Posted by: John Brace | 3rd February 2020

What is a lesson that can be learnt about the coronavirus episode?

What is a lesson that can be learnt about the coronavirus episode?

                                   

University of Liverpool ID card John Brace 2018 (which is not the year this story happened)

University of Liverpool ID card John Brace 2018 (which is not the year this story happened)

人生就是戏 演不完的戏
有的时候悲 有的时候喜
演戏的人儿最呀最希奇
最呀最希奇

陪着淌眼泪 陪着笑嘻嘻
随着剧中人 忽悲又忽喜
完全忘却他呀他自己
他呀他自己

要是你比一比 谁演得最卖力
只怕那演员反而不如你
看戏的人儿个个是戏迷
恰恰恰 哎呀呀

人生就是戏 看不完的戏
有的时候爱 有的时候气
看戏的人儿个个是戏迷
个个是戏迷

However back to English, after Arrowe Park Hospital and surrounding buildings found itself subject to a lot of media scrutiny, it is time to write a follow up piece to the piece I published on Friday.

I’m sure at some future point the coronavirus issue will probably be used as a teaching point regarding both public relations and journalism but for now I am going to briefly relate a story from my past to try and make a point about deescalating matters.

Many, many years ago (but to me this is like yesterday) there was a big social event in the evening at the student union and all the student societies were asked if they wanted stalls. I was on one collecting signatures on petitions (I seem to remember the popular one was about scrapping tuition fees – the other about scrapping ID cards). Nearby was the stall for the student group for Amnesty International. The previous week (without trouble) that student group had been running a campaign regarding human rights in China which involved a display going into the details.

From memory Rosa Kurowska-Kyffin (who was my opposite number in that student group) had decided to take a break so wasn’t there manning that stall at the point this story begins.

The evening had been peaceful and everyone was having a good time and enjoying themselves. Nobody really expected anything to happen.

Someone came over to the stall I’ve just been referring to and was cross – to be honest I didn’t realise at the time what was going to happen. This was partly as things were happening in my peripheral vision but also it was in a very busy environment and my hearing ain’t too great at the best of times.

However the argument got very loud and very heated in a short space of time – the mutual friend (who was nearest to me) was trying to explain the campaign was regarding the human rights situation in China and not in any way against the Chinese people. The older man felt she was not respecting him or indeed listening to him (looking back partly a cultural faux pax) and accused her of racism.

It escalated pretty quickly – with the man yanking the display the campaign was on down which frightened her (she ended up in tears).

There was then that moment when suddenly everyone in the immediate vicinity turns round to see what is going on, is now aware of what’s happening and thanks to a lot of people in the room showing maturity, matters were deescalated by a fair amount of tactful intervention by multiple people (although you also get at these times a fair amount of people just gawping from a distance).

So, back to last Friday’s piece about the coronavirus.

This blog is not the place for a long piece on racism (perceived or otherwise) – or indeed that people should understand other cultures better – but it is a personal plea from me.

Do not allow matters to escalate!

I realise this whole leaving the EU is a difficult time for the UK and that people are scared and confused.

In my entire childhood here in the UK there was essentially a civil war going on over Northern Ireland – believe me that peace was very hard won.

I know it can be easy to lose your temper when you are angry, tired and/or upset. I know some are looking for someone to blame. I know some sadly now see racism as normal, acceptable behaviour – but I plead with you – don’t let things get worse than than they already are!

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Responses

  1. There is a great deal of intolerance in this country that led, in the main, to the decision to leave the EU.

    Some of what I read on social media (Nextdoor) and in the Globe dismays me. Our Society is riven with intolerance of race and creed. It is not the Society in which I grew up. There has always been racial intolerance (those of us old enough will remember the signs in B&B windows “No b’s. No Irish. No dogs”) but what I have been hearing and reading since the referendum sickens me.

    • Thanks for your comments.

      The signs in B&Bs were part of what I studied at university. But the way it was portrayed then was just as a matter of historical record – a kind of this is how it used to be, but aren’t now. Things have progressed – let’s all be glad they have etc. That we don’t make derogatory jokes or fan the flames.

      Perhaps somewhat naively at the time I felt it was mainly a somewhat strange time the country had gone through mainly before I was born – and the various Race Relations Acts by outlawing it changed the Overton Window in that regard.

      I never imagined (then) that the Overtown Window would move so far back, or that having been born here I would see racist violence or see racism directed towards myself.

      It’s troubling…

      • Very troubling!

        • Thanks for your comment.

          I note that racism towards those who are either Chinese or East Asian was condemned in the House of Commons today in the ministerial statement and answers about the Wuhan novel 2019 coronavirus.


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