Carol Thatcher’s “Golly Wog” hell

As I write, I have what used to be called a “Golly Wog” on my desk. I like it. Golly! Carol Thatcher has of course been a complete clot, but you can’t help feeling sorry for her.

We all know that it is nowadays unacceptable – a special version of impolite – for white people to use certain words, ever. “Wog” is one of them. “Darkie” and “Nigger” and “Paki” are others. Being on- or off-air doesn’t come into it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in front of white or black or any other sort of people. One simply knows that if you say these words, someone – anyone – may get very aerated about it. “Inappropriate” will get upgraded to “unacceptable” and you’re out on your ear. Leave out whether this is right nor wrong, it’s a fact.

The Army and “Paki”….

Two young British Army officers have confirmed to me – by the way – that they wouldn’t allow the use of “Paki”, whether used affectionately or not, anywhere near them. “It’s just plain racist”, they said. However, one of them said that an Asian in his unit was known as “Sootie” by all and sundry and the usage was taken as completely normal and friendly by all concerned.

Back to the Golly issue….

By the way, my attractive soft toy toward which I feel mild affection is now marketed as a “Golly”. So that gets us all off the hook, though you may say the image is patronising. I discuss that sort of issue in The Black History Museum’s debate section. (I have elsewhere noted that modern self-imaging by black people is rather nastier than the kind of stereotyping perpetrated by whites.)

There is a great deal of difference between saying someone looks like a “Golly” (or anything else) and actually is one. As in (to a hairy bearded white man in a long white robe): “You look like Jesus” as opposed to: “You are Jesus”. So poor Carol may have thought she was merely recording a fact as to similarity rather than an actual ascription.

Besides, she may be a bit of a motor-mouth, drawn to politically incorrect utterance as a moth to a flame. Lord, how I know the feeling.

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Publication date

04 February 2009