My attention was recently drawn to this:
Penguin Random House UK … wants to find, mentor, and hopefully publish new writers from communities that are under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves – including writers from BAME and LGBTQ communities, and economically marginalised writers.
BAME means Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic. So what we have here is a major publisher seeking literary works from ethnic and sexual minorities, and nobody else.
It seems to me that BAME and LGBTQ have become more or less Officially Designated Permanently Oppressed Minorities (ODPOMs). They’re the only such minorities that ever get a hearing. Their representatives frequently appear in news or current affairs programmes. They’re what everybody thinks of when they hear of those sorts of oppressed minorities with whom people instinctively sympathise.
And, regardless of any legislation or positive discrimination, they always seem to be permanently oppressed. Life never gets any better for any of them, ever.
I’m beginning to think that these ODPOMs serve several purposes. Firstly, they monopolise the Oppressed Minority slot, and get all the sympathy and attention and, most likely, money. Secondly they serve to draw attention away from any other equally or more deserving Oppressed Minorities. In fact, they allow the creation of entire invisible new classes of Oppressed Minority.
Very arguably, smokers are one of these invisible new Oppressed Minorities. Smokers are excluded from public spaces, demonised, discriminated against, and subjected to punitive levels of taxation. And there are millions and millions of them. But they never get any sympathy or attention in the mass media. They are completely invisible.
And one reason why they are invisible is because there are far more highly visible ODPOMs which are hogging the limelight, and getting all the attention and sympathy and funding.
In the USA the recent appearance and sudden prominence of Black Lives Matter is an example of the BAME ODPOM reasserting itself. The full title is probably Black Lives Matter More Than Anybody Else’s And Don’t You Ever Forget It. And its prominence necessarily deflects attention away from all other oppressed minorities. So completely, in fact, that it allows other oppressed minorities to persecuted even more harshly without anybody noticing.
It seems to me that if you want to persecute any social group – smokers, drinkers, fat people, Christians, whoever -, you must first create several other Oppressed Minorities whose oppression – and only whose oppression – is to be deemed newsworthy. It doesn’t really matter who they are. They can be Amazonian tribes, Canadian Innuits, polar bears, whales, or seals. It doesn’t really matter if they’re actually being oppressed or persecuted either. But once they have become Officially Designated Oppressed Minorities they can, after a few years, then become established as Officially Designated Permanently Oppressed Minorities – ODPOMs. The attention and sympathy and money that is then lavished upon them served to salve people’s consciences and allow them to claim that they’re Doing Something For Minorities. And the more attention that is lavished on these ODPOMs, the more vicious persecution that can be visited upon other invisible minorities in the shadows outside the limelight in which the ODPOMs bask. And because they are Permanently Oppressed Minorities, they never go away. They become fixtures in the political landscape, permanent representatives of minorities in general.
For the BAME and LGBTQ oppressed minorities have been around for donkey’s years. Most of them – including the seals and whales – first appeared in the 1960s. They’ve been around for well over 50 years. That’s 50 years in which, somehow or other, their grievances have never been effectively addressed. They never stop complaining.
In reality, the oppression of minorities is probably usually a fairly transient matter. Once the unjust oppression is recognised, something is usually done about it fairly rapidly. And then other cases of oppression or persecution can be addressed – much like a doctor’s surgery in which various sick and injured people are treated in their turn. Only in this case, it’s as if the first patients the doctor sees demand his entire attention thereafter: they never go away, and nobody else in the waiting room ever gets treated.
These days, when Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism are facing rising popular anger, but overt government sponsorship, I’m wondering whether Muslims and Islamic Fundamentalists are about to become the latest Officially Designated Oppressed Minority. Since Christianity has been more or less at war with Islam since its inception 1,400 years ago, it could very rapidly become an Officially Designated Permanently Oppressed Minority. And there will be campaigns to Support Your Local Suicide Bomber, or Knit Your Own Suicide Bomb Vest, or maybe Suicide Bombers Lives Matter.
And no doubt Penguin Random House UK will then be looking for under-represented writers in the IFTSB (Islamic, Fundamentalist, Terrorist, or Suicide Bomber) communities to mentor and publish.