„For you, everything’s black and white,“ someone said to me recently. „That’s why you’re so stupid. That’s why you’re so dumb, so annoying. That’s why nobody listens to you when you waffle on about stuff. Because for you, there’s no grey zones.“
I’m not sure if I think he’s right. I have grey zones, I just don’t talk about them that much. Because what would be the point? I’d have to write a whole blog going: „I am not sure what I think about this issue.“ What’s the point of that? The people who know what they think don’t need to know that I don’t know and the other people who don’t know what they think, well, they still won’t know what to think after they find out that I don’t know what I think. So it would be, like, a total waste of either ink or internet space.
I’m a bit grey-zoned out about Israel and Palestine. I mean, I just do feel sorry for the Palestinians and I watch all the Vice videos and I can’t help it, I am totally on the Palestinians‘ side. But I have a German-Jewish friend who once told me he thought I watched a lot more documentaries about Palestine than any other country in the middle east and possibly any other country except for Britain, America and Germany. And you know what? He’s fucking right. And he was all like: you have to ask yourself why. And I just think he has a point. I still feel sorry for the Palestinians but I do think he has a point. I think he has a bit of a point. He has a point.
The trans toilet thing. Like, it’s not as if I don’t think trans men should go in the mens‘ and trans women should go to the ladies‘. I totally think that. I mean, if trans men go in the ladies‘ people would complain too, wouldn’t they? There’d be like: fucking hell, there’s a bloke in the ladies! But I do secretly feel a bit sorry for all the conservative Christian types – and the radfem types, too – who think the trans women might be perverted cis-men just trying to invade women’s spaces. I can’t sneer at that fear like others do. And I literally think the best way to solve this problem is just to have unisex toilets with doors that are really solid and go all the way down to the door so you know. You can have a bit of privacy. I also don’t want any sexy boys hearing me shit, you know? I think wanting to solve the great trans toilet debate with unisex toilets is about as grey zoney as you can get.
And then Ukraine. Seriously, Ukraine. I had such a major Ukraine-based grey zone nightmare because I had one Ukrainian friend who was pro-Putin and she just thought the CIA had organized everything and one Ukrainian friend who just thought Putin was a total dictator and had invaded Ukraine and would like to take it over again, ideally, and depending on which one of them I was talking to at that precise moment in time, that was my official opinion, and if I wasn’t gerade talking to either of them I didn’t have and I want to use the exact expression here A FUCKING CLUE WHATSOEVER.
But: there are things that aren’t grey zones for me. Rape, for example. I think sex which someone doesn’t consent to is always rape. Racism. I think all human beings are human and therefore I think racism is wrong. (I am not saying I never think racist things. I think racist things all the fucking time. I went home at Christmas and we took our mum to the pictures in Romford and literally everyone except for my mum and my sister and my son was black or Asian and then I went to the loos and saw these white girls there and then they started talking Polish to each other and I literally thought „If I was a racist person, I’d like having Poles in Britain, they make the country a little bit more white, don’t they.“) I just think racism is wrong, that’s all. And sexism, too. And again, I think sexism is wrong but I also think sexist things all the fucking time. I just try to be honest with myself when I catch myself thinking racist and sexist things, that’s all. And I try to be honest with myself about the fact that I am capable of being really quite homophobic – or at least heterocentric – transphobic and also ableist. And I try to improve a bit, too, sometimes. I’m not sitting there at night, reading up on discrimination and stuff, though. I just try to be honest with myself and fair to others. I try.
I guess it is a bit dumb. Racism is always bad, because everyone is human. Sexism is always bad, because women are human beings too. Human beings are all human. We should try to build a society where they can be equal. These statements are a bit dumb, aren’t they? You have to be a bit dumb to think something like that is worth saying, or to not care about seeming kitschig or sentimental. I guess they’re simplistic, dumb statements, that a clever person wouldn’t bother saying. But I do think them. And I do think them always. I always think them. I never stop, not even for a second, not really.
This is what I don’t understand about the grey zone people. When they say that one thing that a group of people say is making them not care about another thing that is happening. Possibly something that’s happening to the same group of people, sometimes to a similar group of people, sometimes to a totally disparate group of people.
These are the kinds of things people say:
„Actually, I am really against racism, but I heard an intellectual critical whiteness-type black person complaining about white people wearing their hair in dreadlocks the other day, so, you know, I’ve decided that I don’t care about racism that much after all. That’s what happens when you go on about white people in dreadlocks, other people, who should be on your side, stop listening.“
„Everyone is against rape, really, but the more women complain about innocuous flirting in the U-Bahn, the less people want to listen to women going on about how awful rape is. That’s just how people are.“
„I read a stupid article on a feminist gossip website recently discussing how Melania Trump’s body language reveals she’s definitely being abused by Donald Trump. God, it was an annoying article. This is why soon I’ll no longer take any criticism people make of the really bad stuff Trump does – his destruction of abortion rights, for example – seriously.“
And this is what I don’t understand: there are stupid people who say things you’ll disagree with everywhere. How can you let them change your actual inner morals? Like the inner core of your being? Racism is wrong – it’s not just wrong, it’s evil. We all know that, even racists know that. That’s why half of them prefer to describe their racism with the PC term „legitimate concerns about immigration.“ It’s obvious that to hate someone because of the colour of their skin is wrong – how can you let someone else change your mind on this? No matter what people say, no matter how stupid?
Abortion was legalized, not because people thought it was a fun way to end pregnancy, but because women were killing themselves, either through suicide or through illegal abortions. We legalized abortion to save women’s lives. Nobody likes the idea, most people cry once the procedure’s over. I don’t see how someone saying something you think is stupid could make you forget that you don’t want women to die.
I think people think the grey zone is, like, the cool area. It’s like the chillout zone. But I don’t think it’s „uncool“ to remember that you think black people are human or that Muslims are human or that you don’t want women to have to start killing themselves again. To remember that every day. Even in a world where there’s people saying things you disagree with every day. Every day. Because there will be, for as long as our world remains free. People will say stupid things you disagree with every day.
The other interesting thing is: it only ever happens in a certain direction. I don’t even want to use words like left or right, because they’re just totally irrelevant now. But there is only a certain direction in which this not caring anymore about certain issues happens. Look. There are loads of Christians who think masturbation is a sin, right? They think boys should save their sperm up or some weird stuff. Nobody ever says – NOBODY HAD EVER SAID: „I am dead against murder but you know what? Lots of Christians, who are also against murder, keep on going on about masturbation. So I now no longer care if people get murdered.“ WHY NOT? I literally don’t know why not, am not trying to be cute here. What’s the difference? Or Richard Dawkins. He thinks some crazy mad shit about rape and Muslims. Nobody ever says: „I have decided to stop believing in evolution because Richard Dawkins says some crazy shit about rape Muslims.“ WHY NOT? Racism and sexism are as objectively bad in the same way as evolution is objectively true, isn’t it? Or am I being dumb?
I think the concept of all people being human shouldn’t be a grey zone, to be honest. And maybe that makes me dumb. But maybe we should all be a bit dumber, a bit braver, a bit more honest. There are people out there who think some very silly things. That’s because people are silly. There are undoubtedly some silly people who take critical whiteness and the Israeli boycott too far. (My critical whiteness friends are all dead clever like they ate a dictionary for breakfast but people keep on telling me how stupid critical whiteness people are.) But there are also some very, very, stupid people who believe in white supremacy and say things about exterminating the Palestinians like they’re cockroaches or blatantly use solidarity with Israel as an excuse for shitting on Arabs. And there are also, let’s not forget, stupid people who „don’t see colour“ and don’t even know what the difference between Palestine and Israel is. Other people are annoying, they have annoying ideas. Sometimes they’re annoying because they’re right, and sometimes they’re annoying because they’re wrong. But don’t let other people change what you know to be fundamentally important and palpably true.
Let’s be a bit dumb. Like animals are. Let’s not worry about the grey zones so much. There are enough grey zones out there, we don’t need to search for them. We can cry when our friends are in danger, we can be uncool. We can weep, we can hug each other. We can admit we’re scared and be as brave as we can possibly be. Let’s not be scared of seeming dumb. I think all human beings are human, and I think I’ll think that until I die. I might be wrong, but I hope I’m not. I hope I die with that idea inside me. And I don’t care if you think I’m being uncool or naive. I embrace my dumbness and I also embrace the humanity in all other people.