Trevor Noah’s Analysis Of Racial “Backlash” Against Sunak is Criticized As Being “Far From Reality”
One phone call to a UK radio station set off the controversy, which was fueled by a well-known American comic Trevor Noah, and culminated with former cabinet ministers and Downing Street joining the fray.
A claim that Rishi Sunak had faced a racist “backlash” after becoming the UK’s first British-Asian prime minister was at the center of the controversy.
Many people view the way something that happened across the Atlantic caused such a stir in Westminster as an illustration of the perils of drawing clear cultural and political comparisons between two very different countries, as well as the influence of Twitter.
According to Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a thinktank concentrating on identity and integration, immigration, and opportunity told the Guardian that, “there hasn’t been any racist pushback against Sunak from anybody with any public standing in Britain.”
“This shows more solid anti-prejudice norms in our media and politics than in the US.”
He was responding to a piece on the Daily Show in the US when Trevor Noah claimed that British people were afraid that “Indians are going to take over Great Britain.”
A caller to LBC radio who claimed Sunak was “not even British” and “doesn’t love England like Boris does” served as the impetus for his tirade.
The caller, who identified himself as a Tory party supporter, said: “Could you imagine me becoming the prime minister of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? No. These things matter. We’re talking about England – 85% of English people are white.”
Trevor Noah responded, quoting “Watching the story of Rishi Sunak becoming England’s first prime minister of colour, of Indian descent, of all these things and then seeing the backlash, is one of the more telling things about how people view the role that they or their people have played in history,”
“You hear a lot of the people saying ‘Oh, they’re taking over, now the Indians are going to take over Great Britain and what’s next?’ And I always find myself going: ‘So what? What are you afraid of?’”
The comedian was accused of “projecting” American views on race onto Britain when he compared the caller to Tucker Carlson, the right-wing Fox News host.
The first non-white chancellor and home secretary of Britain, former cabinet minister Sajid Javid, said Trevor Noah was “simply wrong” and that his monologue was “a narrative catered to his audience, at a cost of being entirely disconnected from reality.”
The most successful multiracial democracy on Earth, insisted Javid, was found in Britain, which was “proud of its historic achievement.”
When asked if Sunak thinks that Britain is a racist nation, a Downing Street representative responded, “No, he doesn’t.”
Rory Stewart, a former candidate for the Tory leadership, referred to Noah’s remarks as “completely bizarre” and “lazy stereotyping.”
The depth of feeling, according to Katwala, can be boiled down to a single conviction: that while there is a “toxic rejectionist fringe with an excessive proportion of online voice” that may be more likely to call radio shows, prejudice should not be taken to be indicative of what Britons think.
“It’s important to understand the differences between the US and the UK,” he said.
“It’s an important problem for America, that in the Trump era people like Steve Bannon managed to dissolve the boundary between extreme politics and the Republican mainstream.
“You have Republican candidates having to be ambivalent about racism or prejudice, violent protests, false conspiracy claims.”
Even those like Nigel Farage in the UK, he claimed, are still “conscious of where that borderline is.”
The historian and author Tom Holland added that the “inability of American liberals to understand the world beyond the US in anything but American terms is a thing of wonder. The likelihood of the rightwing party in the US choosing a Hindu as its leader is, I would agree, effectively zero.”
But a lot of people agreed with Trevor Noah. A British-Nigerian activist and author named Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu claimed the presentation was “spot on.”
“There was and is backlash at Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Britain’s first Asian prime minister,” she wrote. “Don’t mind the liars denying it with their gaslighting. It’s what some Brits do best. They are so bold with their Caucacity. Keep speaking truth.”
Though Sunak’s selection as prime minister was a significant development for the UK, it also marked a chasm between those who welcomed the rise of a Hindu politician and those who emphasized that his ideas would only result in “more violence” for racial and ethnic minorities. Although racism may not always be overt in the UK, there are many instances of a more subtle kind of discrimination, according to critics.
Although it’s not insignificant, Maya Goodfellow, author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats, told the Guardian that basing success solely on these metrics is quite limited.
“It ignores racial disparities in Covid deaths, higher rates of poverty among certain racial groups or the Windrush scandal, which was just four years ago.
“The fixation on trickle-down equality obscures a thoroughgoing discussion about the way racism and, crucially, racial inequalities, change shape but continue to run deep in Britain.”