The paths of racism are so well trodden. I’ve just come across a lecture given by Jacqueline Rose about the Dreyfuss affair in France back in the 1890s.
It is about injustice, the way that antisemitism is such a ready tool to hand for those who want obscure a wrong; it asks questions about what justice looks like.
It is about the Jewish experience but the issues it raises don’t rest there. For example I didn’t know that,
‘In November 1938, a law was passed allowing French nationality to be stripped from those [jews] already naturalised should they be deemed unworthy of the title of French citizen.’
This was immediately before the aggressive collaboration of so many in France with Nazi antisemitism – but in a week that has seen our own Home Secretary seek to strip a British Citizen of her rights and newspaper columnists claim she was a Columnist from the Telegraph claim that ‘she may have been born here but she was never British’ feels uncomfortably familiar.
It’s an important lecture that feels prescient and relevant – worth a read (or a listen – here’s the video)
‘The 1901 Census revealed a disturbing rise in the number of imbeciles and lunatics, perhaps because the question seemed to tempt householders to classify their dependants as one or the other’
From a review of Simon Heffer’s book, The Age of Decadence in the LRB 30 November 2017
Telling letter in a recent LRB from Sarah Walker, describing the proportion of women reviewers, writers and poets in the paper as well as the numbers of books reviewed. She’s counting them all and says that, in 2017 :
In the five issues of Volume 39 to date, men have made up 78 per cent of the reviewers and used 83 per cent of the total word count dedicated to reviews; 78 per cent of the authors reviewed have been male, with 73 per cent of the books reviewed being written by men. Reviews of books by women average 80 per cent of the length devoted to reviews of books by men. All of the Short Cuts and At the Movies features have been by men; 87 per cent of the letters published have been from men, using 88 per cent of the total word count for letters; 75 per cent of the poets are men and they have supplied 83 per cent of the poems published.
As she wonders, perhaps the preponderance arises because:
women are just that much less interesting, less significant, less likely to publish review-worthy books, less likely to submit work to you, less likely to write to your standards, less likely to write you letters, more terse overall in their expenditure of words. Possibly. But the ratios that appear – 78:22; 73:27; 70:30; 87:13; 67:33; 85:15; 83:17 and so on – are eerily familiar. Research suggests that people perceive men and women – whether in zombie movies, panel games, crowd scenes or business meetings – as equally represented when the male-to-female ratio they are looking at actually hovers around 83:17. They start to regard situations as unduly female-dominated when women approach 30 per cent of those present.
I like the LRB, but it does feel like a bit of a men’s club sometimes. Inexcusable these days.
You can read the whole letter here