WHITE NOISE – The most offensive anti-racist song ever written?

My first lesson in the contradictions of colonial racism was at the age of fourteen with Irish punk band STIFF LITTLE FINGERS’s first album Inflammable Material, and one of the most mind-blowing tracks was ‘White Noise’. My mate’s older brother’s mate was a British soldier in Northern Ireland – yes, imagine that – and he lent us the LP. ( The band were well known to the British army, and subsequent veterans I’ve spoken to confirm this ). I remember us reading the lyrics and we were thinking, ‘ok it’s a racist song, hurr hurr…’, and then looking at the context and slowly realising it was actually the opposite, and then thinking ‘these punk bands are supposed to be stupid, and they’re more intelligent than most of the adults around us!’.

So at that age I’d decided that I wasn’t going to be racist, but looking back I actually still very much was – certainly everyone around me was, the inner city eighties were grim and divided, and you can only ever be a product of your surroundings – and it took me another twenty years, at least, to finally see where the power did and didn’t lie. To finally stop trying to spin it around to make it about myself. And my kids still say I’m a little bit racist now. So, what hope is there for your racist mates if it’s taken me this long?

Anyway, the band had to drop the song from their live set because, Dunning-Kruger effect and all, they’d assumed because they could see the irony, everyone else could. But not everyone did, not even once they’d got to the Irish racist stereotypes, where they described themselves as ‘green wogs’.

So here you have it, no poncing about with ‘diversity strategies’ – a straight to the point, brutal confrontation with your prejudices. A big dirty mirror to stare into. The most racist ( in the beginning ) anti-racist song ever written.


Rastus is a nigger, thug, mugger, junkie
Black gollywog, big horny monkey
Pimp, pusher, coon, grinning pick-a-ninny
Send him home soon, back to the trees

Black wogs, black wogs
Your face Don’t fit
Black wogs, black wogs
You ain’t no Brit

Ahmed is a Paki, curry-coffee queer
Ten to a bed, flocking over here
Tax-sponging canker, smelly thieving kids
Ponce greasy wanker, worse than the yids

Brown wogs, brown wogs
Your face don’t fit
Brown wogs, brown wogs
You ain’t no Brit

Stick together, we’ll all be all white, me and you
The only colours that we need, red, right and blue

Paddy is a moron, spud-thick Mick
Breeds like a rabbit, thinks with his pick
Anything floors him if he can’t fight or drink it
Round them up in Ulster, tow it out and sink it

Green wogs, green wogs
Our face don’t fit
Green wogs, green wogs
We ain’t no Brit

And if the victim ain’t a soldier, why should we care?
Irish bodies don’t count, life’s cheaper over there

Green wogs, green wogs
Face don’t fit
Green wogs, green wogs
We ain’t no Brit

Green wogs, green wogs
Grab ’em, boys
Green wogs, green wogs
Turn up the white noise
Turn up the white noise
Turn up the white noise!

4 thoughts on “WHITE NOISE – The most offensive anti-racist song ever written?

  1. As an Irish teenager at the time, i didn’t view it as offensive then and I don’t now either. It was a very incisive view into the mindsets of British white racists at the time and largely of those that exist now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting article on White Noise track mate ! And an interesting subject all round.Of similar sentiment were White Nigger by The Mob (which was the only track they wouldn’t play live when they reformed) and White Nigger (no relation) by The Avengers which they still play.
    I was recently going to read the very clever lyrics of Bones Of Elvis by Inner City Unit for some mates on a Zoom poetry/music/get together thingy, and then realised, despite the sentiment being similar to the above 3 tracks, the world
    at large was generally no longer intelligent enough to ‘get it’.
    For better or for worse, certain words are now basically banned, even when used as a tool against racism. Unless you’re a…er, black person…you ain’t gonna get to use the word nigger in any context.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favourite tracks on the album. I was a Black punk in my youth. One of the only ones in my town. I didn’t care. The politics was always more important than the skin tone for me. I love being Black and I loved being a punk. I’m still both but I have long dreadlocks now. White noise was, for me, a great unifier. It showed the utter futility of racism.


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