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SARAH VINE: Attacking “Karens” is just racism by any other name

Until last week, if you had asked the BBC to nominate the most maligned species in the world, the answer would have been clear: middle-aged white men, of course, are the necrotic heart of the evil patriarchy (so long, Andrew Neil et al. ).

But no more, it seems. Because aunt has a new enemy in mind: Karen.

A Karen, in case you didn’t know, is a term used on social media to denote a middle-aged woman who is unaware of her “white privilege.”

The BBC has been criticized for allowing the use of the word 'Karen', a term used on social media, to denote a middle-aged woman who is unaware of her 'white privilege'

The BBC has been criticized for allowing the use of the word ‘Karen’, a term used on social media, to denote a middle-aged woman who is unaware of her ‘white privilege’

Someone who almost certainly maliciously forgot to recognize that her entire existence is an affront to all forward-thinking people. We learned this this week in a trailer for a BBC podcast called No Country For Young Women.

Respond to the question ‘How can white women not be Karens?’ journalist Amelia Dimoldenberg and historian Charlotte Riley explained that any woman who is “unwilling to accept that her whiteness is a privilege” is a Karen.

And as such, she should “educate herself” and “read some books so that you are aware of the history of whites and race.”

But if she doesn’t – probably because she’s too busy washing her wokelets to wash or make their vegan dinner – the message in the podcast is this: “Actually get out of the way.”

In other words, any woman of my generation who does not publicly condemn herself as a worthless worm on whose shoulders all the sufferings of every person of color rests, is canceled using modern terminology.

Journalist Amelia Dimoldenberg and historian Charlotte Riley explained that any woman who is “unwilling to accept that her whiteness is a privilege” is a Karen

Which, even by current BBC standards, is quite an idea.

Do not get me wrong. I have been and have always been aware of how racism destroys the lives of colored people. I’ve seen it happen to people I love over the years, and it’s soul-destroying.

It’s not just men like David Starkey who make big racist statements; it exists on a much more organic – and in some ways more harmful – level.

It is this kind of everyday racism that scares people away, that damages their sense of value and causes anger and resentment.

I also fully understand what people mean when they talk about “unconscious bias.” I’ll give you an example.

A few years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, who is black, at a party when a fellow guest turned to us. “Can you get me another glass of wine?” she said to my girlfriend.

It took a split second to realize she thought he was a waiter because of his skin color.

I was hurt: this is one of the most skilled, talented and kindest men I know. And he was treated like a servant.

It’s that kind of unimaginable prejudice that non-whites have to endure every day of their lives. And when it happens, they and those around them have the right to cry out.

But it’s also why the Karen meme is so wrong. Because it’s the other side of the same coin. It assesses people – especially women – by their color, gender, age and social background.

And what if it is not another form of bigotry? One that the BBC seems to have embraced.

For an organization allegedly proud to be impartial in using taxpayers’ money to undisputedly send out such malicious displeasure, it is not only dangerous, it is also divisive. It is as much a racist slur as any other.

History shows that when people feel marginalized, they commit the most wicked crimes.

There are madmen on both sides of this culture war. That the BBC chooses to spoil them is a sad indictment of an organization that until recently was the envy of the world.

Save our lost generation

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my fear that thousands of vulnerable teenagers left out of Covid-19 might never return.

It was really just a reaction to what I saw on the street and in the parks of London.

But now Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, has spoken of a ‘lost generation’ of possibly 120,000 youth – a staggering number if true – sucked into a world of gangs, drugs and unemployment, and is asking for a fund of £ 650 million to be used for arrangements to bridge the gap between now and the reopening of schools in September.

Still, it costs more than money to convince these kids to trade the temptation of quick cash and Gucci trainers for hard work and lessons. In its own way, this is a kind of mini-culture war, a war that is slowly losing parents, teachers and the police – powerless against an urban culture that glorifies violence and crime.

I hope someone cares about Kate

My heart really goes out to Kate Garraway, whose husband Derek Draper is seriously ill with Covid-19.

He regains consciousness, but is certainly not out of the woods.

Doctors have told Garraway not to pause her life and “go back to work so I can take care of the kids.” That is a hard message, by everyone’s standards.

Kate Garraway's husband (photo), Derek Draper, is struggling with coronavirus

Kate Garraway's husband (photo), Derek Draper, is struggling with coronavirus

Kate Garraway’s husband (photo), Derek Draper, is struggling with coronavirus

Like so many who suffered during this pandemic, Garraway’s life has changed irrevocably – and she symbolizes all their suffering.

And while her husband is most troubled, it is she who has the responsibility – and the mental fear – to keep things together for her family.

I’m sure she can handle it – she’s a very strong person and a talented broadcaster – but I sincerely hope someone takes care of her.

Andrew’s challenge

After Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest last week, I started watching the Netflix documentary about Jeffrey Epstein, Filthy Rich.

The image that emerges is that of a persistent sexual predator who used money and influence to pursue his depraved passions.

The way he forced his victims to make him more potential victims by paying sometimes desperate young girls to introduce their friends through some sort of pyramid scheme of perversion is really shocking.

How someone – let alone a woman – can be a party to such behavior is beyond me.

As for Prince Andrew, the fact that he continued to associate with such a man even after he was jailed for his crimes is at best a demonstration of stupidity, worst indelible blemish on his character.

Even if he is not, as he claims, guilty of Epstein’s abuse, until Andrew openly and sincerely acknowledges that error of judgment, he will never have the slightest chance of regaining the regal status he so values.

Another week, another statement from the Prince of Woke, this time an attack on the Commonwealth and the need to ‘recognize the past’.

Meghan stared at him all the time with the aura of a proud mother looking at her slightly frail child, reciting a poem by heart, nodding approvingly as he brushed off the approved platitudes before joining, adding, ‘we need to be now feeling a bit uncomfortable ‘.

Is that right, Meghan? And how uncomfortable are you “right now” in your eight-bedroom Hollywood mansion with all your bills paid by your father-in-law?

Weight ops can work

Anyway, I have huge respect for Jenni Murray, but especially for her courage to speak about her lifelong struggle with the bulge.

Woman’s Hour presenter told the Radio Times that the £ 10,000 she spent on slimming surgery is ‘the best money I’ve ever spent’.

She added that she “disagrees with celebrating fat,” a feeling I endorse even though I know the pain of “fat shame.”

There is a difference between celebrating different body shapes and glorifying something that is not only bad for our individual health, but disastrous for the NHS.

With Covid-19 disproportionately impacting overweight and obesity (67 percent of adults in this country), our job is to manage weight wisely.

And if diets and exercise have not worked, there is no shame in having surgery, like Murray did.