This penetrating insight is prompted by an incident at Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris. Or rather by the ensuing French news bulletins.
Two hours ago as I write, a man brandished a knife at Terminal 2F. When police officers asked him nicely to drop it, he rushed at them, only to be killed by a single shot for his trouble.
Now, my recurrent gripe about modernity is that it fosters uniformity – not only among individuals but also among countries. These days they all tend to speak woke in every language under the sun, pledging allegiance to any modern perversion on offer.
Yet, for all the efforts to expunge differences in that respect, they persist. It’s not that some Western countries refuse to go woke – heaven forbid. However, they tend to proceed at slightly different speeds.
Looking at the three countries I know from personal experience, I notice that Britain is some 5-10 years behind America in its embrace of political correctness, whereas France lags behind Britain by the same margin.
The news bulletin flashing across my screen is a case in point. Every French news service states that “a terrorist motive cannot be ruled out”. This is proper woke language under such circumstances, and it goes into English word for word without giving anyone a start.
Exactly the same words would be used if an Air France liner were blown to pieces by a bomb. Until some group claimed responsibility for the act, it wouldn’t be described as unquestionably terrorist. A possible terrorist motive would represent the outer limit of the claim.
A slight variation on the theme comes into play whenever a suicide bomber screams “Allahu akbar!” before self-detonating. In that case, reports tend to say that “a religious motive cannot be ruled out”.
That’s allowed, provided it’s kept nice and generic: ‘religious’, not specifically Muslim. That keeps the possibility open that the scream of “Allahu akbar” could have been issued by a Methodist, Mormon or Mennonite.
So far so good. Even though the words used by the news services are French, the spirit behind them is British, American, universally woke. But then the bulletins let the side down.
The knife-wielder is described as a “large homeless man of colour”. Excuse me? What does his race have to do with the price of gas?
Are they implying that a man of colour is more likely to pull a knife on policemen? Even if they are not, how is this information conducive to anything other than stoking ethnic hatred? Such unpardonable racism would be strictly off-limits in the lands of les anglo-saxons.
And don’t get chromatically pedantic on me, claiming that white is also a colour. Not in this context, it isn’t.
White is allowed to become a colour only to identify the perpetrators of colonialism, slavery and general oppression. When a news report talks about a man of colour, especially a large one “of no fixed abode”, it means a member of one of the historically oppressed non-white races.
Not all of them, mind you. Thus, I’ve never heard of a Chinese or Japanese described as a man of colour. Perhaps they haven’t been oppressed enough to qualify for that distinction, I don’t know.
No, a man of colour has to be black or Arab, possibly a black Arab. So let me tell you: no British report would be as brazen as the French one in question.
When the dead man’s identity, complete with photographs and neighbours’ acounts of his sterling character, has been released to the press the next day or the day after, then yes. Within minutes of the incident – absolutely not.
So I repeat: in this respect, the French aren’t quite British yet. Thank God.