Imagine if a black politician tweeted the following –
We can be our own worse enemy. A black man on Kentish Town Road just robbed a shop.
This tweet is then challenged by several followers, who point out that the use of the word ‘we’ is rather ill-advised. The politician responds –
Gosh, interesting how self-righteous blacks can be. I was merely saying we shouldn’t rob shops.
This tweet is again challenged by others, who argue that the behaviour of one man in Kentish Town shouldn’t be used to suggest that blacks are their own worst enemy. To which –
It’s not one black man – there is an issue of black crime which needs to be tackled. This was an example
Here the politician is referring to the impression, in the general public, that blacks are generally quite lawless. Blacks should not commit crime, in his opinion.
To the argument that he is simply buying into the stereotype that blacks commit crime, and that rather than suggesting that ‘blacks get their house in order’, blacks should not have to apologise or be judged by the behaviour of complete strangers who happen to have the same skin colour, the politician instead continues to argue that blacks should not commit crime, because blacks committing crime reinforces the stereotype –
…. other people view us like that. I know its unfair but it is the reality that we have to address
…. Of course, the politician wasn’t referring to blacks, he was referring to cyclists. But framing his tweets like this demonstrates the absurdity of the whole ‘we must get our house in order’ logic that some cycling representatives buy into.
It’s natural, I suppose, to imagine that drivers driving dangerously around you is somehow a consequence of the stereotype that cyclists are themselves badly behaved, and that the way to stop that dangerous driving and lack of respect is to tackle the cyclists who behave badly.
But these drivers are bigots, who choose not to distinguish between you and other people, and will almost certainly continue to treat you badly, even if – by some miracle – every single individual who happens to put their leg over a bike is perfectly behaved while they are riding.
Futile, and misguided.
In the comments Christian Wolmar suggests that the analogy ‘does not work’ because blacks have no choice over their skin colour – it is an immutable characteristic, unlike ‘cyclist’ (we can – as a last resort – choose not to ride bikes).
I think that’s a weak objection, but in any case, we can run the analogy again with a characteristic like ‘Muslim’ – people can choose not to be Muslim, after all. Here’s our aspirant Muslim politician –
We Muslims be our own worse enemy. A Muslim man on Kentish Town Road just stabbed someone.
Gosh, interesting how self-righteous Muslims can be. I was merely saying we shouldn’t stab people.
It’s not one Muslim man – there is an issue of Muslim violence which needs to be tackled. This was an example
The point stands.