Is there ‘systemic racism’ in Britain? Two views (ii)

In the second of two articles, David Shepherd responds to Will Jones’ argument in the previous post:

For many people in the UK, any doubts about the existence of systemic racism were dispelled when, in 1999, after a two-year public inquiry, the highly respected retired High Court judge, Sir William MacPherson, published his eponymous report concerning the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.

That report provided what has become the enduring definition of institutional racism:

The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin.  It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping which disadvantage ethnic minority people.

The term ‘institutional’ was apt because (as expert witness, Dr. Robin Oakley, testified) the inquiry heard incontrovertible evidence of a:

generalised tendency, particularly where any element of discretion is involved, whereby minorities may receive different and less favourable treatment than the majority. Such differential treatment need be neither conscious nor intentional, and it may be practised routinely by officers whose professionalism is exemplary in all other respects.

Another submission to the MacPherson inquiry explained how racism can be systemic:

Racism can be systemic and therefore institutional without being apparent in broad policy terms. Racism within the police can be both covert and overt, racism can be detected in how operational policing decisions are carried out and consequently implemented, and indeed how existing policy is ignored or individual officers’ discretion results in racist outcomes.

As evidence of this, here are a few examples from that murder case.

Contrary to standard police procedure and without any evidence, investigating officers on the scene assumed that Duwayne Brooks (Stephen Lawrence’s best friend and eyewitness to his horrific murder) had been in a fight with the victim. So, instead of treating him as a primary victim, the inspector completely dismissed his eye-witness description of one of the attackers.

Contrary to standard police procedure, at least five officers discounted statements by several informants and refused to follow up leads because they simply refused to accept that Lawrence’s murder could be racially motivated. Furthermore, the police liaison officers who were assigned to the family spent more time questioning visitors about why they needed to be at the family home than providing support to Stephen Lawrence’s bereaved parents.

A Detective Superintendent relied completely on police gossip as the basis for officially reporting that the Lawrence family were preventing the police from targeting suspects.

In each of these situations, instead of exercising the sensitivity and fair-mindedness that was mandated and appropriate to their professional role, various officers at all levels unwittingly relied on routinely negative assumptions and racially biased stereotypes. Their exercise of discretion was contrary to the organisations’ normative rules and processes.


The reason that such racism can be described as ‘systemic’ is that the organisation’s pervasive inability to scrutinise the exercise of discretion by its officers and staff results in a cumulative failure to challenge or counteract conscious and unconscious racial bias. This ultimately results in significant disadvantage and less favourable treatment of ethnic minorities.

Systemic racism is not prevented by the fact that “the system itself is based on rules and processes that expressly (or by design) favour or disfavour certain ethnic groups”. Instead, ‘systemic’ describes the pervasiveness of this inability to counteract racial bias because the rules and processes allow scope for discretion (as, to some extent, they must).

In fact, this scope for discretion means that racial bias can circumvent the very systems that are intended to “prohibit racial discrimination and encourage integration”.

While some of this bias arises from unconsciously harbouring negative racial stereotypes, there are three key hallmarks of this pervasive lack of critical scrutiny that allows bias to perpetuate:

  1. It may result from normative deference to official authority, e.g. chain of command;
  2. It is not necessarily confined to a specific race; and
  3. It is not necessarily intentional.

In the UK, this lack of critical scrutiny explains why constables are not reprimanded by their superiors for conducting nine times more checks on black people for drugs in comparison to white people. The lack of critical scrutiny also explains why US police chiefs largely connive at the clear evidence (from 20 million traffic stops) that their staff disproportionately target blacks and latinos (despite this tactic only yielding a 3% conviction rate)

Yet, when this evidence is presented, the reaction to it can be similarly prejudicial. For instance, it’s suggested that black people must bear the brunt of responsibility for this racial profiling (and the resultant disproportionate use ‘stop and search’ and police shootings of unarmed African-Americans) because it’s prompted by the disproportionately high black crime rate.

Dr. Jones says as much, when he states:

A disproportionate number of black people (compared with their numbers in the population) are also shot or injured by police. The reason for this appears to be a combination of disproportionately high crime rates in black communities and an associated assumption amongst police officers that black people are more likely to be involved in criminal or violent behaviour.

However, the peer-reviewed 2015 study by Harvard Professors Anthony A. Braga and Rod K. Brunson (The Police and Public Discourse on “Black-on-Black” Violence. New Perspectives in Policing) firmly rejects this view by clarifying that the black crime rate does not correlate to a greater propensity for crime among African-Americans. Instead, it is more related to the fact that they predominantly live in cities which, regardless of their racial composition, account for far higher levels of violent crime than suburban and rural locations:

Urban environments experience the largest proportion of homicides, and black Americans tend to make up larger shares of urban populations relative to suburban and rural areas. Between 1980 and 2008, nearly 58 percent of homicides occurred in U.S. cities with a population of 100,000 or more (Cooper and Smith, 2011). More than one-third of all homicides in the U.S. during that same time period occurred in cities with one million or more residents.

Principally, the inability or outright refusal to factor in this kind of hard evidence can lead to grossly unfair rationalisations about discrimination.

Dr, Jones writes:

While it may also be a result of simple racial prejudice, the fact that it is evident among black and ethnic minority police officers as much as white officers suggests it is primarily linked to higher crime rates and a psychological generalisation from them.

Certainly, systemic racism doesn’t mean that, when a multi-racial group of police officers is deployed, the white officers are more inclined to harm unarmed black people. Instead, it means that when, due to racial profiling, police departments authorise a greater presence (of officers from all races) in predominantly black neighbourhoods than in white neighbourhoods, then that policy will lead to a disproportionately higher proportion of blacks being targeted and fatally shot by police.

The charge of systemic racism is certainly not that, in such situations, white police officers are more ’trigger happy’ in dealing with black suspects than their black or minority ethnic colleagues.


In fact, I agree with Dr. Jones that we’re all capable of psychological generalisation. However, on this basis, he rejects phrases, such as ‘white privilege’ and ‘white supremacy’, which he describes as “obviously inaccurate and unhelpful”.

However, even though privilege and belief in supremacy are not exclusive to a particular race, the prefix ‘white’ is appropriate, if the specific privileges and notions of superiority particularly accrue to white people.

Research conducted by Nuffield College’s Centre for Social Investigation has demonstrated that, across a range of job opportunities, compared to White British applicants, people of:

  • Pakistani heritage had to make 70% more applications
  • Nigerian and South Asian heritage 80% more applications
  • Middle Eastern and north African heritage 90% more applications

How is such an unearned advantage, which primarily accrues to white people, not white privilege?

Also, last year, white law graduates with a first in their undergraduate degree and an ‘Outstanding’ grade in the bar exam were granted pupillage in 84% of cases. By comparison, only 72% of ethnic minority graduates were granted pupillage, despite having the same grades. This racial disparity, which is not merit-based, holds across all grade levels.

Again, this unearned advantage primarily accrues to white people, albeit not to all white people. So, how is that not white privilege?

And consider the current CoVID-19 crisis, and the fact that BAME workers were dying in disproportionate numbers as a result. Before adequate evidence could be amassed, the unwarranted assumption that it was due to a range of genetic and cultural factors was perpetuated by the media and went largely unchallenged by government officials. While specific NHS guidance was issued in writing to those belonging to all other vulnerable groups, such as over-70s, pregnant women and diabetics, no similar official guidance was published to confirm or address the exceptional vulnerability of BAME people.

Alongside the previous examples affecting education and work, the life-and-death healthcare impact of this particularly glaring omission on so many BAME people makes Dr. Jones’ question about the “real scale of the problem” appear almost impertinent.

Yet, despite this clear evidence of racial bias, Dr. Jones warns that protests will only exacerbate the issue:

To magnify the issue, as is now very much in favour, has the opposite effect. It foregrounds racial difference in the public space, encourages thinking in racial terms, and promotes the idea of the ethnic majority as somehow privileged or even oppressive with ethnic minorities as their permanent victims. It increases racial tensions, divisions and resentment which is not conducive to building common citizenship.

I’m particularly curious to understand why this threat of divisiveness is peculiar to protests against racial bias.

I mean, when, as Christians, we exercise our democratic right to protest peacefully against abortion, does that (to paraphrase Dr. Jones): “magnify the issue…foreground religious difference in the public space, encourage thinking in religious terms, and…increase religious tensions, divisions and resentment which is not conducive to building common citizenship”?


Nevertheless, it is imperative that public policy is even-handed in addressing these issues. For instance, the educational challenges experienced by white children are as important as the disproportionate use of exclusion to discipline black school children. We should avoid the zero-sum thinking that assumes that any fairly applied benefit bestowed on one ethnic group will result in an equal and opposite detriment to all other groups.

I also wholeheartedly endorse Will’s concern that: “any lawlessness associated with discontent will only reinforce negative generalisations about violence and crime risk…” However, that’s equally applicable to protests against poverty, inadequate healthcare, or even Brexit. And, all such protests, are similarly susceptible to being hijacked and discredited by extremist ‘hangers on’.

The fact that Brexit protests resulted in violence, which I deplore, doesn’t make it inherently wrong to exercise the democratic right to campaign and/or protest in public for or against Britain remaining in the EU. The same is true for protests against racism.

Nevertheless, it’s an unnecessarily negative and alarmist characterisation to declare that: “the use of these racially charged terms as epithets by those who are violent towards people considered representative of them demonstrates that the danger is not only hypothetical.” Any benefit, right or immunity which primarily accrues to people on account of their race, rather than through merit is, by definition, a racial privilege.

White privilege is just a specific expression of racially biased advantage. It explains why Stephen Lawrence’s murderers escaped prosecution for so long. Just as tragically, it explains the four long days of inordinate delay and official reluctance before Chauvin and his fellow officers were arrested (and eventually charged) for George Floyd’s murder.

I make no apologies for using the terms. They’re certainly no more inflammatory than the claim that, rather than being founded upon “simple racial prejudice”, the police’s use of racial profiling is, instead, “primarily linked to higher crime rates”.


David Shepherd is an IT professional, currently working on systems supporting the House of Commons in London. He is a member of Beacon Community Church in Camberley.


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206 thoughts on “Is there ‘systemic racism’ in Britain? Two views (ii)”

  1. Thank you so much, David, for a careful and well argued piece. I have been trying very hard not to respond to the previous discussions in all of these racism threads. All I can say is I have been often unsure where in the world most of the posters live. Your post describes the Britain I know (and often love!)

    Reply
  2. “However, the peer-reviewed 2015 study by Harvard Professors Anthony A. Braga and Rod K. Brunson (The Police and Public Discourse on “Black-on-Black” Violence. New Perspectives in Policing) firmly rejects this view by clarifying that the black crime rate does not correlate to a greater propensity for crime among African-Americans. Instead, it is more related to the fact that they predominantly live in cities which, regardless of their racial composition, account for far higher levels of violent crime than suburban and rural locations….”
    – Really? How does that explain why US blacks account for 53% of homicides and 37% of robberies from 13% of the population? Chinese and Jews are overwhelmingly in these cities as well. Why are they underrepresented in the crime figures?
    Japanese live in enormous cities. Why are they less crime-ridden?
    Nearly all Singaporeans live in the one crowded city. Why is it so safe?

    Reply
    • James,
      Perhaps this article gives a clue about Singapore:

      https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2015/mar/23/gum-control-how-lee-kuan-yew-kept-chewing-gum-off-singapores-streets

      I have heard is said that in most places you can do anything which is not prohibited by law, but in Singapore you are prohibited from doing anything which is not explicitly permitted by law. This may be an exaggeration, but it perhaps reflects the authoritarian social control present in that place.

      Reply
      • Yes, having worked in Singapore, I think the description ‘benevolent dictatorship’ is not far of the mark. It’s very safe and free, unless you oppose the government line.

        Reply
      • I actually know a lot about Singapore, I have strong family connections with the place. It is the super-achiever of Asia.

        Reply
    • To the comments below, I’d add:
      1. Clear evidence from 20 million traffic stops that US police disproportionately target blacks and latinos (despite this tactic yielding a 3% conviction rate)
      The authors of the study explain:
      “Blacks are almost twice as likely to be pulled over as whites — even though whites drive more on average,”
      “blacks are more likely to be searched following a stop,”
      “just by getting in a car, a black driver has about twice the odds of being pulled over, and about four times the odds of being searched.”

      Of course, that approach might well be justified in the US judicial system was not racially biased, but here’s evidence that it is:
      1. The awful history of US prosecutors efforts to disqualify black jurors to improve the odds of convicting black defendants; despite the Supreme Court making it illegal for prosecutors to use race as the prima facie reason for excluding prospective black jurors, prosecutors have bypassed this by resorting to racial proxies to exclude black jurors, such as affiliation with a historically black college, a son in an interracial marriage and living in a black-majority neighbourhood.
      2. he other influence on the conviction rate is plea bargain overuse (especially for poorer suspects) and bias. A 2017 study of about 48,000 criminal cases in Wisconsin showed that white defendants were 25 percent more likely than black defendants to have their most serious charge dismissed in a plea bargain.
      3. A 2016 review of nearly 474,000 criminal cases in Hampton Roads, Va., found that whites were more likely to get plea deals that resulted in no jail time for drug offenses. While facing charges of drug distribution, 48 percent of whites received plea bargains with no jail time, vs. 22 percent of blacks. Among those with prior criminal records who pleaded guilty to robbery, 36 percent of whites got no jail time, vs. 8 percent of blacks.
      4, A survey of data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year (2018) found that when black men and white men commit the same crime, black men on average receive a sentence almost 20 percent longer. The research controlled for variables such as age and prior criminal history.

      I’m happy to provide links on request, but here’s a link to a useful Washington Post article:
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/09/18/theres-overwhelming-evidence-that-the-criminal-justice-system-is-racist-heres-the-proof/

      Until it can be shown that this evidence of bias is factored it, the statistics that you cite can’t be used to demonstrate a greater propensity for lawlessness among black people.

      In fact, that notion is not even biblical.

      Reply
      • The statistics about vehicle stops don’t mean much unless we know why and where they were stopped, so that we are comparing like with like. Was this in a crime hotspot? Were the vehicles stopped for searches for drugs? Because of music blaring out of them? For roadworthiness checks on older vehicles? The latter two issues wouldn’t ordinarily result in charges but admonitions. Do respectable law-abiding black citizens sometimes get stopped unfairly? Yes, I’m sure they do. John McWhorter and Coleman Hughes discuss this, inter alia, in a youtube discussion I encourage you to watch.
        I have no interest in defending the US justice system which I am sure is corrupt and riven with personal and party political issues – look at the DAs preening themselves for elections, like the DA in Atlanta. Plea bargaining is a rotten system simply intended to secure prosecutions. It would come as no surprise that whites with more money and lawyers know how to game that system better than poorer blacks.
        I didn’t say “there is a greater propensity for lawlessness among black people”, I said young black men are committing homicides and violent robberies 3 to 4 times their proportion of the US population (53% and 37% v. 13%) , and those figures are factual, from the FBI (2018). I don’t have any figures about older black men or black women. Like I said, it’s a crisis of the male underclass.
        Look at the Coleman Hughes discussion with McWhorter, it’s quite revealing.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the much appreciated scrutiny, which should also be applicable to the rolled-up statistics that you provided.

          Concerning traffic stops, I’ll add a link below to the Washington Post article from which (if you’re interested) you can find the link to the authors’ book containing the statistical breakdown.

          I’ll take a look at the interview. In another interview, what was interesting about Coleman Hughes is that to make his case point about the impact of culture (vs. race) on outcomes, he cherry-picked the immigrant vs. native-born black outcomes from the Tauriac/Liem study: ‘Exploring the divergent academic outcomes of U.S.-origin and immigrant-origin Black undergraduates’

          In conclusion, they explain: “Rather, academic institutions should recognize that the practices and policies that have promoted slight gains for some Black student subgroups (e.g., immigrant-origin Blacks) have not effectively supported all Black student subgroups; and have been particularly ineffective for members of groups that are more negatively stereotyped in academic domains (e.g., U.S.-origin Blacks).”

          Well, that’s not exactly the conclusion that Hughes would endorse, so I’d wonder why he cherry-picked from overall data to support his confirmation bias.
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3816006/

          Reply
          • I have read the abstract four times and still don’t know what point it was making. I would have predicted, however, that the children of African immigrants to the United States would be doing better than the generality of the US-born black (and mixed race) population, simply because the former group would be much more middle class and professional in background, and more likely from intact families that prize school success and education. I recall reading many years ago that West Indian immigrants to the US (the stock of Colin Powell) had an average income about 94% of the average white income and considerably more than the US black average. I have the impression that the majority of British blacks are now of African rather than West Indian origin and a culturally different approach to education. One interesting outcome, for example, is the large number of British African women who are training to become social workers.
            I think the bottom line is that immigrant groups vary considerably in social background and education. Pakistanis, for example, are quite different from Indians in social and educational backgrounds.

  3. The quality of this debate (unlike the thinking of the rioters) is outstanding, and that is exactly what the internet is for.

    Questions that spring to mind:

    -Are especially-well-educated cultures (Indian and Chinese/Singaporean) discriminated against in the West? If not we can’t talk of racism.

    -Are we allowed to say that some cultures, as they stand, are more or less ideal than one another? It would certainly be a huge coincidence if they were all equally ideal, so that is not likely. But failure to point out cultural weaknesses (e.g. lack of fathers) hampers any improvement.

    -Can this debate take place without mentioning fathering levels? We could all bust a gut but unless the fathering levels improve how can any great overall improvement be envisaged in unemployed white or in West Indian milieux?

    -Why are people failing to mention or question the Black Lives Matter manifesto, which is horrific?

    -And finally, there is a colossal amount of postcode killing in East London mostly black on black; is the cultural element here irrelevant, and why are they not mourned equally to George Floyd?

    _

    Reply
    • Christopher – when you say that the ‘BLack Lives Matter’ manifesto is “horrific”, do you mean that it is “inclusive” in contemporary cultural terms?
      If leadership on this issue is in the hands of people of this generation – while the Church says there’s no such thing as ‘white privilege’ to young men whose considered self-understanding suggests otherwise – is it any wonder the campaign is framed in contemporary terms?
      I often take my hat off to your comments on doctrinal themes but I’ll hang on to it this time!
      PS? In Youtube videos Akala often speaks about the lack of fathers in the homes of his mates. One of his comments is that the Windrush generation came (mostly) from Jamaica believing themselves thoroughly British (since 1655 – before union with Scotland), educated and aspiring folk whose marriages have often lasted well. I think his suggestion is that bitter disappointment: ‘No Blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ (and a polite version of it in our churches), years of menial jobs, subsequent ‘Nationality Acts’ – all these have taken their toll. At the same time he’s quick to acknowledge where responsibility needs to be taken in black communities and is an activist in good causes.

      Reply
      • The manifesto is framed in terms of identity politics – but identity politics does not make sense in the first place. It is full of contemporary buzzwords, again not a sign of independent thought nor of a high level of thought. These buzzwords have in many cases been questioned for their coherence. One would never know that to see this manifesto. It reminds me in short of all the many instances where we have seen highly questionable things smuggled in under the banner of something no-one can disagree with (e.g. I Love Animals).

        Marketing dictates that if the more questionable is to be smuggled in it is to be under a banner that is more widely acceptable. That is the ‘trick’ whereby political parties gain power via a leader who is not broadly representative of the party as a whole (Blair, Cameron). So it is with causes: dress them up as something that everyone disagrees with. The rainbow is a classic example – we all like rainbows. And we all like equality. Once we speak of ‘equality’ we can smuggle in all kinds of questionable anthropologies that simply assume, against all the science, logic and commonsense, that people are born as something called ‘gay’ or something called ‘transgender’.

        It’s all highly cynical and plotted.

        Reply
        • These people talk of equality but do not allow anyone to question the basic categories into which they divide people up in the first place. Endemic and attained categories are mixed up. They masquerade as liberal (as has been said many times) but are among the most illiberal as they do not allow anyone to question their framework, as though trillions of other frameworks were not possible.

          Smuggling in your errors within the (supposedly) basic unquestioned presuppositions is an old trick.

          Reply
          • Christopher,

            “It’s all highly cynical and plotted.’ Of course, it is (even if I disagree with it).

            The anti-abortion movement re-branded itself as Pro-Life, and, to paraphrase you: “We all like life. Once we speak of ‘pro-life’ we can smuggle in all kinds of questionable anthropologies that simply assume, against all the science, logic and common-sense”.

            Similarly, consider the targeted anti-abortion campaign against MP Stella Creasy. Setting up a StopStella web-site and erecting six large posters in her constituency which depicted a 24-week aborted baby. They were inscribed with the slogan, ‘Your MP is working hard…to make this a human right’.

            Despite these kinds of tactics, I don’t see many UK evangelicals decrying Pro-Life organisations for such disreputable tactics and publicly distancing themselves from the entire anti-abortion movement. Nor do I see them re-focusing everyone’s attention on factors other than policy that might explain away the level of abortion.

            In fact, what we do know is that persistence in support for a movement, despite the questionable tactics of organisations which support it, comes down to the potential for personal impact, or what Americans call ‘skin in the game’.

            So, UK evangelicals can see past disreputable tactics of Pro-Life organisations (as long as they don’t succumb to them) because they feel personally invested in the fate of the un-born, which, after all, could be a future grandchild, or nephew.

            Equally, surveys show that across all political categories, people’s support for LGBT advocacy correlates with LGBT people being part of their social/family milieu (see Gallup survey below).

            So, while some evangelical opposition to same-sex marriage is motivated by belief, a lot of it derives from an ingrained pattern of their churches establishing and maintaining ‘social distance’ from LGBT people. When any of their number do ‘come out’, even if celibate, they are swiftly demoted and ostracised like lepers.

            So, I wouldn’t be surprised if (similarly) a person’s support for BAME advocacy also correlated with BAME people being part of their social/family milieu. In the 50’s and 60’s, CofE churches encouraged Caribbean immigrants, who were already Anglicans, to find fellowship on Christ elsewhere.

            https://news.gallup.com/poll/118931/knowing-someone-gay-lesbian-affects-views-gay-issues.aspx

          • I agree with the second half but not the first half. I don’t know what the ‘questionable anthropologies’ are; and I don’t see a scintilla that’s disreputable in CBRUK’s modus operandi. They are simply giving the normal (high) value to human life.

            I agree with you that people in practice will support causes where they have a personal interest. (All that is, is human nature.) That however does not make the causes any more or less important. Their importance is intrinsic. Equal worth of all humans is intrinsic. Their equal right to grow up with dads is intrinsic (strange ‘patriarchy’ we live in when by law ‘a child does not [even] need a father [-unlike a mother]’). And so on.

      • BLM UK
        This is from the web:
        “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately and systematically harm Black people in Britain and around the world.

        Our commitment to all Black lives means that we lift up the experiences of the most marginalised in our communities, including but not limited to working class, queer, trans, undocumented, disabled, Muslim, sex workers, women/non-binary, HIV+ people.

        Amongst calls for transparency and demands to reveal the leadership behind BLM UK, we are currently dealing with emergency legal matters following last week’s protests in addition to the hostility of far-right groups. This is a genuine threat to our safety and, whilst organisation and process plans for the fund are soon to be shared, we thank you for your patience, but cannot compromise our safety at this time. Some of us are already public-facing figures and have spoken out as members of BLM UK.”

        And also to be weighed, here is a “Biblical analysis” of BLM it’s doctrine and philosophical foundations:
        https://thecripplegate.com/a-biblical-analysis-of-the-black-lives-matter-organization/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCripplegate+%28The+Cripplegate%29

        And for the avoidance of doubt, although understanding of BLM of this is important, it is a distraction from David Shepherd’s article.
        And racism is a sin not to be enjoined by Christians.

        Reply
        • The Cripplegate analysis would be more persuasive if so much of it didn’t invite a mirror to be held up to our middle-class churches. Where BLM offends white sensibilities there is much in western societies that is hurtful to black people. What is it that allowed police officers to take selfies with the bodies of Mina Smallman’s daughters? I’m among those who have enough invested in capitalism to be compromised by its ideology: why are we surprised that people without that investment want capitalism done away with? From our middle-class securities we say absent fathers are the problem but how far have we listened to how that has come about? What part have slave ownership practices played in the past? What part has bitter frustration played in more recent years? What makes us think this is a black problem anyway? How many broken or abusive marriages and messed up kids are represented in our suburban churches? And where consequences differ how much is about financial resources? We resent BLM telling us there’s a white problem but ‘we’ are quick to aggregate problems and say they are a black problem. In George Floyd’s memory I’m determined to listen more to black voices and to try to push back against some of the assumptions we rely on as white people.

          Reply
      • As to the proposed equation between ‘horrific’and ‘inclusive’, do those 2 concepts strike one as being semantically linked? As to ‘inclusive’ being (a) an extremely vague and also (b) an ideological term, and (c) one that moreover scarcely means what it might be expected to mean according to the dictionary – that’s another matter.

        I have written on about 30 of these extremely vague and never-unpacked mantra-words in WATTTC. Including ‘inclusive’. Now, that kind of use or abuse of words, that certainly is horrific. The irony is that being inclusive is (of course) generally a good thing – but one has learnt not to trust the way the word is used or abused as part of an all-too-simplistic worldview.

        Reply
        • Christopher – I’m not up for defending ‘identity politics’ and probably wouldn’t know if I was attacking it but I am trying to respond to a saviour who was moved by the stories of people who society was keen to push aside. Jesus died for people who hold very different views from mine on issues that have been important to me but I’m nearly old enough to recognise that my standing point has blinded me to vital issues of concern to them. There are helpful commentators out there, I’ve mentioned Akala, e.g.: I know it’s time I listened to people outside my white constituency.

          Reply
        • How about a phrase like, ‘Pro-Life’? Is it:
          (a) unambiguously defined
          (b) never used ideologically
          (c) what it might be expected to mean according to the dictionary

          Reply
          • Yes, it is all of a,b,c. We are faced with people who think that to kill innocent humans is fine. Worse than that, their own daughters and sons. To define themselves against this entitled, presumptuous, nonchalant, uncaring, conscience-deadened and extremely cruel attitude to deaths, normally good and kind people call themselves ”pro-life”.

          • It just means anti-abortion but is framed positively to match “pro-choice “. What is your problem with the expression? Do you think abortion on demand is consistent with the will of Jesus Christ? Why are you attacking this expression?
            I am sure you know, by the way, how prevalent abortion is among black Americans. I think the majority of black pregnancies end in abortion. Trying to think of a slogan here.

          • I’m happily Pro-Life. I’m highlighting to Christopher that the term is just as much a mantra-word as ‘inclusive’.

            “I am sure you know, by the way, how prevalent abortion is among black Americans. I think the majority of black pregnancies end in abortion. Trying to think of a slogan here.”

            Well, while you’re doing that, you might also want to think of a slogan that encapsulates this dubious distinction:
            “Whereas White offenders were more often classified as socially incompetent and sexually fixated on children when compared with Black offenders.”

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303891670_Examining_Ethno-Racial_Related_Differences_in_Child_Molester_Typology_An_MTCCM3_Approach

          • But no-one was ever denying that. To frame this as black-vs-white is the exact reverse of what accuracy-oriented people ought to be doing.

            What we are doing is fighting against the untruthful dereliction of evidence that says ‘different categories *must* score the same in *every* area of life’.

          • Accuracy is about reality. The reality is that most people I have encountered in the last 60 years are both pro life and pro choice: they aren’t either/or but both/and.
            I’m all for reality but Christopher seems always to be about ideology.

          • “ What we are doing is fighting against the untruthful dereliction of evidence that says ‘different categories *must* score the same in *every* area of life’.”

            The proposition of this post was never that ‘dIfferent categories’ must score the same in every area of life.

            But seeing as you’re fighting against untruth, you should declare where that proposition was asserted by me.

          • It was never asserted by you. But we are still fighting against it, you and I and others.

          • To say that it can be better for parents to arrange the killing of their child than for that child to live is the removal of life and the removal of all choice simultaneously.

            I see that Andrew has swallowed whole the way in which the debate has been *framed*. Those who cynically framed it thus, e.g. Bernard Nathanson, never believed that people would buy it or fall for it.

            It remains incredible that a picture of a dead baby can have the caption ‘choice’. As any 4 year old will tell you, it’s a dead baby, not choice, and the 2 are not similar to look at. Many many people are less intelligent or less honest than a 4 year old. I think it is the latter.

          • “As any 4 year old will tell you….”

            In which case it;s essential we don’t leave complex decisions to 4 year olds isn’t it?

            On the matter of abortion, as I have said before, the C of E statement acknowledges the shades of grey that every issue has.

          • I’m sure the alleged shades of grey are a great comfort to the innocently killed of all kinds.

            This is shades-of-grey dogmatism/fundamentalism. Did you notice that Andrew confidently pronounced on all issues everywhere that they had shades of grey?
            (1) It would seem *more* likely that the trillions of issues in the world would vary on a scale from very clear to very opaque. That would be normal (as opposed to abnormal) distribution.
            (2) Saying such things makes one sound clever, as though one had actually looked into all these topics….
            (3) Life and death issues are normally right at the more straightforward end of the spectrum, given that we class murder as about the worst thing. Innocent and blood-linked life all the more so.

          • Yes – and as mentioned human life-and-death issues are normally classified as the least negotiable. If a puppy were dismembered/ taken out with the trash and labelled biological waste / flushed down the toilet / burnt, people would be up in arms.

    • Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer….whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
      We are expansive. We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and to bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front.
      We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centres those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.

      No, sorry, Christopher, I can’t see anything horrific there.
      Only that which is entirely laudable.

      Reply
      • You missed it. It is the imposed requirement that we analyse and understand the world in the same categories that they do. Even where those categories have been found (a) incoherent and/or (b) mere children of their own time and no other.

        Reply
        • Christopher

          I have no idea what you mean by incoherent or mere children of their own time.
          These are surely our hopes and ideals.
          Many of them specifically Christian.

          Reply
        • ‘Our’? Are we an amorphous mass, with all difference and dissent blocked? You see, you’re doing exactly what I said, and thereby proving my point.

          One cannot assent to things that aren’t coherent in the first place.

          Reply
          • I don’t know Christopher, are we?
            You seem to be the one who makes sweeping statements about ‘everyone’.
            I was simply assuming (my bad) that most good people would condemn violence against black bodies and would want to eradicate white supremacy and would embrace those on the margins of society and would eschew narrow nationalism.

          • Exactly. You select the unexceptionable points and omit the tranche of unexamined cliches.

            We have all had it up to here with people selecting the unexceptionable angles and leaving out 90% of the angles, just like those who call abortion ‘a legal medical etc etc’.

          • Christopher

            I don’t find any points in this statement that are exceptionable. It’s a commitment to end inequality and white privilege and to celebrate black lives and bodies.

            You might as well say the gospel is cliched.

          • Another sweeping generalisation, Christopher.
            Who is the ‘we’ who have had it all up to here?
            What have ‘we’ had up to here?

          • The whole world has had it up to here inasmuch as it has undeniably taken place in the world which we all inhabit.

            And honest people always want as comprehensive and all-angled an analysis as possible rather than a cherry-picked, partial or biased one.

          • Christopher as usual you are just making vast generalisations Yet again and it begins to devalue anything you say. Honest people *the whole world* over need reality, not privileged ideology.

          • Sorry Christopher, that’s just a word salad of sweeping generalisations. I can’t engage with something which has no content.

          • We agree totally. We are in favour of reality, which is multidimensional, many-angled, and comprehensive. We are against ideology, which is cherry picking, biased and selective depending on personal interests.

            ‘The whole world has had it up to here’ – by which I mean that it’s like a virus or cancer that has no bounds. I don’t mean that each individual person is fed up with it. That certainly would have been a sweeping generalisation if I had said it, which I did not.

          • Except that what you originally said was “We have all had it up to here with people….”
            The ‘world’ (as in physical place) doesn’t feel emotions. It simply exists and responds to how we treat it. People are what feel emotions like ‘had it up to here’. So it’s clear you were talking about people and all people at that. So, I’m afraid, just a massive generalisation.

          • Christopher

            Whoever ‘we’re are, we don’t agree totally. Not everyone is against ideology, not everyone is in favour of reality.

            What is like a cancer or a virus?
            If you mean systemic racism is, then yes, I would agree up to a point. Except that racism infects and harms societies and culturesbut does not, necessarily destroy them. It harms whites as well as blacks.

          • The world (physical place) does not feel emotions? I need to be informed about that?

            The world is not a still and solid physical place but a vibrant ecosystem! Included in it are 7.5 bn people with their lives, experiences, hopes and dreams.

            Whatever we bring into the world for good will reverberate around it, as will whatever we bring into the world for bad.

            Selectivity is bad because it is an example of dishonesty and ideology. The cancer/virus in question was selectivity / bias / cherry-picking.

            Penny: your statement that some people just prefer (are in favour of) ideology and others just prefer reality (which is what I have been saying all along) should be framed. (As though it were all a matter of preference, and the world will obligingly conform to our preferences? Who do we think we are?)

            While your implication that these 2 are equally good (!!) is pretty much incriminating. A gotcha moment, unless I have misunderstood.

          • Christopher: If you wish to claim that the world as a physical place feels emotions, then be my guest. It is the people of the world who feel emotions. Not the rock formations, trees etc. So, you seem to be claiming that the 7.5bn people have all ‘had it up to here’. So it’s either just rhetoric, a massive generalisation or simplistic. Either way it’s clearly un-evidenced.

            As to ideology. You are clearly wrong there too. Simple definition: “An ideology is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group of persons, especially as held for reasons that are not purely epistemic, in which “practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones.” ”

            It’s both/and – not either/or. Like being pro-life and pro-choice. You are very obviously an ideologist.

          • Andrew, I already said that I did not mean that lots of people were individually fed up. I also already said that I was not speaking of the world as a dead physical place but as an ecosystem which good things help and bad things harm.

            The word is ideologue not ideologist. I use the word to mean someone who substitutes wishes for evidenced conclusions. That is one of the ways the word is used, and the others are closely related.

          • Christopher

            You wrote ‘we’re are in favour of reality; ‘we’re are against ideology.
            You then write that some prefer reality and some ideology, which you have said all along.

            Which is it? And who are the ‘we’: you and me; some people; the whole world?

            And you infer that I believe preferring reality and ideology are ‘equal’. That is your assumption.

            In fact, like Andrew, I would suggest that we all follow ideologies. Yours are, probably, somewhat different from mine.

            And I still don’t know what the whole world has had up to here.

          • ideologist
            in British English
            (ˌaɪdɪˈɒlədʒɪst )
            NOUN
            1. a person who supports a particular ideology, esp a political theorist
            2. a person who studies an ideology or ideologies
            3. a theorist or visionary

          • June 29 07.40 Andrew speaks in favour of reality and against ideology. To which I respond that we are on the same page.

            Yes- some (namely the honest) prefer reality and others (namely the dishonest) prefer ideology.

            Everyone is an ideologue? But I have already specified the sense I am using the word in (not an unusual sense): namely, someone who thinks reality will obligingly fit their specifications. If as you say everyone is like that, then everyone is highly delusional. But they aren’t. Nor does a generalization of that degree inspire confidence. As earlier mentioned I was not using the word in any other sense.

          • Christopher

            You still haven’t said what it is that the whole world has had up to here.

          • Yes I did – June 28, 8.23am. The whole order of things (!) groans under the assault of dishonest ideology arising from reality-denying people who should and do know better. If you like spiritual battles (as do Inklings, Catholics, Pentecostals, Blakeians, Manicheans etc.) then this is one between truth and individual preference. The Nietzschean selfish hubris of thinking that we ourselves are the master of our fates in a world that is far too big for any of us actually to control. Wrong philosophies produce wrong outcomes: consider the effect of fossil fuels and plastic (and of basically acting as though the planet is just humans and their self interests) in just a few generations.

          • Extinction Rebellion are right in their claimed priorities. But all is as naught without a coherent plan. Simply protesting can sometimes be just the studenty/immature bit. Criticising and destruction are easy; planning and construction are the thing. Not that they will easily be given the chance to do that.

            BLM is right in its title, a child of fashion and conformity and lack of fresh thought in its manifesto, right in its degree of protest, wrong in the proportion of attention it gives to: whether poverty within a rich nation is not sometimes a symptom of something else; persecuted and killed Christians who far far outnumber black men killed by white cops; fatherless families.

          • However, to be specific, it does seem likely that we are now living at a moment when the obvious truth that it is impossible to live out of harmony with nature is kicking in. Does this mean back to homesteads? Chesterton was right about most things- about distributism too probably.
            A family based system is bound to be better than individualism and than too much power for the faceless state. This could be a vision for environmentalists to pursue. Having first watched the Otis Transformations videos, because the current Green movement ignores and is irrationally opposed to the benefits of Christianity within a society.
            We already have tons of evidence on what works best. We ought not to be leaving our social discourse to those who can only hold one ill thought out mantra slogan in their minds at once.

          • I’m struggling with the idea that if people get married and live in homesteads everything will be ticketty boo.

          • It’s been tested previously, unlike our present experiments. However – either we’ve reached the stage where a radical reversion to living in harmony with nature is the only thing that can reverse the decline or hold cataclysm at bay – or we soon will reach that stage, and it is not advisable to delay action. Everyone already has their home base, and the expectation is that people will now work more from home on average. Well, we already were working from home in the homestead age, so all that is is a decline followed by a reversion to the status quo. It’s an example of how change and departure from nature can to some degree prove unsustainable.

            The predictions that greater proportions are expected to live in cities in the future are not good for people’s lungs or stress levels. The sloganeering we have been talking about generally stems from people who know no better because they inhabit this artificial and often ugly urbanity rather than interdependent and more organic settlements where the architecture gently rises symbolically to the church in the middle. The animals, who live in harmony with nature, no doubt see us in our shrieking protests and wonder.

            For a very amusing exploration of the way that people somehow think they are *more* civilised when they are frantically trying to beat the clock even when they have invented all sorts of labour saving devices, and in fact suffer far more stress than the bushmen, see the film ‘The gods must be crazy’.

          • Well, that’s all very lovely. And I’m all for living in harmony with nature, which I try to do. But not all are lucky enough to live in villages with a church at the centre (I am). As populations rise in some countries, more people will live in cities, which is probably greener anyway, because they won’t need to commute far and can use public transport.

          • OK, but the whole idea was to drastically cut back on the commuting by working from home.

          • I agree. But it’s a bit difficult to work from home if you are a surgeon, a shop assistant or a cleaner.

          • That’s exactly right. But whoever said that everyone was one of those 3 things or similar? An increasing number has office- or computer-based jobs. This enables the proportions of people working from home to increase, and that is the trajectory or direction of travel at present.

            All of that even before we consider that it means more time with the family. Cutting out not one but two travels per day.

      • Calling the Hispanic Hispanic American George Zimmerman a “murderer” when he acquitted by a jury of his peers is libellous, is it not?

        Reply
    • “Are especially-well-educated cultures (Indian and Chinese/Singaporean) discriminated against in the West? If not we can’t talk of racism.” Yes, look at the ONS stats concerning education level attained and employment. Morever, this ‘high level educational attainment ‘has been predominantly in STEM subjects and not the Humanities or Arts. We need to talk racism when one considers the educational attainment levels of West Africans and employment – huge discrepancies. Also don’t forget that the Indian Civil Service effectively ran the Raj , so there are strong historical associations and familiarities of Britain’s systems and institutions.
      “And finally, there is a colossal amount of postcode killing in East London mostly black on black; is the cultural element here irrelevant, and why are they not mourned equally to George Floyd?” Yes, the cultural element is arguably irrelevant, as there are more white on white killings in the UK (what maybe happening in London could be psychological internalised anger); it is well known that the wider the economic inequality is in a location the higher will be the crime rate and tendencies to violent crime

      Reply
        • Ian
          I knew I had seen some stats somewhere, but these are from America – from the US National Bureau of Justice 2018. Posted by Peter Evans on the Conservative woman website. Killings as registered:
          White killing Black – 2%
          Police killing White – 3%
          White killing White – 16%
          Black killing White – 81%
          Black killing Black – 94%
          Police killing Black – 1%

          Reply
          • Actually the data is here and Peter Evans is just relaying a racist fabrication.

            In 2016, there were 3,499 murders of white people in the US. 2,854 of them were perpetrated by white people. So, 2854/3499 = 81% white-on-white murders.

            In 2016, there were 2,870 murders of black people in the US. 2,570 of them were perpetrated by black people. So, 2570/2870 = 89.5% black-on-black murders.

            This is understandable given the relatively higher deprivation faced by black people in the US and their demographic concentration in cities, where most such crimes occur.

            https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-3.xls

            Thanks for providing your own perfect example of systemic racism. Instead of checking the accuracy of this purported evidence of relatively savage black criminality, you preferred to simply relay it in furtherance of your own biased assumptions about black people.

          • David
            I apologise if the information was incorrect. The Conservative Woman website has a good discussion platform and I had confidence in the person who posted as they are usually accurate and had given the US Bureau as a source.
            I do not have biased assumptions about black people, I see them as people and find out whether I like them or not.
            I have been in the Church of England for 35 years and have met many people – we are all flawed human beings, but most are trying to serve Christ in serving other human beings.
            I was working in a Parish in Lincolnshire in the 1990’s when we connected with an Orphanage in Malawi and became the main support. Reverend Timothy Khoviwa came and stayed in my home and was welcomed into other homes for fund raising talks. He went into the school and made connections there also. Many village people also joined in support. Timothy is a giant very black man who is a joy to have known. He has a heart for the widow and the orphan, as he would remind everyone. It is what is in the heart of man that matters, not the colour of their skin.
            To say that there is systemic racism is a sweeping statement, which can neither be proved or disproved. The church is in the business of turning hearts to Christ, and in so doing to love their neighbour as themselves (no matter what their skin colour).

          • “To say that there is systemic racism is a sweeping statement, which can neither be proved or disproved.”

            I’d suggest that you re-read my explanation of systemic racism, as defined in the MacPherson report.

            “‘systemic’ describes the pervasiveness of this inability to counteract racial bias because the rules and processes allow scope for discretion (as, to some extent, they must).”

            ” this scope for discretion means that racial bias can circumvent the very systems that are intended to “prohibit racial discrimination and encourage integration”.

            “While some of this bias arises from unconsciously harbouring negative racial stereotypes, there are three key hallmarks of this pervasive lack of critical scrutiny that allows bias to perpetuate:
            It may result from normative deference to official authority, e.g. chain of command;
            It is not necessarily confined to a specific race; and
            It is not necessarily intentional.

            Your own explanation shows that: “I had confidence in the person who posted as they are usually accurate and had given the US Bureau as a source.

            It’s quite undeniable that you used your discretion to defer to the credibility of that poster (especially, since they stated that it was from a reliable source) and presented the false statistics uncritically.

            While there are some exceptions (like Reverend Timothy Khoviwa whom you befriended), the overall (unintended) effect of sharing these false stats is to give credence to the mistaken notion of the comparatively exceptional savagery of African-Americans.

            I mean, what other conclusion could a person reach, if they accepted as fact, false statistics like:
            ‘White killing Black’ – 2%
            ‘Black killing White’ – 81%.

            And it’s the unintended perpetuation among white people of persistently and extremely negative beliefs and false statements about black people in general that causes teachers, employers, acquaintances, and others to behave censoriously and have strong reservations about us, especially when they exercise discretion in making decisions that affect black lives.

            That’s why studies prove that UK employers will repeatedly grant callbacks to candidate whose application indicates a white background, while immediately rejecting another candidate whose application is identical, except for indicating an ethnic minority background.

            http://csi.nuff.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Are-employers-in-Britain-discriminating-against-ethnic-minorities_final.pdf

          • David
            I would sum up what you have said to me as – “you are racist because you are white. You may treat some black people well, but this does not negate your racism. You will have to interrogate your every action and response to ensure you rid yourself of this racism. You will have to ensure that you have a diverse work environment, as only choosing the best candidate is no longer acceptable.”
            Systemic can be summed up as pervasive. It would seem strange that so many people wish to settle in this country if it is systemically racist.
            This is so far from the MLK dream as to be a nightmare.

          • Oh, okay. You clearly missed the bit where, concerning systemic racism, I I wrote: “ It is not necessarily confined to a specific race;”

            Otherwise, you wouldn’t have resorted to the assertion that: “you are racist because you are white.”

            It doesn’t make sense to engage further until you address my line of reasoning, instead of introducing an imaginative, but fallacious “straw man” caricature of it.

          • Using the word ‘racist’ is not right in contexts where people are doing their level best to be accurate to the statistics. There are occasions when statistics will reflect badly on this or that group or culture, but that’s not the fault of any of us commentators.

          • “ where people are doing their level best to be accurate to the statistics”

            Level best? And what evidence do you have of that.

            Why should the root cause of perpetuating fallacious statements without checking be any different to the the root cause of sin that you’ve attributed to other wrongs, like abortion?

            “ There are occasions when statistics will reflect badly on this or that group or culture, but that’s not the fault of any of us commentators.”

            Without my scrutiny of the statistics, they would have been swallowed whole as incontrovertible evidence of exceptional African-American savagery, when compared to white people.

            That’s exactly how systemic racism works.

          • When debating n LGBT issues over a number of years I noticed that my co-debaters high handedly refused to allow LGBT inferiority by any measure at all.

            I pointed out that there are billions of things that can be measured. There is no shame in LGBT ranking lower than heterosexuals on 50% of these, since that is merely to be expected by the law of averages. It is only the *much* lower ranking in central issues that causes concern.

            Now the same thing is happening with pigmentation. Remember, the law of averages alone will make a given pigmentation group rank lower than another given pigmentation group half the time (often only slightly lower, if normal distribution holds). That is just the law of averages. Totalitarian refusal to allow a lower ranking in anything at all, when billions of possible measures exist, cannot stand.

          • Christopher

            What on earth are the ‘things’ that LGBT people (or differently pigmented people) rank lower on?

            Who decides on the ‘things’?

            Who decides what value or meaning these ‘things’ have?

          • Well, you’ll agree that there are billions of types of measurements that can be made.

            If you’re affronted that LGBT people rank lower in *some* of these, it follows that the only acceptable outcome to you is that non-LGBT people rank lower than LGBT in absolutely everything. Is that accurate? Because it is what follows from your affront.

            As for ‘what on earth are these things?’ they are probably the most frequent list I keep on churning out because too few listen.

            Ditto for different colour groups, though I do struggle to divide people up that way, let alone into a binary black/white. Different groups will rank lower and higher in different matters. Hold the front page?

          • To believe in equality is to believe in the law of averages as a reasonable assumption.

            If you don’t believe in the law of averages, you must be opposed to us who believe in equality.

          • Christopher

            Once again, you fail to answer my questions.
            What are the measurements?
            What are the things?
            Who decides what the things are?
            And who determines their value?

          • I so often repeat the list, and thought I did not need to do so again. Large differences in proportional levels of STIs; promiscuity; longevity; involvement in risky sexual practices (together with things like mental health and drugs where you may assign the blame elsewhere though this holds no less in gay-friendly cultures nor does it hold among other minorities who may claim unpopularity and societal sidelining e.g. JWs) are all areas of concern re self-identified homosexuals by comparison with heterosexuals.

          • As to your other questions, I was talking as you’ll see above about the totality of things that can be measured and compared group-by-group. These obviously run into billions. My point was that so many things can be measured you’re fighting a losing battle if you”want” a certgainl group (e.g. black, gay) *never* to rate lower. All groups will rate lower (and higher) than others repeatedly: precisely because there are so many things that can be measured.

            As to the question about which things are important, longevity and disease and marital patterns are clearly very fundamental considerations to any person’s life – few things are more so.

          • Christopher

            Or, to put it another way, promiscuous people have a higher rate of STDs than continent people.
            Black women (in the US) have higher rates of abortion than white women.
            In China and India rates of abortion (including femicide) are higher than they are in Europe.
            What moral freight might you put on these measurements?

          • The same as ever. Prescribe cultures according to what is proven to work. It seems obvious to me. Christianity, marriage/family and education are all proven to work.

          • Christopher

            I am going to repeat (more or less) a comment I have made lower down this thread.
            You still haven’t provided an example of a Christian culture, past or present, which embodies those values.

          • Well – I could give you the Moravians (though doubtless you would quote back at me Babette’s Feast). Or the Hebrides Revival. Or several of the societies on the Otis Transformations videos. Some sing the praises of turn of the century rural Oxfordshire, and Thame and Burford (not to mention Wimborne etc) are lovely even now. One could go on. And never, ever listen to those who repeat the pat cliche ‘There has never been a utopia’ as though they know all about all cultures everywhere. BUT-

            The issue I was highlighting was not that. The issue was that some are far better than others not that any is a utopia. How did they get to be so much better than the others?

          • Christopher

            But surely the parable of Babette’s Feast is that she is the redeemer figure with her Eucharistic meal? She feeds and heals.

            I know nothing of Otis transformations.

            As for Thame and Wimbourne, I’m sure they are lovely if you have 1M to buy a house, are white, cishet and vote Conservative!

          • I know! I have met people who say if it is in a parable it must be true. Goodness knows why. I have met people who say if it is in a proverb or well known saying it must be true. I have met people who act as though well known lines in pop songs must be true. Fundamentalists all. However, what Babette does is good, just as the way of life of Moravians and quasi Moravians is really good.

            You would rather waste ink and time saying you know nothing of Otis’s Transformations rather than finding out about them?

            Yes, there are lovely communities where people have a shared way of life and shared assumptions and similar background. When we meet this in other countries we think it lovely, so it is not going to be less lovely in our country.

          • Christopher

            The moral point of the parable in Babette’s Feast is that she, the stranger, is the saviour who redeems the lives of her generous but cold, narrow and unloving hosts.

            I wasn’t ‘wasting ink’ (this is a virtual space), simply confessing my ignorance.

            If I lived in a wealthy, right-wing, white, middle-class enclave in France, Germany or Greece, I wouldn’t necessarily it was welcoming or virtuous.

          • Babette’s Feast is irrelevant to the Moravians (only relevant to a common but wrong caricature of the Moravians) since it is in Denmark and the Moravians were far away in Czech/Bavarian country. I should never have mentioned Babette. The Moravians did a good job of transforming their society. Calvinism had its social effects too, of course.

            The Welsh Revival at first saw pubs emptied and foul mouthed men no longer understood by their pit ponies who had become accustomed to orders peppered with profanities. The extent and speed of this was remarkable. The durability of the roots was *eventually* not, but there was always something about those who had been in the revival.

            The Otis videos I had to cite in the absence of any other material being known to me, because their purpose is to gather together stories of this sort: international examples of social transformation through Christian means. They have been criticised extensively. But if transformation claimed at 50% improvement is only 5-10% improvement (to take a random example) that 5-10% still needs to be accounted for.

  4. David – thanks for an excellent article. Are you involved in framing our diocesan response to ‘Black Lives Matter’ (a group of BAME clergy are meeting with bishops this week I believe)? If not, why not?!! Our BAME champion would surely be glad to have your support if he doesn’t have it already.

    Reply
  5. Here are some illustrative statistics on Intentional Homicides per 100,000 people in five urbanised, developed societies:
    UK 1.2; Italy 0.57; US 5.35; Japan 0.26; Singapore 0.16.
    The US figures are exacerbated by the ubiquity of firearms, which makes killing people much easier, but knife crime has been exploding in the UK. The Harvard report that David cites makes the familiar point that violent crime (homicides and robberies) are overwhelmingly a young man’s game, and further notes that such hyper-masculine behaviour becomes that much more likely when young men socialise in gangs and/or are involved in drug dealing. This is the masculine culture that reinforces anti-social behaviour. These are typical urban cultural modes of behaving which most males will grow out of, but before they do, they may cause enormous damage to others and to themselves. The question then is what are the familial and social factors that explain why some young males end up in gangs and drug dealing and others don’t. And I think the answer to that has been trailed sufficiently already.
    In short, it’s a crisis about masculinity and the male underclass (both black and white). Drugs (and theft) offer an escape from the grind of existence, as well as a chance to quick riches. But it is criminal behaviour than provokes further criminal behaviour in return.
    There is no answer except to remoralise society. But Christians knew that already.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for hosting this debate, Ian.

    I am trying hard to engage in a dispassionate analysis of this present moment as it affects Britain. It intrigues me considering that both articles were discussing ‘racism’, neither were begun with an agreed definition of what exactly racism means. This open-ended word is applied in different ways in people’s minds.

    David has sought to define ‘systemic’ as distinguished from ‘institutional’ which is helpful. But, as is my overall concern in this present situation, words like systemic are taken to apply across the board and to include everyone. As David pointed out, because organisational rules require a degree of discretion in their application, this inevitably leads to situations where those predisposed to being prejudiced against people of a different skin colour can exercise that discretion wrongly. But that behaviour by individuals ought not to be tagged on to everyone involved in that organisation. If instead of systemic racism it was called ‘opportunistic racism’ then it would signal it is illegitimate and not part of the expected manner of action.

    Could I ask, David, if the figures relating to the Bar of 84% and 72%, which I’ve seen somewhere else, were statistically significant in their difference when the overall numbers of participants are factored in?

    Although the Minnesota officers may not have been charged for 4 days, my son who lives over there told me they were all sacked on the spot. The delay may have been due to legal process; there was no sympathy shown for their crime.

    As an overall comment on the present situation, I am very concerned that what is happening by focusing and categorising on skin colour we risk setting back the progress we have made in the UK (I am not looking at other countries). The reluctance of the police to prosecute the grooming gangs was fear of being called racist. I would think there is every reason to speculate that any shortcomings in warning BAME people about extra risk from Covid might be related to the same fear. I suppose sadly there will always be racist people around: Will accepted the same in his article. But whether attaching terms like systemic, privilege and supremacy in a generalised way to people will improve social integration, I think doubtful.

    As Zuby said, “Calling people who are not racist, “racist”, will not end racism.

    Reply
    • By your argument I’d have thought ‘systemic’ stands as a useful term if, for instance, it is seen that white people in general are systematically the beneficiaries of anyone’s racism.
      As to sympathy shown for Chauvin’s crime there were also remarks by the President … who might yet get a 2nd term!
      As to focusing on skin colour, do we need some kind of guiding principle that says that as followers of Jesus we’ll avoid that focus when it leads to culturally convenient conclusions?
      Mention of ‘racism’ quickens pulses (suggesting there is more to this than we readily admit) so we need positive rules of engagement – not encouragement to stay silent.

      Reply
      • Hello Steve:
        Systemic means ‘affecting the body as a whole’; systematically means ‘methodically ordering’: they are not really the same thing. The use of systemic is generally taken to apply to everyone (the whole body) with the implication of that all possess racist attitudes in some way, whereas I understood David to be pointing out that it works, in order to avoid breaking equality laws, because of the latitude given in how rules are enacted. So there could be racism in selecting employees, but also nepotism for instance, or classism as Geoff explained.
        I don’t think there should be any focus on skin colour. I have seen figures that show this has been a positive development in British social attitudes over the last 50 years. I’m sure most people have been living, and wishing to continue living, by Martin Luther King’s vision ‘ to be judged by the content of our character and not the colour of our skin’. One can even now be called ‘racist’ for stating that you will not make decisions according to skin colour!
        A reason that the word ‘racism’ is becoming problematic is mainly because there is no commonly agreed definition of what exactly it means. I have been accused of racism for making what was a historical observation about Japan and what an amazing transformation has occurred in the last century. Brexit voters have been labelled racist. I’m afraid the liberal use of such terms pejoratively will only lead to people being silent and segregating through fear. People are losing their jobs due to simply being accused of racism.

        Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for highlighting some key points, especially statistical significance. Concerning the Bar (BPTC) exam, here’s the full report (which used a Pearson’s chi-squared test): https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/uploads/assets/f69a9410-c170-4f82-b4b500d5b9e0df8a/Differential-Attainment-at-BPTC-and-Pupillage-analysis.pdf

      Notably, the study explains: “An unpublished snapshot BSB survey suggests that a large majority of home students (94.5%) intended to practise at the Bar in England and Wales, in sharp contrast to overseas students (where the equivalent proportion was 16.3%). The analysis was also restricted to BPTC graduates – individuals must have completed the vocational stage of training (i.e. the BPTC) before they start the professional stage of training (i.e. pupillage). All the group differences in Figure 2 are statistically significant for those with a 2:1 Degree (aside from gender), for those with a Very Competent BPTC grade, and for those with a 1st Class degree, at the 5% significance level or better. Although there are differences between groups in the proportions gaining pupillage with an ‘Outstanding’ BPTC grade, none of these are statistically significant.”

      So, there is statistical significance, albeit no across all levels.

      Concerning the authorities’ response to George Floyd’s (and despite the fact that your son lives over there), I’d ask you to peruse the chronology of events. This includes the fact that the “preliminary statement” didn’t mention the officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck.

      Also, it was only after the video footage became more widespread, the department briefly placed four officers on administrative leave before firing them later that day.

      There was no reason that they couldn’t have been arrested (on probable cause) at the same time. The fact that there was no ‘sympathy’ is no proof that tacit connivance was not at work.

      I wasn’t so much seeking to define ‘systemic’ as I was pointing to its quasi-judicial origin. Of course, many words can undergo pejoration. Look at the word, pervert. In medieval times, it was a label that the Church applied to those who were obstinately apostate, such as atheists, who were considered to have a corruptive effect.

      Then, it found its way into the clinical psycholanalytical discourses and applied to a whole range of sexual pathologies.

      Despite that pejoration, it was chosen by several 20th century bible translators as the word for ἀρσενοκοίταις:
      NEB, 1961 – “guilty of homosexual perversion”; RSV, 1963 – “sexual perverts”; REB, 1989 – “sexual pervert”; Contemporary English Version, 1989 – “pervert” & “behaves like a homosexual”; NET, 2003 – “passive homosexual partner”.

      In the case of LGBT people, few evangelical Christians sought to took issues with such pejorative labels. Probably, we can both see why the term ‘gay’ was popularised as an alternative by 20th century LGBT campaigners.

      “I would think there is every reason to speculate that any shortcomings in warning BAME people about extra risk from Covid might be related to the same fear.”

      Yes. You can speculate tentatively. What you’ve failed to consider is the vast difference between avoiding the charge of racism by declining to prosecute *individuals* and avoiding the charge of racism by declining to issue guidance for the protection of *BAME people in their entirety*. That’s a completely implausible leap of solidarity.

      Reply
      • The word ‘pervert’ is now less in use in our apparently anything-goes culture, but when it was in use, it’s possible that it was at times in its usage virtually synonymous with ‘people who engage in homosexual acts’. And also possible that it was not – historians of usage would have to confirm or deny that.

        Reply
      • David,
        Could it be suggested that the sequence of development of the scientific understanding and evidence that the whole of the various BAME communities were a uniform, at risk group, without any differentiation between categories of age and sex and comorbidities? Do all BAME groups and communities carry the same risk?
        Was it any more or less a failure than the neglect of ringfencing care homes?
        Is this really an example of systemic racism from a combination of scientific, epidemiology, medical experts and advisors and government ministers? And if I might add, multiple local Clinical Commissioning groups around England? Even local BAME Primary health care providers?

        Reply
        • “ Do all BAME groups and communities carry the same risk?
          Was it any more or less a failure than the neglect of ringfencing care homes?
          Is this really an example of systemic racism from a combination of scientific, epidemiology, medical experts and advisors and government ministers?”

          Well, all BAME don’t carry the same risk. Then again, neither do all over-70s carry the same risk, nor all diabetics, yet those categories were both officially assessed as vulnerable and issued with NHS guidance.

          I’m not taking issue with the scientific, epidemiology, medical experts and advisers. They’re not responsible for redacting the PHE report; politicians are: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/senior-primary-care-and-racism-experts-condemn-whitewashed-phe-report/20040931.article

          Reply
  7. 1 Most of this two part discussion, agreed not all, centres on the police services on both sides of the Pond, which is far too limited in scope in my view. It should be widened to include discrete community cultures, ways of living, families, single mother parents.

    2 Police
    2.1 I’d be interested in the psychological profile of the type of people who go into the police organisations, to put it colloquially, as law enforcers, to prevent (less likely) or to bring human behaviour into justice systems.
    2.2 In my experience as a former lawyer, many police officers proceed on the premise of prejudice in the sense of pre-judgement, guilty until proved innocent.

    3 Class and poverty
    3.1 David I don’t think you give sufficient consideration to class structure in society,
    even within discrete communities.
    3.2 Even today Saturday there is a very interesting article in the Telegraph, which highlights, yet again, the disparity between economic and social class structures by focussing on Newcastle’s Byker Estate, under the title “We worried our children will become the lost generation” For those who wouldn’t deign to read the Telegraph, they may be surprised at the content comparing as it does Byker (and N East with highest UK unemployment)
    with children in London and S East England.
    I
    4 Legal Professions
    4.1 The Bar
    I ‘d extend this to your Bar example, which, without knowing the methodology seems to be simplistic, making no reference to class, family connections, public school education, which has up until now had a huge influence on training opportunities in the legal professions.

    4.2 This relates to Solicitors . an abstract from this 2017, 67 page report, based on research, which seems to be more expansive in scope than the one you cite for barristers:
    https://www.sra.org.uk/globalassets/documents/sra/research/diversity-legal-profession.pdf?version=4a1ac7
    The Executive Summary is this:
    “Although the legal profession has become more broadly representative of the population over
    the last twenty years, with more women and minority ethnic groups entering it, the profession
    remains heavily stratified by class, gender and ethnicity. Large city law firms undertaking the
    highest paying legal work are dominated by white men, who are likely to have attended feepaying schools and have a family background of attending university. Women are less likely
    to work in senior roles in large city law firms and other high-income areas of the profession
    and minority ethnic women face a double disadvantage. On a more positive note, there is
    evidence that the public facing area of the profession, solicitors who undertake private client
    work, have become more diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity. In the case of ethnicity,
    there has been an acceleration of new admissions by BAME solicitors over the last ten years
    and, in particular, those of Asian background.”

    Key Findings
    Changes in the Composition of New Admissions to the Roll
    Chapter two provides an overview of how the gender and ethnic composition of individuals admitted
    to the Roll has changed over the period 1970-2016. It is based on an analysis of the individual records
    of 194,019 solicitors who remained registered on the Roll between 2006 and 2016. As the records of
    solicitors who left the profession before 2006 are missing from the dataset, it is important to keep in
    mind that the analysis does not include those who left the profession before this time. Nonetheless,
    even when data limitations are taken into account, it is evident that the profile of those entering the
    profession has changed markedly since 1970. The most striking trends are:
    • A massive increase in female new entrants – from less than 10% of all new admissions to the Roll
    in 1970 to over 60% in 2016.
    • An acceleration of new admissions by BAME solicitors over the last ten years and, in particular,
    those of Asian background. In fact, new admissions by Asian solicitors have been double that of
    all other minority ethnic groups since the mid-1970s, increasing to two-thirds in the last three
    years. In 2016, Asian solicitors accounted for 19% of all new admissions.
    • A relative decline of white males qualifying as solicitors since the 1970s due to large extent by a
    significant increase in new admissions by female and BAME solicitors since the 1990s.

    6 Health.
    6.1 In a similar vein I’d suggest that your conclusions to BAME and Covid 19 in UK is not rounded, multi-factoral, as how different groups of BAME access health services is not taken into account, nor is the distribution of Primary and Secondary Care and Social Services. In addition there are examples of people complaining that though they fell into the at risk group, they didn’t receive government inspired letters.
    6.2 Health Inequalities
    6.2.1The Marmot Report 2010 draws out the multi-dimensional, but key aspect to health inequalities:
    “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” “proposed an evidence based strategy to address the social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age and which can lead to health inequalities.”

    “Summary of findings and recommendations
    The detailed report contains many important findings, some of which are summarised below.

    People living in the poorest neighbourhoods in England will on average die seven years earlier than people living in the richest neighbourhoods
    People living in poorer areas not only die sooner, but spend more of their lives with disability – an average total difference of 17 years
    The Review highlights the social gradient of health inequalities – put simply, the lower one’s social and economic status, the poorer one’s health is likely to be
    Health inequalities arise from a complex interaction of many factors – housing, income, education, social isolation, disability – all of which are strongly affected by one’s economic and social status
    Health inequalities are largely preventable. Not only is there a strong social justice case for addressing health inequalities, there is also a pressing economic case. It is estimated that the annual cost of health inequalities is between £36 billion to £40 billion through lost taxes, welfare payments and costs to the NHS
    Action on health inequalities requires action across all the social determinants of health, including education, occupation, income, home and community”
    6.2.2 Marmot I0 years On . a report from the Institute of Health Equity : Executive Summary (34 pages) https://www.health.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/Health%20Equity%20in%20England_The%20Marmot%20Review%2010%20Years%20On_executive%20summary_web.pdf
    “The report highlights that:

    – people can expect to spend more of their lives in poor health
    – improvements to life expectancy have stalled, and declined for the poorest 10% of women
    the health gap has grown between wealthy and deprived areas
    place matters – living in a deprived area of the North East is worse for your health than living in a similarly deprived area in London, to the extent that life expectancy is nearly five years less.”

    On balance David, I’d suggest that any structural inequities, are not solely, BAME, but class based.
    For those of us in union with Christ are brought together in true unity in diversity, from every tongue tribe and nation, without any denial ethnicity.
    And as this is on site of a CoE minister, how class stratified is the CoE?

    Reply
    • Re. the focus on policing, it does just happen to be a headline issue.
      I can’t get my head round the white guy carried out of a melee by BLM supporters who turned out to be a (retired) career copper. However many good people are in our police forces it suggests a cultural problem.
      Officers taking selfies with murder victims suggests a sense of impunity that has been recognised as institutional not long ago.
      I’m sure you’right about some inequities arising from class issues but I think that may underline the racism implied in some outcomes.

      Reply
      • Steven,
        I’m being somewhat dim here. Please explain and develop what you mean in your last paragraph.
        As for BLM, could it be suggested that you compare and contrast the underlying theology and influences on Dr Martyn Luther King Junior, with those of BLM, links to which I’ve included above.
        There was an article on MLK, influences and mentors, by a black prof. linked on the Gospel Coalition site within the last few weeks. MLK is so far from critical theory which seems to drive BLM.
        Maybe that is a subject David Shepherd would care to address in a separate article.
        I, for one, would appreciate it.
        How about it David?

        Reply
        • Geoff – (I find the level of energy in these discussions exhausting and have to drop out for a while at each round!)
          My last paragraph was a suggestion that where I think you and I might agree that a lot of crime is committed by young men raised in some degree of poverty (i.e. ‘class’ related) we might disagree where I understand that policing nevertheless focuses on young black men. Also, print media and politicians will name this as a race issue while at the same time standing for those who argue for supposedy colour-blind approaches.
          I’ve disagreed with Christopher Shell (above) about BLM but he has set me reviewing how and when we make alliances and the right and wrong compromises we make. I’m grateful to David Shepherd for comparing the range of activities in the name of ‘pro-life’. I’m appalled at the lack of compassion shown in some of the harassment of people following a ‘pro-choice’ course – however horrified any of us may be at what that means so, e.g., I’m sympathetic to the suggestion there should be exclusion zones around abortion clinics. Was it David (above) who pointed out that I may be justified just now in standing with ‘Black Lives Matter’ as a slogan even if I don’t sign up to the manifesto of the organisation of that name. Strangely, there appears to be less caution attached to saying ‘white lives matter’ which I understand to have deeply racist connotations in the USA.
          I find the title of Dylan’s new album helpful – only a willingness to join in among ‘rough and rowdy ways’ will help us understand either the power of God’s love revealed in scripture or the reality of other people’s experiences.
          Assumptions? Ah, informally ‘Steve’, but not ‘Steven’!

          Reply
          • Steve,
            Thank you for your considered response.
            They are indeed weighty topics and as I passed into an at risk age category, during quarantine while already being in one by virtue of heart health, I too have fluctuating and less than robust mental stamina.
            Over the time I’ve visited the site I have greatly appreciated David Shepherd’s contributing comments, not knowing him personally, nor even his skin colour, as do some commentators here, but in this instance I think he presses his point too far, almost embracing the BLM zeitgeist and its extended entailments, particularly where it detaches from Christian theology.
            Today, I came across an article by Peter J Leithard which attempts to summarise the Christian theology of John Milbank, which I’ve not absorbed. Previously I’ve known nothing of Milbank, but I find the summation of his thinking on the relation of theology to sociology and the secular to be persuasive.
            The concern I have with this whole topic, is that it becomes detached from Christianity, the imperialism of sociology adrift from it’s moorings, which Milbank tethers to Christianity.
            That is how the talk of “upstream” in the Bolton interview applies to white and well as BAME populations, and how to me, it’s less a question off state supply or intervention but a loss of, a movement away from Christian sociology, foundations of home, work, life.
            If Ian Paul permits, I’ll link the article, if I’m able, when I get to the computer.

          • Christopher,

            Please ground your responses in reality.

            You wrote: “ Such things at the root of Chinese culture make for healthy outcomes, families and individuals. Consequently, there is no excuse for the structures and norms of other cultures to be set up in ways that produce poor outcomes, when others have already shown how to get the better outcomes.”

            Well, mainland China and Hong Kong have some of the highest abortion rates in the world.

            So, how does that culture of disposable pre-natal life make for healthy outcomes?

            https://www.inkstonenews.com/society/inkstone-index-chinas-abortions/article/2181324

            “Nearly a quarter of Chinese people between the ages of 15 and 24 had had sex and at least a third of them didn’t use any form of contraception, the World Health Organization said in 2015.

            As a result, one-fifth of China’s sexually active young women would have unplanned pregnancies, the WHO estimated. Most of them would resort to abortion.

            Unlike in the United States, abortion is not a topic of intense moral or legal debate in China.

            Commercials for abortion clinics are broadcast on TV, and parents encourage their unmarried daughters to get abortions because the stigma around single motherhood is very high”

            So much for your marriage culture theory.

          • Hi David

            On abortion you are absolutely right. China has a typically communist outlook here. The degree of generalisation in such discussions as these (where we are talking of societal structures and norms) is sometimes too high, for which I apologise. I have never meant ‘China’ as such but what one may loosely call the Chinese cultures (or some of them) which include South Korea, Singapore and others which more exemplify what is possible to achieve. And if it is possible in some places it should at least be tried in other places.

            For my central point that moorings and foundations are the crucial thing, see George Otis’s ‘Transformations’ video series, which illustrates the difference brought about by adopting a Christian approach.

        • Thanks. One point. If there should be exclusion zones, then
          (a) the one thing where freedom of speech does not apply is not some trivial thing (as one might expect) but the least trivial thing of all: whether innocent living humans should or should not die. That is the first not the last thing one should be allowed to protest about.
          (b) Not being allowed to protest about that is something that happens because people are drawing attention to the fact that killing of humans is happening and they don’t like to be reminded that that is really is; you would be playing into their (dishonest) hands – why?
          (c) This is the only situation in the UK where we get the banning of public prayer. You support that?
          (d) You may say that freedom of speech and prayer are allowed outside the zone. Of what relevance are they there, in this instance?
          (d)

          Reply
          • Thank you for saying this, Christopher. How can praying silently outside an abortion clinic, or handing out leaflets offering help, be construed as wrong? And, for that matter, what is wrong about showing the gruesome reality of abortion, when anyone can watch violence of all sorts on TV or in cinemas? Funny how people can be selectively sensitive. Abortion is the deliberate murder of an unborn human being made in God’s image, by 98% of women who are doing it for social reasons. (official statistics).How can any Christian support this? and if black lives matter, why is it that 70% of Planned Parenthood’s clinics in the US are near black/hispanic areas?

          • Our morals have become so inconsistent (for so-called situation ethics, whose theoretical basis badly needs explaining, is incoherent and biased) that they have come full circle. Now the most moral people of all, those who least fit the criminal profile, are generally in danger of being arrested – at least, those who stand up and fight and do not meekly lie down.

            It’s not that ‘people protest about the strangest things’, it’s that they omit to protest about larger-scale things. Just like single-word simplistic slogans are everywhere, so too single-person causes, viewed simplistically from one angle and treated as typical when they may or may not be. Savita Halappanavar springs to mind. We would do better to concentrate on things that certainly are typical and large scale. The killing of black babies in clinics. Of black men on streets for postcode ‘reasons’. Depriving children of their dads, with predictable and known consequences. The idea that black lives matter when these things proliferate and attract no/insufficient protests. On the contrary, restricting ourselves for the moment to some artificial abstract which some people term ‘the black community’, it is clear that black lives do not matter nearly enough in these 3 instances to plenty of those *within* the bounds of that community.

            As Mother Teresa might have said: ‘Give them to me: I will love them.’.

          • “it is clear that black lives do not matter nearly enough in these 3 instances to plenty of those *within* the bounds of that community.”

            Your comment without context typifies the biased and unbalanced assessment of black people that’s leveraged as the fallacious justification for collective inertia on racism.

            In fact, your argument in this comment could be amply described by your own summary: “viewed simplistically from one angle and treated as typical when they may or may not be.”

            The latest stats on deprivation show that 15.2% of black people (by comparison with 9% of white people) are living in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods.

            For example, we also know that “Women living in more deprived areas are more likely to have abortions than women living in less deprived areas. The rate in the most deprived decile is 26.1 per 1000 women. This is more than double the rate in the least deprived decile of 12.0 per 1000 women”.

            The abortion rate is a concomitant of deprivation. All that you’ve done is to turn a blind eye to that reality to aim a broad-brush criticism of black people.

            By the same token, one could also conclude similarly about white people concerning the educational under-performance of their children (link below, although, it’s often leveraged to argue that racism is almost non-existent).

            Alternatively, as Christians, we could realise that we should support policies that address the concomitants of both deprivation (including abortion and the crime rate) and systemic racism.

            To do otherwise is just lazy and bigoted.

            https://www.tes.com/news/white-british-pupils-underperform-across-social-strata-not-just-working-class-ones-why

          • Or alternatively we could take the Christian tack that

            (a) the root problem is sin not poverty, and

            (b) succumbing to the dual sins of sloth and extramarital unions would automatically put the Indian and Chinese communities in the same band, but because they have (always talking in averages and in subcultural norms) forsworn those sins, then they have inevitably risen out of poverty. Poverty can be a symptom of something else.

            (c) We are fortunate to live in such a socially mobile society – plenty have not been so fortunate.

            (d) Whatever happened to the normal conscience that would not even contemplate ‘dispatching’ their own son or daughter before they had the chance to be born. For example, I am quite sure that to all girls below a certain age the very idea would be horrific – so what exactly is it that happens to change that?

          • There’s nothing particularly Christian about that tack:
            (a) If the “the root of the problem is sin not poverty”, then the fact that abortion correlated to deprivation would mean that poor people (who resort to abortion more than rich people) are inherently more sinful.

            (b) “succumbing to the dual sins of sloth and extramarital unions would automatically put the Indian and Chinese communities in the same band”

            Now, we get to the ugly heart of what racism looks like. This is your general estimation of the black communities. That deprivation is a result of their sloth and extramarital unions. A charge that you’ve not levelled at other races.

            For instance, you don’t identify the sins of white people that are to blame for the educational under-performance of white children at all levels.

            (c) The statistics reveal that your statement about the UK’s social mobility is just as broad-brush as the previous disparaging racial characterisation: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/496103/Social_Mobility_Index.pdf

            (d) “ Whatever happened to the normal conscience that would not even contemplate ‘dispatching’ their own son or daughter before they had the chance to be born.“

            There’s nothing new in the lack of human conscience. We know that horror of infanticide and exposure was a familiar part of Roman society.

            Even on these comment threads, there’s been ample evidence of systemic racism, the evidence of which is repeatedly emphasised insistence and comparisons with other ethnicities to shore up the false notion of exceptional sinfulness (sloth and extramarital relationships) in black communities.

            I wonder what you’d make of the exceptionally high levels of pedophilia among white sex offenders in the US.

            When Christians make any such broad-brush moral assertions about specific ethnicities as you’ve done, they bring the name of Christ into disrepute.

          • Hi David.

            In the comment of mine that you address, you will note on examination that I do not focus on black people. And (not for the first time) I wholeheartedly agree with you about white culture too. Otherwise I would have included them with the Indians and Chinese.

            On white paedophilia levels this is the second time you have made the point and both times I have affirmed it. This is not something society-wise (not remotely) unlike abortion and extramarital unions, whose levels and ubiquity bear no comparison to the former. But in any case it is pitting white against black whereas I am setting both in the problem category (comparatively) and pitting both against certain Asian cultures. As Ben Shapiro says often, if you marry before starting a family, graduate from college and are in employment, those 3 steps cover most eventualities in warding off poverty. It is mad that certain societies don’t have those as norms, since they are provenly sustainable norms that produce a good outcome.

          • “As Ben Shapiro says often….”
            Ben Shapiro said various things often in his interview with Andrew Neil. He was certainly wrong in that case and later apologised for that interview, which certainly did him no favours. Flimsy evidence as usual Christopher. Poverty was eased in China because of government intervention. In 2016, the World Bank report affirmed that China state-sponsored programs were raising poor people’s earnings, implementation of early childhood development, provision of quality education and healthcare, cash transfers to poor families, construction of rural infrastructure and giving of subsidy to rebuild homes. Nothing to do with realising they were sinners.

          • But the burden of what I have been saying is that societies can be set up better than other societies. Such things at the root of Chinese culture make for healthy outcomes, families and individuals. Consequently, there is no excuse for the structures and norms of other cultures to be set up in ways that produce poor outcomes, when others have already shown how to get the better outcomes.

            There are not different percentages of sinners from culture to culture. But there are societies that have better and worse norms and structures (and some that hang onto worse when they could choose better), and that impacts on their individuals and families.

          • Christopher: once again you seem to be making unevidenced massive generalisations. I don’t think it helps anyone.

            You wrote: “…but because they have (always talking in averages and in subcultural norms) forsworn those sins, [ sloth and extramarital unions ] then they have inevitably risen out of poverty. Poverty can be a symptom of something else“

            So first question: what is the evidence that most Chinese And Indian people have forsworn these two things?
            Second: what is the evidence that the forswearing has “inevitably“ caused the nations to rise out of poverty?
            Thirdly: what is your control group to support this evidence?

            It sounds like ideology to me – plain and simple.

          • I’m not talking individuals. I’m talking cultural norms and whether or not things are shameful within a culture. If nothing at all is shameful – well, then, it’s shameless…. Not good. Good things should never be shameful but bad things should be. How do we tell which things are good or bad? Common sense / Holy Spirit / conscience / stats on healthy, happy, successful outcomes.

            Unless we think that all types of cultures have the same cultural norms (???: a remarkable thought) it is obvious that they will have different outcomes, and different levels of success in their outcomes.

            Official stats on marriage levels, qualification levels and so on can easily be googled, and are especially apparent in societies (New York, London) where so many cultures appear alongside each other.

          • Christopher: you simply didn’t answer the question. It suggests that it’s all a massive guess. So here was what I asked again. Please could you let us know:

            first question: what is the evidence that most Chinese And Indian people have forsworn these two things?
            Second: what is the evidence that the forswearing has “inevitably“ caused the nations to rise out of poverty?
            Thirdly: what is your control group to support this evidence

            Yours hopefully

            Andrew

          • I don’t at all think that most Indo and Sino individuals have done any such thing because (once again) I am not talking individuals.

            We are creatures of habit. If people are born into a culture with good norms, the rest takes care of itself. It is the culture, the structure of the culture, that has forsworn e.g. sloth, extramarital unions etc. – or else never seriously considered them, given that they are not serious options. But the huge question is why some other cultures fail to adopt said norms or similar.

          • I didn’t realise cultures were able to forswear.
            Are you able to produce any evidence for this?
            It sounds like an ideology……

          • Correct. Cultures can forswear. They do this in any of a number of ways:

            (a) They act commonsensically and other ways of acting don’t occur to them – but they would recoil from them if they did occur to them.

            (b) They act in accordance with custom, and ditto.

            (c) They act in accordance with habit (and these things become ingrained, for we are creatures of habit), and ditto.

            (d) Their lawmakers make laws that officially encourage the beneficial habits.

          • Sounds totally like your one ideology to me Christopher.

            Perhaps an alternative meta narrative for the Indian culture on these matters is this: sexuality in Indian culture has emerged From the underground in the last fifty years and now couples understand better the need to please and satisfy the other. That has created greater stability and so there has been less divorce.

          • A lot of copies of the Kama Sutra must therefore have been gathering dust unread for 17 to 18 centuries.

          • Studies suggest that is probably true Christopher.

            What doesn’t quite add up with your ideology about these two countries is the very high rate of abortion in both China and India. Two of the highest in the world it seems. Whereas in Western Europe, the UK included, rates of abortion are considerably lower, despite having easier access.

            I’m afraid that none of what you suggest here adds up.

          • Of course! We are talking of cultures that are only semi Christianised. It is the combination of Christianity with the strong-family culture that is the real deal. Some cultures have one, and some the other. Where we see both, we see something worth copying.

          • I’m still waiting for an example of a culture which has both and which can thus be seen as an examplar.

          • The 1960s adolescent revolution trashed Christianity and family indistinguishably, thereby proving their close relationship.

          • They trashed them in the understanding that they were jointly dominant and had to go so that our selfish nature could (supposedly) have fun. And then paradoxically claim in surveys to be less happy as a result of that ”fun”.

            The 2 go together as a matter of course. Christians are always more married than average.

          • Christopher

            Yes, we’ve been here before re the 60s. The so-called sexual revolution wasn’t an unqualified good, but the 60s saw some truly liberating acts and innovations. The contraceptive pill and the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality, for example. Of course, it took further decades before marriage could really be equal, but how wives of the 30s, 40s and 50s must have envied their younger sisters’ access to contraception and legislation on marital rape. There may have been lots of ‘Christian’ marriages before the 60s. How many were ‘happy’, I wonder?

          • Married are always happier than unmarried, wherever you look.

            And 1957 remains the happiest year (Good Housekeeping) as was celebrated by the Sundays 3 years ago.

            So if peak happiness coincides with peak marital stability, then that only confirms something obvious that is always the result of surveys: married are happier than unmarried (specifically: happier than those with complicated relationship histories involving a lot of change and false starts). It’s not as though we have to survey that again, because it is always a clear-cut finding.

            How happy were they? This is an odd question. Even if one lived 60 years ago, one would not know enough people to know that the people one knew were representative. Everything would be anecdotal. How much more so today, looking back 60 years?! That is why we have to rely on 2 things: (a) surveys which cover a much wider area than any one person’s acquaintances; (b) common sense – again confirmed by surveys – that stability and happiness go hand in hand.

          • I thought Good Housekeeping came into it somewhere but maybe they just had an article on it.

            (1) The data are from UK Happiness Formula Survey 2005.

            (2) USA Pew Research Center’s survey ‘Are We Happy Yet?’ had similar findings.

            (3) When I mentioned this in my 2016 published chapters, this was very shortly to be confirmed by the thorough study by the University of Warwick whose algorithm for a study of all years since 1776 found 1957 the happiest 20th century year again. See https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/dsgroi/impact/eastern_daily_press_24th_january_2017_-_britain_never_happier_than_in_1957.pdf

            However it was not as happy as a certain period in the 19th century.

            Worst were years like 1978 (strikes).

            However, all this can scarcely be otherwise, given that marriage makes people above average happy. Divorces per year per 1000 married people were 1.9 in 1958.

          • The web reference given treats ‘the 1950s’ as a period that scored consistently high, and (at the end of the article) it is said to be a period that has never been matched since. This might seem counter intuitive given the austerity at the start of that decade. But since the article speaks of a post-1945-period upsurge in happiness, I imagine it knows what it is talking about.

          • Yes – the link to Good Housekeeping is the minor link that the Good Housekeeping website announced the same Warwick survey one day earlier (23.1.17).

          • I was interested to see which 19th century year or period was the best (even better than 1957) but every summary just speaks of ‘the Victorian era’ as operating at a higher level in general. So maybe a large number of years were better.

            The summaries do also mention that the higher one’s aspirations or expectations the more likely they are to be thwarted. That could be the key.

            Data was obtained from a staggeringly large tranche of literature and writings by the interesting means of measuring positive and negative vocabulary. (Of course, negative vocab could be used by the sated if not the happy, and positive by escapists who had something to escape from.)

          • Christopher

            Forgive me if I remain sceptical about Warwick’s study, especially as reported. Certainly there was far less stress in 1978 (free tuition, full maintenance grants etc) for young people than there is now. Young people could afford houses then too.

          • It wasn’t Warwick University’s study, but the confirmation by that study of the previous study’s or 2 studies’ findings – see above. 1957 was already rated top dog before Warwick did their different sort of analysis. So what one would want is an explanation of how by coincidence 1957 kept popping up above so many other 20th-century years in different/independent studies.

            However, since Warwick University scanned 8 million books your request is to listen to someone not alive (or floruit) in that year in preference to the evidence of those 8 million books. Any takers? – I ask.

  8. Thank you David for a very thorough and well referenced response.

    I’m afraid I’ll need more convincing that the high levels of crime among black urban communities are an artefact of police focus. The homicide rate surely speaks for itself, and the drug related gang culture is well attested? However, I was interested in the idea that it is a function of being urban rather than ethno-cultural. Does the study show that controlling for urban population eliminates the racial disparity? Even so though, if black people in the US are disproportionately urban does this change the underlying point about elevated crime rate?

    I was intrigued by the Nuffield findings about job application success rate. Did they look at possible causes, such as how much it was a result of cultural factors? Perhaps some groups do a more scatter gun approach to applications?

    I particularly appreciated your explanation of the concept of systemic racism. I think it is a misnomer and easily misunderstood but I appreciate it is a well used term at least among some academics, commentators etc. I do see that subconscious racial bias seems to be a particular issue in law enforcement in urban areas.

    Reply
    • Hi Will,

      Thanks. As expected, there was high quality discourse throughout your counterpart post.

      I’m not suggesting that the crime rate is entirely attributable to police focus, but, rather, as I mentioned: “the inability or outright refusal to factor in this kind of hard evidence can lead to grossly unfair rationalisations about discrimination.”

      You rightly ask about the impact of these factors on the homicide rate. However, the paper did refer to previous research by Lauritzen and Sampson, which should be taken seriously:
      “Constitutional explanations are problematic on empirical grounds — the variations within any minority group are greater than the variations between them. Although there is good evidence that family socialization influences children’s delinquency and aggressive behavior patterns, there is no consistent evidence that factors such as lack of supervision and erratic/harsh discipline account for race differences in crime when socioeconomic conditions are taken into account.

      Subcultural explanations of group variation in offending have yet to show that black and white Americans differ significantly in their values and attitudes regarding crime, or that these differences in values have an independent influence on offending disparities. Finally, research emphasizing access to the legitimate economic system typically finds that race differences persist even after controlling for socioeconomic status.”

      Instead, the paper does emphasise the importance of collective efficacy:
      “Empirical evidence suggests that the capacity of neighborhood residents to achieve a common set of goals and exert control over youth and public spaces, termed “collective efficacy,” protects against serious violence (Sampson, Raudenbush and Earls, 1997). The presence of community-based organizations, which draw membership from individuals within and outside specific neighborhoods, predicts collective efficacy and collective civic action (Sampson, 2012). Concentrated disadvantage in urban neighborhoods, which are often populated by black residents, undermines local collective efficacy and gravely limits the ability of residents to address serious violent crime problems (Sampson and Wilson, 1985). As a result, urban homicides, largely committed with guns and perpetrated by and against young black men, tend to concentrate in disadvantaged black neighborhoods.”

      Concerning the Nuffield study, I’d ask you to reflect on its findings for yourself (http://csi.nuff.ox.ac.uk/?p=1299). Nevertheless, the issue with attributing the lack of equal opportunity to cultural factors is that so many of them are relied upon as proxies for race.

      In fact, race is “a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group.”

      Now, we all have a choice as to whether we take this peer-reviewed research seriously or roundly reject it as just so much left-wing propaganda. However, as Christians, it would be unconscionable to do the latter, only to apply confirmation bias to other studies that support our own political stance.

      Reply
      • The point you keep missing or avoiding, David, is to do with adolescent males growing up fatherless or with very inconsistent fathering in a culture that glorifies male strength, even violence, along with drug taking and bravado against authority. Trouble with the police only comes as a consequence of years of drift. I saw this in teaching and could sadly predict what was going to happen in later teenage years. You don’t want to address the deterioration of the Caribbean family in the past generation in Britain through single motherhood increasingly becoming the norm – as it is for the white underclass. The white
        underclass have even poorer outcomes in life than poor Caribbean males, especially if their mothers have drug habits or unstable relationships- as they usually do. It’s a much bigger issue than “supervision” of teenage boys, though that is part of it. The long and the short of it is this: Boys need good fathers to show them how to be good men, to curb and direct their energies, intelligence and aggression to good ends and to respect rightful authority as they would respect their fathers. Girls also need good fathers to model to them how men should love and respect and care for women, as husbands and fathers are called to do. There is a yawning psychic gap in a young person’s life when wise fatherhood is missing. No amount of psychologising the police deals with this. Policemen are not fathers.

        Reply
        • I’ve not avoided anything.

          I’m just not playing the shell game that, thus far, has resorted to ‘sleight of hand’ to by over-emphasis on black delinquency to dismiss evidence that reveals racial bias similar to that uncovered by the MacPherson report in order to deny systemic racism.

          So, continue posting videos that only focus on black delinquency, making up your own slogans for that and followIng your own confirmation bias.

          In turn, I will attend to more meaningful dialogue on this comment thread.

          Reply
          • Confirmation bias cuts both ways. The MacPherson report was over 20 years ago. If you think nothing has happened in British policing since then, you haven’t been paying attention. There have been enormous changes and efforts made. There has also been a rising epidemic in knife crime, not just among young black males but amongst the young immigrant population generally. Stop fixating on the Police. Look at the schools and how teenage boys are spending their time. The problems have begun long before the Police get involved.

          • I don’t think I dismissed evidence of racial bias; on that I bow to the superior knowledge of others. In fact I think most will be tempted to have a sort of extra 10% bias in favour people similar to themselves, all things being equal. Even in such minor matters as: Birds of a feather flock together.

            These sub issues are not mutually-exclusive alternatives in any way. They are obviously separate matters each important in their own right and *independently*. To focus on one thing is not in any way to demean another that is not directly connected to it – unless we are thinking tribally,

  9. To get a clear illustration of the issues facing British police, have a look on YouTube at the full interview the other day between ex-Met Chief Kevin Hurley and Adam Boulton regarding loud and dangerous street parties in places like Brixton, why such illegal things happen and why the Police feel powerless to do anything because it is going to end in a riot. Hurley makes the sensible point that intervention is needed “upstream” when the children are three or so, and that deteriorating relations between black teenagers and police mean the police pull back from policing these areas with their drugs and knife crime, not wanting to risk their lives and livelihoods. Make no mistake: being a police officer is difficult and dangerous work. How many of us do jobs that run the daily risk of being spat on, attacked or killed? Watch the brief interview to the end and see how Boulton abruptly terminated it when Hurley said things Boulton didn’t like. David, offer a solution here please! (Full disclosure: I used to live in South London, so glad I no longer do.)

    Reply
      • Just go on YouTube and type in sky interview Adam Boulton Ken Hurley- the piece lasts 3 mins 52 seconds, Boulton very hurriedly ends it when Hurley goes off message. Hurley is from working class London and says his grandparents still live on an estate. Hurley insists the issue is cultural, not racial, and says police don’t want to risk their lived any more in a thankless task.

        Reply
        • Goodness–that is absolutely fascinating! Especially that the retired policeman uses the language of ‘destabilisation’ which is, in fact, one of the consequences of Critical Race Theory…

          Reply
          • There is more than one major difference apart from location, and location is important.
            Did you, David accept anything that the retire police officer said as being correct, (particularly his point about addressing this issue “upstream” so far as it applies the the Black community even as it applies to white communities perhaps in similar or dissimilar ways) as we, as Christians, are called to love the truth, and it is relevant, that is, logically probative of the fact in issue- the topic you raise, which you don’t seem to wish to address, so far as it relates to England, rather than USA and it’s imported race relations, and is an overt example of race relations between the police, and that particular BAME community. It is particularly on point when you give prominence to the McPherson report with the implication that nothing has changed or it’s all a one way street, one sided.
            Thanks for the links you’ve included which I’ll get to look at on the computer, rather than this, my phone.
            I’m certainly not denying there is racism in England in acts or omissions, but it seems to me that in seeking to demonstrate you are overreaching by attributing a correlation to cause ( systemic racism) in some of the examples, such as Covid which weakens rather than strengths the case, cause.

          • “The black community even as it applies to white communities perhaps in similar or dissimilar ways”

            The phrase ‘even as’ nails it. Yet, absent the equally shocking video I posted, the focus of this part of the comment thread was firmly fixed on what the retired police officers sees as the ‘upstream’ problem: “single parenting, particularly among young African Caribbean women”

            Perhaps, we should be advocating a similar ‘upstream’ social interventions of young white women to remedy the violence and mayhem of white youths at the Manchester rave. However, that would be a distraction from addressing the kind of racial solidarity that repeatedly insists that bias is mostly isolated and sporadic and that the real problem resides among BAME people themselves.

            And that’s exactly how systemic racism works.

        • that is a remarkable video/interview/comment

          I do think it pertinent to the wider discussion and I would like to hear David’s response

          Reply
  10. Steven,
    I’m being somewhat dim here. Please explain and develop what you mean in your last paragraph.
    As for BLM, could it be suggested that you compare and contrast the underlying theology and influences on Dr Martyn Luther King Junior, with those of BLM, links to which I’ve included above.
    There was an article on MLK, influences and mentors, by a black prof. linked on the Gospel Coalition site within the last few weeks. MLK is so far from critical theory which seems to drive BLM.
    Maybe that is a subject David Shepherd would care to address in a separate article.
    I, for one, would appreciate it.
    How about it David?

    Reply
  11. David Shepherd,
    Adam Bolton interview:
    There is more than one major difference apart from location, and location is important.
    Did you, David accept anything that the retire police officer said as being correct, (particularly his point about addressing this issue “upstream” so far as it applies the the Black community even as it applies to white communities perhaps in similar or dissimilar ways) as we, as Christians, are called to love the truth, and it is relevant, that is, logically probative of the fact in issue- the topic you raise, which you don’t seem to wish to address, so far as it relates to England, rather than USA and it’s imported race relations, and is an overt example of race relations between the police, and that particular BAME community. It is particularly on point when you give prominence to the McPherson report with the implication that nothing has changed or it’s all a one way street, one sided.
    Thanks for the links you’ve included which I’ll get to look at on the computer, rather than this, my phone.
    I’m certainly not denying there is racism in England in acts or omissions, but it seems to me that in seeking to demonstrate you are overreaching by attributing a correlation to cause ( systemic racism) in some of the examples, such as Covid which weakens rather than strengths the case, cause.

    Reply
    • “The black community even as it applies to white communities perhaps in similar or dissimilar ways”

      The phrase ‘even as’ nails it. Yet, absent the equally shocking video I posted, the focus of this part of the comment thread was firmly fixed on what the retired police officers sees as the ‘upstream’ problem: “single parenting, particularly among young African Caribbean women”

      Perhaps, we should be advocating a similar ‘upstream’ social interventions of young white women to remedy the violence and mayhem of white youths at the Manchester rave. However, that would be a distraction from addressing the kind of racial solidarity that repeatedly insists that race bias is mostly isolated and sporadic and that the real problem resides among BAME people themselves.

      And that’s exactly how systemic racism works.

      Reply
      • David,
        I am seeking some balance, here: that is the reason I mentioned, “even as” it applies to white communities and the reason I brought in the topic of class, with an overly long, comment with reference to reports from the Solicitors profession and a widely accepted Health Inequalities report.
        And as for Covid are you now saying that it is racism from politicians, presumably across England, Scotland and Wales administration’s, yet ignore the point I made about care homes. Is that “agist” or incompetence, or learning on the job in unique circumstances, with multiple pressures?
        Is anyone commenting here really saying that the real problem resides in the BAME communities themselves, alone : do they not have any responsibility.
        Once again, I say you are doing your cause few favours, by adopting such a stance or aligning with the BLM by silent accedance of everything they stand for, and methodologies? From all your comments on this blog over the time I’ve visited, I’d conclude that you don’t accept their underpinning philosophies, but I may be wrong. To oppose them would meet with condemnation.
        You may seem to be a lone voice on this site, but do you really think we are all part of the problem in the UK that you live in today.
        Sure, I’ve not walked a mile in your shoes, nor you mine, nor worn the boots of footballer, Marcus Rashford, one of five siblings, raised by a single parent mother. (As it happens both my paternal g/parents were from families of 10/11 children without the welfare state.)

        Reply
        • Hi Geoff,

          You wrote: “Is anyone commenting here really saying that the real problem resides in the BAME communities themselves, alone : do they not have any responsibility. Once again, I say you are doing your cause few favours, by adopting such a stance or aligning with the BLM by silent accedance of everything they stand for, and methodologies?”

          To be clear, the original blog post was published as a counter-part to Will Jones’ piece. The issue under scrutiny was whether systemic racism exists at all. My proposition is that, as defined by the quasi-judicial MacPherson report, systemic racism does exist, and I’ve provided evidence of this.

          It’s not that some of the more prolific commenters are saying that the real problem resides in the BAME communities themselves, alone, but they have predominantly focused on the causes of delinquency in BAME communities (which makes it a black problem), while assuring that, despite the shameful history of racial segregation and even the killing of George Floyd:
          1. any evidence of racism can be largely subsumed into a far more understandable (and universal) propensity for class/cultural bias, which isn’t predominantly perpetrated by any particular race.
          2. Where racial profiling/bias does occur, it is a lamentable faulty generalisation that’s arises (understandably) from previous experiences of higher levels of black delinquency, especially among black youth.

          “You may seem to be a lone voice on this site, but do you really think we are all part of the problem in the UK that you live in today.”

          For emphasis, I’ll boldface what I actually wrote:
          “while some of this bias arises from unconsciously harbouring negative racial stereotypes, there are three key hallmarks of this pervasive lack of critical scrutiny that allows bias to perpetuate:
          1. It may result from normative deference to official authority, e.g. chain of command;
          2. It is not necessarily confined to a specific race; and
          3. It is not necessarily intentional.

          I’m not sure who’s included in the ‘we’ to whom you refer, but that explanation runs contrary to the tone of your comment.

          I do take exception to your warning: “Once again, I say you are doing your cause few favours, by adopting such a stance or aligning with the BLM by silent accedance of everything they stand for, and methodologies”

          I’ve distinguished BLM, the movement from the BLM, the organisation. As a Christian, I’ve distanced myself from the latter, just as much as every Christian should distance themselves from even covert racism, instead of being an apologist for it.

          Let’s face it: if this was one of Ian Paul’s election time, ‘Why as a Christian I am voting for…’ guest posts, I doubt that you would have warned me that, simply by articulating an argument in support of a movement, I was “aligning with that party by silent accedance of everything they stand for, and methodologies”.

          Now, that is going too far.

          Reply
          • David may disagree with me, but, in my perception, his repeated and gracious attempts to explain what he means by systemic racism (with plenty of references and evidence), only to be met with incredulity and push back from his interlocutors, is the epitome of systemic racism.
            Most of you have made his argument for him

          • Penelope,

            TBH, I’ve written following elsewhere: “In debates on LGBT issues, evangelicals have asserted that their objections are biblical: that they don’t harbour irrational prejudices, like homophobia.”

            “How is that claim at all credible when it’s irrational prejudice that sustains the racial homogeneity of so many evangelical churches, even in urban areas, where large black populations reside?”

            “And it’s why the evangelical stance on LGBT issues can lack credibility. The majority are unconvinced that evangelical rejection of same-sex relationships does not arise from the same kind of narrow self-serving motivation that is described here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race

            “And if that want of credibility doesn’t bother evangelicals, then we really deserve to lose the LGBT argument. Especially, when, if we win the argument, most people believe that LGBT people stand to lose far more than we do.”

      • Yes, by all, means let’s have “upstream social interventions ” for young unmarried white mothers as well – except that social work in the UK is now only reactive to emergencies – taking actually abused children into care – and not doing preventative work. The money simply isn’t there in local authority budgets any more. Of course, if you want the State to become the parent of our children, be careful what you wish for. Before you blame the police, look at what is actually going on in the world of adolescents ( their music and computer habits and whether cburches and youth movements are impacting them – almost zero in the case of the white underclass – and the prevalence of marijuana and other drugs), and how they are doing in school and evening and weekend routines. You must know there are enormous differences among the ethnic minorities on these questions, with greatly differing scholastic and professional outcomes.
        In short, the sexual revolution of the past 50+ years has been damaging to all strata of society, but most of all to the poor and low-skilled who don’t have the money to buy themselves out of trouble. Minority ethnic groups that are strict on marriage, alcohol and family solidarity can weather these storms better than others.

        Reply
  12. A thought – for anyone still on this thread. We white folk are fond of ‘colour-blind’ approaches to questions posed in terms of ethnicity and often assert that naming skin colour only exacerbates tensions. Christian folk may add – as above – that people in error need the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    But what if those who insist we pay attention to ethnic inequalities and who quantify grievances that way are in any sense in tune with God’s giving of ‘the law’? How so?
    We know that it is in our nature to resist God’s law. Part of Paul’s resolution of a great dilemma is to say that the gospel is an altogether superior gift but the law was not a bad thing, from it we learned about our sinfulness.
    Just sayin’ …

    Reply
    • Steve,
      I responded to you above, today.
      This is the article I mentioned on John Milbank, his theology, arranged as a sampler, under three headings:
      1 Theology as a Master Discourse
      2 Critique of Social Theory
      3 Creation, Poesis, Metaphysics
      4 Ontology of Violence, Ontology of Peace
      5 Conclusion
      https://mereorthodoxy.com/john-milbank/

      To repeat my comment above for emphasis which draws in the link:
      Over the time I’ve visited the site I have greatly appreciated David Shepherd’s contributing comments, not knowing him personally, nor even his skin colour, as do some commentators here, but in this instance I think he presses his point too far, almost embracing the BLM zeitgeist and its extended entailments, particularly where it detaches from Christian theology.
      Today, I came across an article by Peter J Leithard which attempts to summarise the Christian theology of John Milbank, which I’ve not absorbed. Previously I’ve known nothing of Milbank, but I find the summation of his thinking on the relation of theology to sociology and the secular to be persuasive.
      The concern I have with this whole topic, is that it becomes detached from Christianity, the imperialism of sociology adrift from its moorings, which Milbank tethers to Christianity.
      That is how the talk of “upstream” in the Bolton interview applies to white and well as BAME populations, and how to me, it’s less a question of state supply or intervention but a loss of, a movement away from Christian theological sociology, foundations of home, family, work, life.

      Reply
  13. David,
    You are not a lone voice on this site! I just haven’t the time or patience to argue with the stream of posts here. If I replied in length it would be a bit of a rant (I’ve deleted one draft reply), but I will say that statistics and academic papers are not as good as actually talking to people. You could speak to my wife, three children, my brothers and sister in-law’s and numerous nephews and nieces who would all tell you that things have got a lot better since the Windrush days when my mother-in-law was told not to came back to a church (happened to be Anglican). But there is still deep seated racism in our society that is especially faced by BAME citizens on a daily basis – and it’s got worse with the Brexit fiasco.

    Reply
    • (1) Speaking to one person is several times better than a statistic of 1.

      (2) The number of people we speak to usually is less than one thousandth of those covered by statistical surveys.

      (3) Speak to ‘people’ – yes. But people are not the same as each other and will tell you different things.

      (4) How do we know that the particular people we speak to are representative of the majority? (They are certainly representative of the sort of people we ourselves associate with – but that is another matter.) We’ll never know – unless it were for statistics. So statistics are not only useful but essential.

      Reply
      • Thought I’d get a nibble from that! I worked with statistics for most of my career. Yes, they are essential, but presentation is everything. The same statistics look very different in The Guardian and in the Daily Mail.

        I confess to a family interest here – Winston is my wife’s uncle. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/13/winston-trew-to-clear-his-name
        Our family consists of all sorts of people – from gentlemen like Winston, to some quite interesting characters. But the story they tell is exactly the same.

        In the thread above people have mentioned all sorts of problems with our society. Fine, they are all very real. But why not make some attempt to deal with this issue, as much as is possible, rather than quickly changing the subject?

        Reply
        • Hi Jon,

          Thanks for sharing this. Absent the context of historic racial injustice (that Winston and other BAME people have suffered), some of the comments here would lead you to believe the reactionary narrative that, where authorities have been heavy-handed and unfair in dealing with BAME people, it is an altogether new phenomenon that’s provoked by delinquent gang-culture among black youth.

          That, as they say, is being ‘economic with the truth’.

          Reply
  14. Thanks for your article, David. I always read your detailed and well argued comments with great interest and respect, and seldom fail to learn something. As Christopher Shell has commented above, this kind of reasoned debate between you and Will Jones on an emotive and complex issue is a refreshing change from some of the sloganeering and angry rhetoric which gets us nowhere. Wherever we are coming from, a challenge we all need to accept is that of using our imagination so that we can see how things look to people whose experience is different from our own. And we also need to understand ourselves rather more objectively than is easy to do!

    It seems to me that a lot of what is packaged in with the concept of systemic racism is really the collective of those poor individual decisions or actions that happen within the system but in that grey area where individual interpretation of an action or a decision to be made is unavoidable. Even those of us who would argue that our systems here in the UK are pretty good and no longer racist in intention will readily concede that the individual’s attitude cannot be guaranteed to reflect in spirit exactly what the system intends. I realise it might be said that the system has no option but to take ownership of the bad attitudes and decisions of people who work in that system but I think that may be unhelpful.

    Would it not be better to restrict the term systemic racism strictly to the design and intent of the system as it is, but to view bad outcomes, when they happen, not as a systemic failure but as incompetent or malevolent application of the system? If we could sign off on the system itself being fit for purpose (I’m not claiming that it is absolutely 100% perfect), we could then concentrate more objectively and effectively on the issue of bad attitudes or lazy thinking. And if we could do that, it should steer us down the path of addressing why people find it hard to get along with people of different ethnicity.

    Since in biological terms there are no racial differences between people, it’s the cultural differences which get us going and which so easily lead us down the path of tribal antagonism. Physical appearance is usually the very first thing we notice about people. And because ethnicity (cultural identity) matches physical appearance (I know that’s a generalisation) we are all in some sense waving a tribal flag whenever we come across another person. And it’s in our DNA subconsciously to discriminate (whether positively or negatively) immediately we see someone according to their tribal identity. Let’s please admit that as a fact rather than ignore it because we’re embarrassed or frightened by its implications.

    Human beings are certainly not always good but there is usually some kind of rationality to the way they behave. It’s not necessarily a conscious rationality; I think it may be more of an instinctive reaction based on the stored memories we have which are the sum of our life’s experience (individual and shared). That’s another way of saying they are learned responses; and we can see how those responses might be perfectly reasonable (even though they may not be pleasant) and contribute to the individual’s ability to navigate life safely and successfully.

    So, for example, a policeman whose inner city experience is that black lads on his patch are rather more frequently involved with stabbings or drug offences or stolen cars than, say, Indian lads will be more likely to stop and search the black lad as his contribution to bearing down on crime in that area. In one sense he or she is acting reasonably, but from the point of view of every decent black lad (of which there will be very many) the treatment he is receiving is plainly different from that which an Indian boy would receive. It might be said that all ethnic groups benefit from there being good law and order on the streets; but the quid pro quo is that some ethnic groups will be treated somewhat differently. It’s logical but can be inherently unfair. What’s worse is that the unfairness is self replicating: alienated black lads may be more likely to be sucked into bad company, and so the policeman will have even more reason to stop and search black lads.

    How ever can we square the circle of the police making strictly logical decisions to bear down on crime while at the same time avoiding contributing to an air of grievance which will cause crime to escalate in the future? This is but one rather clichéd example of how there is an inevitable trajectory towards injustice built in to the logic of tribalism. It might be said we are all prisoners of it, but the stark truth is that the outcome can deliver a very different life experience according to whether you are on the winning or losing side.

    In fact, in reality, it doesn’t have to be quite as bleak as that logic suggests. There is probably far more good will on all sides to recognise and push back against injustice. And that might best be helped if Christians were able to contribute to the self knowledge we all need about our own inherent tendency to tribalism, and how we can handle it in a more gentle and empathetic way – the Christian way (I hope!). That would be far more constructive than piling in on public protests which inevitably follow political pathways which themselves exacerbate the tribal lines in society. Surely it is we who should be able to stand back and recognise the futility of laws and systems alone to make a better world if the human heart is not first changed from within?

    Reply
    • Hi Don,

      Thanks for your generous comments. I do hope that civility, respect and thoughtfulness will prevail in these discussions.

      “If we could sign off on the system itself being fit for purpose (I’m not claiming that it is absolutely 100% perfect), we could then concentrate more objectively and effectively on the issue of bad attitudes or lazy thinking. ”

      My issue with this is that it is the system itself that allows so much scope for discretion that discriminatory decisions can perpetuate because they are largely unchallenged.

      Also, the notion that racial profiling is an unintentionally biased, but lamentably understandable inference from summary evidence about black crime does not factor in the impact of society’s long, shameful history of propagating of negative racist stereotypes (which reactionary media outlets perpetuate).

      To explore the systemic aspect of this issue, I’d like to introduce the cartel model of racism. Indeed, Associate Professor of Law, Darrell A.H. Miller, has written a paper describing discrimination in this way (https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5771&context=faculty_scholarship).

      Cartel behaviour is a useful analogy because commercial organisations, through similarly exercised discretion, can mistreat and unfairly deny opportunities to non-members (e.g. through boycott tactics).

      So, for example, cartel can exclude outsiders by tacitly perpetuating a boycott. Darrell A.H. Miller writes: “In this fourth model of discrimination, intent has little to do with the persistence of racism. Discriminators are not consciously maximizing their interests, whether those interests are defined as maximum material benefit, as indulging in a personal taste for discrimination, or as enhancing group status. Neither are the discriminators accurately making predictions based on physical characteristics. In Haney Lopez’s model, discriminators rarely behave consciously at all. Discriminators simply follow racialized conventions of behavior that have been laid down generations before, or make decisions within a “choice architecture,”whose racialized nature is invisible or has long been forgotten.”

      “Furthermore, these informal tools of cartel discipline may not appear to the cartel member as either coercive or wrong ° -in fact, they may not register to the cartel member as discipline at all. Instead, they become simply, as a cartel member might say, “the way we do things.” These norms can actually come to be viewed within the cartel as a positive, or as a moral imperative. As Richard Posner suggests, some cartels are kept together by bonds of “tradition,” “pride,” “loyalty to the guild,” and “equality among guild members.. ‘ Eventually, the cartel becomes “a social as well as a business alliance.” Or, to relate it back to Haney Lopez’s work, the norms of behavior and the structures of choice that hold together the cartel are invisible-they are a type of identity, a “script,” or alternatively, they form the “boundaries” of what is conceivable, what is possible, what is morally acceptable. “

      It’s these kinds of unexamined long-standing social conventions that constitute the systemic aspect of racism , which needs to be tackled in that same way that we tackle cartels: whistleblower’s charter, leniency programs, independent scrutiny of selection processes for racial profiling bias, corrective training, etc.

      While Christians can mediate these issues, as you say, “in a more gentle and empathetic way”, without protest, black people would still be waiting for an end to Jim Crow segregation and Nelson Mandela would have died on Riker’s Island.

      While laws and systems don’t provide the eternal remedy of the gospel, it’s through them that society establishes the boundaries within which our temporal co-existence is safeguarded (Rom, 13:4.5). In furtherance of safeguarding fairness towards all races, peaceful protest is as much a part of our democratic process as general elections. So, why would we do away with it?

      Reply
      • David,
        What cartel do you belong to, or seeking to be part of? What cartel have you come from?
        We all are discriminatory in one way other another?
        And again you seek to import stuff from USA?
        I’d say that you are highly privileged to live in the Cartel of England at the present time, with whatever high education you have received, and in your present job.
        Perhaps, CS Lewis with his essay the Inner Ring, has a timelessness to it, ahead of it’s time, now dressed in language of cartel. It is highly pertinent.
        Is anyone here seeking to deny peaceful protest, nor pressure groups which has been part democracy in UK, of lawful assembly but not completely unfettered.
        Does anyone here not have some gut wrenching abhorrence to what happened to George Floyd?
        Does anyone here not have some deep appreciation that we don’t have the same gun laws as USA?
        Did we have that same sense of appreciation when at the time of running battles between the miners with unions and the police. How does that fit into the cartel narrative, you seek to reduce to race and racial prejudice alone?

        Reply
      • Geoff,

        There are others here who, instead of ranting, are (like Don) responding to specific and substantive issues in the comment thread.

        The nationality of a professor is no basis for discounting their insights. We don’t rubbish John Piper’s discourse on the assumption that he has no understanding of British evangelicalism.

        If you want to continue to rant against non-British expertise on the issue of systemic racism, then I will disengage from further exchanges with you on this topic.

        Reply
        • David,
          Just shows you how self deceiving I can be. Didn’t realise it was a rant.
          And I think you are disappointingly, not engaging with some substantial points I’ve made, and have chosen to hone-in on one point while disregarding others. I think the comparison with Piper is a false one.
          And you’ve not really attempted to distinguish the systems and demographics of the USA from the UK which is disappointing.

          Reply
          • Geoff,

            Respectfully, even if we beg to differ on whether it’s a rant, eight questions and one assertion about me in one comment does not add up to a counter-argument.

            The comparison with Piper is fair because his insight would be affected by his predominantly American experience of an issue like, for example, same-sex marriage. We can’t, on this basis just discount his knowledge and expertise as irrelevant to the UK situation on this basis.

            Just to remind about the objective UK-related analysis and studies:
            1. Stop-and-search figures in England in Wales in 2016-17.
            2. Nuffield Centre for Social Investigation – analysis of bias in job application rejections across various sectors
            3. Pupillage selection analysis (you provided a pertinent alternative counter-example)
            4. Redaction of CoVID-19 report on BAME impact – medical profession and press responses.

            In contrast, the counterpart post by Will Jones provided little in the way of hard evidence. So, even if the previous post confirms your own position on the issue, where is the balance in your criticism of the evidence that I provided?

          • David,
            It wasn’t meant to be a rant, just a series of questions to contextualise your own position, within England and life within its systems, imperfect as they all are, and without seeking at all to justify racial prejudice. It wasn’t meant to be a counter argument but a series of questions, rhetorical, if you like, for some sense of self positioning, and yes, of appreciation.
            If you read any of my comments and there is no reason for you to have done so, you will know far more about me than I you.
            I don’t get any emails advising me that there have been any replies to any comment I may make, so it is somewhat heavy lifting to go through all the comments, maybe it’s designed that way!
            In that regard I did not see one of your earlier response saying that you had made it clear (again which I’ve missed or overlooked) that you do not subscribe to all of the BLM movement.
            From experience in working in the criminal justice system I could say a lot more about the police and evidential matters both before the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and before McPherson, but it would run the risk of not being well prepared and in the context of this article may be seen as watering down the question of racism.
            Intriguingly we sleep better thinking that the police are unfailingly upright in truth telling.
            But, and James asks this, have things changed for the better, overall, since McPherson. Society has changed. Human nature hasn’t.
            Not sure why you’ve singled out and human sexuality as an equivalent to racial demographics on both sides of the Atlantic, it is to me near to accepting that human sexuality is variable and you view of it depends on where you were born and brought up, but I’m almost sure that is not the point you are hoping to make.

          • Geoff,

            Here’s a link to an earlier comment on Will Jones’ counterpart post, where I rejected the left-wing policies of the BLM organisation: https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/is-there-systemic-racism-in-britain-two-views-i/#comment-379882

            Also, I mentioned same-sex marriage as an example of a societal innovation which has attracted discourse from Christian leaders on both sides of the pond, despite the US and UK having implemented it differently.

            To mention that difference as justification for including expert insights for US, UK and elsewhere is not symptom of succumbing to suspiciously revisionist tendencies that you describe as: “near to accepting that human sexuality is variable and you [sic] view of it depends on where you were born and brought up.”

            Perhaps, we can now both pause for a while to reflect further on each other’s comments, and the issue of progress with race relations since the MacPherson report.

          • David,
            Thanks for the reply. I certainly had seen or absorbed your comment on BLM on Will Jones piece, otherwise I wouldn’t have mention it at all, let alone harp on about it. Apologies.

          • Geoff,

            My brother. This is such a thorny, volatile topic, but thanks especially for your last comment.

            May His peace be with you.

  15. If you want to get an actual picture how the different races and ethnic groups fare in Britain regarding income, schooling, housing, employment and interactions with the police, you should look at this Cabinet Office Report from 2018. Much more illuminating and useful than statistics about vehicle stoppings in America. A few takeaways (but read it yourself):
    – Indians are wealthy and doing well, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are doing poorly in income, overcrowded housing, schooling
    – bottom of the pile are Gypsy/Roma and Irish Travellers
    – Caribbeans and Africans have different outcomes in work and school
    – single parent families marked by poverty (sole income) and poor school outcomes
    – lowest trust of police among Caribbean youth
    – alcohol and drug use vary greatly among ethnic minorities (contrast West Indians and Indians)
    – black children overrepresented in school exclusions.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/686071/Revised_RDA_report_March_2018.pdf

    Reply
    • Or to put things another way: just about all minority communities in Britain are the product of immigration, some recent, others going back 60-70 years, and each tranche of immigration has been different in its social characteristics (education, religion, social class, familiarity with English, role of women). It is this “diversity within diversity” which explains to a large extent the widely differing different outcomes that each group has experienced.
      – Indians have been on the whole well-educated, focused on entering medicine, law, pharmacy or business. On the whole, they have been a lot wealthier than the British average. More than 42% of Indian households make over £1000 per week. The first generation was certainly workaholic, many operating shops for very long hours.
      – Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have been much less educated and historically focused on working in mills, factories and restaurants. Families have been larger than average and health for many of them has been poor.
      – Caribbean immigrants were historically drawn from lower skills backgrounds, similar to the English working class, and they found work in the transport and hospital services in the big cities. Single (female) parenthood has become increasingly common in the second and third generations, and that typically brings with it poverty and school difficulties.
      – The overall health of many immigrant communities has not been good. Except for Chinese, childhood obesity is an increasing problem (as it is for the white population).
      So it should be clear that there is really a constellation of issues, of which racial discrimination can only be one part of the problem. Life for *every immigrant community will be difficult and challenging in one way or another, but some strategies will be better than others.

      Reply
  16. This article gives an authentic view of the systemic racism in British society. It presents a point of view with intelligence and sincerity.
    When I saw that David Shepherd was going to respond to the first paper I hoped that he would be able to keep the tragic case of Stephen Lawrence out of it. My heart sank when I saw that he had, because that is holy ground. It is a deeply shameful episode which shames all English people. One cannot argue against it. It is like arguing against the quotation below quoted from vol. 1 of Cranfield’s commentary on Romans, when he is writing about the wrath of God:
    That Paul would attribute to God a capricious irrational rage is more than improbable. But a consideration of what Dodd calls ‘the highest human ideals of personality’ might well lead us to question whether God could be the good and loving God, if he did not react to evil with wrath. For indignation against wickedness is surely an essential element of human goodness in a world in which moral evil is always present. A man who knows, for example, about the injustice and cruelty of apartheid and is not angry at such wickedness cannot be a thoroughly good man; for his lack of wrath means a failure to care for his fellow man, a failure to love. (P. 109)
    To argue against this statement as a white African is impossible. Nor can any sane Englishman defend against it. No one wants to tread on holy ground.
    That is why it is difficult to argue against David’s paper, as other correspondents have found. They have found themselves on all sides mired in the statistics of “white” police brutality in North America. That is a tragic issue in its own right. One would not think that Britain is in the middle of a pandemic, and on the brink of final departure from the EU with no clear destination in sight. Or that the Anglican church seems to be sinking as fast as the mother ship.
    I was encouraged to give my response on the next page by the following words:
    The two revelations referred to in these two verses are really two aspects of the same process. The preaching of Christ crucified, risen, ascended and coming again, is at the same time both the offer to men of a status of righteousness before God and the revelation of God’s wrath against their sin. In the gospel the Divine Mercy and the divine judgment are inseparable from each other: the forgiveness offered to us is forgiveness without condoning. And this is so because in the gospel events themselves there was wrought for men no cheap or superficial forgiveness, but God’s costly forgiveness.
    Now the third most important thing about the wrath of God . . . has become clear. It is that we do not see the full meaning of the wrath of God in the disasters befalling sinful men in the course of history: the reality of the wrath of God is only truly known when it is seen in its revelation in Gethsemane and on Golgotha. (p. 110)
    So as Christians we must be discriminating, but not judgmental. We must not abuse the truth either.
    Sin is always an assault on truth that is the fundamental truth of God as creator judge, and Redeemer, which because it is the truth, must be taken into account and come to terms with, if a man is not to live in vain , the attempt to suppress it,. Out of sight, obliterated from the memory, that it is of the essence of sin that it can never be more than an attempt to suppress the truth, an attempt which is always bound in the end to prove futile, ..(p. 110)
    Why is it that God created and allowed men to spread over the earth in different tribes and nations and families. Why are there differences between nations, parts of nations, between slave and free, rich and poor, between tribes and other ethnic groupings? Where unbridled racism lead to in Christian Europe in 1940-45 is too soon forgotten. To the extent that people identify themselves as part of one or the other interest group, they remain responsible for its actions. It is a miracle that Great Britain survived the war undefeated, but only just.
    Something that does not help in this process is stigmatization and the creation of a climate of fear and suspicion and hatred. Stigmatization, racial labeling or such as that applied to the Jews and to blacks and Irish, and now to the middle and working class white Englishmen who supported Brexit. Or white policemen, or soldiers, or teachers unless they are WOKE. Or what is more tragic is the fate of their children who grow up as the new underclass with no hope and no future. They matter also.
    As an ex-colonial Brit who is fond of Great Britain, I am distressed to see this process of stigmatisation being used indiscriminately as a weapon in any discussion. In particular, I think of young white men growing up scared and ashamed of who they are. What young white male would seek a career in the police, or local government or Public service bearing the label of being a systemic white racist in his own country.
    Perhaps Britain can learn from the example of South Africa?
    The truth and justice commission was made possible by the very difficult coming together of black and white Christians at the cross.
    Whether or not this can be achieved in the UK today, there will be a truth and justice commission at the last day.
    While Britain is still constitutionally a Christian country, it should be possible to meet as Christians to really address these issues on Holy Ground, before that ground is taken away from you. Perhaps a coming together of the first two discussions could be a starting point?

    Reply
    • Hi Dick,

      Thanks for your wise insights, especially, the Truth and Reconciliation Council. However, the insidiousness of systemic racism means that many wouldn’t see any need for reconciliation over the perpetuation of a prejudice that they deny exists.

      “Perhaps a coming together of the first two discussions could be a starting point?”

      I certainly hope (and pray) so.

      Reply
  17. David S. What one thing would you recommend Christians do in response please? (‘fraid I couldn’t subscribe to BLM due to their underpinning critical theory philosophy, but do think there is a risk of complacency in not acknowledging that there is in general disadvantage for black people as well as individualised racisim)

    Reply
    • Hi Tom,

      That one thing would be to develop authentic friendships with BAME people in which you implement their answer to following question:
      “How can I and my church be the reverse of the segregation and excluding solidarity that persistently undermines your right to equality in UK society?”

      It’s difficult to predict what that answer might be.

      Some BAMR people might respond: “Give me the benefit of the doubt when I confide in you about my experiences of racism, instead of assuming and insisting that it can be explained away as anything but racism.”

      Others in church leadership might answer their clergy counterparts in the CofE: “Let’s develop and ratify a local memorandum of understanding between our respective churches to collaborate through mutual occasional preaching and to coordinate mission and community engagement activities.”

      To those in the CofE who show fledgling potential for lay it ordained ministry, the answer might be: “Partner with me through regular discussions and help to open doors by recommending me for carefully graduated opportunities that develop and demonstrate ministry and collaborative leadership skills.”

      Reply
  18. A great piece David. Thoughtful, well-evidenced and provocative in a good way . Sorry that you have to reply to so many responses which seem to be antagonistic and less than fully open to new views. You are answering graciously, patiently and coherently.
    Glad that some people are willing to open up to some extent. Keep up the good work and don’t become weary of the good you’re doing.

    Reply
  19. It is proportional that so many march for one man in such circumstances.

    Who marches for the 10000 to 90000 Christians killed every year? They don’t count – they are not in the in-crowd.

    After all, they are not female (oh – sorry – they disproportionately are). Nor black (wait a minute – they disproportionately are). But, but, but, er… we can’t pay any attention to them because they are Christians and we believe in equality for all categories, particularly the downtrodden. And when it comes to equality it is axiomatic that some are more equal than others. Do Christians, by virtue of getting killed, count as downtrodden? No – not really. Maybe mildly. It is only being killed after all.

    Reply
  20. I have been spiritually unsettled by this topic and I could not find a way to define the problem. But I have just watched Catholic Unscripted No 12 on YouTube and Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden has laid out the spiritual issues, the issues of sin and our need to deal with sin individually and not as a collective. Christianity is about submission and humility to God to remake us – the secular narrative is about power And collective guilt for which there is no forgiveness.

    Reply
    • I haven’t watched Ashenden because life is too short. But sin as an individual and not a collective act sounds neither catholic nor scriptural.
      There are systemic sins (such as racism) as well as individual sins.

      Reply
      • Agreed, Penelope – scripture has numerous depictions of collective sin of idolatry, worshipping false gods, of racial superiority, of national, leader- led sin, in prophets, priests and kings and queens, both inside and outside Israel with compelled cultural assimilation of beliefs and systems, conquests and exoduses and apostasies.
        But there was always a remnant, within who didn’t succumb, who didn’t bow the knee to Baal and the idols of the day, even within the systems.

        Reply
        • The remnant here are the BLM protesters who refuse to bow to the idolatry of white supremacy and, especially in the US, resist the evangelical trope of Trump as God’s anointed.

          Reply
          • That appears to be somewhat simplistic in relation to evangelicalism in the USA to equate it purely or mainly to Trumpism, and a negation of what David Shepherd has said in relation to the BLM movement and it’s underpinning atheistic idolistic philosophies.
            Perhaps racism in the CoE should be of first concern, including anti- semitism as being within a sphere of control and/or influence.

          • Hi Geoff

            You are right,not all evangelicalism in the US is Trumpian. But Trump as God’s anointed is an evangelical trope.

            I don’t agree that BLM is atheistic or idolatrous (did David S. say that). It is certainly left-wing which is why some feel unable to subscribe to the organisation whilst approving many of its aims.

            Certainly, racism in the CoE should be addressed. Urgently.

          • Penelope,
            If Trump is God’s anointed is an evangelical trope, it is equally a prominent USA evangelical anathema, as is unthinking red and blue political affiliation, or right and left in the UK, all of which idolatrously usurp the place of Christ in liberty, freedom and life of believers. It is little more than moralistic, self or group righteousness (in all guises) deism, it seems to me.

  21. Jesus, the Jew, God the Son, is the counterpoint to all superiority and all inferiority, to the deceptive above all things, heart of darkness in us all.

    May He, by the Spirit, bring his light into our deepest darkness, denied or unknown in our thoughts, words, or deeds, acts and omissions – a debt redeemed, paid and redeemable by Him alone and against Him.

    Reply

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