The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140761   Message #4065907
Posted By: Howard Jones
26-Jul-20 - 07:17 AM
Thread Name: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
"Van Dieman's land being the name given to what is now called Tasmania by white colonials who considered it uninhabited? Really? Nothing racist?"

That's a dangerous argument coming from someone who lives in a country also named by white colonialists. However there can be very few countries which are still known by the names their original settlers gave them - most have been occupied and re-occupied many times over. It's stretching the idea of racism to apply it to using the generally accepted name for a place. Then there's the added complication that places have different names in different languages. Is it racist to refer to "Egypt" instead of "Misr"? Is it racist to write that in the Latin alphabet rather than in Arabic script? Where does it stop?

It also seems to me to be excessively zealous to start excluding tunes simply because they were once performed by minstrels. Where they have racist titles then those should be changed, but many do not, and are not associated in modern minds with minstrelsy.

I cannot accept the modern idea that the slightest possibility of giving offence must be avoided, no matter how remote or irrational. Someone can be found to take offence at almost anything. If it is necessary to research the history of a tune in order to decide whether to be offended by it, if someone goes out of their way to find offence, then that should be acknowledged but not necessarily acted on.

I feel there is a danger here that we risk dancing on the head of a pin trying to find every possible taint of racism, rather than focus on dealing with real issues that actually affect people's lives.