Iain Lee, Tabloid Media, and What Racism Means

If you follow me on social media or on this blog,  you’ll know I’m a fan of talk radio. I found a new talk show network forming in the UK called TalkRadio, so I gave their shows a listen. One of the shows in particular caught my ear. Iain Lee hosts a show on the network that I’ve come to really enjoy listening to. I even sent him an email telling him (and have told his producer in tweets) on how much I like the show. Lee seems  to be a very honest host that really puts his heart and vulnerability into his show/art.

The last few days Lee has been under attack by British media for supposedly being racist. Lee was on a game show (for charity) and this happened:

Lee defended himself quite well on Monday’s show (May 2, 2016), saying that he thought the girls where in a corner-shop and it was nothing more than that.

On Tuesday night’s show, a caller phoned in to engage with Lee concerning what is referred to as casual racism. I found his treatment of this caller to be rude, and dismissive. He wouldn’t let the caller get his point across, and even used the dictionary argument.  Going on a radio show as a caller always puts the the caller at a disadvantage. The radio presenter always has control over the call and the conversation, and I felt Lee was harsh and refused to listen to what the caller was saying.

Casual racism isn’t always something the person engaging in it even knows they’re doing. Everyone has implicit biases, and sometimes those biases cause us to engage in behavior that we’re not even aware of. He posted after the show on Twitter that the earlier caller had made the observation that black people can’t be racist:

Actual tweets at Storify

FireShot Capture 46 - Editing 'Iain Lee Show _ - https___editor.storify.com_57294eca936b6de4593cf642

The natural response when being called out on pretty much anything in life is a reflexive denial. White people (cisgender heterosexual males) especially don’t like being called racist. Even overt racists don’t think or say they’re racist. But I wasn’t even SAYING Lee is a racist. I was critical of his treatment of someone that was trying to explain casual racism to him.  By criticizing him for his rude treatment of a caller, supporters of Lee have accused me of cyber-bullying.

FireShot Capture 47 - Editing 'Iain Lee Show _ - https___editor.storify.com_57294eca936b6de4593cf642

Even though as soon as Lee asked me to stop tweeting him, I did, I’m a bully. I do understand how difficult it is for white people to hear something they said or did might be racist. I learned this the hard way. I wrote a blog post  in which I typed out the “N” word fully. Soon after I was taken to task by people of colour. I had to listen, because as a white person myself, I’m not the arbiter of what is, or is not,  racist.

For many white people being called racist is something akin to being called a child abuser or a rapist in terms of the public shame. Casual racism isn’t using the N word or lynching someone, it’s a hell of a lot more subtle than that. My issue wasn’t with Lee’s game show performance, but his dismissal and rude treatment of someone that called him on his privilege or the possibility that he MIGHT have been casually racist. As a friend of mine said of Lee’s reaction, it’s as if someone stepped on your foot and the following conversation ensued:

Me: “Excuse me, I believe you just stepped on my foot.”
Them: “ARE YOU CALLING ME A CLUMSY MONSTER??”
Them: “ARE YOU SAYING NOBODY EVER STEPPED ON MY FOOT??”
Them: “IT’S CROWDED GET OVER IT!”
Me: “But you’re still standing on my foot.”

Regardless, I wish nothing but the best for Lee. Lee stated that he has blocked me because he’s struggling with depression. I hope he feels better soon.

 

 

Why I’m Angry at Conservative, Corporate Media

In a Twitter discussion with LBC radio presenter, Julia Hartley-Brewer asked me:

I AM angry. I’m angry because corporate conservative media outlets are engaging in a propaganda war against the poor. She and her station posted this:

and

I posted a response, saying that I thought this was just an attack on the poor. She responded by saying:

Since her housing benefit is .0003% of the benefit budget, the problem isn’t one of impact. In America we call this dog-whistle politics.

“Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.”

“You should be outraged that lazy people are getting over on hard working people!” That’s the dog-whistle that British conservative media are sounding. If you actually read the story, the woman has lived in the area for 5 years and the reason rent is so high is because the housing market changed around her, not some special deal she has received. This does anger me, because this kind of political propaganda has an agenda, and that agenda is to incite class division. It’s done to mask real issues that matter, instead blaming the poor, immigrants, and the disabled. The most vulnerable people are blamed for the ills of Britian, but as I said in my previous post:

You can logically argue what banking practices caused the financial crisis in 2008 that still haunts the global economy, but you can’t say it wasn’t the fault of bankers.

The underlying push by conservative corporate media is that the economic collapse that happened in 2008 was due to immigrants, or the strain of the housing or employment benefit budget. I asked Hartley-Brewer what the percentage of the benefit budget housing is and she said:

But data from The Guardian will help put that amount into perspective: Public-spending-on-Benefi-001 Around 20 billion? According to the Guardian data, it’s more like £16 billion, but why quibble (if I was going to quibble, she still doesn’t give a percentage)? By my crude math, that’s about 12% of the total benefit budget. Pensions are about 44% (£74 billion) and paying interest on the debt is around £48 billion. If Julia is right, and the housing benefit is “huge”, then you’d have call pensioner’s pull on the economy as “gigantic” or “massive”. With that being true, why doesn’t Hartley-Brewer/LBC dedicate more time to pensions and debt reduction? I’m guessing they push immigration reform and benefit cuts for the same reason that UKIP pushes a false narrative about immigration. It might not be true, but it sure pushes buttons of angry, frustrated people. That in turn, brings listeners/voters. Talking about pensions and the strain they put on the budget would especially alienate (mostly older) conservative listeners/voters. Why do I care? Because the people who are the most vulnerable are used as scapegoats, while the rich and blameless continue to receive corporate “benefits”/”welfare”.

Oligarchy lives.

That is why, Julia, I’m so pissed off.

update: (10/30 1800 GMT)

Because oligarchy media scapegoating has consequences:

Fullscreen capture 10302014 121026 PM

Above is what British people think, verses what the reality actually is. Who is at fault? I’m looking at you, corporate, conservative media….

update November 09th, 2014:

Cost of benefit as a percentage of GDP:

 

costofbennies