UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, reduced her majority in parliament even further yesterday when she suspended one of her fellow Eurosceptic Conservative MPs. The MP for Newton Abbott, in Devon, Anne Marie Morris, publically used the N-word, describing leaving the European Union without a deal as “the real n—-r in the woodpile.”
Donald Trump has been widely criticized for his unacceptable language when it comes to women, opponents, and daytime television stars. Frankly, it’s about time our key public figures and world leaders realized the weight of their words and started leading by example.
While Theresa May’s actions may have reduced her slim majority to just 12, I have to stand up and congratulate her for her stance. The N-word, in particular, a word that repressed an entire people, is unacceptable in any circumstance. For a prominent Member of Parliament to use such language quite frankly sets a sickening example.
Ms. Morris used the N-word in a meeting of Eurosceptics in central London and the Prime Minister reacted just three hours after the remark was made public by the Huffington Post. The hashtag #AnneMarieMorris was later trending on Twitter.
Mrs. May commented: “I was shocked to hear of these remarks, which are completely unacceptable and I immediately asked the Chief Whip to suspend the party whip.”
The Origin of The N-Word Phrase Used
Ms. Morris was speaking about how Brexit could affect the financial services sector in the UK. She started out by saying that coming out of the EU was not all “doom and gloom,” but then used the N-word, saying that the real “n—-r in the woodpile” was in two years’ time, if no deal was reached.
This N-word phrase originated in the deep south of the United States, sometime during the 1800s. It was used to describe the black slaves who hid in stacked up piles of firewood to flee north towards Canada.
That a public figure should feel it acceptable to use such a horrifying phrase is utterly astounding. She later regretted her words, saying in a statement to the Telegraph, “the comment was totally unintentional. I apologize unreservedly for any offence caused.”
Not Good Enough
The apology comes too late for most. The public at large and MPs are left reeling and outraged. Tory MP for Saffron Walden said she was “ shocked and appalled to hear her comment.” Adding that she was pleased that appropriate action had been taken and that “Anne-Marie’s remarks are an embarrassment to me as a black woman and to the Conservative party.”
Ms. Morris’ apology will likely fall upon deaf ears, who must show a zero-tolerance response to racism. Tory MP, Heidi Allen, reinforced, “MPs must lead by example.”
Track Record of Controversy
Ms. Morris has a somewhat unfortunate track record of controversy, the N-word remarks aside. Earlier this year, she was forced to part ways with her electoral partner, Roger Kendrick during the campaign, after he also made racist comments. Saying that the crisis in education was “due entirely to non-British born immigrants and their high birth rates.”
Condemnation for Ms. Morris’ use of the N-word has been widespread, with many key figures speaking out, including David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
He said: “This language belongs to another era and it is highly regrettable that it is not as instinctively abhorrent to Ms. Morris as it is to most people.”
Public Figures Should Lead by Example
When a public figure stands up and uses this kind of oppressive, blatantly racist language, or makes derogatory remarks that are xenophobic, sexist, or agist, they are sending a far deeper, more dangerous message. That this kind of language is acceptable to use and that it mirrors the sentiments of a nation.
But the British people are fortunately made of finer things than that. As the rallying of Manchester residents after the terrorist attack, and unifying of the community after the later London attacks have proven; Great Britain is a place where men and women of all races can thrive, and have equal rights to do so.
Let’s hope that Ms. Morris’ use of the N-word will serve to weed out this type of abhorrent language from our history books for good. Even as the nation moves forward with its controversial withdrawal from progress, unity and peace; at least let it preserve some dignity.