A nation, not a race

While I find Rod Liddle's explanation [comment at 12:37am, here] for his hatred of the Welsh to be much more laughable than he thought his original article was, I do want to sound a note of caution against those who are calling it racism.

Being Welsh is not a matter of race, and never has been. Nor is being English. The people of each of our countries are of many different races, with new ingredients constantly being added to the mixture ... whether over a thousand years, a hundred years or just the last decade.

Wales is a nation, and being Welsh is a matter of nationality, not race.

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21 comments:

Ian Titherington said...

I accused him of racism under the legal definition. In terms of race, I believe that it is a little odd as I see ourselves very much as the same race as the English.

I don't know if that helps!

Owen said...

If Rod, or anyone else of a similar ilk wants to right a satirical piece about S4C or the Welsh language then they are well within their rights to do so. We're going to need thicker skin because I imagine a lot of that is going to be coming our way and not just from the usual Cymru Cringe vultures.

However, it isn't obvious that this was a satirical or tongue in cheek piece. It's very hard to do that in print at the best of times. We can laugh off sheep jokes as it's been done about a trillion times before and it's boring now. The tone Rod took seemed to be outright spiteful though, I mean "pinch-faced hill tribes"?

Bit harsh.

MH said...

Yes, Ian. I do accept that, and it is a pity that the legislation is framed in the way it is.

My main concern—a result of standing up against racism as much as I know you do—is that if we don't make it clear what the difference between race and nationality is, we give others an opening to call us racists when we stand up for our nation.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Rod Liddle? (I quite like his articles actually)

I do with Welsh nats would stop this running to daddy business every time someone is nasty towards us. The Irish rebels didn't go complaining to the police or the crown everytime someone said something nasty about them. They took it on the chin and in fact laughed because they knew it strengthened the cohesion of the national community.

Rod Liddle, Ann Robinson etc do more for Welsh nationalism and the feeling of Welsh nationality than any compalint to the police or some slap wrist by the discredited 'ishoos' lobby of New Labour.

I'd rather be ridiculed than ignored and I'd rather be feared than ridiculed. Running to the police is just weak, weak, weak it's the same as this 'what has Wales done wrong?' victimhood which Plaid's spokesman came out with last night. Plaid need to snap out of it. Lets be like the Irish - strong not whingers.

Get over it. Lets have a fight!



Macsen

Alwyn ap Huw said...

A chef was fined by Pwllheli magistrates in August for writing "Who do those f***ing English think they are? F***ing w*****s.” on his Facebook wall. For doing so he was found to be guilty of "sending a message that was offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing by means of a public communications network.".

I understand your argument for saying that Mr Liddle's comment aren't racist, but surely they do constitute "sending a message that is offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing by means of a public communications network", and are therefore unlawful.

MH said...

Let me ask you this, Alwyn: do you think he should have been fined or not? I don't think so, and if I remember what you said at the time, neither do you. That decision was disgraceful. But do we really want to see Rod Liddle fined for writing what he did?

This is nothing for us to get angry about. It's a reflexion on him, not us. And of course it's a reflexion on publications like the Spectator, who thrive on being condescending obnoxious to those they look down on. I am sure that they LOVE the sort of response they are getting to what he wrote.

I wrote a comment too, as it happens. I said:

"We need to remember that the Spectator only pays Rod to write stuff like this in an attempt to make Melanie Phillips sound moderate and reasonable."

Was it published? Of course it wasn't!

Now ask yourself why. To me, the answer is obvious: that they want to provoke an indignant reaction. They expect that, they can cope with that, and it adds to their sense of fun. What they can't cope with is us laughing at Rod Liddle for writing it, and at them for publishing it.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? I make English jokes all the time.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Let me ask you this, Alwyn: do you think he should have been fined or not?

No I don't, I tend to agree with Macsen.

I don't like laws that restrict people's right to express their prejudices because I see them as counterproductive. If I am not allowed to express my prejudices then they cannot be challenged and if they aren't challenged then they will probably fester and become more toxic.

As much as I don't like the law and would like the law to be changed, the law as it stands should be applied equally to all. Until the law is changed if Welsh chefs are being fined for making abusive comments about the English, then English journalists should also be fined for making abusive comments about the Welsh.

Ian Titherington said...

I very much welcome the debate on racism and race, as there is an uncomfortable dilemma here. As people have stated, we are using racism accusations against individuals of the same race. Maybe it could be argued therefore that Liddle is guilty of abusing himself (make of that what you will!)?
It is most certainly a deliberate and abusive attack on a nationality and culture , but the Welsh are most certainly not a different race. It would be interesting if politicians came up with an amendment to the leglslation, to correct this problem.

glynbeddau said...

Anonymous is completely wrong over the Irish the big change has come because they stopped accepting the stock “Tick Paddy” image of themselves and Irish Comedians like Dara O’Briain no longer pander to this. Whether Liddle appalling rant it is racist in a legal sense is irrelevant we cannot sit idly by and allow such insults to be made without standing up for ourselves. In this we must promote ourselves positively and that means our own commentators should cease their own ant-welsh attitude. When are we going to have a mainstream Welsh comedian being positive about the Welsh language for instance?

Anonymous said...

Glyn - I was thinking more of Patrick Peearse and Michael Collins - would they have run to the police everytime someone said something nasty about them? It makes us look pathetic and more importantly we're talking ourselves down by wanting some higher (British) authority to bestow justice on our behalf. It's like we never left the Victorian Age when that's all we wanted was the Enlgish to be nice to us.

The Irish didn't run to daddy they told him where to go. We should do the same.

Macsen

Hogyn o Rachub said...

Bit of a side-note really but it's not unacceptable in Welsh to describe the Welsh as a race, or 'hil' - it's actually rather common in Welsh-language poetry or literature - so maybe there's an element of perspective here.

Siônnyn said...

I felt that the sentiment of the comments on the article were actually, on balance, against Rod Liddle's suggestions.

I especially enjoyed the one from an English Northerner who complained that this sort of sentiment, expressed by a southern media type (my words, not his) tarred all english people with the same unpleasant brush! And it was no wonder that the wole of the world hated them!

A lot of the other comments were effectively witty and by far the best defence in a case like this. Shouting Racism all the time just makes us easier targets!

The problem is, the Legal definition of racism that Ian refers to, is far too 'PC' to be useful.

As you tried to say as a comment, Rod is paid to be controversial - just like Jeremy Clarkson - another famous fan of the Welsh - but If you read them in that knowledge, then whatever they say, it can't hurt you!

Siônnyn said...

BTW You read far worse anti-Welsh sentiment on the Wales on line Forum and on the Comments accompanying their articles!

Aled G J said...

Rod Liddle's comments were crass, bigoted, contemptuous, ignorant and ridiculous.

But if we want to keep to the spirit of that great Welsh saying "Rhydd i bawb ei farn ac i bob barn ei llafar" , we have to allow people to express their opinions. Nothing should stop that in my opinion, short of that opinion constituting an actual physical threat to another individual.

I can't for the life of me understand why people have to reach for this "racist" comfort blanket, where it's so obvious that being welsh is a matter of being a nation apart not a race apart! And why on earth do some want to run to PC Plod?!- it's just feeding this sense of victimhood which does nothing at all to build a sense of nationhood.

These type of offensive comments are bound to happen such is the uncomfortable and fractured relationship that exists between Wales and England. We should respond, not with the law and not with PC Plod, but with words,ideas and passion. As indeed has been seen with the response to the article on the Spectator's website: the article and Rod Liddle have both been thoroughly trashed by the passion, knowledge and wisdom displayed by a large number of Welsh respondents to his post.

These are qualities that we will all have to hone over the next few years because we will have to respond to many more Rod Liddle like attacks. But, as another poster has said, keep them coming Englanders because all they do is help to forge a nation.

do we care said...

As posted on Valleys Mam earlier, slightly corrected..

As the Deputy Editor of Spectator, worried about revenue of the rag, why not write something a bit controversial and see the hits on the website jump, and advertising revenue thereof.

Is Rod Little a racist, I doubt it, and shouting racist anytime someone dares criticise us is a bit poor, after all think how the Americans portray the English in films.

I read The Times, but am yet to read a Rod Little article, he’s a bit ‘Simon Cowell’ saying things to draw attention to himself. I see the article and the picture and the shirt and the big beer belly, and think mate, I can go to the pub anytime and hear what you’ve got to say, and it be much more interesting in the pub.

My spelling of his surname though is deliberate.

Anonymous said...

whats been interesting about the response to liddle's humourless diatribe about the welsh is that while in the past bigoted comments were aimed at the irish or people of pakistani or indian origin such abuse of such national groups is no longer considered acceptable and simply would not be tolerated and rightly so of course -yet we welsh are just supposed to laugh it off when we are abused in such bigoted terms!

the plain fact of the matter is the welsh have same right to protection from such abuse as any other nationality! There is no middle ground or grey areas here - anyone who thinks its acceptable for liddle to abuse the welsh in this way by definition would think it acceptable to abuse the irish and asian communities in this way - and indeed tis used to be the case for much of the 1960s and 1970s in the uk!

i didnt laugh at the racism aimed at irish and asian people in the uk in the 1970s i was nauseated by it - and im not laughing at the racism towards the welsh liddle is guilty of now!

leigh richards

Nic said...

> Wales is a nation, and being Welsh is a matter of nationality, not race.

Of course, but this is a red herring, surely. "Jamaican" isn't a race either, but a blog post on a national magazine's website about how all Jamaicans are ganja-smoking, gun-toting homophobes would be rightly condemned as racism, and no amount of sophistry about there being white Jamaicans would convince us otherwise.

Intent is important, isn't it? Liddle's definition of "the Welsh" isn't meant to include sophisticated metropolitans, and he'd probably be as incredulous as Nick Griffin was when confronted with the existence of black Welsh people. The fact that "the Welsh" aren't a racial group is irrelevant; Liddle is speaking as if they are, and is therefore using racist language.

As for the "What Would Michael Collins Do?" argument - it's not 1916.

Anonymous said...

Rod Liddle can write what he likes but really it was a pretty dire attempt at humour. Of course the courts define the Welsh and English as separate "racial groups"

Paul Theroux once said that the only time the English took an Irishman seriously was when he was holding a gun. Having foresworn guns the Welsh will obviously never be taken seriously.

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Paul Theroux once said that the only time the English took an Irishman seriously was when he was holding a gun. Having foresworn guns the Welsh will obviously never be taken seriously

If guns are what it takes - I would prefer not to be taken seriously! (Not that I'm taken seriously by many unarmed people anyway).

Tomos Burton said...

To most ethnic minorities, ''White'' conjures up an image of someone that's very media-savvy, doesn't really understand black and Asian culture and hasn't really been through the mill. So although yes the majority of us are white, I think current tick-boxes don't really serve us well. Although we have had some ''white privilege'', we haven't really done anything to black people. I'm not saying we should cry racist over everything but I for one think that we don't deserve ''payback'' for things that Welsh people didn't do any more than little boys should grow up thinking they're useless because little girls did once.

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