In the late 1980s and 1990s western European scholars such as Martin Barker, Étienne Balibar and Pierre-André Taguieff came to the conclusion that biological racism is on its way out. In its place, they argued, is a new form of xenophobia that stokes hostility on a cultural basis and underpinned movements such as the French Nouvelle Droite and, to an extent, Brexit.
At its heart lies the notion that the dominant culture is under threat. As sociologist Uri Ben-Eliezer wrote in 2004, it is the belief that the ‘other culture’ is a threat that might contaminant the dominant culture and its internal coherence.
“Such a view is clearly based on the assumption that certain groups are the genuine carriers of the national culture and the exclusive heirs of their history while others are potential slayers of its ‘purity'”, he explained. It has since underpinned movements such as the National Front in France and the EDL in Britain, although it is far more widespread than we might care to admit.
Cultural racism reared its ugly head once more in Britain this week after the Proms was engulfed in a row over the patriotic songs typically used to close the Last Night out.
Spurious claims in The Sunday Telegraph claiming a “BBC source” had let on that Rule, Britannia! could be axed in the wake of the Black Live Matter movement caused outrage among the right wing press, MPs and several social media loudmouths.
A “backdown” is plastered across front pages this morning – even though it was a non-story from the start.
Both the Express and the Telegraph took pointed, nationalistic views of the matter. But the Daily Mail took the biscuit, with this sensationalised race-baiting front cover:
It demonstrates the extent to which cultural racism has infiltrated the mainstream in Britain. Against this backdrop it is hardly surprising that we have a hard right government in charge pushing a hard right-engineered split from the European Union.
Just remember what they have been telling you for the past ten years. That British laws are under threat. That our borders are under threat. That our democracy is under threat.
Little wonder the EU found it necessary to set up a resource disproving all the myths that had been aimed at them.
The British press have been driving cultural racism for years – the latest spat is just the tip of the iceberg.