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Peter Rhodes on keeping your distance, taking the knee - and the end of the road for BAME?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Grenfell Tower

Do not be corralled by the one-metre brigade. Just because politicians and businesses say one metre separation is safe, it doesn't mean you have to abandon two metres. Stand your ground and if you feel uneasy in a pub, restaurant or shop, get out.

The point about two metres is that it physically separates people. One metre, in effect, means touching. And the lesson of the past few shopping days is that while people behave themselves in the street or park, the moment there's a hint of competition or the whiff of a bargain, they will crush together like pigs at a trough.

In the Black Lives Matter debate, the BBC and the rest of the enlightened woke tendency use the inclusive term BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic). Companies seeking to make up for their past links with slavery are making grants to BAME charities. But is this a BAME issue? Not according to Kehinde Andrews, professor of black studies at Birmingham City University. Compiling a list of ways to fight racism, he advises us: “Drop the term BAME” and refers to “the distinctive features of anti-black racism that are so central to understanding what is happening today.”

Amen to that. BAME is a sort of shorthand for “anybody who isn't white,” lumping minorities together as though they have something in common when they have distinct and different cultures. The term is at best clumsy and at worst, offensive.

“Taking the knee” poses similar cultural problems. It began as a purely black American form of protest. How do most black people in Britain feel when they see white people performing it? How long before someone denounces it as “cultural appropriation,” on a par with white people wearing dreadlocks or singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot?

Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in Grenfell Tower three years ago, draws comparisons between the blaze and the coronavirus pandemic: “Being glued to the TV for any sort of news and not being able to know where to go or who to turn to.” There is another similarity. After the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the national mind-set was that anyone in uniform was a highly-trained hero and the villains were men in suits – just like it would be in a movie. Didn't quite turn out like that, did it?

Today's automatic assumption is that if anything goes wrong it must be the fault of the wicked, useless Government and if anything goes right it is thanks to our wonderful, brilliant NHS whose excellence we applauded on our doorsteps every Thursday. But how many of today's beliefs about the NHS will survive the merciless searchlight of a public inquiry?

According to a survey, 17 per cent of men in Leicester have had sex with a celebrity – the highest proportion in any British city. At last a British road song. They get their kicks up the A46.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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