Thursday, 30 September 2010

People Are Realising The Emperor Has No Clothes…

Hugh Muir writes possibly the most lazy article I’ve ever seen in ‘CiF’:
You spot them pretty quickly, my friend Jerome Mack tells me. Put 15 people in a room and the chances are that there will be two of them. Thirteen will make the effort. The other two will be bigots and proud of it.
Are we given any examples of their ‘bigotry’?

No, we are not. It’s just taken for granted that, whatever they say, ( and Jerome is the arbiter, remember..) it’s clearly bigotry…
There are many derided jobs and Jerome does one of them. Try this for size. "Hi, I'm an equalities trainer."
Yup, can’t say that wouldn’t be greeted by scorn and contempt among anyone having to do a real job…
… despite what you read about busybodies interfering with normal human relationships and curtailing freedom of speech, how everything would be all right if only the malcontents would stop creating the problems, Jerome says what he does is pretty necessary.
Well, he would, wouldn’t he? As another semi-professional whore once said…
We all think we're basically good, even those who palpably aren't. And we are all creatures of our conditioning. But sometimes, in a private room, and probably because an employer decrees it, someone gets to challenge our perceptions about what we do, what we say and why.
Challenge them from a position of….what?

Received wisdom? The gospel according to the Righteous?
That doesn't mean we have to like it. "The bigots will sit there for a while like simmering volcanoes," he says. "'I don't know why I am here," they complain. "Why are you making such a big deal about these people? We all have our crosses to bear. What about me?"
And who’s to say they aren’t right? It seems the ‘Guardian’ can tolerate anything, except intolerance!
Jerome and his team might conduct training for 10,000 people a year, but these are the ones who get angry. Depending on what newspapers are saying, all sorts of things make them angry. Right now travellers, gay people and eastern Europeans sit top of the list.
I guess Hugh thinks that none of those 15 people will ever be ‘Guardian’ or ‘Indy’ readers, then?
But there's an upside, and it is the other 13, because there was a time when in that room, the bigotry of the two would be infectious. No one would stop them, quite a few would join in. "Things have changed," Jerome tells me. "They challenge the bigotry now, they shake their heads, obviously disapproving. The 13 have been empowered, the two disempowered."
Or, perhaps, they are simply keeping their heads down, agreeing with you, and displaying the behaviours they know will get them out with the minimum of pain?
So doesn't that put you out of a job, I ask him. "I'd love to be out of a job," he says. But it's a work in progress. The 13, they're great. But the two are always a menace. And they never quite go away.
Well, of course not.

Jerome, and people like him, have to eat. And eat well, of course.

The comments are illuminating, as with all the best ‘CiF’ columns. Here’s a selection:

PS. A friend works for the council, he was telling me about the diversity and equality officers who will all be shielded from the cuts.

I asked him what they do. He's worked in the same building as them for 15 years and could only tell me that they come in late, go to lots of meetings, and go home early.

Also, that, although it isn't officially declared policy, they are all non white.
He's got Jerome's number, I think!

This next one is about to commit a bit of a faux pas:

Yes, agreed -I thought my pc was playing up, and I'd only downloaded the introductory part. Ok, it says something but it doesn't really get into the nitty gritty as much as would likely have been helpful.

Was it really worth paying someone to product just this?

Is this a joke? If anything was more likely to re-enforce stereotypical views of this type of work I cannot think of it. The sheer magnitude of the laziness exhibited by the author and the sub who allowed this to enter the public domain is jaw dropping for its immensity.
Indeed, even for CiF it's a stinker. And some decided to do a little digging on the subject:

Here's a summary from one of Mr Mack's courses. NGOs and other 'non-profits' have a language all their own (I edited UN and NGO project reports for a very brief period, before the urge to tear my face off became too strong) and this is a pretty representative example of the mind-bendingly vague, meaningless crap they get paid handsomely to spew out.

BBC Television was concerned with improving the self-motivation of staff members from minority backgrounds to drive job performance in the BBC's major work streams. To achieve this, the organization offered career incentives to attendees, and looked to gain a culture of renewed drive from attendees post initiative. The Initiative's impacts included increased promotion of participants from BME minority backgrounds into the major work streams, and an increase in the perception of BBC as an employer of choice.
*bamboozled* It's not even nglish, is it?

I would, however, love to be in this chap's event:

I once went on an Equal Ops course and was told I was a 'racist' by the trainer because I asked for a black coffee during the break time.

unfortunately she picked the wrong person to hold up as an example of a typical bigot as I wasn't having it, and responded by stating that as a vegan I considered her a 'speciesist' for making the assumption that I would put cow's milk in my coffee. I then warmed to my theme by asking her if she's been at Lewisham in 1977 risking arrest and injury by confronting the National Front when they tried to march in the area as I didn't recall seeing her there ("er, no I wasn't actually..."), and that I wasn't therefore prepared to take such an accusation from somebody whose anti-racist activism extended no further than the boundaries of a nice safe classroom. I then asked how exactly politically correct crap like this was remotely helpful to Bengali families in Tower Hamlets who were having petrol poured through their letter boxes and the BNP were gaining seats in East London (it was mid 1990s).

I don't think I actually let up for about half an hour, and from what colleagues who later went on the same course told me, the whole confrontation became a bit of a legend.

Lazy thinking, complacency and stereotyping by the chattering classes of those they make ignorant assumptions about can be just as insidious and damaging as true bigotry.

Perhaps there's a hard core of workers who just cant stand the prospect of wasting half a day in the hands of some ass clown (sorry "management consultant") stating the bleeding obvious in front of power point display.

Somewhere in the 1980s it became compulsory for public and private organisations to shovel truckloads of money into the hands of these hucksters, who don the robes of whatever brand name is fashionable at the time - in the 80s it might have been called Access and Equity, in the 90s it a matter of Team Building, and now in this decade it finds the ludicrous brand name of "Leadership training".

I suspect this material is dreamt up by the same people who devise new angles for toothbrush commercials.

The bottom line here is that if your family and school teachers havent done a half decent job in socialising you by the age of 10, its game over.
'Nuff said...


Oldrightie said...

Commisars in all but name. So much for "change".

Jiks said...

I attempted to translate what that course summary would have said in English but only got so far before ...

"BBC Television was concerned with improving the self-motivation of staff members from minority backgrounds" = "the BBC management believed the brown people there were lazy"

"To achieve this, the organization offered career incentives to attendees" = "go on the stupid course and we will promote you"

... I lost the will to live about there.

Anonymous said...

Where is the help for the rich? Surely they are a minority as well!!

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

You should try reading Harker's stuff - makes Hugh Muir look like Simon Heffer

Cos I white? said...

I have been on Equality and Diversity courses. Had to: I couldn't be a good teacher without it could I?

Is it 'cos I white?

But I sit there, listening to (white) people droning on about the urgent need for fairness and evenness while remembering I have two daughters-in-law I think the world of: the Chinese one and the (black) African one. Next to me is a colleague who has a Chinese partner and has worked for overseas aid organisations in places like South America among the poor.

Then the muppets running this course tried to tell me that as an exercise I had to choose between meeting the head of a Muslim faith school or a talented pop singer. Then, as a flourish, they reveal with a self-satisfied smirk that it is in fact one and the same person, so naughty me for choosing one over the other.

The answer that would correct my horrible attitude, apparently, is one Twat Stevens.

staybryte said...

Cos I White?

Ah, but would you rather meet a raving Islamist psychopath who wants authors butchered, or Radio Two's favourite guitar strumming MOR elder statesman?

What? Oh.

JuliaM said...

"Commisars in all but name. So much for "change"."

It's going to take a long, hard slog to force out the Righteous..

"... I lost the will to live about there."

Indeed! The comments were far more interesting!

"You should try reading Harker's stuff..."

I will.

"Then the muppets running this course tried to tell me that..."

That's the thing with these events - they know nothing of anyone's background, yet assume they know that it needs 'adjusting'. So who are the bigots?

"What? Oh."

Would LOVE to attend a session like that, just to raise that point... :)

David Gillies said...

Is there even the most evanescent hope that this sort of vacuous buffoonery will dwindle under the Cameron/Clegg regime? No, of course not. It's as ineradicable as bindweed. The only recourse left when confronted with the 'Jeromes' of this world is to split their skulls hard and fast with a big lump of wood.

Squander Two said...

I went on one of these for my last employer, and it was awful: state the bleeding obvious and then ask you to explain how all your preconceptions have just been blown out of the water by the revelation.

But I did like the bit where we were lectured that people have an entirely false prejudice that mentally ill people can be dangerous. See, just a few months earlier, the area outside our canteen had been turned into a crime scene by one of our colleagues stabbing one of the others in the neck. The reason for this, it transpired, was that the attacker... well, basically, he believed he was Jason Bourne.

JuliaM said...

"But I did like the bit where we were lectured that people have an entirely false prejudice that mentally ill people can be dangerous."

It's the 'entirely' that did for that! If they'd just admitted to 'mostly', no-one would have argued.

But it seems diversity lecturers operate in a world of absolutes!