Sunday, July 29, 2012

Please don't read the Daily Mail, it's not good for your spiritual health

This is reposted in entirety from freelance writer John Walker's blog, I saw the original Mail article on line, and a disgraceful bit of trash it was. I think his analysis is spot on, and is a timely warning about casual racism in the mainstream press.

The Daily Mail, And How An NHS Death Means… Racism Is Fine?

by  on Jul.28, 2012, under The Rest
UPDATE: That was quick. About five minutes after I posted, the Mail’s story was ninja edited, without acknowledgement, to remove the most outrageously racist lines. Where once it read:
“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.
Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer. The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London. This multicultural equality agenda was so staged it was painful to watch.”
It now reads:
“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but such set-ups are simply not the ‘norm’ in any part of the country. So why was it portrayed like this and given such prominence? If it was intended to be something that we can celebrate, that two people with different colour skin and different cultural heritages can live harmoniously together, then it deserves praise.
But what will be disturbing to many people is top-down political manipulation – whether consciously or unthinkingly – at a major sporting event.”
It’s the most extraordinary change to the text, completely reversing the meaning the author originally intended, and completely incongruous to the paragraphs either side of it, which still endorse Aidan Burley’s “leftie multicultural crap” tweet.
You can see scans of the original article, before these changes were made, here: 123and 4.
Original: I am very aware that getting cross with Daily Mail articles is like shouting about how the sun can be hot. However, my motivation is not to cry, “How dare they!”, but instead to say, “Please understand that they do.” I still meet many people who do not understand how the Daily Mail is not just another tabloid, not just as bad as the rest of them, but instead something far more despicable and dangerous. It’s one of the most popular papers in Britain, and when we say, “Just ignore it – they’re just trying to get hits,” I shudder. We do not ignore evil – we challenge it and get angry about it. We make more people aware. Some people reading won’t have realised. And others can maybe point someone this way when they ask what they’re getting so worked up about.
The particular piece that’s riled me this evening is elegantly titled, “The NHS did not deserve to be so disgracefully glorified in this bonanza of left-wing propaganda“. That the Mail would write a piece arguing that the NHS is a bad thing, and should have had no part in the Olympic opening ceremony, is not a surprise. They’re a vicious and spiteful paper, and their agenda against the poor and needy is over a hundred years old. The NHS is the antithesis of everything they stand for, a socialist blight on our nation they’d rather do without. And while there are a thousand reasons to get cross about that, it’s not the issue with this piece. The issue is what’s smuggled in there.
This is why the Mail is so insidious, and so dangerous. It’s written in a very particular way, designed to sweep readers up in a froth of anger, before then slipping in various suggestions of what else they should think. Although written as, “And here’s what you already think, of course.” While I have strong issues with many other newspapers, from the hypocrisy of the Murdoch press, to the near fascistic support for anything “left” in the Guardian, nothing upsets me nor fills me with fear as much as the prose style of the Mail.
So the story is utter nonsense from top to bottom. I don’t know the particulars of the sad case they describe, where they claim an NHS patient died because he was denied a glass of water for a few days. The story is so full of holes that I can’t even begin to imagine what actually happened. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that a young man was left to die by some incompetent medical practitioners. What on Earth does that have to do with the NHS as a concept? We’re asked to assume that whatever the unnamed issues with the NHS are, these mystery failings were directly the reason why this man died. While the NHS certainly does have very many serious problems, I’m fairly sure none of them is the routine practise of leaving people to die of thirst, as a policy. While the mess of management, and appalling treatment of nurses, lack of doctors, and so on are all matters that obviously deserve attention, it’s my guess that the idea of free access to medical care, funded by tax payers, doesn’t implicitly ban the giving of water to patients. But this is the evidence given in the idiotic piece for why it was so “disgraceful” to portray the NHS as something of which to be proud, and the reader is assumed too stupid to stop to give it a moment’s thought.
But as I say, as stupid and as wildly inaccurate as that might be, that’s not what chills me about the article. That comes after we’re done being told how the National Health Service Act 1946 murdered a man, when it mentions the Olympic scene featuring Bond and the Queen and adds,
“But it was the absurdly unrealistic scene – and indeed one that would spring from the kind of nonsensical targets and equality quotas we see in the NHS – showing a mixed-race middle-class family in a detached new-build suburban home, which was most symptomatic of the politically correct agenda in modern Britain.”
There’s the right turn. While books could be written about the tragedy of the warping of the phrase “politically correct” (the absurd notion that we should be sensitive to others in how we speak and act – throw up our arms in unified horror), it’s thrown in to ensure the fervent Mail reader is adequately riled. “The NHS murdered that boy, and they had the temerity to not hate the entire institution, and now they’re being POLITICALLY CORRECT about something or other?!” And then it comes:
“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.”
Just wow.
Such a phenomenally racist statement, made with such nonchalance, in a piece about the failings of the NHS. Such a deeply wretched and despicable comment, suggesting the very notion of a stable mixed race family being even a possibility is ridiculous. It would be “a challenge” for the organisers of the Olympic opening ceremony to find a happy interracial couple? A ceremony taking place in EAST LONDON?
I live in Bath, for the love of God – a place so white that no one dares drink red wine in case they spill some and stain it forever. And I immediately think of two mixed race couples with children with whom I’m good friends, among a good deal more I know. (I realise I’m so damned close to saying, “Some of my best friends are…” but I’m just trying to make the point that even Aryan Bath would make a great place for the organisers to start their hunt.) Then there’s that word, “educated”. It’s a horribly written sentence, so it’s not clear if he’s deliberately only referring to the “white middle-aged mother” as such, and not the “black father”, but it wouldn’t be particularly surprising. But what does “educated” have to do with it? Does he believe that mixed-race couples can only be stupid people? That education would prevent such a thing happening? And what about “happy”? If they weren’t educated but happy, presumably that’s because they’re too stupid to know how awful their lives must be? But as soon as they get some smarts, there’s no chance of happiness, right?
It’s just horrendous. And it continues. The writer’s disgust cannot understand how an event representing Britain, taking place in London, should have continued including people who aren’t white:
“Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer. The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London. This multicultural equality agenda was so staged it was painful to watch.”
At this point any pretence at ambiguity is abandoned. It’s a man – Rick Dewsbury – just voicing his hate that there are black people living in London. He’s given up pretending this is about the NHS – now it’s just the unbridled horror that East London contains black youths, listening to their electronic music. In a master-strike, he then even endorses disgraced Tory MP Aidan Burley, and his appalling tweets from during the event, where he called it “leftie multicultural crap”.
“Yet predictably he has been castigated by Twitter’s Guadianista [sic] brigade.”
Well, no, he was castigated by people who think the Guardian is terrible too, because he made a statement that made him sound like a racist bigot. Because, Rick, when you call something “multicultural crap”, it means you’re a racist bigot.
Then he calls it “social engineering”, before insanely swerving back onto his original road of hating the NHS as if it were what he’d been talking about all along, including adding a statement about how there are some parts of the NHS we can be proud of right at the end, seemingly contradicting the start of his own piece.
That’s a regular trick the Mail uses, too. Along with the bait-and-switch articles, where being indignant about one subject wildly steers into being indignant about another, where utterly unsupportable – or even downright untrue – statements are made, a contradictory line is added at the very bottom. It’s designed as a Get Out Of Jail, a way of justifying what comes before. But what comes before is designed to make it irrelevant. The Mail reader is supposed to be so incensed by this point that the cowardly reverse-ferret line (usually instantly contradicted once more, as it is here) has no effect at all.
It’s this insidious endorsing of bigotry, wormed into articles on any subject, that makes me so scared of the paper and its power. Because when a newspaper says, “Well, it’s because of those bloody blacks, isn’t it?” apropos of nothing, the reader will feel more comfortable with expressing and believing the same. Of course it will. And when it’s a best-selling daily newspaper, and printed on the most popular newspaper website in the world, it’s racist bigotry presented as factual news in a mainstream form. And that’s bloody terrifying.

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