We all have opinions about groups of people. What do most men think about busty women, for instance? And what do women think about tall men? There is rarely indifference in either case. So there is nothing wrong about opinions of racial or ethnic groups either. It is only when people are ill-treated solely because of their race that there is cause for concern and the label "racism" is justified.
The article below mentions the multifarious prejudices that the English typically have -- class prejudices and regional prejudices particularly. They even mock redheads! As an Australian who has spent some time in England, I have myself experienced the mocking comments that the English sometimes direct at Australians. I just directed a few mocking comments back which were received with perfect good humour and which moved the conversation onto a perfectly amicable level.
People will always be mocked by someone for something and it is about time everyone grew up enough to handle it. So let us hear from the self-righteous one:
I was at a smart party with a bunch of people I hadn't seen for years. Suddenly there was a yelp at my elbow. Fabulous Miss C, tanned to the gills, absolutely cured. She'd also done something to her face. "I hear you're living out at Springvale now. P told me. She said there aren't any dogs out there, because the chinks have eaten them all." And off she went into a squealing peal of laughter. It's a long time since I heard someone say "chinks" and make a joke like that. I told her that what she said was ridiculous, that of course there are dogs in Springvale, hundreds of them. I should have also told her she was revoltingly racist, that talk like that is not acceptable. But I did not.
A friend was dining at the home of "aristocrats" when the hostess rattled her jewels and complained about all the new immigrants from Africa, crowing that they should "send them back up the trees". The company laughed indulgently - such a rabid old eccentric. One simply could not take her seriously. No one told her off.
Racism is a disease found among people of all incomes, education levels and ethnic types. Even within the same ethnic type: in London Australians are patronised, treated as "dumb colonials" with the wrong accent. A German friend lived there for many years and waited for the inevitable swipe at every dinner party. "It was relentless," she told me. "Germans are seen as humourless, efficient manufacturers of precision instruments. We are disliked but we are taken seriously. Australians are not taken seriously. My only defence was to get ahead of them, tell a joke against Germans before they got theirs in."
I was warned a guest I had from the Balkans was sure to be a "broken and scarred person". When I suggested that such stereotyping was racist the response was angry. How dare I accuse them. My years working in the Jewish community have elicited "concern" from some. "Do they - uh - pay you properly?" When I return a quiet, withering gaze they too get angry: "Oh for God's sake! I just wanted to make sure you were alright!"
Perhaps two small examples of mocking the English back might help someone. The first is of my own devising and the second I owe to the inimitable Barry Humphries. The two examples spring from derogatory comments about Australian wine and comments about Australian male friendships being suppressed homosexuality. The two comments I make on such occasions are:
"Australians are much like the French. They make a small amount of good wine and a lot of rough wine. And the stuff that is too rough even for them they sell to the English"
"That's just a rumour put out by Australia House to attract all the English immigrants"
I have always found that both comments get a "Touche!" response.
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