Munroe Bergdorf, 30, is a beautiful, strong, mixed race, queer, trans woman. She is a model, DJ and vocal activist, who does not desist from taking on controversial issues. These days naming white racism is deemed to be very controversial indeed. The rules have been changed by official and unofficial agents of the majority population.
Bergdorf - daughter of an Englishwoman and British Jamaican - defied the self-appointed censors and wrote a long Facebook post in which she fiercely denounced the structural and endemic racial inequalities that persist in the Western world and asked white people to acknowledge these realities.
Some tabloid hacks picked out hot, provocative phrases and created a media firestorm. Within hours Bergdorf was sacked by L'Oréal which had taken her on as one of the faces of diversity they now claim to be celebrating. Facebook facilitates suicide and anorexia websites and posts, and has even featured live murders, but Bergdorf's post was deemed beyond the pale and taken down. They did not remove the abusive comments or really hateful speech below her commentary. Thus far, there has been no national furore about this woman's right to free expression.
The black Labour MP Diane Abbot is similarly left undefended. An analysis revealed this week that of the 25,688 abusive tweets sent to female MPs before the election, Abbot received half of that total. Did I miss the sounds of support ringing out in parliament for this long-serving, plain-speaking MP? Since this revelation, her anonymous enemies have added more vitriol and claimed they were driven to it by Abbot's speeches and online thoughts. No freedom of expression for her then, only severe castigation for daring to presume she, a black British woman MP, can say what she thinks or believes.
How pleasantly different it all played out for that inexplicably popular Jacob Rees-Mogg, the unreconstructed sexist, traditionalist, jingoist, retro, Tory MP. He said live on TV that he was against all abortions, even for girls or women who had been raped. Pro-choice campaigners, feminists and other progressives came out forcefully against these appalling views.
Within minutes, right-wingers were defending his right to say what he truly believed and praising him fulsomely for his 'authenticity'. In the same week, a quack, Mike Davidson, also white, claimed on TV that he could 'cure' homosexuality, and was rightly condemned by gay people and equality groups. He too became a free speech martyr. Meet the new MOPEs, the Most Oppressed People Ever: white, straight, feeling a teeny bit vulnerable because too many nobodies refuse to stay in their place and backtalk to power or assumed status.
Freedom of speech is a now right reserved for white toffs and homophobes, bigots and sexists, populists and supremacists. The rest of us must watch what we say, or else. Last week, a right-wing political commentator - a man I personally get on well with - tweeted that too many immigrant children in our schools were multilingual and increasing pressures in schools.
I tweeted a response: "I speak four languages. I am an immigrant. Both make me smarter than a little Englander." Well that now makes me 'a racist'. Emails arrive everyday accusing me of hating whites, of stupidity, of crimes against decent people. As I said, I can be a citizen, live in a liberal democracy, but am not free to debate or express my views because I am from elsewhere, a woman of colour, and on the left. Bizarrely, I also routinely get grief from many who think we Muslims should get more enlightened, learn how to free our tongues and minds. I agree with these liberals and do what they wish. But I must pay a high price for this 'enlightenment'.
The feral Internet facilitates this dreadful, relentless, expanding suppression. And Brexit has made it all palpably worse by invigorating further iniquity and inequality when it comes to open debate. The number of people who feel disenfranchised and intimidated now includes Remainers too. To defend the EU is to be 'an enemy of democracy', to defend migration makes you (or me) , 'a traitor, a f*****g enemy of the people'.
Back to Bergdorf. She seems determined and undaunted. In an interview with Nosheen Iqbal, in The Guardian, she says she does not regret what she wrote but is shocked by the physical threats, people telling her to kill herself and 'general bombardment'. She hasn't left her flat since it all blew up. This brave and subversive woman must not be silenced. Other 'diversity ambassadors' should stand up against L'Oréal's authoritarianism. I just threw away their products and will be writing to the CEO.
Freedom, a universal right, now belongs to some not all. Real democrats and liberals of all races need to claim back that right and the time to start is now.