This weekend's papers contained two classic examples of acceptable prejudice; obesity and the working class.
I really felt for Madeleine White when I read her piece in Guardian Weekend about being obese. Anyone of us fatties knows exactly what she went through with her description of job interviews and visits to the doctors, the sheer difficulty in being taken seriously and the chronic lack of self-confidence due to living "in a society that excludes on the basis of body fat". I understand too her sense of triumph at weight loss. I did the same in my twenties and held the weight off for nearly ten years, but it was hard. The confidence I gained then is the basis of me not giving a toss that the weight is back, but does not mitigate the anger.
The sad thing is that she hasn't escaped this modern morality play. She still blames herself. "Obesity is not the result of a lack of information or self-control; it stems from not valuing sufficiently yourself and the food you eat". Since she has had to take up a rigorous diet, run 15 miles a week and undergo radical gastric surgery to reach and maintain a weight that others keep to effortlessly, she might one day realise that the main reason for her size was physiological.
In the second article, Andrew Anthony detects a middle class liberal distaste for the white working classes running through next week's season of programmes on BBC2. It's a patchy piece, but he finishes with a devastating observation. In discussing working class racism he sees a distinct generational shift in attitudes, as shown by the children of 'Dave', an ageing white racist whose daughters have black partners.
Yet in Dave's story, we see, even if he can't, the hidden success of multicultural Britain. Not the tolerance and respect for separatism as preached by archbishops and playwrights, but the messy, difficult and tense business of living and loving together.
It's the children of people such as Dave who live cheek by jowl with new arrivals and adapt to rapid change. They are the ones who really embrace people from other countries and cultures by forming relationships and raising children together.
And then comes the killer blow,
Meanwhile, the liberal arts community, for all its eloquence in anti-racism, is far more inclined to retreat to private schools and affluent enclaves, the better to maintain a homogenous culture while pronouncing on the benefits of diversity.
Ouch! And let's not forget, amongst their many sins, the working classes are seen to be too fat.