Wednesday, November 16, 2016

First, we warned you about the Daily Mail, but you didn’t listen, because the Daily Mail is only a silly scandal sheet

Then, we warned you about the Daily Express, but you didn’t listen, because the Daily Express is barely even a newspaper nowadays.

Then we warned you about the Sun, but you didn’t listen, because it’s quite snobbish to moan about a working class paper.

We warned you about the myth of political correctness, but you didn’t listen because ha-ha it’s the sort of thing that people like us have a bee in our bonnet about.

We warned you about Katie Hopkins, but you didn’t listen, because the Apprentice is only a silly reality TV show and she obviously doesn’t believe a word of it.

We warned you about Melanie Phillips, but you didn’t listen, because she was obviously mental.

We warned you that that Anders Breivik used the “writings” of Melanie Phillips to justify murder, but you didn’t listen, because it’s not a journalists fault if a criminal borrows their words.

We warned you about Gamergate, and you didn’t listen because it was only some little boys throwing their toys out of the pram over computer games.

We warned you about the Sad Puppies, and you didn’t listen, because if this stuff bothers us so much we should damn well stay off twitter.

Then a fascist became president of the USA, and you all said "Why didn't anyone warn us?"

20 comments:

  1. But don't you have a horrible feeling there's something more we could have done, somehow?

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  2. No, Andrew.

    Reasonable conservatives warned YOU - the liberal-left - and YOU didn't listen.

    You were warned that smearing and belittling those who didn't buy in to the Great Liberal Consensus of the past 20-odd years would create a backlash. But you didn't listen, because those people were all just so Ford Mondeo, weren't they?

    You were warned that the loathing you reserve for the Mail, the Express and the Sun was blinding you to your own double standards, in which bias, bigotry and spite were actually welcome in the liberal media - provided they served fashionable ends. But you didn't listen, because the world according to the Guardian and the BBC just IS the real one, isn't it?

    You were warned that trying to shame opponents of mass immigration into silence with insults like "racist" and "xenophobe" debased your own language, and would come back to haunt you. But you didn't listen, because it seemed to work so well for so long, didn't it?

    And now, since every epithet you hurl at Trump, including "fascist", is one you've already thrown countless times at nearly everyone to the right of you, no-one takes the left seriously anymore. We might yet get off lightly if only - if only - self-described liberals would start living up to their name, by really trying to understand their opponents, without falling back on stereotypes and caricature, so as to write them off as bad people to be silenced in order to Protect the Bubble At All Costs.

    But still you're not listening, even now. Because the hysteria and hyperbole are still flowing: the oafish Mr. Trump - for all his obvious, obvious flaws - is no Hitler, Mussolini, or even Franco for heaven's sake, and yet you insist on hurling the f-word at him. Have you abused that word for so long now that you've lost sight of what it first meant, once upon a time, beyond "someone I and my political tribe think is really, really bad"? Or is it just that you want to use its associations to damage him, as you have tried to damage so many others, whatever the cost to language and logic?

    This, Andrew, is precisely the sort of thing that has brought us Donald Trump, who is not a conservative and who under any normal circumstances would be any sane person's last choice for president. That even he is preferable to another self-serving liberal-left stooge like Clinton is sad indeed.

    But the hour is very late.

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  3. Wait, wait! "The Great Liberal Consensus of the past 20-odd years"? Are you referring the consistently increasing concentration of wealth in the top 1%, the progressive erosion and underfunding of the NHS, the privatisation of nationally owned assets and the incessant anti-immigrant rhetoric?

    Because I would call that The Great Conservative Consensus of the past 20-odd years.

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  4. "And now, since every epithet you hurl at Trump, including "fascist", is one you've already thrown countless times at nearly everyone to the right of you, no-one takes the left seriously anymore."

    There is am element of truth in this, though. If nothing else, the rise of Trump and his white-supremacist cronies has shown us that the way be perceived and described the Kippers left is nowhere to go when actual Nazis started appearing on the scene, being covered in an "even-handed" way by previously respectable media outlets.

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  5. I am not going to waste more than ten minutes of my one day off writing about this, but hear goes:


    Have you, I wonder, read any thing I have written in the last 15 years: about the Daily Express, about the Daily Mail, about the political correctness conspiracy theory?

    Have you heard any of my very specific allegations: that -- in thrall to the belief that the Cultural Marxists secretly run everything -- they print deliberate lies intended to whip up hatred and paranoia in their readers?

    (We can go right back to the first one I wrote, where the Daily Express turned "magistrate accepts that policeman didn't hit child" to "hooray! magistrates finally say its okay for policemen to hit children", and on and on through the Winterval Lie and the England Football Flag Lie and the many many anti-Muslim lies.)

    Do you know what interests me? No-one ever comes back and says "no, actually Andrew, there really IS a swimming pool where everyone has to swim in the pitch darkness at the insistence of Muslims". "No, actually Andrew, I think you will find that Rotheram Council really does dig up dead granny's without their family's permission if the Muslims ask them to." Everyone accepts -- I assume -- that the Daily Express made the story up; that all the PC-Gone-Mad stories are simply packs of lies. But weirdly, no-one shares my outrage -- that newspapers are making up stories specifically in order to generate race-hate.

    I assume no-one is going to defend newspapers which rework fascist cartoons and depict asylum seekers as rats and cockroaches? I assume no-one is going to defend newspapers that print columns appearing to advocate segregation and apartheid?

    I don't like the term "post-truth". But maybe "post-argument" or "post rhetoric"?

    If you think that the Puppies and Gamergate have a very good point when they call black science fiction writers savages, opine that women shouldn't be allowed to vote, call homosexuality perversion or muse that there may be a political case for occasionally throwing acid in women's face, then by all means say that they have a very good point and explain what that very good point is. If you deny that they have said those things, then state your evidence that they have not said these things. But for god sake don't waste my time in semantics about whether strictly speaking that is quite bad enough to deserve the word "fascist".

    The Daily Mail may not be quite as bad as Gamergate; and Gamergate may not be quite as bad as the "Hail Trump!" white supremacists, and the white supremacists may not be quite as bad as the Klu Klux Klan, and the Klu Klux Klan may not be quite as bad as Mr Hitler himself and god knows where Trump falls on that continuum. There is no way of knowing, because we are being told that he didn't mean any of the things he said during the election, and that's fine.

    Yes, "fascist" is just a word. People -- people in my own party, my own mother in fact -- call me a Trotskyite because I believe in a nationalized public transport and student grants and secondary picketing. Possibly if we were writing a detailed history of left wing politics we would use "Trotskyite" and "Maoist" more carefully. I have noticed in religious discussions people sometimes say "fundamentalist" when they don't really mean it.

    So possibly I misused the word fascist. Very well. Trump is not a fascist. Trump is a nasty ignorant racist bigot, or, worse, he is a man who is prepared to pretend to be a nasty ignorant racist bigot in order to get votes from people who are not themselves uniformly nasty ignorant racist bigots but who find that nasty ignorant racist bigots are the kinds of people that they are prepared to vote for.

    And this, apparently, is the fault of the left.


    Times up. Going to write about something worth while now.

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  6. Mike (and with apologies to our host - I will go away soon!),

    That depends on whether we’re talking about economic outcomes, or social and cultural attitudes, and what you’d call “conservative” - which is by no means that same thing as what the Tory party purports to believe in at any moment.

    Conservatism as I understand it means a respect for tradition – Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead” – combined with a very ordinary (alas, sometimes all too extraordinary) common-sense. As such it cherishes deeply-held but always proportionate attachments to family, faith, community and nation, while being sceptical of change-for-its-own-sake, as well utopianism of all kinds. Change, which is inevitable and necessary in human affairs, ought instead to be carefully discerned, so as to tend towards the morally good – the only ultimately legitimate sense to be attached to the word “progress”. That, to me, is conservatism.

    So therefore, while I reckon many of the reforms and privatizations of the 1980s were a necessary corrective to the socialist-inspired chaos of the previous decade, I don’t consider the free-market fundamentalism of what used to be called the “new right” particularly conservative. It seems to be more properly a species of libertarianism, or even anarchy, than conservatism. As it happens, I’m absolutely in favour of healthcare that’s free at the point of use, and probably just as galled by the economic inequality I see around me as any socialist – being as it’s neither fair, nor good for the stability and happiness of the country. I’d absolutely be in favour of more redistributive policies, given that the effects of what’s loosely called “globalisation” and the asset (particularly housing) boom are rapidly redistributing wealth and income in the other direction. Provided, of course, that such policies can be made to work. I also think there’s a good case to be made for at least some re-nationalisation, of the railways for example. And if that places me in company with socialists, or “progressives”, so be it. But then I look at all these things and notice that the liberal-left has actually been happy enough – “intensely relaxed”, even – with the economic status quo for some time, not least (I suspect) because many have done very nicely indeed out of it, thank you very much.

    It’s on the social and cultural questions, the ones hinted at by Andrew in his post, not the economic ones, that I’d say there’s been a Great Liberal Consensus. Here you mentioned only immigration, to which I’d respond that all the “anti-immigration rhetoric” hasn’t actually made a blind bit of difference. Thanks to the aforementioned consensus that's nonetheless governed policy since 1997, it’s still running at around a net quarter of a million a year. You may think this is a good thing. I do not. But the Blairite consensus on this has certainly not yet been over-turned.

    Regarding your second reply Mike, about words, do you really think it serves the cause of truth to describe Trump as, not merely a fascist, or even as bedfellow of Nazis, but as an “actual Nazi”? It surely doesn’t, and it once again strips words of their meaning, in order that they be made to serve as weapons to discredit someone one disapproves of. As with Farage being overshadowed by Trump, what word would you have left if an "actual" (as in, actual) unreconstructed National Socialist emerged, if you’ve already spent the word “Nazi” on doing down Donald Trump?

    There’s a good Wikipedia entry just on the over-use of the word "fascist" as an insult, and George Orwell had some choice things to say on the subject too. We should pay attention to him.

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  7. "Common Sense" = Whatever I agree with.
    "Political Correctness" = Whatever is the opposite of Common sense.

    "Socialist Inspired Chaos" = Which socialist? What chaos? Do you mean "there were rather too many strikes"?

    "Intensely relaxed" = Phrase used by Peter Mandelson: you are using Mandelson/Blair as an example of the "liberal-left"?

    Do you agree with me that Trumps remarks about Muslims, Mexicans and Women during his campaign were monstrous and evil (even if he was only saying it to get votes from people who think that being monstrously evil is a reason to vote for someone.)


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  8. **"Common Sense" = Whatever I agree with**

    Nice for me if that were so, Andrew. Then again, it could instead be something like, to take just one example: the obvious truth that, other things being equal, children are best raised by a married mother and father. (Gasp!)

    **"Political Correctness" = Whatever is the opposite of Common sense.**

    Often so. Or else an unwillingness to acknowledge such obvious truths, sometimes due for fear of the consequences (cf. ex-magistrate Richard Page, Rotherham, to take just two examples)

    **"Socialist Inspired Chaos" = Which socialist?**

    Terry Duffy, Arthur Scargill… need I go on?

    **What chaos?**

    Was the Winter of Discontent, and many similar such farces during the 70s, not chaos? What's behind this strange question?

    **Do you mean "there were rather too many strikes"?**

    This distorted revisionism won't do. Things got a bit worse than "a few too many strikes", as you well know.

    **"Intensely relaxed" = Phrase used by Peter Mandelson: you are using Mandelson/Blair as an example of the "liberal-left"?**

    Absolutely. Despised though he is on the left due to Iraq, Blair’s war on the “forces of conservatism” just about defines the Great Liberal Consensus nonetheless.

    **Do you agree with me that Trumps remarks about Muslims, Mexicans and Women during his campaign were monstrous and evil (even if he was only saying it to get votes from people who think that being monstrously evil is a reason to vote for someone.)**

    Actually I would reserve for things the Final Solution, or the Moors Murders, a phrase like “monstrously evil”. A great many of Trump's remarks, whatever their motive, have been bigoted, idiotic and offensive - but frankly no worse than remarks routinely made, and even applauded, in “respectable” leftist publications like the Guardian towards the left's own targets. I have no time for Trump, but the left's dis-ingenuousness and double-standards have been far more corrosive, and for far longer, than anything he's accomplished, ans well as contributing directly to the election of this unfortunate man.

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  9. Please supply examples from the Guardian of remarks by "leftist" politicians comparable to Trump.

    You see, what we are engage in here is classic diversionary tactics from right-wing apologists. I wrote a very short piece saying that there is a direct line from the racism of the Daily Mail to the racism of Donald Trump. The response is to say "look -- over there". Not to show where I am wrong, but to divert the discussion into the precise definition of "fascist"; and to respond to any suggestion that the Daily Mail is a far-right mouth piece by saying "The Guardian is just as bad." Which is on the precise same level as "Yeah? Well so's your mum." I really do think my first response was the correct one and I should have stuck with it.

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  10. "That depends on [...] what you’d call “conservative” - which is by no means that same thing as what the Tory party purports to believe in at any moment."

    This is very true, as I discussed in some depth here, a few weeks ago.

    However, "Conservative" seems to be the word that we're stuck with for "right wing policies that prioritise the wealthy over the poor and seek to deal with discontent by focusing it on marginalised groups rather than addressing the underlying causes". And since that is exactly what our present Government is doing (and what the previous one did when it was able to evade the moderating influence of the Lib Dems) I don't think "Conservative" is such a bad word for it.

    But I do wish we had an actually-conservative party in the UK.

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  11. "Regarding your second reply Mike, about words, do you really think it serves the cause of truth to describe Trump as, not merely a fascist, or even as bedfellow of Nazis, but as an “actual Nazi”?"

    I wasn't referring to Trump here, but the actual neo-Nazi groups that have arisen in his wake -- the ones we see on videos making Nazi salutes in response to rhetoric like "America has always been white country, to be white is to be a pioneer, we need to claim the country back for white people".

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  12. In an interesting bit of synergy, I now read in the Guardian that Jo Cox's murder was followed by 50,000 tweets celebrating her death -- tweets that "have been interpreted by hate crime campaigners as a sign of an emboldened extreme rightwing support base".

    Now I am not a fan of the concept of "hate crime" -- very George Orwell -- and I don't want to see curtailment of freedom as speech in response to this. But I do want to note that you simply don't get this kind of thing from the extreme left. For a start they don't murder their political opponents. A lot of what could otherwise be rational analysis of what's happening now in politics gets lost in the search for a kind left-right equivalency. But they are not equivalent.

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  13. They do say that replying to yourself is the first sign of madness.

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  14. Forgive the delay Andrew, I know you'll have missed me (!).

    **Please supply examples from the Guardian of remarks by "leftist" politicians comparable to Trump.

    Only this weekend we had one Mr. Corbyn describing the late Castro as "a champion of social justice" - which, since it presumably wasn't meant as a joke, is grotesque enough to easily rival even the most ludicrous of Trump's outbursts. Of course I'm not blaming the Guardian itself for that one. But "Comment is Free" itself (an ironic misnomer, given the one-sidedness of its output and the notorious censoriousness of its moderators) is often a descent into a moral universe far more noxious than Trump or the Daily Mail. Here, just for instance, is that reliable race-baiter Steven Thrasher today, recalling with misty-eyed reverence and approval the words of his late father:

    "Because conservatism, by its very nature, is racist! ... It’s anti-anything that isn’t white, Anglo Saxon, Protestant male. Because that group wants to preserve what it has illegally gained and wishes to continue – in politics, and in economics. And it will use the political institution to keep their gains, even though they weren’t gained honestly or legally."

    Obviously Thrasher Snr. was no grammarian. But still - this sort of racist stereotyping never seems to count as "hate-speech" when it's from the left. Do you see any connection between that sort of inconsistency, which has been strangely socially acceptable for so long now, and the rise of what you call "right-wing populism"?

    **You see, what we are engaged in here is classic diversionary tactics from right-wing apologists .**

    My pointing out your double-standards wasn't "what-aboutery", it was an attempt to answer your whinge that no one paid attention when "we" (presumably, if not the Royal "we", what now passes for the left of politics) warned "you" (that's us not-of-the-left plebs, I suppose) about this, that and the other thing. I'm not trying to divert attention from anything whatsoever, why would I do this? Likewise, calling me "right-wing" is just another example of the debased lexicon on which I challenged you in the first place. You may be firmly of the left, but our having this difference of view does not, of itself, make me right-wing.

    **I wrote a very short piece saying that there is a direct line from the racism of the Daily Mail to the racism of Donald Trump.**

    But you didn't just do that. Those were only incidental assertions to support your main moan, which was that everything would all be so much better if only "we" had listened to "you". And yet your own reaction when this rather presumptuous little lecture is challenged to say "please go away", then complain that I'm not playing fair because I offer your own double-standards as a possible explanation for your own bafflement. Then, finally, you return to "go away".

    Does this ostrich-like behaviour not strike you as even a little bit ironic? Can you not see that down that path lies only further incomprehension and alienation at the turn the world is taking?

    **I really do think my first response was the correct one and I should have stuck with it.**

    Oh, very well. Having followed your writing (and bought your books) for so long I was disappointed at being dismissed so discourteously, but this is your blog so I must do as you ask. I'm hopeful that in person you're not the rather ill-tempered and over-sensitive fellow I've encountered here. Perhaps it's just the medium that brings that out in us.

    But let some air in Rilstone, please, because you're too good a writer to become just another standard-issue left-wing bore. I'll continue to be a supporter of your writing, and perhaps one day you'll tolerate me being a critic too.

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  15. *Only this weekend we had one Mr. Corbyn describing the late Castro as "a champion of social justice" - which, since it presumably wasn't meant as a joke, is grotesque enough to easily rival even the most ludicrous of Trump's outbursts.*

    No. No it really isn't. It might be comparable to Thatcher calling Pinochet a friend of the UK, I suppose, or the Queen saying that the Saudis share our values. I agree that the left tend to notice the good things done by communists (and conveniently forget the bad things) where the right tend to point to the bad things done by communists (and conveniently forget the good things.)It's not comparable with saying that Mexican immigrants are all murderers and rapists or that climate change is a fraud by the Chines.

    *Obviously Thrasher Snr. was no grammarian. But still - this sort of racist stereotyping never seems to count as "hate-speech" when it's from the left.*

    Because it isn't. Thrasher makes an argument that Conservatism is about maintaining the privilege of those who already have it -- that it frames "We need more black teachers" as "White people BANNED from becoming teachers." This may or may not be a good argument, but it isn't comparable to hate speech. This is, if I may say so, a slightly more gentile version of the tactic which the Gamergaters were using against me. They pretend that they think "why are you cross with me?" is internet harassment which will give them PTSD: what they mean is that they think all claims of internet harassment and PTSD are silly and trivial. You claim that not very well worded claim that Conservatism is about white privilege is "hate speech"; which suggests that you think that calling someone a n-r or nailing strips of bacon to the door of a mosque is no more serious than making this kind of argument.

    *Likewise, calling me "right-wing" is just another example of the debased lexicon on which I challenged you in the first place. You may be firmly of the left, but our having this difference of view does not, of itself, make me right-wing.*

    The tactics you are using in this debate are comparable to the tactics that Gamergate, the Puppies and other alt-right and neo-Nazi groups routinely use. Whether you personally are right wing I couldn't possibly say, of course. I assume you are in the old sense a "troll" -- someone who is being contrarian for the fun of it.

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  16. *Those were only incidental assertions to support your main moan, which was that everything would all be so much better if only "we" had listened to "you"*

    No. No, no, no. No. No. No. I do not believe that you have read my blog for some time and understand my rhetorical techniques so badly. What I presented, as anyone who was actually conscious could be, was provide a parody of Martin Niemoller famus speech about fascism. The point of the parody, as anyone who actually read it could tell, was that I felt that a process which starts by someone saying "Now you can't even put pictures of wogs on jam jars" and develops into comparing Syrians with rates and cockroaches very naturally leads to politicians saying that they would like to imprison a million dark skinned terrorist suspects without trial. "We" is everybody -- I have been a very very very small voice -- saying "The Daily Mail and Katie Hopkins are basically soft-pedelling fascism."

    *But let some air in Rilstone, please, because you're too good a writer to become just another standard-issue left-wing bore. I'll continue to be a supporter of your writing, and perhaps one day you'll tolerate me being a critic too.*

    I don't know if you have ever come across the word "patronising" before? It means talking down to someone. It would be great if you, or someone, or anyone, would criticise the writing I actually care about and put time into: about comic books or Doctor Who or music or the Gospels. I didn't hear a criticism of my writing from you. Look, I can write one myself:

    "Straight after the election result from America, Rilstone wrote a short skit on the famous 'First they came for the Jews...' piece. He insinuated that he -- and many other critics from the left -- had long argued that the Daily Mail and Daily Express, by printing fictitious "political correctness gone made" stories were creating a climate in which much more serious racism (like comparing immigrants with cockroaches and actively celebrating the deaths of refugee children) would be normalized, and that this created the conditions under which Trump could be elected. Whether Trump could literally be called a fascist is debatable: but there is no doubt that the Klan, American Nazis, Gamergate, the Puppies and Katie Hopkins actively celebrated his election. It is also debatable whether the populist racism of the English press had a direct analogy in America..."

    What you offered was a standard issue Trump-apologist oh its all the fault of hilary she's so right wing much too left wing too establishment not a man of the people with a solid gold skyscraper obviously if working class people are sad because the capitalists have closed their factories they are going to elect a billionaire businessmen screed

    basically, this is too serious too play games with. as i keep saying: a disagreement between a Thatcherite and a Corbynite is a disagreement about politics. a disagreement between a supporter of trump or an apologist for trump and a person who is horrfied by trump is a disagreement about basic morality and basic humanity. you are going to come back and sound oh so very very reasonable in the hope that you can all have a very good laugh by making the funny socialist angry. but i thing we should have all got beyond that.

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  17. A disagreement between a Thatcherite and a Corbynite is a disagreement about politics; a disagreement between a supporter of Trump or an Apologist for trump and a person who is horrfied by Trump is a disagreement about basic morality and basic humanity.

    And that is the very root of the issue -- what I have been trying, and failing, to say in three of my last four blog-posts.

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  18. if you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this thread, please phone this number:

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