Columnist? Government computer says, ‘Retrain as a foreman in the dog whistle factory...’

Racist columns are so common that we’re meant to pretend that they’re just ‘analysis’

When do racist innuendos in a piece of writing cease to be dog whistles and instead reach such a volume that you’re dealing with a public address system broadcasting content that dogs enjoy — a breakfast show where the hosts just talk sausages, or a relaxing late-night discussion about the best trees they ever pissed on?

I think yesterday’s Times column by Iain Martin, the editor of the subtly-named right-wing commentary site Reaction, qualified as a dog megaphone:

On the topic of ‘white privilege’ and its existence or otherwise, quite a regular obsession for a class of white potato-headed commentator, Martin blew his dog whistle so much it was like watching a dark universe Bez performing with an equally evil incarnation of the Happy Mondays whose lyrics were entirely concerned with the ‘horrors’ of immigration.

Now, in the interests of the false balance that centrists and the curséd BBC News editors are so obsessed with, I must note that one journalist asked me why I was attacking Martin as he’s “hardly the worst of them”. Well, even the kindest foreman in the dog whistle factory is still a piece of work. And Martin is far from kind. He is a broken water main spewing out ‘reasoned’ arguments for state power and cruelty.

Martin’s column, which you can see marked up in the tweet I’ve embedded above, was just one of several attacks in the paper on the concept that racism is still an issue, all in the service of a mentality that sees driving a wedge between the white working class and black and other ethnic minority people as necessary to maintain and consolidate establishment power.

The fact that white working class boys do worse in education than any other group is catnip to these columnists, however, they forget to mention that the employment prospects of other groups, particularly black boys, are worse than those of white boys.

It is possible to be concerned for the futures of white working class boys — as a school governor I absolutely am — while also believing that racism is a blight on the futures of black boys of all classes.

The Times presents bad faith readings of calls for social justice, especially calls for racial justice, because it is — and has been for many years — a counter-revolutionary endeavour. It is not simple the Paper of Record, it is the Paper of Don’t You Dare Change the Record. Some people will tell you that it is conservative with a small-c but it is conservative written in such big letters that they could crush the Hollywood sign.

Why does this matter? Because things that are written in The Times drip into the discussions on breakfast TV and are amplified across talk radio stations like LBC, TalkRadio, and that sanctuary for the sanctimonious, Times Radio.

One of my favourite people in the world is my friend’s 6-year-old son. Right now he believes, as a black kid growing up in Tower Hamlets among a diverse friendship group, that he can be anything and doesn’t see any barriers to stop him in the world. That’s how it should be.

I don’t want to look back in 12 years time, when he turns 18, and think I didn’t do enough to make the world better for him. He shouldn’t have to go through life in a country where columns like Martin’s, racist invective with the thinnest ‘intellectual’ sheen, are acceptable and largely unchallenged. I’m not sorry that calling Martin racist for writing what he did will have hurt his crystalline middle aged white man feelings. The stakes are too high.