January 28, 2006

The Many Faces of The Ian Blair Debacle

So the Met Chief has apologised for asking why the Soham murders got so much publicity. I could write all day about the wider debate of what we expect from our public figures (if you have a loud voice given to you by your job, you must use it wisely), the insanity of political correctness, and so forth. Ultimately, he should have known how his comments would be construed and that they are insensitive to the families involved.

Besides being unreasonable, it is also unfortunate that Mr. Blair's comments have reared such a backlash – because this has almost completely obscured his point. Let us now hear what he actually said:

_I am pretty furious. We do devote the same level of resources to murders in relation to their difficulty…the difference is, is how these are reported. I actually believe that the media is guilty of institutional racism in the way they report deaths.

That death of the young lawyer was terrible, but an Asian man was dragged to his death, a woman was chopped up in Lewisham, a chap shot in the head in a Trident murder – they got a paragraph on page 97…There are other dreadful crimes which do not become the greatest story in Britain….

With one or two exceptions, clearly Damilola Taylor was one, the reporting of murder in minority communities appears not to interest the mainstream media…"

Ian Blair
Race warrior

The wider point he makes is about why crimes involving non-white people do not receive the same attention as the Soham murders did. There is truth to what he says, but he must not compare anything to Soham. The loss of children always hits us harder than other crimes – to compare Holly & Jessica with the other examples is, then, somewhat erroneous.

Soham had a combination of things: a) they were children, b) the sadistic manner of their deaths. Yes, they were white. I suspect while the first two are above controversy, the final one is riddled with it.

Let me say this – the Damilola Taylor murder received considerably less coverage than the Soham murders. Is it because newspapers and TV saw the outrage created by Soham and followed it? Was the outrage caused by Soham so much greater than Damilola? If you live in the UK, that's a no-brainer.

So why? One was a black boy stabbed in a stairway, the other two girls carefully lured and murdered by a sadistic man and his acquiescent girlfriend. Is it the sadism? Is it the location – Peckham vs Cambridgeshire?
If the media merely follows public reaction, are we saying that stories about your own race resonate with you more than stories about other races?

I don't think so, but Sir Ian must not be damned for questioning this: it is not so open and shut.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. There are a multitude of factors involved and I think race is one of the main ones. Let me explain.

    The biggest stories are those which impact on the majority of people, and in Britain, the main populance consists of white caucasians. So bearing this in mind if a chinese person had been murdered, regardless of how shocked and disgusted you feels, because you don't look chinese (unless you are) you can't relate it to yourself.

    So reports of white caucasians dying have a greater inital impact, and thus reported more because more people can imagine it happening to them.

    Well thats my 2 pence on this subject.

    28 Jan 2006, 02:43

  2. Let us say that Soham was a horrific crime which justified the media attention it received (I think we can all agree on how horrible it was). I think the point was less to equate adult deaths with the brutal and sadistic murder of minors but to point out how the deaths of adults from minority groups (and even children) often barely merit an obituary in today's press. I thought he had a completely meritorious point and the media backlash against him smacks more of hurt (and guilty) feelings than genuine criticism.

    I'm personally glad he had the gall to say it. I remember when a woman was murdered on Wimbledon Common, there was huge media coverage. I doubt the same would happen for a black woman murdered on Clapham Common, or an Asian woman murdered in Shepherd's Bush.

    28 Jan 2006, 06:26

  3. James

    Blair's comments were balderdash. Soham generated publicity because of the age of the girls, the appalling circumstances of the murder (indupitably a sexual motive was involved), the location (suppsedly a quiet village) and the fact that August is a bit of a down time for the media, or at least that August was. Had the victims been black, the publicity might have been greater as it would have given another angle to the story – the media would have dabbled in speculation about possible racial motives.

    Blair's statement can be shown to be utter rubbish simply by the examples of the media coverage given to Victoria Climbie, Damilola Taylor, the torso in the Thames and Stephen Lawrence – all receiving far more than many similar crimes where the victims were white.

    Or consider thee comparatively small publicity that Trevor Phillips' comment about Afro-Carribbean men being 50% more likely to be in prison than university received. The media were very careful not to suggest that this was in any way the fault of the Afro-Caribbean community (frankly, I think the statistic justified at least some investigation into the role models provided by 'hip hop' culture).

    One could go on. But it isn't even necessary to offer empirical examples: if "the media" were racist, they would be zeroing in on crimes committed by black people to try and show that they're dodgy, and would gloss over crimes committed by whites.

    Others too have made the point that in a population that is more than 90% white, white people are going to be the subject of most of the news. This puts me in mind of the ironic proclomation a few years ago from the CRE, which said that employers should draw on the community in which they're based, hence their ethnic makeup should approximate that of their particular location. Since the CRE is a national organisation, it should by its own logic be 90% white …. which it isn't (considerably less than 50%, as it happens).

    How did an apparently intelligent and well-advised man such as Sir Ian come up with such a bone-headed comment in the first place? The answer can be traced back to the MacPherson Report (ironically commissioned as a result of the great media coverage of Stephen Lawrence's murder) and its conclusion that the police were 'institutionally racist'. Such a charge was made because the report was anxious to blame the lack of convictions for the murder on racism, rather than plain incompetence or inherent difficulties with the investigation. The report couldn't find particulars of racism in respect of any individual policeman. So it just charged the whole force with being 'institutionally racist'. Since then the police have gone PC (not Police Constable or Personal Computer) overboard, eg by harassing anyone seen to have made an un-PC comment, eg the one about the police horse being gay. And, feeling better about themselves, they decide to prove their new-found PC status by having a crack at someone else in public, hence the vague charge against a very disparate body ("the media") with a solitary, dismally inappropriate example offered in support.

    No doubt there are some tough racial issues in Britain today, and awareness of them is a good thing. I myself am acutely aware of them as my wife is from an ethnic minority and so, obviously, is our child. But they're not going to be solved by hyperbole from the likes of Sir Ian.

    15 Feb 2006, 16:07

  4. Aresh


    I invite you to visit the New Materials I Uploaded recently on www.rotateddemocracyofuk.

    The information consist to Poke your Sleping Conscience and make you Aware of Increasing Racial Wars of your Government Inside & Outside of UK’s Boarders.

    I advise those British who are not completely in Breach of Humanity, to try to imagine while they are relaxing in their Luxious Bath or Car, the Condition in which the combustible are obtained.

    That may press your Conscience “to do any thing” to change the Bloody face of Islam in UK and Middle-East! Only Democracy in Middle-East can Stop the Incontrollable Terrorism.

    The Barrier to it should be Over!

    Your Politicians Follow the Killing Machine they have Constructed during the past 30 years for their Benefits but your Acts should be opposite if you do not wish be eaten your Mind & Country bit by bit by the Omni-present Destructive Images of Terror!


    06 Sep 2006, 08:55

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

January 2006

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Dec |  Today  | Feb
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31               

Search this blog


Most recent comments

  • I am a journalism student at UCLAN 2007/2008 and doing a story on the challenges international stude… by Jane on this entry
  • I believe that to call him a killer and a bad person and then commit the same act he did is hypocrit… by eboni on this entry
  • I agree there is racism here and there, but that's not what caused this incident. Do not forget that… by on this entry
  • I find it difficult to understand how Ankit can say Prestons violence is not rooted in racial hatred… by Polly on this entry
  • I will definitely visit Preston again. I spent a semester abroad there in 1995 at UCL. I live in the… by Jess Wilson on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder