One of my oldest pocket-money purchases is a book published by the Natural History Museum in 1965 entitled 'Races of Man'. Yes, reader - I was a tedious junior, preferring museum bookshops to Marvel comics. "Man" it announces "is a polytypic species, that is one consisting of several sub-species or races". The book has been on the banned list for many years for printing that heresy; ever since then anthropology has ranked alongside paedophilia as amongst society's biggest no-nos. Today's squeaky-correct academics look back on their colleagues from the 1960s like a Guardianista may look back on the Aryan supremacists of the 1930s
It's almost as if the world's head zoologist had decreed that all voles were equal, and in future all reference to long-tailed, red-toothed, tree or water voles or God forbid red-backed voles was forbidden as Volist. Tonight on Channel 4 Trevor Philips, the UK's head Zoologist who for years effectively did just that, explains why he was wrong. It will be worth watching.
Of course in the 1960s there was real race discrimination in employment, housing and other fields; London Transport, for example, in a last-ditch attempt to recruit bus and tube drivers and conductors in accordance with their agreement with the TGWU produced recruitment posters that stated "We only employ Whites" shortly before they and the Union gave way to the inevitable and allowed Afro-Caribbeans to fill the thousands of vacancies. They won't tell you that story at Transport House.
Racial discrimination, like other 'taste' disciminations including sex and religion, is paradoxically most often found in organised labour and public bureaucracies than anywhere else. It is hard to understand that even up to the late 1970s Harland & Wolff, at the behest of its unions and with the full agreement of government, unions and socialist parties, banned all Catholics from employment as part of an effort to prevent any economic advancement amongst Northern Ireland's Catholics. Again in the late '70s A film processing labs used cheaper Asian women rather than the more expensive white men that traditionally had a monopoly on this employment; the result was the bitter Grunwick dispute, in which the TUC demanded the dismissal of, er, all the Asian women. They won't tell you that one either in Congress House.
Capitalism, you see, doesn't discriminate on taste grounds. Mom 'n Pop businesses aside. Capitalists will always employ the person that best serves the needs of the firm, whatever their personal characteristics - race, sex, colour, creed or nationality. The best cure for taste discrimination in employment is not to fetter firms in their hiring decisions. And all of that anti-discrimination legislation from the 1970s was needed mainly to reform the public sector - the Health service, schools, councils and civil service. In my own borough, for example, until the 1980s half of all the council's binmen had the same surname - and the other half were probably related by marriage, a job 'on the refuse' being a family affair. It suited the council - IR or Industrial Relations were excellent, the family rarely went on strike and discipline and efficiency were exercised through patriarchal family links. They won't tell you that one down at the Town Hall, either.
Now that we finally seem to be growing out of the race nonsense, isn't it time we did the same for the risible devotion to forced equality of outcome?