Tuesday 21 June 2016

Insanity and slander.

I trust it goes without saying that the murder of Jo Cox is bad news.

Other bad news is the attempt to blame her murder not only on her murderer but also on anyone thinking of voting to leave the EU.

Her murderer, Thomas Mair, appears, thus far, to have been a neo-Nazi and a nationalist of some sort. We also know that he was mentally ill. That's two things, both of which the police are investigating. Yet the world is not short of people to tell us that the mental illness is immaterial, the far-Right stuff isn't, and that — and this is simply despicable — Mair's decision to kill can be blamed on the Leave campaign.

The Daily Star, hardly known for their subtlety or, come to that, for not being cunts, simply splashed this headline on their front page:


Alex Massie, marginally more subtle, went for this approach:

The poster unveiled by Nigel Farage this morning marked a new low, even for him.

The mask – the pawky, gin o’clock, you know what I mean, mask – didn’t slip because there was no mask at all. BREAKING POINT, it screamed above a queue of dusky-hued refugees waiting to cross a border. The message was not very subtle: Vote Leave, Britain, or be over-run by brown people. Take control. Take back our country. You know what I mean, don’t you: If you want a Turk – or a Syrian – for a neighbour, vote Remain. Simple. Common sense. Innit?

And then this afternoon, a 42 year old member of parliament, who happens – and this may prove to have been more than a coincidence – to have been an MP who lobbied for Britain to do more to assist the desperate people fleeing Syria’s charnel house, was shot and stabbed and murdered.

Events have a multiplier effect.


When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.

Classy. As Douglas Murray points out, Massie managed to make this claim less than a day after calling his opponents "mad" and their claims "bullshit".

Here's the pro-Remain, pro-EU, right-on, left-wing Guardian describing the refugee crisis:

Interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced the measures after German officials said record numbers of refugees, most of them from Syria, had stretched the system to breaking point.

This appears under no mere photograph, but actual film footage of queues of dusky-hued refugees. But presumably that's OK.

Here's The Guardian on refugees again:

Mark Devlin, the chief operating officer at Unicef UK, said ... “While we are glad that the government is acknowledging the urgency of the situation for these vulnerable children, the camps in Calais are at breaking point.”

You'd have thought Unicef knew better than to use such murderously incendiary language. And, yet again, The Guardian have illustrated their piece with a photograph of some dark people.

And here's The Guardian on Sweden's immigration:

The Guardian view on Sweden and immigration: breaking point

That's the headline of their editorial, for crying out loud.

the European refugee crisis has developed in its tragic and astonishing magnitude, while Sweden in particular has also attracted large numbers of Roma from inside the EU, some of whom beg for a living.

If anyone attacks a gypsy on the grounds that they're beggars, looks like we can blame The Guardian.

There are now more than 7,000 applications for political asylum a week in Sweden and the system is almost at bursting point.

Is bursting worse than breaking? I confess I don't know.

And you don't need me to provide links to guess how much they use the phrase to describe the NHS.

Have they no shame?

It's not fair to pick on just the one phrase, though, is it? If we're talking about emotive language that could possibly lead to hate, how about this:

So you hate those Tories – but what comes next?

“We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We hate Tories, and we hate Tories / We are the Tory haters.”

I don't know. Could that inspire hate? It's so ambiguous.

As a young Labour activist in the 1980s, I marched through Manchester and shouted out that song, and they were doing the same last Sunday. Same chant, same streets – and, as the Conservatives gathered for their conference, the thousands of people who came to protest suggested the exact same bundle of emotions: anger, defiance, and by the day’s end, a creeping sense of the futility of it all. For the next three days, moreover, an ugly show of that pointlessness was laid on by those who signalled their sense of defeat by getting as close as possible to any passing Conservatives and issuing the week’s ubiquitous insult: “Tory scum!”

Scum? Really? What if someone takes this sort of language seriously?

But, hey, that's nothing compared to The Mirror:

Yet after 10 years of watching the Tories behave like lying pig-f***ing scumbags who hate the poor there are some of us who are genuinely surprised to find out they are, in fact, lying pig-f***ing scumbags who hate the poor.

I think I've made my point. Those last two examples show the Left's real and visceral hatred for Tories; it's not a mere affectation, is ugly and disgusting, and frequently culminates in violence, which leads to not one iota of widespread anguished questioning of whether such inflammatory rhetoric should be allowed. But, as for the rest, I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm picking on The Guardian here: you can do much the same trick with a search engine and any publication, no doubt including this blog. My point is obviously the exact opposite: not that The Guardian are using irresponsible incendiary language, but that they aren't. This is normal English. And what sort of a photograph are we supposed to use to illustrate the refugee crisis? A picture of three blond women in a cafe? UKIP used a photo of a queue of lots of brown people. The Guardian used footage of queues of lots of brown people. This is because the refugee crisis really does involve lots of brown people standing in queues, because queues happen at border checkpoints and the migrants aren't coming from Iceland. These photographs are, quite simply, factual. I've seen plenty of people compare the UKIP poster (though not The Guardian footage for some reason that no doubt makes sense to someone) to Nazi propaganda. But the thing about Nazi propaganda is that they used cartoons, not photographs, because they were illustrating things that were not real.

There is a difference between being lied to and hearing a truth you don't like.

And then there's this — this particular quote from Massie again, but you can barely move on the Internet right now for people making this "point":

We do not hold all muslims accountable for the violence carried out in the name of their prophet but nor can we avoid the ugly, unpalatable, truth that, as far as the perpetrator is concerned, he (it is almost always he) is acting in the service of his view of his religion. He has a cause, no matter how warped it may be. And so we ask who influenced him? We ask, how did it come to this?

Firstly, it's interesting to me that the same people who would usually (quite rightly) demand that the distinction between Muslims and Islamists be observed have momentarily forgotten it. But then you can't use this argument to attack the Leave campaign if you talk about Islamists: it just wouldn't work. Because there's nothing ambiguous or suggestive about Islamist rhetoric; no nodding and winking. Islamists' slogans are admirably straightforward: "Slay those who insult Islam", "Butcher those who mock Islam", "Behead those who insult Islam", "Exterminate those who slander Islam", "Massacre those who insult Islam", "Be prepared for the real Holocaust!", "Europe you will pay. Your 9/11 is on its way!!", "Shariah / The true Solution / Freedom go to Hell", "Death to Jews!", "we know that there is no better blood than the blood of Jews", "God bless Hitler", and of course the ever-popular "Hitler was right".

The reason why, if a man who opposes the EU commits an act of terrorism, we might talk primarily about his mental illness, whilst if an Islamist commits an act of terrorism, we might talk primarily about his Islamism, is not anti-Muslim bigotry. It is that, much as Alex Massie and his ilk want to insist that "Breaking point" means "KILL! KILL! KILL!", it really doesn't. To interpret the words of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, or Daniel Hannan as commands to murder, you need to be insane. To understand that the words of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Anjem Choudary, Omar Bakri Muhammad, or Osama bin Laden are commands to murder, you just need to listen.

And, you know, I'm in Northern Ireland here. This idea being bandied about that we always try to excuse the terrorist atrocities of white people by blaming mental illness is news to me. Perhaps someone will correct me, but I'm not aware of one single instance of the media ever doing that regarding the paramilitaries of either side. The reason we blame Islamist ideology for attacks committed by Islamists is exactly the same as the reason we blame IRA ideology for attacks committed by Irish Republicans. Where's the racist bias here?

And, hey, since I've brought up Irish Republicanism, here's Alex Massie again:

It cannot be said too often that there is nothing intrinsically objectionable about supporting the idea of a united Ireland. But if you did – or still do – support that goal you had a choice. You could ally yourself with the SDLP or you could chum around with Sinn Fein and the IRA. The choice mattered because it was a choice between decency and indecency, between constitutional politics and paramilitary politics.

How odd that Massie can draw that distinction between a violent and a non-violent movement that want the same goal — rightly insist on how important it is, even — when considering Irish Republicanism, but not when it comes to opposing the EU.

(By the way, to all those people saying that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and the EDL are supporting Brexit, as if that's some sort of argument, you might want to reconsider that whole guilt-by-association thing, since the polls show you're voting with the IRA.)

Eden Strang is schizophrenic. He attacked a church congregation with a sword because he thought they were demons and God had told him to. The media at the time talked extensively about his insanity and very little about his skin, which happens to be brown. So it appears that this is not an excuse used only in defence of the white. Perhaps the media start talking about an attacker's mental health issues when he has mental health issues? Hey, it's a theory.

Jared Lee Loughner is paranoid schizophrenic. He appears to have become interested in, of all things, linguistics: he was convinced that the government was abusing grammar — yes, grammar — to control and deceive the populace. So he asked the Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

What is government if words have no meaning?

Giffords gave a polite and diplomatically evasive answer, because, like everyone else on the planet, she had no fucking idea what Loughner was talking about. Her evasiveness made him so angry he later tried to kill her. And he had other reasons, too, nearly all of them ridiculous.

I was actually in the building when Lewis Mawhinney stabbed Stephen Hayes twice in the neck. (That was an exciting day at the office.) Mawhinney is paranoid schizophrenic too. He believed he was an MI5 agent and that his handler had told him Hayes was his target. He had clearly been influenced somewhat by action spy thrillers. Perhaps the makers of the Bond films should be held to account.

The point is, if our standard for public discourse is to be that we mustn't say anything that might inspire an insane person to violence, then we can say nothing. Literally nothing.

And certainly not this:

As a historian I fear Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety.

That's Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. Inflammatory, much? How did Alex Massie put it again? Ah, yes:

When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word.

Hell, who needs insanity? If I thought Western civilisation itself was at stake — if I didn't think Tusk was talking out of his arse — I'd kill Boris Johnson myself.

Anyway, it's easy enough to see the point of all this slander. On the list of things hated by the Great British Public, Nazis, guns, and murder are in the top five, along with second-rate tea and the weather. No-one wants to be associated with a murdering Nazi gunman. I'm sure the slander will work: a lot of people will vote Remain, just to avoid that association. But, then again, it remains to be seen which will piss people off more: having one thing in common with a Nazi murderer, or being told by wankers that they have lots more things in common with a Nazi murderer.

We'll see soon enough.

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