing of the political spectrum are not the nicest of people. As I understand it being right-wing is all about ‘looking out for number one’ and so earning lots of money for yourself and stepping on people’s heads to gain this fiscal happiness. In order to gain all you can you may abuse your societal privilege, for example if you were born a white man you may openly proclaim that chicks are no good in the board room but they sure do look nice when cooking me a steak – not those black chicks though, don’t wanna eat friend chicken every night. You don’t have to be as extremely foul and blatant as that but casual insult dropping to those regarded as ‘beneath’ you seems to be a typical trait of right-wingers. They may object and tell you they can’t possibly be racist because they have a #insert minority here# friend -right after challenging you to a game of ‘spot the white face’ which obviously can’t possibly be racist because white is the race you’re focusing on and blah blah blah.

Right-wingers also, in my observation, have a fearful loathing of the poor. I’m guessing this is either because poor people remind them how much money they are selfishly hoarding, or because they think the poor people are stealing all their taxes. I do think it funny the amount of rage right-wing media spews on people supposedly stealing taxes. Even if we didn’t have state-run welfare programmes there would still be tax to pay; that stuff is barely a drop in the ocean.

Some right-wingers have the most problem with middle-class liberals. They look at them, trying to think of a conceivable reason why this person who should, in their minds, be just like them but chooses not to be. I have seen this cause arguments and even fights. You have the capacity to gain things for yourself and yet you choose not to? What madness! What stupidity! they must think. Yet I think the opposite: you have the opportunity and financial ability to choose your actions, so why don’t you choose the actions that make the world a little bit better? Like walking to the shop. Or reusing a bag. Or not buying and buying and buying cheap things so that you can have a lot of things and still have a lot of cash. Or choosing to buy a small car instead of a large car. Or not being rude to waiters because you see them as poor servants to your greatness. Or not being rude to people you perceive as foreign because you assume they are here illegally and stealing your taxes when in fact you have no idea what their personal circumstances are. Or thinking about things for a change.

I can’t honestly say why right-wing people have more of a tendency to do at least some of the things I’ve listed above. It may seem harsh to judge but I think about things and I try not to make negative impacts on the lives of others so I don’t understand why some people think it is acceptable to do so.