My new favourite game to play is to call Morrissey a racist and watch the responses. I'll often tweet this just to see the variety in responses that seek to downplay his racism (aka the ‘he’s just old school/ignorant/bigmouth’ etc etc). I used to let this go, but after doing more research and seeing just how many racist statements he’s made over the last 30 years, I can’t hold back anymore. These days, I make the statement and wait for a response while doing the Birdman hand rub:
There's reason I do this. There’s a reaction white people have to racism, which immediately seeks to downplay it regardless of what is said. Every time I bring up Moz’s racism, the same sequence happens:
I’ll get the ‘He’s not a racist’ statement. I’ll ask them to explain why his racist statements aren’t racist. Without fail, they’ll try to ignore what he’s actually said, tip-toeing around it with ‘I know he’s said some ignorant things.’ The common theme is that they try every word in the book to not call what Moz said racist. I counter by saying the ignorant things he said are racist. They’ll say ‘he’s a bigmouth who says a lot’ all the time carefully removing the word racist from their statement. When I specifically bring up the Chinese sub-species statement, they’ll respond that he was talking about animal rights, as if talking about animal rights means it’s ok to be racist. I’ll bring up his sympathising with the National Front and they’ll still try to dance around the word racist.
Then they’ll say, ‘well if he’s racist how come he likes one thing done by a black person?’ (Morrissey’s love of Motown is usually brought up here). I’ll say that’s not how racism works. It’s not a zero sum game despite what white people think. You can love The Supremes and still hate black people. There’s Klan members who love a bit of Marvin Gaye. The continuing thread from phase one to two is a continual moving of the goalposts while never engaging with Morrissey’s statements.
And then they get to the kicker of their argument - that Morrissey just isn’t a ‘to the bone/inherent/full’ racist. This is the point I’ve been waiting for them to get to because white people have been mistakenly taught that racism is just something bad people do and, therefore, no one can be a good person and also a racist. I then point out that there’s no such thing as a to-the-bone racist, that 30 years of racist statements can be called a pattern, rather than random disconnected comments and leave the building like:
But what is most annoying about this is white people’s sheer reluctance to call racism racism. People are very eager to call out racism when it involves someone going full Chelsea FC fan and chanting ‘we’re racists’. But insidious racism, the kind that affects lives, is ignored because it’s not by ‘to the bone’ racists. Doing the Morrissey research was tiring because it was like ‘hold on, he’s said this much and you’re still giving him the benefit of the doubt?’ He gets the crazy grandpa treatment when he’s actually clearly been a racist pretty much for the entirety of his career?
I mean, I get it. You don’t want to call him out because you think it reflects on you. I know a Morrissey super-fan who’s night I kinda ruined by pointing out that he was a racist. I mean, she does have a tattoo of him after all. But even she said she had avoided digging deep into that side of him to avoid hurting her fandom. And ignoring racism and downgrading it to curmudgeon-ness because it doesn't directly affect you is just drenched in white privilege.
So calling Morrissey a racist is a way for me to say, as someone who has bit their tongue many a time, Fuck Your Comfort. I’ve censored myself to appease white fragility one too many times and, frankly, I’m tired of that shit. Morrissey is a racist and you’ll have just to sort out your feelings about that elsewhere.