February 1, 2020

Measure for Measure

A tweet from Alastair Stewart’s Twitter account, which appears to compare a black man to an ‘ape’, has resurfaced. Alastair, 67, announced he has quit as presenter of ITV News after more than 40 years as a newsreader. ITN confirmed it was due to ‘errors of judgement in Alastair’s use of social media’ and ‘breached’ their editorial guidelines. They did not specify what exactly prompted him to step down.

In light of the news, Twitter users are now circulating a tweet which Alastair reportedly sent on 13 January 2020. It quotes Shakespeare and was sent to a Twitter user, who happens to be black. ‘“But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence – like an angry ape”,’ the tweet read.


For those who still don’t understand what I mean when I say that we face a crisis of antirationalism, please read the article and consider the following points:

A. Stewart does not compare this black guy to an ape. He quotes Shakespeare who compares man in general to an angry ape.

B. Even if Stewart had used the phrase ‘angry ape’ of a black person, in the context of criticising their behaviour, that is not by its very fact necessarily racist. Context is required. Nuance is required. If someone were to say to me, a black man, even without the Shakespeare quote, that I was behaving like an angry ape I would take no particular offence. If they were to call me an ugly ape I would consider that an offensive racist trope as I am neither ugly nor and ape and as insults to the person are different to insults with regard to behaviour. If a person, on the other hand, were to come up to me at a party with a banana and make monkey noises as a black woman has accused Boris Johnson of doing, I would punch them in the face.

C. To assert that a black man’s behaviour should never be even vaguely compared to that of an ape while a white man’s behaviour might, may itself be considered racist. It being, for example quite reasonable to say that the behaviour of the Brexit MEPs as they left the European Parliament was that of uncouth apes, it is not unreasonable to infer that those who consider the same thing offensive when said of black people in comparable situations are giving credence to a racist association of black people with apes.

D. The man who accused Stewart of this is a moral and intellectual pygmy erm dwarf erm person of restricted intellectual and moral development and so is every other person who believes that there is anything even remotely racist in what Stewart tweeted.

E. The only point over which I would remonstrate with Stewart is with regard his apology. He should never have apologised and should be ashamed of having done so.

F. Stewart’s feeling that he had to apologise and other people’s feeling that he had to apologise seems to be a perfect working out of the principle ennunciated by Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey:

“The only acceptable response to any accusation of racist prejudice is self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement.”

Rebecca Long Bailey 12 Jan 2020

G. ‘But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d— His glassy essence—like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal.’

To misunderstand this .. To misunderstand this show how far from reason and culture and civility our discourse has fallen. I don’t know about angels but I read this nonsense and weep. I weep for us all especially those who still don’t know why I weep.

Interesting according to the Metro article:

Other tweets from Alastair’s now-deleted Twitter account, includes his opinion on Labour NEC’s Pete Willsman being suspended after allegedly branding antisemitism ‘total lies’.

Alastair tweeted: ‘At best it is anti-israeli and arguable anti-Zionist. Antisemitism is “hostility to, or prejudice against, jews. I’m not saying #PeteWillsman is or isn’t antisemitic, I am merely suggesting this doesn’t seem the strongest evidential case [sic].’<

Bt the measure that ye measure, by that measure shall ye be judged also.