I was watching this documentary on YouTube about Gerhard Richter and below, in the comments section someone had made a series of anti-Semitic comments about “a Jew smearing paint”. Hateful comments. Still, I had read them and now they were in my head. As I watched the documentary I could hear the words echoing in my head, tagged on to everything else that was going on.
It made me think back to when I was a child and hearing some other child say that he would think things about black people which he knew where wrong but he said the words in his head anyway. He did not believe them, he was just remembering them when prompted. So the same thing was happening to me as I watched this documentary and I wondered to myself, what are you actually supposed to do about this? Keep watching the documentary, maybe have a word with the dogs. Have a cup of coffee. Write a blog and put a ring around the thoughts so you know where they are, keep an eye on them.
Something as obvious as this, something as palpably wrong as this is an easy enough task, it has had more of an impact on my mood than anything else. However, given the incremental shades of bigotry, what bits sneak in without being noticed? A whole sump of bigotry that sloshes around all day, leaking out here and there and you don’t know about it most of the time.
When something like “a Jew smearing paint” has nothing to hang on, it falls out quickly enough, the trace it leaves is questioning; what is it like to have this anti-Semitic reflex? Change it to “a Tory smearing paint” and it will stick to me and potentially obscure something worth noticing. I know what is to have the anti-Tory reflex and there’s a good part of me that doesn’t like it. Hard not have one when so much about it seems to be true, although nothing as obtuse and lacking in subtlety as a bigoted reflexive response can ever really be true, not in my book anyway.
46 minutes in and the thought is gone and the paintings are being painted. He has a nice voice; it would be good if I could understand German but I can’t. But I. Kant. Ha ha ha.