John Galliano – the two cultural issues
I went on BBC Breakfast this morning to discuss Christian Dior’s sacking of the designer John Galliano for alleged anti-semitic abuse, some of which was captured on video.
In my view, there are parallel issues at play. The fashion world cultivates transgression and excess. Galliano’s conduct was a product of that culture. In normal circumstances it would have been a three-day wonder, eclipsed by the display of his collection this Friday. However, condemnation by the Oscar-winning Natalie Portman, a Dior face, led to his summary dismissal.
This is no more than celebrity business as usual, a blip on the public attention.
My concern is that Galliano’s alleged comment reflect a wider phenomenon. It suggests something I have observed elsewhere, namely the increasing acceptability of anti-semitic abuse so long it is couched within an Israel-Palestine context. Jews are open to attack as presumed extensions of Israeli occupation policy in a way that, for example, overseas Chinese are not held responsible for Beijing’s occupation of Tibet.
That is anti-semitism, 2011 style.
Linda Grant’s reasoned and well-informed Guardian article
on Galliano was pursued by a shoal of reader comment many of which were imbued with this acceptable form of racism. The Guardian, with its obsessive focus on Palestine (to the exclusion of, for instance, Tibet) has helped foster this phenomenon.
For the first time in my life, I am forced to recognise that anti-semitism is a living, breeding organism within supposedly multi-cultural Britain