Rod MacKenzie
Rod MacKenzie

The wiles of the inarb (I’m Not A Racist But…)

I was naively thrilled when Ryland Fisher posted Black people can be among the most racist.

I didn’t like the title. It was an obvious attention-getter, and, before reading the blog, I thought it was probably a spurious opinion. However, his final words, “I’m a racist. You’re a racist. Let’s talk,” moved me to write a series from China where I have to deal with my racist attitudes, which are “inarbic”, a coinage of mine I will get to later.

I liked the honest challenge in Ryland’s last words. Let’s get honest and see where we go with this, or so I had thought. I was very disappointed, however, when he did not actually talk with his readership.

After a confession (I’m a racist) and an invitation to be honest (you’re a racist), like what Ryland made, surely he should have hunkered down and done some talking instead of remaining aloof?

I was about to write a post similar to this about his silence, but then Ryland posted the whites can be more racist than the blacks piece.

Okay, so now we realised more fully — or should have — that his headers are not his honest opinions. They are just triggers to get the conversation going. With regard to the commentators on his first blog, Ryland observed in the second blog that his belief that South Africans were unable to talk like responsible adults about racism was correct. In the commentary some readers just lost their tempers and posted vicious remarks.

Point taken: What if some of the unruly, angry commentators on his blogs were all sitting together in a pub or the town hall for the debate? The riot squad would have been called in.

However, as some commentators strongly objected, the problem lay in the Ryland’s blog titles: they were just too provocative and irresponsible. At the same time they were meaningless: the one blog title is subverted by the other blog title — Ryland knows he can’t have it both ways, he was pushing your buttons.

So a lot of readers were provoked by something meaningless.

Some of us knew more or less from the start what Ryland was doing and did not react violently or meaninglessly.

People who allow themselves to have their buttons pushed so easily are lazy readers. The vitriol that followed in the commentary under his blogs was sad. Ryland “proved” his point. But, I hasten to add, he induced the research; he did not deduce it. By induce, I mean, according to the dictionary, that he urged or spurred on the conclusion he wished to arrive at by manipulating the readers. This is disingenuous thinking. It is a kind of laziness which makes him as guilty as the bad-tempered commentators he says are too irresponsible to contribute meaningfully to the debate on racism.

Ironically enough, this makes Ryland’s entire thesis and research methods dishonest; at least his vitriolic “lab rats” (no pejorative intended, dear readers, but that is what you were) were dead honest in their cutting remarks.

With regard to the debate on racism, for about a decade I have been keen to propose a new word for the English language, the inarb (I’m not a racist but …). Let me hold up this foundling: it sparkles with honesty and at the same time it suggests denial of a truth.

With inarb we have the following politically correct gems: I’m not a racist but I really am not happy going to a beach full of people with a different colour skin. Let them have their own beach; they’re entitled to it. Because I’m a wholesome inarb.

I’m an inarb, so as much as I love the Chinese I really wish they would not hawk up and spit on the streets so much. The hawking noise is like a miniature concrete mixer whose grinding engine is about to strip. In Shanghai, if puddles of phlegm on the streets were mines, we would all be amputees, I kid you not.

I’m an inarb, so I really wish some Chinese would not come over and stare at me when I eat. Or take photographs of me whilst I shove dripping chopsticks into my mouth.

But, truly, to be honest, I’m not a racist.

Which brings us to another acronym I’d like to propose, the binar (But I’m not a racist).

As an earnest binar I am amazed at how white people (especially Americans) get such deferential treatment in China. Some of us automatically earn two to ten times the salaries commanded by our Chinese counterparts because we are “experts”. We are issued with what is called a “foreign experts’ certificate”, a separate, smart, purple book issued along with the work visa in our passports.

I lived in Shaoxing in China more than three years ago. This city is two-and-a-half hours by bus from Shanghai and is almost on another planet, in terms of being insulated from the rest of the world.

In Shaoxing, foreigners, other than Indians, were a rare species, seldom sighted. Occasionally I even had Chinese (always women, for some reason), who, when they saw me, fell to their knees and praised the heavens as if the promised saviour had come.

Or people of both genders would run across the street just to touch me. I’ve had my butt fondled or patted (always men, for some reason).

Sometimes the Shaoxing Chinese would stop and stand frozen in the middle of the street and gape open-mouthed as I walked past.

What should be the response of both the responsible inarb and the binar?

Well, as I am a self-confessed member of both species, which I have had the dubious privilege of identifying and coining, I was generally delighted. After the initial shock, at least.

They were pressing all the right buttons: I love gratuitous fame and attention. I was and am positively discriminated against, a kind of reverse racism.

And believe you me, some of the foreigners in Shaoxing — when sighted by adoring natives — did not like the instant audience, judging by the indignant abuse that spewed from their mouths as they battled with all the visceral attention.

Not this binarous inarb. You touch my arm, I wiggle your ear. You may rise now. Go forth and tell all the nations.

Except, of course, for the butt stroking. That I still can’t handle.

That’s because I’m also an inasanb (I’m not a sexist and NO butt).