A US author was accused of “labelling the whole country racist” after she claimed a Polish pal was abused for speaking Polish during Question Time.
Bonnie Greer said she believed it was “bad being a foreigner” in Britain – but was challenged by the audience member in a fiery debate.
And in the back and forth, Bonnie spoke about her friend’s experience speaking Polish in the UK.
The 70-year-old said: “I have a friend who’s Polish. She’s lived here since about 2000. Her little girl was born here.
“She doesn’t speak Polish to her anymore on the bus or on the Tube because people abuse her.”
The audience member then hit back, saying: “I disagree with the comment.”
And the man, whose identity is not known, then added: “Whether she speaks Polish to her daughter or not, that’s her choice.”
But the American-British playwright wouldn’t back down – interjecting “whoa, whoa, whoa”.
Ms Greer, who was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010, appeared visibly frustrated as she added: “She can’t speak Polish to her daughter in public because she is maligned and hassled.
“That’s why she doesn’t do it.
“And her daughter is losing her maternal language because her mother doesn’t let her, her mother’s not speaking to her anymore in public.”
The audience member replied: “Well, in that comment, you’re labelling the whole country as being racist.
“That’s a minority, and you’ll always have a minority.”
But the debate ultimately finished as Ms Greer repeated “it’s hard to be a foreigner”.
She said: “You’re not, I am, and I know what it’s about.”
BACK AND FORTH: Bonnie Greer and audience member clash during Question Time
Audience member: “Why is it bad to be a foreigner in this country at the moment?”
Bonnie Greer: “Excuse me?”
AM: “Your comment – you said it’s bad to be a foreigner in this country at the moment.”
BG: “OK, well I’ll give you an example. I have a friend who’s Polish. She’s lived here since about 2000. Her little girl was born here. She doesn’t speak Polish to her anymore on the bus or on the Tube because people abuse her.
“Did I answer you?”
AM: “No, I still disagree with the comment.”
BG: “You disagree with what I said?”
AM: “Whether she speaks Polish to her daughter or not, that’s her choice, but this… no, excuse me a sec.”
BG: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold, hold, hold it. She can’t speak Polish to her daughter in public because she is maligned and hassled. That’s why she doesn’t do it. And her daughter is losing her maternal language because her mother doesn’t let her, her mother’s not speaking to her anymore in public.”
AM: “Well, in that comment, you’re labelling the whole country as being racist.”
BG: “I didn’t label anybody. I said right now, it’s hard to be a foreigner.”
AM: “That’s a minority, and you’ll always have a minority.”
BG: “It’s hard to be a foreigner in this country. You’re not, I am, and I know what it’s about.”
And the debate split viewers, with some throwing their support behind the audience member.
Taking to Twitter, one wrote: “The whole country isn’t racist, some people are, I’d hope most people aren’t.
“That’s coming from me, a British born Indian with parents from Africa, who loathes racists.”
Another added: “Absolutely nothing wrong with what this man said.
“She was suggesting the whole country adopts this kind of abhorrent behaviour.”
And a third said it was a “silly statement” made by the author.
But others said Ms Greer was “spot on”.
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One said: “The bloke would much rather people didn’t mention any xenophobic or racist incidents.
“Those things are less important than his feelings.”
Another said: “That overcooked gammon needs to get out of his oven more. I see it all the time even here in multicultural London. Bonnie is spot on!”
Some viewers supported the audience member, saying they hoped most weren’t racist in Britain[/caption]
Others said that Bonnie Greer’s statement was ‘silly’[/caption]
Another viewer said the author’s suggestions were wrong[/caption]
Others threw their support behind the author[/caption]
Another viewer shared a meme saying the audience member was digging a hole for himself[/caption]
One suggested the man’s feelings had been hurt by the author’s examples[/caption]
One simply said Bonnie was ‘spot on’[/caption]
One viewer said the audience member had ‘no right’ to dismiss the feelings of people living in the UK[/caption]
One said the audience member didn’t know what they were talking about[/caption]