A note on comparisons

I felt Tova O'Brien did a good story on Labour's racial profiling, in which I appeared briefly. Here it is if you haven't already seen it. 

There has been a comment or two suggesting I compared recent events to the genocide in Rwanda or Nazi Europe.  This demands clarification, since I did neither. In fact, Tova went out of her way to say "Mr Quin is careful not to draw comparisons, but says it was the seed of racial intolerance that led to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide" – but this is not enough for a couple of Standardistas who want to propagate the notion that I was making a direct comparison. 

This is the point I made to Tova – and which she admirably tried to convey in the context of a very truncated account of our interview:

There is a long and sordid history of demagogic politicians targeting certain ethnic and religious minorities by playing on the economic insecurities of the majority. This is most infamously the case with respect to European Jewry over millennia; and certainly the Tutsi in Rwanda. There are plenty of other examples, such as the persecution of South Asians by Idi Amin in Uganda, and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia.  This is a particular strain of prejudice that emerges time and again over history. It does not always manifest in explosive acts of violence such as genocide; more often, it simmers and reveals itself in more subtle but pernicious ways. 

The point I was making to Tova was not that Labour's racial profiling is remotely the same in degree as any of these historical cases – in fact, I stressed repeatedly that it is not. It is by no means the same in degree, but it is the same in kind.  Compiling lists of Chinese-sounding names to play on majority fears about housing affordability relies on the same political calculation. If asked, I am certain Tova will confirm this was the gist of what I was saying. 

As for why I raised the Tutsi genocide in my resignation letter, it is because I lived and worked in Rwanda for several years, and count many survivors as friends.  It may help explain why I have reacted so strongly to Labour's compilation of race lists since that was the modus operandi employed by Hutu Power. It is by no means to equate the events in severity. 

Of course, fair-minded people will understand all of this, whereas those who have no mode of engagement other than ad hominem attacks and by imagining the most nefarious imaginable motives, nothing I say will make an iota's difference.