I’d been wondering what, if anything, to say about the latest royal baby but lacked the enthusiasm to raise a typing finger.
The broadcaster Danny Baker was less reticent, rushing to Twitter to send out a deeply unfortunate ‘joke’ that drew parallels between the new arrival and a baby chimp. The barbed ins and outs of this aside don’t interest me so much as what follows. Let’s just say that trying to maintain this wasn’t racist, as Baker later did, just doesn’t add up. Equating a mixed-race royal with a chimp is a racist joke, end of, as they say (not that I usually do).
Two trains of thought follow from this. The first is that social media can be an instant executioner: a ‘joke’ is made, a furore follows, the guillotine falls, in this case Baker’s sacking today from his BBC Radio 5 show. All in the blink of a stupid tweet.
Those of us who have no interest in royal babies, or their parents, should probably keep quiet at such times. It was mildly diverting to hear that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were calling their son Archie. Spencer was touted as an early possibility, and for personal reasons that strikes me as a finer name; but Archie it is.
Royal arrivals are always tricky for those who couldn’t care less, as a birth is a happy occasion, and moaning on about privilege and so on seems ungracious. Best to sigh and stay shtum.
The next train of thought wonders if some racist ‘jokes’ and some racists are more acceptable than others. Whatever Danny Baker intended, he was sacked, while Lord Alan Sugar was left in place after an equally dubious tweet about black footballers.
And, as pointed out in the hall of moaning mirrors that is Twitter, the BBC sacks Baker in an instant but endlessly invites Nigel Farage onto the shout-fest that is Question Time (he’s back there again tonight). If Farage, with his vile posters about immigration and his appearances on right-wing US talk shows isn’t a racist, then I don’t know who is.
It’s long been my habit to defend the BBC against the disparaging chorus. That job becomes harder in the face of the BBC’s endless promotion of Farage. His undue prominence on the airwaves must surely at least in part explain how we ended up with this Brexit shitstorm. And mumbling that he’s good “opinion box office” isn’t good enough.
Anyway, here’s a closing thought. Baker is sacked, Sugar tolerated, Farage positively encouraged – and next month, Harry’s grandmother is going to have to put on a royal show for possibly the world’s most prominent racist, US president Donald Trump. And perhaps we should strike out that ‘possibly’.