Patrick Mercer has resigned from the Tory front bench over some remarks about racism and the armed forces:
"I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours," the MP for Newark said of his time in the Army in an interview with the Times.Mercer was absolutely right about this. At the moment, the only people who don't take part in friendly, if muscular, banter in, say, the police force are members of ethnic minorities. When people have to watch what they say and treat people differently according to their colour it drives a wedge between the races. Yet constant reference to race, in a sort of Love Thy Neighbour way, is intolerable.
"I had five company sergeant majors who were all black. They were without exception UK-born, Nottingham-born men who were English - as English as you and me," he told the Times.
"They prospered inside my regiment, but if you'd said to them: 'Have you ever been called a nigger?' they would have said: 'Yes'. But equally, a chap with red hair, for example, would also get a hard time - a far harder time than a black man, in fact.
"But that's the way it is in the Army. If someone is slow on the assault course, you'd get people shouting: 'Come on you fat bastard, come on you ginger bastard, come on you black bastard'."
It's a tough problem. We have to learn to get over both racism and its legacy so we can reach the point where people aren't walking on eggshells, and aren't hating or underestimating people because of the colour of their skin. Sacking Mercer for calling a spade a spade doesn't help.
Nor, in another example of the syndrome Mercer was complaining about, does this:
Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei, of the National Black Police Association, called last night for an investigation by the IPCC, saying that it was "absolutely" a concern that race may have been an issue.Race? A young woman got so drunk in a club she can't remember what happened, became violent, got thrown out, started smashing up one of the bouncers' cars (she has been convicted of this) then, when the police were called, attacked them:
"She now began to kick, spit and make attempts to bite me. As her hands became free, she tried to grab handfuls of my genitals and knee and kick me in the same place.But now she has seen it(.wmv download) she is going to sue.
"At this point, I struck her as hard as I was physically able with my right fist in an attempt to subdue her. There was no effect, so I did it twice more."
Ms Comer has said she was unaware of what had happened during the arrest until shown the film
I've watched it. She's a shameless opportunist who should think about her own behaviour.
But what can we say about Ali Dizaei? He is a disgrace to the British police force, calling "race" in a way no less opportunistic than the compensation cynicism of Ms Comer.
Mercer should stay and Dizaei should be the one resigning.
UPDATE: Dizaei gets worse. From the Pub Philosopher:
If you wrote a book slagging off your bosses and published it while you were still working for them, wouldn't you expect to be fired? You certainly wouldn't expect them to promote you a couple of weeks later, would you?
But Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei seems to think that a different set of rules apply to him. After publishing some serious allegations against senior police officers, he went ahead with his application for promotion. He was turned down, along with another five of the nine applicants. The Guardian reports that Mr Dizaei may sue the Met for race discrimination.