Will I really be a closet racist when I’m fifty?
According to my daddy, I’ll be more right wing when I’m older
My father loves to be controversial. Mostly to get on my mother and sister’s nerves. He voted Brexit, much to our ongoing fury. He thinks Nigel Farage ‘is a very clever man’. He says things about women and millennials that have us all screaming in the kitchen. Most of it is trolling. I think.
Anyway, it is Daddy darling’s theory that when I am ‘mature’- according to him, this means over fifty- I will be considered racist and old fashioned by my children. I’ll stop being a wishy-washy-lefty-socialist and realise that we can’t spend money like water, and that I am proud of our great nation. Just like he did. I sneered at this for at least an hour.
Don’t be ridiculous, Daddy. I’m centre left. Just because I don’t believe we should hang pickpockets or bomb Calais doesn’t mean I’m a communist.
In many respects, I’m an anomaly in my age group. I’m not fanatical about Corbyn and I’ve very opinionated on housing benefits and education. But I despise the right wing with a venom I share only for courgettes and Carry On films.
I find it incredibly hard to believe that my generation, highly liberal, brought up on a strong diet of racism-is-wrong and be-nice-to-homosexuals could ever be as disgusting as my father’s. There is absolutely no way we would ban black people from pubs, criminalise abortions or revoke gay marriage licences. It just wouldn’t happen. We might be slightly silly, keyboard happy hipsters but we are stubborn on our equality. We aren’t anywhere near as prejudiced. I don’t think we ever could be.
I don’t think I even know anyone in my age who wouldn’t be outraged by the idea of racial purity in Britain. Even the most creepy of my male friends think women should be allowed to have abortions or access to contraception. And I think anyone who was openly racist or islamophobic would be expelled from our picnics and reading groups faster than you could say I’m not a racist but.
It’s impossible for our millennial/generation Z friends to ever be xenophobic to the extent of Pauline and Jim in Maidstone. We all grew up with a Croatian schoolfriend, a Pakistani neighbour and Polish babysitter. That’s just how things are. If you go to uni, at least a third of your friends won’t be pureblood saxon villagers from Mercia. We aren’t horrifed by the idea of a Mexican tapas restaurant on our High Street. Thus the illusion of a Great White Britain doesn’t really stick.
We don’t believe that we ever were better than Sanjay, Borislava or Anoushka. Things weren’t happier and more care free when our neighbourhoods were white and we all eat boiled tongue and turnip. We don’t have those rose tinted racial views. Patriotism is a bit of a joke for us. Anyone saying ‘Great British’ outside a GBBO reference is sniggered at. The phrase ‘British values’ is a ridiculous buzzword. Being called unpatriotic is a positive gold sticker against closed mindedness, bigotry and prejudice. The idea that Brits are better than other nationalities just doesn’t go down well. We are absolutely fine with Rimsha getting a job at the local firm after uni. Why shouldn’t she? She did brilliantly in her Marketing MA.
So the gulf is pretty enormous. When my parent’s friends say something about dreading the swarms of muslims or britain for the british we all cringe and look at our shoes. It’s particularly stupid considering Sally’s grandfather was a British soldier in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and both Sally and David want to retire to Spain. Completely unironically, in their opinion. They’ll never learn Spanish, of course. Great British Colonialism.
They aren’t bad people. They just come from another time and haven’t quite got up to speed with progressive thinking. I don’t think they’d ever actually be nasty to Mohammed or Neeta, but the thin lipped ‘why are they here’ shines through every vote for UKIP or Brexit. Something I just don’t believe could ever happen in our generation in 30 years.
Who knows? Let’s wait and see. I just hope I don’t become my mother’s friends.