As if the not-really-racist-but-nudge-and-wink-know-what-I-mean attacks on the Duchess of Sussex were not bad enough, we now have forthright and indeed crude bigotry to add to the output of our free and fearless press. Not only that, but we have the reappearance of monkey “jokes”. And that reappearance is down to someone who could, and should have known better. Worse, he most likely did know better, but went ahead anyway.
Giles Coren ...
Giles Coren tells us he is a restaurant critic. He is also blessed with an intellect so towering that mere mortals cower at the prospect of being crushed beneath it. His shafts of wit are the stuff of legend - well, in his own lunchtime, that is. He is also a columnist for the Murdoch Times, and in this role he informed his adoring followers yesterday “Meghan raises the drawbridge so Harry pretends it’s all about climate change”.
... and his target
Those not subscribing to the Times should, moreover, not be downhearted, as Coren had an alternative to offer them. “If you want to hear the kitchen chat this morning’s Prince Harry column came from (and I can’t imagine why you would), then it’s the rump of this week’s podcast. Warning: ‘bad’ language, disrespect of belief systems, talking over each other, marital rows”. For some reason, he missed the Times column’s racism.
Author Priyamvada Gopal did not miss it. “Lol. Funny not funny white guy who is also clever not clever and racist not racist [Giles Coren] repulsive but above all, fantastically lacking in wit” she concluded. This is the passage on which she was commenting.
“‘Two, maximum!’ Prince Harry promised in an interview with Dr Jane Goodall (the couple had hoped to see a family planning expert but a primatologist was all the cash-strapped NHS could muster) and the world sat up and raised an eyebrow”. So a Prince, and his wife Who Is Not White, would not see a “family planning expert”, but someone who studies monkeys. Intellectual? It’s not even in the Top Cat league.
Lecturer Meg Roughley was unimpressed. “That is utterly despicable. Does privilege now come with a 'play racism for free' voucher? Is this what Brexit has done for us?” Also, it was another act perpetrated under the editorship of John Witherow, who has overseen rather a lot of Muslim bashing recently. Like the “Muslim Fostering” fiasco.
Writer Anita Butler had a prediction. “Based on [Danny] Baker, I’m guessing it’ll play out something like: denial, double down, issue a non-apology saying that’s not what he meant, retweet white friends’ supportive tweets, issue a second non-apology, make it all about him. Because he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body”. Well, quite.
Pragya Agarwal, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, was thinking along the same lines as Ms Butler. “Did he actually say this? Why do I still get shocked? This is how it will go: ‘it was just a joke’, and then..ok ‘I shall put out a feeble apology (which wouldn't really be an apology) and trust that everything will be smiles and sunshine after that’”.
From Coren there has so far been silence. But he will have to say something, even if he attempts to cover his tracks by pretending he didn’t mean what he clearly did mean.
Attempts to normalise racism are worrying. Attempts to normalise racism coming from a supposedly quality paper are not just worrying - they are totally inexcusable.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at