The Express’s “ethnics” article: my take
The front page of today’s Daily Express carried the following lead article:
One in 5 Britons will be ethnics
It went on to expound that ethnic minorities would increase from their current eight percent level to 20% by 2050.
To be fair to the Express, none of the messages in the article itself were inflammatory. The article was very much information-based, its facts taken from a three-year study by the University of Leeds. Martin Belam has questioned the basis of much of the statistical analysis, which itself is an issue, but let’s ignore that for the moment.
The issue with the article centres around a single letter. The final letter of the headline. The “S” of ethnics.
They will doubtless argue that the term ethnics was used as a convenient abbreviation of ethnic minorities, one that helped with the punchiness of the headline and helped fit it into the space available. I vehemently oppose that stance. The use of the word ethnic as an adjective is not offensive, as exemplified in the term ethnic minorities. So simply taking off the S would have allowed the headline to fit into the space available, while diffusing the impact of the headline.
But by switching from an adjective (ethnic) to a noun (ethnics), the newspaper has completely changed the emphasis of and people’s takeaway from the article. Ethnics immediately comes across as a pejorative term, one filled with hatred, malice and negativity. In isolation, some might read the headline “One in 5 Britons will be ethnic” with a positive spin (multiculturalism etc.). But no one could ever read the headline “One in 5 Britons will be ethnics” with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
A good proportion of those exposed to the headline will not have read any further than that headline—as exemplified by the example Martin cites.
If the Express had any morals—bear with me—it would be utterly ashamed of the inclusion of the redundant, inflammatory S. But instead, it will continue to publish such articles, along with its beloved rival the Daily Mail, inciting racial hatred (itself a crime) and stunting the growth of this country. As Charlie Brooker so eloquently put it:
To be fair it’s hard writing headlines against the clock with limited space to get your message across, when you’re a thick racist c*nt.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.