Do critics of the race report have any actual arguments?

3 April 2021

1:33 AM

3 April 2021

1:33 AM

I guess the authors of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities didn’t agree to the job for a quiet life. Even so, the sheer bitterness of the volley directed at them by the grievance industry must have taken them aback. The reaction from the left has been straight out of the Marxist playbook: don’t bother to engage with your opponents’ arguments, just try to delegitimise them by attacking those opponents’ credentials and questioning their right to speak at all.

We’ve learned from Twitter and the pages of the Guardian that the panel of ten commissioners – who have all achieved success in their varied fields – are all stooges of the government. Tony Sewell should apparently have been disqualified from taking up the position of chair because he said ten years ago that he didn’t think that institutional racism existed and therefore his mind was made up before he started. Let’s turn that around for the moment: if the government had instead appointed David Lammy to do the job – who indeed was commissioned by a Conservative government to look into race and the justice system – would the left be arguing that his previous pronouncements on institutional racism indicated his mind had been made up and therefore disqualified him from the job?

Some of the charges made against the panel are plain wrong. A letter to the BMJ claimed that the panel hadn’t included any health specialists – which must come as something of a surprise to Lord Ajay Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at UCL. Other objections were laughable. A Guardian headline claimed ‘No 10’s race report widely condemned as divisive’. There’s nothing divisive, of course, about the narrative spun by the left, that Britons are either BAME victims or oppressors pumped up on white privilege. A police officer who had taken part in one of the commission’s sessions complained to Today listeners this morning that the panel ‘lacked diversity of thought’. That, to be sure, is an attribute prominent in the narrow academics who are usually allowed to pontificate on issues of race and ethnicity. The police officer then directly contradicted himself by claiming the session had been ‘shambolic’ – partly on the grounds that the two commissioners present had argued with each other on the extent to which the recommendations of the Lammy report had been implemented.

Then, inevitably, are the usual emotive words thrown about – used so indiscriminately that they have become little more than vulgar insults. The panel, needless to say, is in ‘denial’ about institutional racism. According to the GMB they are ‘gaslighting’ black and Asian people.

But this is what I love most of all. A Birmingham academic and author of a book called White Privilege complained in the Guardian that the report had used statistics. ‘Statistics are shaped by the assumptions, theories and interests of authors,’ she wrote. ‘They aren’t neutral, and they can introduce unintended biases.’ In other words, presumably, she would have preferred a report that was made up of mere assertions, devoid of any evidence.

Had the commission’s report concluded that Britain was indeed riven with institutional and structural racism, you don’t have to try too hard to imagine how it would have been received by the left. At a stroke it would have been treated as established fact, beyond all question. Institutional racism would have become official, end of story. Anyone who dared argue against it would be denounced as a ‘denier’. That is now the left now operates: not by coming up with better arguments but by trying to close down debate before it can get going.

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