Sympathy for Peter Hitchens (or Why ‘Homophobe’ and ‘Racist’ are unhelpful terms)

Closet racists and loonies

–          Dave

When you get to the bottom of it, they are always racist.”

–          Gary

“…but I love brie and merlot. It’s a tough one.”

Those of you who know me will know I’ve gotten one of those job things, which somewhat explains how little I’ve been writing recently. I’ve resolved to do one post that’s vaguely related to said job, then we can never talk about it again.

Said job involves researching options for the United Kingdom leaving or renegotiating its position within the European Union.  This topic has been all over the news lately, since PM David Cameron is (perpetually) about to unveil the Conservative Party’s position.

There are huge amounts of badthink, antifact, rhetoric and general twattery on both sides (?across the spectrum?) of the debate, and there’s no way I can cover all of them in one post. Instead I will relate back to an earlier post on Christians and Gay Marriage, in which I wish-washed my way to the conclusion that we ought to be cautious of criticising people for being “evil” (or permutations thereof), and should stick to just “wrong” (or permutations thereof, up to and including “stupid”).  Flinging loaded and quasi-moral language tends to reduce debates to ad hominem attacks, and we all know that they aren’t valid.

My invisible Xmas present – reason.

This is particularly pertinent to the EU debate (AKA “Brexit” ) since “Euroskeptics” (i.e. those who favour the repatriation of powers or Britain leaving the EU) are frequently labelled “racists” – a wholesome permutation of “evil” if ever there was one. The moniker is especially-frequently applied to UKIP, a party polling at around 9%, whose manifesto includes stronger border controls. The critics’ argument seems to be either:

i) UKIP’s/euroskeptics’ motives for enhanced border control / less association with the EU is motivated by racism


ii) Any move to tighten border control is inherently racist, thus those who advocate it are themselves racists.

Now, it’s important to make clear early that I accept that some people who argue for border controls are racist. I just think it’s beside the point. Beat them with your LOGIC SWORD OF TRUTH, not name-calling. They will deny it, in any case, and we’ll get onto a Peter Hitchens type scenario in which both racists and non-racists on the broad-Right start complaining that they are being bullied or that the media is itself ‘bigoted’.

My contention is that it is possible to favour immigration controls without being racist.

I personally don’t, but that too is beside the point.

Weak Theoretical Analogy

Let’s imagine that there is a theoretical island, Albion, wherein everyone speaks English, the racial makeup is identical to England’s, the education, wealth, welfare and other state infrastructures are identical to Britain’s, and an Albionian (Albionese? Albionish?) holidaymaker in Tunbridge Wells is totally indistinguishable from a Brit, asides their passport. The only difference is, there is no Northampton Saints in Albion.

A huge number of Albionese rugger fans are so dedicated to their team that they want to migrate. It is their dream of dreams to live and work in Wellingborough, Corby, and that famous “Jewel of the Midlands”, Daventry. Thanks to Albion being an EU member and good pal of Britain’s, there is an open border, so 2,200,000 Albionese make the move.

The Saints continue to dominate the rugby world, build a bigger stadium, and defeat the All Blacks in a nailbiting thriller. More Albionese want to come over, but their forebears already quadrupled Northamptonshire’s population ( ) and the poor county, however cheery, cannot cope. Its roads are being run down, its schools are full, overcrowding is making the village pubs…overcrowded. Seriously, it takes 20 minutes to get your order taken at the bar, and even then, it turns out they’ve run out of Fursty Ferret.

Still, fans will be fans, and another 2.2 million swallow their pride and move to Leicester, Rugby, Rutland and Coventry. They are welcomed with open arms and merry grins – extra people means extra customers, extra workers, better nightlife. More tax. Good oh!

Buuuuuut shit! Overcrowding becomes even more of a problem. Coventry, a shit-hole at the best of times, is now a congested nightmare. Rutland has been built up and resembles inner city Detroit. Rugby’s rugby fields have been bought up and turned into a car-park.

Politicians from all parties get a little worried. The midlands simply cannot sustain this many people. The media keep pointing out failings in the works – inadequate bridges, faulty leccy pylons, an odd smell from Bedford Zoo.

When the Saints are elevated to the status of a national team in their own right, win the Six Nations (Scotland lost its place) and threaten to win the 2015 World Cup, another 3 million Albionese fans are forecast to move to Britain.

Is it racist to make some moves to stop them?

Note – this analogy has holes. I in no way mean to imply that real world migrants are responsible for any social or infrastructural ills.

It is difficult to overstate how much I love the haka

Possibly Better Analogy

Imagine  another mid-Atlantic EU member, the Deira Island. Deira is, again, ethnically and culturally the same as Britain, but did not enjoy the colonial-industrial-expansionist boom of 1700-1960, and as a consequence, remained fairly undeveloped.  When the EU allowed Deirans to migrate to Britain, only the best-educated and richest were able to. They, incidentally, tend to be Sale Sharks fans, so were in for disappointment. Most Deirans were left on Deira, whose economy suffered from a dearth of doctors, engineers, inventors and rugger stars.

This is the ‘brain drain’ argument. It is somewhat mitigated by the fact that family-minded and/or patriotic Deirans either sent money to their ailing parents back in Deira, or moved back when they’d made a bit of mulah. But it gets bandied around a lot.

Well I feel inadequate now

There are two arguments against 100% “Open Door” immigration. They are not good arguments, but neither, I thiiiink, are they racist.

None of the views expressed in the blog are related to the views of the company in question.


“It’s homophobic to oppose gay marriage!”

No, it isn’t. Again, many people who oppose gay marriage are homophobic, but the two are not identical.


Because it’s possible to oppose the entire concept of marriage, and argue that extending it to homosexuals only changes who is in the “In Group” and who isn’t.

I’ve written on this but it isn’t out yet, so we’ll have to rely on everyone else who’s written on it. Many of them are LGBT.

Here are some links.

Awww, who could oppose this?

We cool?

We cool.


All views expressed in this blog are solely my own and do not represent the views of any affiliation.

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2 thoughts on “Sympathy for Peter Hitchens (or Why ‘Homophobe’ and ‘Racist’ are unhelpful terms)

  1. Dear Mr Lynch-Staunton,

    The spelling of ‘Tunbridge Wells’ should never be confused with the nearby town of ‘Tonbridge’. The origin of the difference was to differentiate between Tonbridge town, and the fashionable drinking wells a few miles to the south. Good luck with the new job.

    Your sincerely,
    Delighted of Tunbridge Wells

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