I’m sure most people are aware that Nick Griffin is set to appear on BBC’s Question Time tomorrow night and I’m sure it is far to say that opinion has been somewhat divided over the BBC allowing him to appear. From my point of view I have no real argument to make against him appearing and I only hope that the others attending are up the job of pointing out the hatred and holes in his rhetoric. However, it is interesting to see a series of journalists scrabbling to distance themselves from the BNP, as if they wouldn’t be seen dead talking to them and definitely are not responsible for creating popular support for a fascist party. Step forward two principle Daily Mail writers: Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn.
It has been pointed out in the past that Melanie Phillips seems to be officially endorsed by the BNP and that her incessant rambling about the ‘Islamification’ of every aspect of Britain is there for everyone to see on her blog and on the Daily Mail website. Yet this week she has been trying to make out that the BNP are racist, but some of the things that they stand for – and she calls for – are not, such as standing up against ‘mass immigration, Islamisation and the loss of sovereignty to the EU’. However, one could easily argue that having such viewpoints demonstrates at least an ignorance of reality and at most demonstrate that the person raising those points is racist. Melanie Phillips constantly flogs the ‘open-border, uncontrolled immigration’ myth which the BNP feeds on, so it is no wonder that now that Nick Griffin – the demon child partly raised by the tabloid press – is about to go very public certain writers who peddle such myths are worried that Nick Griffin being shot down rightly is a blow to their credibility to.
Richard Littlejohn has written a similar article this week arguing that he wouldn’t want to debate with Nick Griffin because ‘Once you’ve said he’s a racist, where else is there to go?’ and makes some valid points in his article about why the BNP are unsavoury and racist. However, Richard Littlejohn is being extremely hypocritical when criticising the BNP because he is one of journalists most responsible for repeating myths about immigrants and other minority groups. Nick Griffin once said that Littlejohn was his favourite writer and judging by the comments underneath his column today an awful lot of BNP supporters are very upset that Littlejohn of all people should be sticking the boot into the organisation that he is usually so reliably providing ammunition for.
As if to prove just how Littlejohn’s inherent racism supports the BNP agenda he finds himself inserting an anti-immigrant story right next to his piece on the nasty BNP, is he really that thick? Yes, he is, in a column when Littlejohn is trying to distance himself from the BNP he supplies them with some more made-up fodder. The title of the piece quickly dismisses the notion that Littlejohn is not racist: ‘Hey diddle diddle, they are all on the fiddle’. The ‘they’ that Littlejohn refers to is of course immigrants, he is stating, in an article that tries to argue against the overt racism of the BNP that all immigrants are on the fiddle. Just who is Littlejohn trying to kid when he claims not to support what the BNP stand for? This is exactly the kind of shit that the BNP and Nick Griffin love him for.
Naturally the content of the article is completely ficiticious and Tabloid Watch had taken it apart the day before Littlejohn regurgitated it – and he predicted that Littlejohn wouldn’t be able to resist sticking it in his column. Littlejohn isn’t just a racist, he’s a predictable racist that is incapable of doing even the most basic piece of research. As Johann Hari pointed out during an TV encounter with Littlejohn and a BNP member a few years back:
For him to present himself as a neutral arbiter between the BNP and non-fascists was so absurd (and typical of Rupert Murdoch’s empire) that I thought I could have a chance to expose that too. After all, BNP leader Nick Griffin has described Littlejohn as his favourite writer… The BNP fool was very easily dispensed with… So I asked Richard how much a single asylum seeker is given in benefits each week. You’d think that a journalist who writes about asylum twice a week would, of course, know something so incredibly basic. His response was clear. He snapped: “I have no idea”.
No idea. I pointed out that he refers constantly to asylum-seekers being “hosed down” with benefits… He began to howl: “It’s people like you who help the BNP!” He declined to talk me through the mysterious process by which people who peddle urban myths, exaggerations and prejudice about asylum-seekers are really stopping the BNP, and people who correct those distortions are helping them… Littlejohn’s response was to accuse me of staging “a student prank”.
Likewise, Littlejohn offering criticism today of the BNP is utterly absurd when his ‘journalism’ does so much to champion their cause. As No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands argues:
Let me make myself clear; the BNP are much worse than Phillips and Littlejohn, and I’m not trying to suggest their views are identical. But when Mail columnists like them constantly bang on about political correctness stifling debate, and depict accusations of racism as underhand tricks to create ‘thought crimes’, when you repeatedly say, as Phillips does, that “The hallmark of a liberal society is the toleration of offensive views”, can they then realistically simply dismiss the BNP as racists? As Five Chinese Crackers wrote, these extremist groups seem to be at least partly fuelled by the relentlessly negative stories about Muslims and immigration and overbearing political correctness that the Mail churns out. I can’t help but feel that when Mail writers lash out at the BNP, maybe somewhere in there should be a little twinge of guilt. There won’t be, of course, they simply blame it on the left.
I’m inclined to be less generous to Littlejohn here, I think as a very highly-paid journalist we should expect more from him, we should expect him to engage with facts and stop publishing unfounded hate stories against minority groups. I’d like him to stop saying that every immigrant arriving in the UK is ‘on the fiddle’ and only here to milk a generous benefits system that ‘indigenous whites’ don’t have access to. I’d like him to stop referring to the absurd notion that the UK has ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and ‘no border controls’. I’d like him to stop mocking gays and other minority groups that the BNP hate simply because he thinks it is so hilarious to pander to the prejudices of his moronic readership. I’m not overly inclined to criticise Melanie Phillips because I genuinely believe her to be mentally ill – and I do not say this flippantly or lightly, I have just simply come to that conclusion because her articles are so detached from reality.
I’d also point out that often people try to argue that members of the BNP learn their hatred and maintain through a lack of education and ignorance. The tabloid press is responsible for creating and repeating myths about minority groups, so are they as guilty or even more guilty than those who believe such myths? It is far too easy to trust the content of a newspaper and to really believe that Littlejohn ‘couldn’t make it up’, which lays more guilt at the hands of Littlejohn than the morons that follow the BNP. This isn’t to lessen the burden of responsibility that should be felt by those who follow the BNP, because at some point they have chosen the path of hatred and paranoia and they must take ownership of this choice.
Nonetheless I cannot help but feel that the tabloid press is behaving incredibly hypocritically when it runs any criticism of the BNP when it publishes vile racism every single day. Take today’s article by Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express, it is every bit as abhorrent as Jan Moir’s article on Stephen Gately yet it passes by with hardy a ripple. Racism is the staple diet of the tabloid press and outside of certain blogs it is very rarely commented on, until this changes and the tabloids banish their own inherently racist tendencies they should play no part in criticising the emergence of the BNP as a faintly credible political party – especially you Littlejohn.