Much of the law and best practice that has been adopted in these islands relating to discrimination and diversity has its origins in the United States. American legislation, much of it adopted during the Lyndon B Johnson presidency, defined a fair amount of legal reform in this part of the world, and US pressure groups pushing for equal rights set the tone for others across the world. And yet, in some respects America also still has more people openly undermining equality and diversity than almost anywhere else.
The most recent example of this is to be found in political infighting in the US Republican party. In the developing election campaign for Governor of South Carolina, Republican candidate Nikki Haley – a woman of Sikh descent – has been criticised in extraordinary terms by a state senator from her own party, Jake Knotts. Here is what he has been reported as saying:
‘We already got one raghead in the White House; we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.’
What is amazing is that such overtly racist talk can be accepted as part of the rough and tumble of electoral politics, and that, apparently, no attempt is being made to prosecute Mr Knotts. For many people all over the world, the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency showed the growing political maturity of America and gave heart to the movement for equal rights. However, this is undermined to quite an extent by the extreme racist discourse of many of those on the right in US politics, in political debate and on the airwaves. There should be no tolerance for such talk. The last bit of growing up still remains to be completed.