Link: Cambridge don in race row over 'Jamaicans next door'
A leading Cambridge academic is at the centre of a race row after reportedly saying he could not bear to live next door to Jamaicans who 'play reggae music all day'.
George Steiner, 79, who is also a novelist, said he believed racism was inherent in everyone and that tolerance was merely skin deep. He went on to imply that if a Jamaican family moved in next door he would not be surprised if the value of his house 'fell through the floor'.
Mr Steiner, whose Jewish family fled to America from Paris before the Nazi invasion of 1940, said: 'It's very easy to sit here, in this room, and say "racism is horrible". 'But ask me the same thing if a Jamaican family moved next door with six children and they play reggae and rock music all day.
'Or if an estate agent comes to my house and tells me that because a Jamaican family has moved next door the value of my property has fallen through the floor. Ask me then!' Mr Steiner, who has been an Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge since 1969, added: 'In all of us, in our children, and to maintain our comfort, our survival, if you scratch beneath the surface, many dark areas appear. Don't forget it.'
His outburst, published in Spanish newspaper El Pais, brought angry reactions from pressure groups and leading academics alike. 'Steiner appears to have made some rather lazy and offensive generalisations about entire groups of people such as Jamaicans,' said Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain. 'You would think he - of all people given his background - would know better by now.'
Bonnie Greer, an American-born intellectual and playwright, said: 'He is wrong. People are aware of differences in other people, but being racist is being someone who sets out to harm someone based on the colour of their skin.
'George Steiner can talk about his own feelings and talk about what is specific to himself, but to talk of a Jamaican family like that, this is Britain in 2008, what is he talking about? It describes him and he may be racist, but he can't put that label on everyone else. 'He is a cranky old man and he should sit down and have a cup of tea. It's quite clear that he doesn't know what racism is.' (Had he been a non jew he would nevertheless be under investigation and probably locked up right now. He would most certainly have been kicked out of his post.)
Dr Robert Berkeley, deputy director of equality campaign body The Runnymede Trust, said: 'I am not sure that racism is a natural trait - I think it's a social construct. I think it's good to recognise your own racism - and everyone has their prejudices - so that you can deal with it. Racism is something we struggle to talk about enough, and I am always happy for there to be a debate, provided no one is victimised as a result. But I don't agree with his view.'
In recent years Cambridge University has worked hard to shed its white, middle-class image and take on more multicultural staff and students.
What planet do all these shit brain liberals live on?