Finally (on bigotry)
Perhaps much too heavy a subject and idiotic to write about it in a blog by a middle-aged bolding dentist who craves recognition from more than dentistry but here goes nothing…
I am not anti-racist.
I am not a feminist.
I do not stand against religious intolerance.
I’m not an activist for gay rights.
I am a WASC (White Anglo-Saxon Catholic but no longer catholic).
I am a male, middle class, living in the western world and perhaps the route of all problems.
Over and above that though, I am anti-bigotry.
I see bigotry everywhere and have seen bigotry everywhere since I was very little.
I grew up in the west coast of Scotland which is the equivalent of Belfast Lite.
The enmity and bigotry between the Catholic and Protestant communities in the 1970’s and 80’s of my youth (and in many aspects still now) is horrible and terrifying and disgusting.
It would be hard to explain it to someone who had not grown up in that environment.
The Catholic bishop still has a veto on the appointment of teachers to solely Catholic schools in the west of Scotland, in case they try to appoint a Protestant.
In Scotland you go to a Catholic school or a Protestant school and there is very little else. That segregation is still alive and well (hard for English people to understand).
And so, I went to a Catholic school and that was on my CV as if it were stamped on my forehead and therefore every time you apply for a job, you can be judged on that basis.
I was brought up a Catholic, but my father was a Protestant.
I have a Protestant name and a Catholic upbringing which is extremely confusing to people in the west of Scotland and was in particular confusing as I started to try to make my way through Glasgow dental school as a new dental graduate.
During that time, a close friend and mentor of mine took me aside (please believe me that this is not made up and is no joke) and advised me to leave the dental school because there was no way that I would progress due to my antecedence.
That was not the only reason I left Glasgow, but it certainly was a reason why I left Glasgow.
I have been punched in the face for being a Catholic (even though I am not a Catholic), I have been advised to leave my career pathway and my job because I was brought up a Catholic, so I moved to England.
I never quite got punched in England for being a Scotsman, but it certainly came close.
I’ve had my currency refused by bar staff in England and I have had people refuse to be treated by me because of my accent.
I have experienced low-level and underhand discrimination, verbal abuse and distain from different quarters throughout the time that I have lived in England.
While I’m not suggesting for one minute that this might be the same as other people who have experienced significant hate crime, I understand what bigotry is and what bigotry feels like, but I also understand that my father was brought up a Protestant and my mother a Catholic and so, the nature of this bigotry is utterly ridiculous.
I understand that historically the English establishment literally raped and abused the Scottish population during the highland clearances and ethnically cleansed parts of Scotland for industrial and agricultural gain.
I understand that this is why there is still significant enmity in Scotland related to aspects of England which pervades over time despite the fact that my mate Phil at football who is English was not part of the English establishment who caused that problem.
I ramble on about this because I totally feel the pain of discrimination at a low level and how it continues and from some parts of society seems to never disappear.
And that is why I am not anti-racist, and I am not feminist, and I am not anti-religious intolerance, it’s why I’m anti-bigotry.
There is no point in being a campaigner for equality in one section of a society, only to be a bigot against another.
That just pushes out one problem and creates a greater problem over here.
We do not solve bigotry by using bigotry to solve bigotry, it’s certainly not the way Nelson Mandela walked off Robben Island.
I would like to see alliances made between different sections of society.
I would have people make allies through different camps in society, of people who feel they have been wronged or are being wronged, with people who they feel historically have wronged them or sections of society within that.
I would also like to see us all individually be stronger in the way that we call bigotry out.
One of the difficulties we find ourselves in is that we are being called up for our unconscious biases, which have been impregnated into us from childhood (my inherent suspicion of the Protestants, obviously except for my dad who is a Protestant).
In order to overcome this, we have to teach people how to think and we have to show people how to step outside of situations and view them with empathy from other people’s eyes.
You don’t change this in a minute, or over a weekend.
Areas of anti-discrimination and anti-bigotry have improved so much since the time that boys from the Protestant school would walk along the front of Gourock and punch me in the face because I went to the Catholic school but there is still much to be done.
It starts slow, with a realisation from everybody on all sides, that the answer to bigotry is never more bigotry, nor is it about pushing the pendulum so far the other way that we ultimately create an extraordinary amount of intolerance throughout society.
Rosie (my youngest daughter), in the light of the events of last week brought me a meme like most people do.
It was the phrase ‘lock up your daughters’ which had been crossed out with a red pen and afterwards it said ‘educate your sons’.
While I completely understand the sentiment of such things, it risks creating bigotry to try to fix bigotry.
The counter argument as explained to me afterwards was “unlock your doors and educate the burglars”.
People have a responsibility to keep themselves safe from psychos and idiots as much as they can. As a cyclist I should be able to cycle on the road wearing anything I want and not be hit by somebody in a car but sadly that is not the case and I have to mitigate the danger.
I will always want to protect my daughters and I will always want to educate my son.
The answer to this does not come from one direction, it comes from all directions.
Colin Campbell (anti-bigot)
Blog Post Number - 2676