Guest post: No malice was necessary but it set the stage

Originally a comment by Maureen Brian on Orwellian but unofficial.

Sociopolitical sensitivities are data! QFT!

And just as I was doing this another South Yorkshire story popped up, this one about the strange habit of the cops in treating information differently depending upon whether or not they can make it conform to their pre-conceptions.

It is interesting to observe all this “it must be racism” or “it must be because it’s the Labour Party” or “it’s not fair to pick on Rotherham” or “how were we supposed to know?” nonsense.

I have no academic study to quote figures from, so don’t ask, and what I say is based upon living in either West Yorkshire or inner city London for almost all of the time since the autumn of 1960. It is based on observation, close and direct observation.

Let us take two recently arrived populations – those from Pakistan and Kashmir compared with those from the former British colonies of the Caribbean. In both cases the men arrived first and did a certain amount of classic male bonding for reassurance and protection. After a time women and children of both communities began to arrive. And there the similarity ends.

The Afro-Caribbean population continued the ways of a post-slave society where the mother and grandmother provided the strong, stable centre – protecting property, making decisions, the natural point of reference for community and getting together to organise – while the men went off and found work and other women as and when the chance was there.

The Pakistanis came from a tribal form of social organisation – male dominated, hierarchical, sometimes punitive. Even those of Pakistani descent who came via a couple of generations in Africa and were far more liberal could relate to this way of being organised. Any community outreach directed to this community would be met with “leaders” chosen traditionally and not a woman in sight!

So what has this got to do with Rotherham? Well, the police in places like Lambeth in the ’60s and ’70s kept wanting to talk to the men about “important things” and were unwilling to be told that those men were long gone or worse than useless – more colourfully expressed than that, though – so they should talk to the women who were both present and competent. Some found this difficult.

But where the largest incoming group was from, say, the Mirpur District of Kashmir from which a high proportion of UK Pakistanis come then they found a male dominated, pyramid-shaped, authoritarian set-up to which they could relate because in those days the police were just like that, too. No malice was necessary but it set the stage for later difficulty in dealing with the problems of women and children.

None of this detracts from the ability of the beat copper to give the youth of either community a hard time, though we do tend not to shoot them.


  1. Brony says

    Data indeed.

    Not just for understanding why some people lower in the social “pecking order” are sensitive to particular things, but for understanding how authorities (which tend to be higher in the “pecking order”) are making decisions.

    Lack of understanding of how emotions do what they do disarms one in so many ways on the individual and social levels. An irony is this lack of emotional understanding in people like Dawkins results in self-awareness precision problems as well. That can be taken advantage of by people more experienced in how emotion is functionally used in sociopolitical interactions at individual and social levels. Empathy is the best frame. But outmaneuvering others in “primate chess” can also be useful.

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