Saturday, September 21, 2019


Writing on The Spectator's blog this week, Brendan O'Neill suggested we should forgive Justin Trudeau for his costume choices nearly two decades ago, whilst noting that "If you live by the sword of wokeness, you might die by it too."

Back in the 90s we both worked alongside an organisation in London that held an annual Christmas fancy dress party. I'm sure that whoever is the guardian of the photo library these days could make any number of fairly distinguished people get down on their knees and grovel.

I remember one Egyptian-themed evening (who would even DARE such a thing today?) in which there were pharaohs a-plenty yet one participant rather more memorably showed up with a tea-towel on his head, shoe polish on his face and sporting a plastic AK-47.

Luby went as Cleopatra; of course. It makes you wonder if there is a specific shade of whiteness one has to have been born with whereby certain creative uses of makeup are likely to be considered the equivalent of a thought crime. (There's definitely a whiteness tipping point beyond which people should be discouraged from dancing to reggaeton.)

Retribution came rather more swiftly for several of the beautifully be-robed viziers that night in Battersea Park who, upon exiting the yellow, pyramid-like tent around 4am, were immediately set upon by the sort of social justice warriors then referred to as yobbos.

In the specific case of Trudeau, I perhaps have a bigger issue with the clip of him going full Black Pitaya as a Jamaican singer than the dusky turbaned personage that the media has fixated on.

It must be kind of hard to hold an Aladdin-themed bash without unwittingly exploring cultural stereotypes. The characters originated in an authentically middle-eastern narrative, but generations of westerners have been repeatedly exposed to treatments bearing all the hallmarks of what Edward Said characterised as Orientalism.

Here in La Antigua last weekend ladino kids in folkloric get-up paraded with placards demanding an end to ethnic discrimination. How long before the cultural appropriation cops are taking names? 

Wokeness, like evangelical protestantism, is a banana skin waiting to be stepped on. 

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