With the European Football championships diverting attention from racism at home to racism in eastern Europe, it’s time to look again at racism. It might not be as easy to stop racism as we thought.
In January 2012, a little-reported but important Scientific study found distinct links between low intelligence and racial prejudice. The research team was led by Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. The main conclusions were published in January 2012 in the journal Psychological Science.
“Racism is generally highest among the least-educated.”
As most of us might expect, the least-educated are most likely to be the most racist. Stereotypical racists include the British council housing estate skinhead and the American redneck. As someone smarter than me once said: a cliché only becomes a cliché because it’s probably true. But if only it were always so straightforward.
Where does intelligence fit into this? Professor Hodson decided to find out.
He and his researchers looked at two previous British studies. One followed a group born in 1958. The other at babies born in 1970. Both sets of children had their intelligence assessed when they were 11 years old. Nineteen years later, the same people had their levels of racism and social conservatism assessed.
One big problem for me is that researchers asked the respondents what their views were. It would have been better to somehow assess their unconscious behaviour without allowing them to filter their replies.
Researches asked the subjects whether they agreed with vaguely right-wing statements such as:
“Schools should teach children to obey authority”
“Family life suffers if mum is working full-time.”
Their attitudes toward other races was dealt with by reactions to statements such as:
“I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.”
Is it Possible to Stop Racism?
In nearly all cases, low intelligence in childhood matched up with racism in later life. Surprise, surprise!
The most interesting finding was the link with politics. People who vote for parties on the right are more likely to be racist than those leaning to the left.
That’s something I’ve known since I was knee-high to a Klansman. But I’m grateful that someone has finally found scientific backing for my gut feeling. It’s probably more scientific than sitting in an Essex pub near closing time.
The dilemma of well-educated racists such as Sir Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell, and David Irving is an entirely different matter. It’s barely possible that Powell was unaware he was being racist when he made his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech.
His defenders will say he wasn’t saying people who aren’t white are in any way inferior, just that the races don’t mix easily. But that is in itself inherently racist. It’s putting forward the theory that skin colour somehow determines someone’s character, which is absurd. Even to the most poorly-educated skinhead.
Are UKIP Racist?
Many followers of Nigel Farage’s UKIP, put great store in localism. To them, people born on this side of the English Channel are somehow good. By extension, anyone coming from anywhere that’s not here is bad, unwanted, a danger.
Despite being able to roll out examples of Black and Asian people who back their policies, many UKIP followers still believe that ‘true’ British people are White. At best, those who are Black and Mixed Race are ‘guests in our country’. These ‘guests’ must always speak English and do things ‘the British way’ or else suffer the consequences.
In my experience, most people who think this way are poorly-educated and generally in demeaning, repetitive jobs. Quite a few are unemployed, which is generally something they take delight in blaming on “all these bloody foreigners”.
There’s an old saying, “Tuppence ha’penny looking down on tuppence.” In Britain’s pre-decimal days, tuppence ha’penny (2.5d) was shorthand for “not much”. Roughly translated, it means that someone who has very little going for them wants to think there’s someone lower on the social scale than they are.
I’d really like to stop racism. But it seems it’s a lot easier said than done.