Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The White Man's Burden


Today I found a 1950s children's annual called 'The Treasure Book of Comics'.

Publications from this era are usually full of relatively innocent tales of high jinks, midnight feasts and public-spirited children outwitting the criminal classes, but this annual seems to have a different agenda.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:



The more time I spend in the past, wading through tonnes of old books, the less attractive it seems.

11 comments:

Martin said...

The sad thing is that you don't have to dig too far to discover that racism and sexism are both alive and just as repugnant as they ever were. I've been shocked on more than one occasion to hear unacceptable personal views and jokes in bad taste from those who should know better.

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

I wonder if we can ever escape the past - shortly before reading this - I read that Viscount Younger of Leckie appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. Lord Popat of Harrow replaces him as a Govt Whip. It's all about power, patronage and privilege, if it were 1913 and not 2013 - or 1813 for that matter. In a recent edition of the Mail Online - an article about Hot Chocolate was illustrated with a smiling photograph of a girl drinking from a mug - she was the only black face in the entire paper. ( I checked carefully ), some of the comments shocked even me.

Steerforth said...

Yes, there is more of it about than you'd think, but at least it's no longer socially (or legally) acceptable in the world at large. I remember a time when people would make very offensive remarks, assuming that I shared their views. After the 1980s, that all seemed to change.

I still have to tell my mother off for talking about 'the coloureds'!

Steerforth said...

Richard (the other comment was replying to Martin) - If future historians judged our society by the Mail online, they'd reach a pretty damning conclusion. The bigoted, moronic comments are incredibly depressing. For my own mental health, I try to avoid getting sucked into its addictive 'sidebar of shame'.

It is odd how the pendulum has swung back, with more Etonians in positions of power than there have been for a century. At least all of those people who disagreed with me that social class was no longer a big issue can now shut up.

Rog said...

I was surprised to see "Coon Island" still appearing in Rupert books as late as 1960 which I think of as being a "right-on" period. I suppose Segregation still existed in the USA and homosexuality was still an imprisonable offence in the UK.

(Rupert went on to an even more offensive appearance with Paul McCartney.)

Steerforth said...

And don't forget 'Love Thy Neighbour' - a staple of 1970s British light entertaining.

Canadian Chickadee said...

I thnk you are so right. The fact that, as bad as things sometimes seem (and are), there does seem to be less racism is a distinct improvement. Maybe humankind can evolve after all.

Andi's English Attic said...

Although it's wrong to us we have to take these things as an historical view of how things were. To change or delete them would be a denial. We can't change the past and we may be ashamed of it, but it would be wrong to pretend it didn't happen.

Steerforth said...

Carol - Yes, we should be proud of the advances we have made, even if we still have a long way to go. The election and, almost more importantly, the re-election of Obama, showed just how things had progressed.

Andi - I quite agree. I think it's completely wrong to sweep things under the carpet. The images featuring Arabs would be unacceptable today, but the recent rise of 'Islamophobia' shows that old attitudes can still rear their ugly heads in a different guise.

Ray said...

Hope you don't mind me taking issue with a small point. During the Second World War 617 Squadron known as The Dam Busters had a mascot. The mascot was a black Labrador known affectionally as 'Nigger'. Just before the raid on the dams the dog was run over. It was agreed that the call sign for the successful destruction of the Moehne Dam would be 'Nigger'. There was nothing racist about this but it seems that now it is not politicaly correct. Although this word was used in the Richard Todd movie and still on the dvd - the BBC has cut this reference from the televised version.
So how can you not write about a historical age - even the fifties or the sixties without the language of the time? Without it you cannot refelect the times.

Rob Scovell said...

You'd be shocked at the casual racism here in NZ. I am frequently open-mouthed shocked at the things people say about newer arrivals in NZ from Asia. Apart from any other consideration (and there are many) it is thoroughly illogical for a white person, who will most certainly be descended from a settler, to complain about an influx of Asians changing the character of New Zealand.