Misunderstood minorities

There is nothing intrinsically wrong in belonging to a minority. Hump readers, after all, constitute a tiny one, albeit widespread across the world, and even as representatives of those with similar views, we are endorsing minority opinions. That does not make us wrong: I read today that only 4% of Indians are Christians, and they suffer significant persecution, and largely come from the lower echelons of society. Yet I would consider them to be those closest to the truth amongst the billions, and therefore enviable.

I was put in mind of this by an article showing how the British public tends to greatly overestimate the percentage of various trendy minorities in the country, compared to official statistics. Here’s a summary of the survey findings.

Now the interesting thing here (though probably reflective of the survey design) is how nearly all of these numbers concern groups with extremely active lobbies in the press and our other institutions. After all, UK redheads constitute 10% of the population and are, apparently, subject to discrimination for bizarre reasons I can’t fathom. Yet nobody therefore believes they make up 40% of the country. The exaggerations therefore have explanations beyond mere public ignorance.

The exception to the lobbying pattern, perhaps, is the Jews, whose vocal lobby certainly exists, but focuses on antisemitism rather than on how many Jews there are. In any case, fashionable opinion tends to downplay Judaism as it does Christianity, and to excuse or deny antisemitism as legitimate opposition to the State of Israel. And there is still an undercurrent of old-fashioned Nazi-style hatred of the Jews, seeing them as a tiny handful manipulating the levers of power. It would seem to be mainly their disproportionate cultural achievements that leads people to overestimate the numbers of Jews.

As for the rest, however, it is pretty easy to account for the overestimates simply by invoking successful propaganda, so I thought it might be worth examining why manipulators try to boost our perceptions of numbers.

In the case of the whole LGBTQIA2S+ thing (am I still up to date on that? It was last week when I checked) public overestimation of numbers is simply based on the constant repetition of phrases like “the Trans Community,” which conjure up images of entire gender-fluid towns; the centrality of the issue in our apparently predominantly LGBTQUIA2S+ media; and the apparent power of this tiny minority to cancel anyone and dictate the agenda of schools, corporations and even the sciences.

But the deliberate exaggeration of these numbers goes right back to the Kinsey report. For decades, the gay lobby peddled the myth that 10% of people are homosexual as a fact. It was used to calculate how many millions of brave gays died in World War II, it was used to pressure churches into believing that a tenth of their members (and maybe themselves, with all conscious knowledge repressed) were closet gays, and so on.

The motive was obvious: such a large and, crucially, well-defined minority (as it was in those pre-gender-fluid days!) should not be democratically disenfranchised in a liberal country, any more than civil rights could be denied to redheads. The argument is a lot less persuasive if the true figures are used. A reasonable academic estimate of active paedophiles in the country is between 0.5 and 1%: if we were persuaded the number was closer to 10% we might begin to think it was our moral abhorrence that is at fault. But nobody is going to base public morality on that real prevalence: 1% might simply be perverted – 10% seems, at least, less likely to be so when you don’t believe in original sin.

As it is, what seems to need explaining is why public perception of homosexual orientation is even higher than the Kinsey Report figure, and it’s most likely to be from a combination of the unconscious assumption that more must have come out of the woodwork because it’s so acceptable, and because of wall-to-wall exposure to homosexuality in the media, far exceeding the actual pattern in society.

To a significant extent, it is also likely that the upward drift in public perception of sexual and gender minorities reflects the sociological phenomenon of their becoming eminently fashionable. Personalised gender is now, like a list of made-up words called “pronouns,” an indispensible Hollywood necessity. I heard recently that 20% of US young people regard themselves as not being simply male or female. Fifty years ago that figure would have been statistically zero – even the rare intersex individuals usually chose a sex and stuck to it. The current official figure of 0.3-0.7% would have been a gross overestimate. If proof were needed that transexuality is a socially constructed belief system, the rapid changes in self-perception into a social system more complicated than anything ever seen in nature or human history are persuasive.

But exaggeration of the numbers certainly serves the activist agenda, which is to transform society by demoralising and abolishing the overwhelmingly large actual, natural, majority which is binary gendered and, broadly, monogamous. It is plainly nonsensical to re-configure our toilets, our sports, and our arts to prioritize half of one percent of people over security of the rest, but we have been persuaded to do so by coming to believe that they are 5% or more.

Over-representation in the media is certainly an important factor in the racial categories. In this case, public perception of the numbers, while it does not reflect reality, quite closely matches what is presented in advertising, in drama, amongst TV presenters, and so on. There is a legitimate over-representation of black people in sport and music, fields in which merit and popularity still largely determine outcomes: there are both biological and cultural reasons why they excel. But the disproportionate representation of racial minorities, and the ubiquity of (actually uncommon) mixed marriages in advertising is almost proverbial now. Many question it, but many more, for sure, still assume they are being given a true picture of British life, and don’t notice that it doesn’t match what they see in Tesco or in church… unless they happen to live in London, where only 40% are white (though in Boris Johnson’s cabinet non-white ministers are only double the national proportion). Perhaps London is really the capital of some other country.

But why would the powers-that-be want us to believe that Britain is not only largely black (and to a lesser extent Asian, though in reality it is to a somewhat greater extent ethnically Asian) but that it was also so in Jane Austen’s time, in Henry VIII’s court, in Roman London and even in the mesolithic? It’s certainly not, as with the LGBTQIA2S+ agenda, to make being a member of a racial minority acceptable, because that has not been in doubt for a very long time. It would seem, rather, to be aligned with the critical theory agenda of making it unacceptable to be a member of the white majority.

Like all things woke, the reasoning seems pretty incoherent, but I would conjecture that by presenting Britain as far more black and Asian than it is (not Chinese, though!), one’s failure to notice minorities in daily life, or to count many amongst your friends, can be used to make one feel guilty of not even seeing your fellow-man. Unconscious bias on steroids! How many sermons in provincial churches castigate the congregation for being mostly white, and therefore culpably exclusive, when the truth may be that they have a higher proportion of Afro-Caribbean members than the local demographic, and most of the Asians are in the nearest mosque anyway?

Similar reasoning applies to “black history.” If the streets of Victorian London were, as TV dramas and even documentaries portray, teeming with black people, then all our greatest writers, artists and historians must have airbrushed them out of history, thus proving their reprehensible “whiteness” (in the CRT sense). That the airbrush is a modern invention, that can be used to add things, doesn’t seem to occur to folks.

Opinions vary as to quite why Islam is favoured so much over the Christianity still claimed by around 50% of the British population. But given the favourable coverage, or even given the incidence of Islamic extremism, it is not surprising that Joe Public believes 15% of the country to be Muslim. In reality, the total number of Muslims is still only a third that of regular churchgoers, according to a 2020 survey by Compassion UK (11.4% of Britons over 16 attend church at least once a month).

Once again, apart from the historical and political sympathy of left-leaning influencers to the PLO and other Islamists, the most plausible reason for the Islam-focused propaganda, including the downplaying of extremism and social problems like the predominantly Pakistani rape-gangs unmolested for decades, is a negative one. To strengthen Islam – a militantly expansionist system from the earliest times – is to weaken its greatest rival in Britain, and the foundation of its nationhood, Christianity.

On the face of it this seems counterproductive for anti-religious progandists, as the secularists constituting the second biggest religious bloc in Britain, at 38%, are likely to lose ground to Islam too and put them even further behind the Christians. I have no good explanation for this. Certainly it cannot be because of the Establishment’s love for Muslims, because we have killed many more Muslims in our regime-change machinations abroad over the last couple of decades than we have ever welcomed over here. Perhaps it truly is, like so much in our culture now, irrational.

It may surprise many that there are the same number of vegetarians and vegans in Britain as there are Muslims, though the belief is that there are one third more. Once again it seems to be religious militancy and successful lobbying that skews public perception. Here’s one factor: you only need one vegan relative in order to have to make special provision whenever they come to see you, or you book a restaurant for a family occasion. You, on the other hand, will probably have to eat whatever unfamiliar fare is set before you when you visit them. You will also get the impression of being seen as close to conversion if you happen to find it palatable, and as rather plebeian if you don’t. Veganism makes itself felt by all.

In the scheme of things, you wouldn’t judge restaurants in India for failing even to ask if they should make special provision for their 4% Christian population. Although Christians seem to be the ones who gratefully eat whatever God provides. But over here, every self-respecting restaurant will have several vegan options, and at least one top-notch establishment (The Garden Restaurant at the Newt in Somerset), though not advertising itself as a vegan joint, only offers meat as a side dish. So I wonder if the 20% survey figure for vegetarians is based on false conclusions from restaurant menus? Another factor is how many TV personalities advertise their veganism in a way discouraged for other religions. It’s rare for someone visiting a church in a TV documentary to say, “This is much grander than my Brethren chapel,” or “Consciousness of sin was the reason I became a Christian, too,” and even rarer for one to say, “This vegan cheese is OK, but give me a decent cheddar any day.”

Or maybe the environmental lobby’s hegemony over the climate question, now routinely predicting the demise of meat from the diet, has something to do with it. When environmentalists tried to disrupt the Jubilee procession last week, their excuse was that the Royal Family has had plenty of time to give over their agricultural land to entirely vegetable based farming. Well, yes – but the Queen has also had 70 years to promote nudism or convert to Zoroastrianism. The question is whether there is any legitimate reason for her to want to. If the public gets the impression that the Queen is simply dragging her feet over some inevitable change she’s already agreed in principle, then 20% seems a good guess for the number of those eschewing meat. But it’s really only 4% – and most of those won’t even eat insects.

So I hope I’ve shown that whilst the public may have a false idea of the numbers of many of these kinds of minorities, it isn’t because of simple ignorance. At least, if it is it’s the same kind of simple ignorance that prevents them knowing that the English average temperature has not risen for twenty years, or that many people have been harmed by COVID “vaccines,” or that Russia is not being trounced by Ukraine in the Donbas. And we all know what causes that kind of ignorance, don’t we?

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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