On my twitter feed the chief political commentator of the Independent on Sunday, John Rentoul retweeted an article in the Sunday Telegraph religion section about the favourite to be the next Archbisop of Cantebury, Dr John Sentamu. It was retweeted by Mr Rentoul to highlight the use of language in the piece but I noticed something separate:
“At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility — in other words ‘not one of us,’” said the Rev Arun Arora.
“At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.”
The last paragraph won the Daniel Hannan award for mixed metaphor of the day. The use of ‘one of us’ in the first paragraph quoted is interesting as showing that what is meant by the use of the phrase are “outsiders” lacking “class, diplomacy or civility” that it has highlighted “the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface” Whereas the Reading Labour Party agent tries to justify the use of the term “one of us”, in terms of a white woman candidate ‘born and bred’ on the other side of the town, in drawing a distinction with a Pakistani born, local-living candidate:
“Labour voters in Church Ward are entitled to know that their candidate is not likely to abandon her party and that she understands the issues that matter to them. In other words, she is ‘one of us’,”
And the school-girlish Sarah “No Councillor” Hacker tries to justify the term thus:
“As for the statement ‘one of us’. Again, how is this racist? Who is defining ‘us’? Reading Labour are defining it as a resident, a family…”
Both of the defences mentioned above fail totally to address the racist aspect of the use of the term, the drawing of ‘the us’ against the other in the use in Church ward highlighted by the quote from the paper.