Tag Archives: bigots

1 in 25 adults buy the Daily Mail

And every single one of them should be ashamed of themselves:

Daily Mail Scum

This is a headline that is printed every other month by the Mail along with the Express, as if each time it is somehow shocking and new that children with different skin colours attend British schools. That national newspapers can regularly print stories that are essentially just pure racist outrage against primary school children is a disgrace.

If the out-and-out racism doesn’t offend you, then you might be interested in some examples of how these stories are rarely backed-up by the statistics they claim to be drawing on:

The Mail’s article kind of ends with something that is an ambivalently extreme example:

An extreme example

On the one hand the short article underneath demonstrates that the school is doing brilliantly and it’s actually on the surface a tale of racial harmony being achieved by young people who aren’t as bitter, blinkered and scared as your average Daily Mail reader. However, clearly this is an extreme example that hasn’t been chosen for this purpose, but rather as a great photo for readers to start frothing at the mouth to as they play their favourite ‘spot the white kid’ game. The headline figure says ‘1 in 5′ are ethnic minorities, the picture shows (as far as my eyesight can tell) that white kids are about 2 in 27 – and who knows, even the white ones could be ethnic minorities (This kind of highlights the stupidity of xenophobia and racism really. What is an ethnic minority? Is it a white Australian child in a class? Or is it the child born in Britain but who does not have pasty white skin?).

Who cares? They’re children, in school – innocent of every crime apart from looking slightly different to one another.

Then you scroll down to a seperate article tagged on to the main article:

Oh, I get it now.

I see, more ethnics means less places for white kids and white parents are left scrapping for their chosen schools. It all makes perfect sense now.

Then you scroll to the comments, and – knowing perfectly well what you will find – you click on ‘Best rated':

Bloody Daily Mail readers

I just have to keep reminding myself that Daily Mail readers are just an unpleasant minority – and people who think Peter Hitchens is right about anything even more so.

Consequences

I haven’t got time to go into all of the Muslim related stories on the Mail website today, but I have singled out this ‘story’ for particular attention: ‘Censored! Bikini advert blacked out with spray paint by ‘Muslim extremists who object to women in swimsuits‘ [istyosty.com link]. Now, given the racial tension in the UK caused by ignorance, recession and incessant media stories like this, if we had a responsible and regulated press in the UK this ‘story’ would never have been published.

It is based on a photo of one advertising boarding in Birmingham being partly sprayed with black paint. Now, this boarding happens to be in an area the Mail describes as having ‘a large Muslim population’ and the poster is situated across the road from a ‘”Muslim Students House Masjeed”, an education centre’. The Mail’s opening claims is that ‘the model on this poster, in Birmingham, has been defaced in an act of vandalism blamed on militant Muslims who were offended by her flesh’.

The Mail’s reasoning for this is that:

Similar acts of vandalism have been carried out in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Police there also believe extremists are responsible.

No further details are given in this article to the Tower Hamlets incidents – but the Mail does have an entire article dedicated to the ‘Tower Hamlet Taliban’ elsewhere on the website – but the opening is worded to imply that this incident in Birmingham is also being linked by the police to Muslim extremists. But this does not seem to be the case when you assess the ‘evidence’ upon which the Mail is basing its claims:

The fact that almost all of the model’s flesh has been covered has led local residents to speculate that the vandalism was not random, but a religiously-motivated targeted attack.

Delivery driver Robert Tonkins, 45, said: “You see a lot of women wearing the hijab around here, and what’s been done to that poster looks very similar to it.

‘I don’t think it’s just kids messing around – they’ve spray-painted specific areas and covered up anything that might be offensive to very religious people.

‘It’s a bit worrying, I don’t think it’s up to other people to decide what can and can’t be displayed on our streets, especially because we’re a Christian country.’

And that’s it. That is the end of the article. No further evidence, no contact with the police or the council or anyone in the area, just the suspicions of one man. This isn’t journalism – it is barely even gossip – but it is of course serving an important purpose: the continued demonisation of Muslims for things we don’t even know that ‘they’ (I dislike having to refer to ‘them’ as a group as if ‘they’ are somehow all the same and very different to me or you) are responsible for.

As much as the Daily Mail may claim to dislike the EDL this is the sort of article that unleashes a torrent of racist abuse on EDL Facebook pages. What’s more worrying is that people who aren’t inherently racist see this kind of story most days in mainstream, supposedly respectable newspapers and they start to have doubts about the way in which religious relations are conducted in this country. These people then say things like this:

I’m not racist, but I do think that we have gone to far in pandering to Muslims. I mean, they do seem to get away with an awful lot, don’t they?

And, in fairness, if you only had the world delivered to you through the Daily Mail or any of its tabloid chums then you cannot be overly criticised for having this kind of view. If Muslims were banning extractor fans, defacing advertising boardings, banning Christmas, banning Easter, demanding Muslim-only hole in the ground toilets from local councils, demanding Sharia Law and all the while the government was rolling out the red carpet with housing, benefits and widescreen TVs, then we’d all have reasons to question the fairness of the system.

But of course the above stories are all an invention of our unregulated media. The above is a powerful media narrative that today’s story feeds into. It is a campaign of disinformation that not only feeds the EDL, but also creates division in more mainstream individuals by convincing them that a real unfairness does exist. Therefore the Mail can denigrate the EDL for being racist, whilst at the same time offering such stories as a massive BUT for all readers to realise that there is a real problem.

In many ways this is a clever way of the Mail removing racism (I know Islam is a religion, but racism is behind much of the sentiment aimed as you will see shortly) from the debate. Essentially what the Mail is doing is saying:

We do not support the EDL or the BNP because we are not racist, we do not have any issues with Muslims on racial or religious grounds. However, we do believe that there is a real issue in which extremist Muslims have began to politically and culturally dominate parts of the UK.

It’s all about maintaining the veneer of respectability for the ‘debate’ which they supposedly want to have. It’s exactly the same as the media narrative on immigration: ‘we’re not racist, we hate the EDL and the BNP, we just want a proper debate on the real issues surrounding immigration’.

But the Mail (or any other tabloid) cannot maintain the pretence of not being a deeply racist newspaper when they frame the ‘debate’ (note: there is no real debate) with a series of offensive lies about Muslims – or immigrants. Newspapers may have pretty low journalistic standards these days, but they would not go to print with this story if the perpetrators were suspected of being extremist Christians (who can be just as puritanical as anybody). They’d probably want insignificant stuff like ‘evidence’ before they went ahead and covered that – if, of course, they covered it at all.

The appetite for Muslim-bashing articles is obviously healthy otherwise the newspaper business would not keep printing them. What the Mail should be constantly reminded of is that whilst making their core readership a little bit more racist might only lead to a few more UKIP / Tory votes and more ignorant gossiping over garden fences across Middle England; at the same time they are feeding a completely different readership in the EDL. As you can see, the consequences of feeding this group is going to be a whole lot more serious:

Too many brown faces in Question Time audience, says Littlejohn

Appropriately, Richard Littlejohn’s last appearance on BBC’s Question Time came on the first of April 2010. It was in Stevenage and Richard Littlejohn looks back on this appearance in his column today – a column that calls for Question Time to be scrapped and ‘put out of its misery’. Why exactly does he want the show to be scrapped, what was it about his final appearance (he insists he has turned down invitations to appear on the show since) that made him no longer want to engage with the public?

Well, it all seems to boil down to the fact that Richard Littlejohn is a bit of a racist xenophobe. He just hates stepping outside of his own gated, white, affluent, Conservative monkeysphere and realising that we’re actually a diverse bunch of non-tory voters. Richard Littlejohn recounts how in Stevenage he looked into the audience and saw:

The audience is always the same noxious, inarticulate blend of Left-wing local government activists, NHS malcontents, trades union officials, spotty students and women in headscarves. Occasionally, they throw in a couple of comedy Tories with dandruff, for the rest of the crowd to boo.

Last time I was on the programme, it came from Stevenage, Herts, where 93 per cent of the population is white, and which elected a Conservative MP in 2010 with 41.4 per cent of the vote.

Yet the audience looked as if it had been bussed in from central casting, carefully selected to reflect the BBC’s view of what Britain should look like. If 41.4 per cent of that audience were Conservative voters, they did a damn good job of disguising it.

He saw the people outside of his monkeysphere and labelled them all as enemies. He saw not just women – a group he has always reserved a special level of deep hatred for over the years – but, gulp, women in headscarves. Thus his ultimate fears – women and foreigners – were combined in one frightening instant before his droopy, vision-less eyes. For the record whilst it is true that 41.4 per cent of people voted Conservative, it should be noted that 33.4 per cent voted Labour (the seat had been retained by Labour since 1997) and another 16.6% Lib Dem. Therefore Conservatives voters where never likely to form the majority of the audience – even more so when the local turnout for the election was only 64.8 per cent.

As for expecting 93% of the audience to be white, well, isn’t the point of BBC programming to be as representative as possible and in particular political discussions should be as inclusive as possible – which is kind of the point in Question Time giving a wide audience of people the chance to engage with senior politicians.

You will have noticed that I suggested Richard Littlejohn was a racist at the start of this post, it is a point he is always quick to deny. In fact he fielded a question during his last Question Time appearance from a young lad who suggested he was a favourite writer of BNP leader Nick Griffin, which he was, Nick Griffin said so. Littlejohn reacted very angrily and made the young lad retract the accusation. I’m pretty sure Richard Littlejohn would never read this blog, but if he does and he wants to get his lawyers in touch for libel I think I would take my chances and stand by my belief that Richard Littlejohn is racist.

Richard does not help his case by constantly providing my point of view with clear evidence, as he does in his column today. When he remembers looking at the audience in Stevenage he recounts his shock that it wasn’t the 93 per cent white, 41.4 per cent Tory audience he had hoped for and comments:

I took one look at them and thought to myself: if this is a true representation of the people of Stevenage, then we really are all going to hell in a handcart.

I’m not quite sure how he could argue that this isn’t a blatantly racist statement, especially given his statistical prelude in which he tried to argue that the number of brown faces in the audience should have been minimal. He is basically suggesting that when even Tory-voting white enclaves are dappled with brown faces then the end of the world is nigh – he is after all suggesting that such a path is a path towards hell. Add to this his normal inverted comma disdain of any attempt to ‘celebrate the “diversity” of the nation’ and you can see why Littlejohn candidly admits that you ‘shouldn’t waste your time’ applying to be in the audience ‘if you happen to be a Daily Mail reader’ (although he doesn’t comment on the frequent appearances of Mail columnists on Question Time, probably because this kind of ruins his very narrow, silly argument).

Indeed, what Richard Littlejohn fails to see is that his argument for why Question Time should be scrapped is actually a pretty compelling argument for why Question Time should carry on just as it is. If you are a Daily Mail reader, or tabloid reader in general, then you already have many ‘news’ outlets filled with xenophobic, dishonest bile that you can cuddle up to everyday; you don’t need Question Time to be turned into more of the same. Littlejohn complains that the BBC should ‘devise a programme which accurately reflects the wider views of the great British public’, without realising that it does reflect the wider views of the public, what it is careful to avoid is representing the noisy minority whom Richard Littlejohn writes for.

Irrespective of how hard the right-wing media try to turn us into a nation of xenophobic, ignorant bigots, Question Time demonstrates time and again that they’ve not succeeded. When a right-wing journalist gets a hard time on Question Time from the audience it is not because that audience is stuffed full of liberal malcontents, but rather that an intelligent audience can easily see through the usual distortions trotted out by such people. What Littlejohn sees when he looks into a Question Time audience is the future: diverse, intelligent, concerned and proactive individuals who want a fairer world for everyone (along with the occasional person that makes me facepalm as happened last night). It is the reason that tired, simple, Conservative thinkers like Littlejohn rarely step outside of their own sycophantic mailbag, and why they decide to lock themselves away in gated communities in foreign countries.

As a brief aside, I also found it amusing for Richard to describe the audience as ‘inarticulate’ given his past record of very famous verbal humiliations, and to claim that Question Time has passed its best when earlier this week he plagiarised his own writing, again, and made a claim that was astoundingly stupid, even by his standards:

Haringey hired someone to give hopscotch lessons to Asian women.

As Full Fact points out:

Back in 1995, former Conservative Party Chairman Brian Mawhinney regaled his Party’s Conference with a story of how taxpayer’s money was being similarly spent on hopscotch for Asian women.

In fact, it later transpired that the public money had been given to the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre, a well-respected voluntary organisation that deals with domestic violence, language and integration issues in Camden, which neighbours Haringey.

So could a similar misunderstanding have been made by Richard Littlejohn?

We contacted Hanringey Borough Council to ask about the mysterious job, who weren’t aware of one fitting Mr Littlejohn’s description. We’ve also tried to get in touch with Mr Littlejohn himself to find out more about how he came across this vacancy, but have yet to hear back from him.

But the Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre did advertise for a management position in May last year.

So whilst as yet we’re unable to say with complete certainty that Haringey haven’t been engaging the services of Asian hopscotch specialists, given the claim’s history and the proximity of an Asian women’s voluntary centre named Hopscotch to Haringey, you might be advised to treat this particular “non-job” with some scepticism.

And isn’t it funny how Richard Littlejohn is only now calling for the scrapping of Question Time, when largely Conservative politicians are getting grief, when he seemed perfectly happy to appear when Labour were getting the same treatment. Or perhaps the audiences back then were still white enough, perhaps his brain has a clear limit on the amount of brown faces in a crowd that are acceptable and it was finally broken last April?

Who knows. What I do know is that if Richard Littlejohn is concerned about certain things passing their sale-by-date, he should really start with his own career.

Multiculturalism and the Monkeysphere

The Monkeysphere is the group of people who each of us, using our monkeyish brains, are able to conceptualize as people. If the monkey scientists are monkey right, it’s physically impossible for this to be a number much larger than 150…

we all have limits to our sphere of monkey concern. It’s the way our brains are built. We each have a certain circle of people who we think of as people, usually our own friends and family and neighbors, and then maybe some classmates or coworkers…

Those who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They’re sort of one-dimensional bit characters.
David Wong, What is the Monkeysphere?

Whenever I hear people argue that multiculturalism is dead I always think of Dunbar’s number and the Monkeysphere. Robin Dunbar – an anthropologist – researched monkey brains and found that the number of social group members a primate can track appears to be limited by the volume of the neocortex region of their brain. He then studied a human brain and estimated (based on the volume of the neocortex) that human beings also suffer from a similar limit (albeit slightly larger than a monkey) and theorized that the average human being can maintain a stable social relationship with a maximum of around 150 people.

As the above quotation suggests, anyone outside of this sphere of understanding essentially becomes a caricature, a one dimensional stereotype that is simply not a real human being to us. It is for this reason that we can be extremely upset when a loved one has a bad day at work, but can remain surprisingly unperturbed when a busload of schoolkids plunges over a cliff in Chile. We simply do not have the mental capacity to visualise them as human beings. Some people argue that this limited number serves an evolutionary purpose, for why should we concern ourselves with the lives of those that we cannot possibly influence? 24 hour rolling global news can be a terribly depressing affair, given that all of the events take place outside our monkeysphere and we have virtually no chance of having a positive impact or influence on any of the awful events we witness. We’re selfish creatures able to enjoy buying clothes that we know are made by kids in sweatshops because our brains don’t force us to see them as being like the children that reside in our monkeysphere – they exist only fleetingly in an uncaring periphery.

Given the high rate of depression in developed nations it appears that stepping outside of our limited social sphere is not good for us and that in many ways, ignorance is bliss. This brings me back to this idea – so loved by politicians, the media and nationalist groups – that a national culture really exists and that we must somehow all engage with defending it. David Cameron’s recent declaration that ‘Multiculturalism has failed’ just doesn’t stand up to the merest whiff of scrutiny. Culture isn’t a racial thing, it isn’t something that divides people of different skin colours, it is something that divides all of us. Just as I have absolutely nothing in common with a stereotypical EDL member and would never envisage socialising with one, David Cameron would never dream of socialising – or even having anything in common with – 95% of the UK. Likewise, I can never imagine socialising with the elite into which Cameron and most of the elected cabinet of our government were born: culturally we are divided by an impassable chasm.

For David Cameron to imply that Britain has some kind of culture that immigrants should be assimilated into is quite ridiculous, because the people of Britain are not an homogeneous blob. We all live in our own little Monkeyspheres which are full of people just like us. We don’t really know anyone outside of this sphere and what’s more we don’t have the capacity to really know anyone outside of this sphere (nor necessarily the desire). David Cameron and his elitist monkey-chums don’t know anybody who doesn’t have inherited wealth, he’s not necessarily taking any pleasure in the cuts that his government is pushing through, he just simply doesn’t understand the concerns of those who live outside of his monkeysphere. He doesn’t know anyone who has ever had to rely on the government for support, or anyone to whom money is an issue. He can only appreciate the needs of those inside his tiny sphere, hence why he cannot see any problem with combining savage cuts to the not-human-in-his-eyes masses with tax breaks for his friends in the banks. He’s just looking after his own interests in the same way that the person shopping in a high-street fashion store does when they buy stuff they know has been made using slave-labour.

We’re never all going to get along; it’s physically and mentally impossible. The sooner we realise this, the quicker we can stop thinking about the world in such simple terms. Being British by birth can only mean that I share the same place of birth with other British people. It does not mean I share a common bond or culture. Chances are I will never even get close to interacting with a fraction of 1% of my fellow birth-buddies. I have good relationships with the people I work closely with, I have a professional passing recognition of others outside of that small group. I have a couple of friends from university that I keep in contact with, and a few close friends from various jobs I’ve had down the years. I commute to work in my car, I get home, get inside and spend most evenings with my wife. I speak to my neighbours occasionally, not because I consider myself anti-social, but because they’re just not part of my monkeysphere – just as I am not part of theirs.

I enjoy my life but I live in the knowledge that I will spend the vast majority of my adult life in work, not socialising. Our ability to form and maintain close social bonds is limited by how much time we have to participate in such behaviour (Dunbar even argues that language was developed as an easy way of performing social grooming). And for those of you thinking that social networking sites are going to change all of this, think again:

Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

The truth is we all exist in tiny bubbles which will always encourage us to act in the best interest of those within our particular bubble. We can certainly acknowledge that we live in a world much bigger than this bubble by creating basic expectations to nullify as much as possible our selfish instincts – this is why we have laws, the Human Rights Act, equality and diversity policies in work and so forth. It is to try to ensure that when we step outside our monkeyspheres we are able to treat those strange beings around us as humans, even if we cannot truly visualise them as such.

What is dangerous with this assumption that somehow other cultural groups cannot also abide by these basic tenets of civilisation and that they must therefore abandon anything that might signify that they are outwardly different to the majority is that it feeds our natural instinct to dehumanise any outgroup. How can we possibly say because a group of around 20 Muslims protested against British soldiers serving in Iraq and 4 individuals bombed London in suicide attacks that somehow multiculturalism has failed? The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims living in the UK – making 24 a minute percentage,  whilst a survey conducted in 2009 of attitudes of British Muslims suggested that they ‘were found to identify more strongly with the UK than the rest of the population, and have a much higher regard for the country’s institutions’.

Yet because of our monkey brains we have the EDL demanding that all ‘Muzzies’ or ‘Muzz rats’ be thrown out or worse because of the actions of an utterly insignificant few. We never demand the slaughter of all men whenever a male paedophile is convicted. It is no less insane to treat all Muslims in they way that some people are now.

Repeated experiments across cultures show that when human beings are put into groups – even in the most arbitrary way, such as at the toss of a coin – they will always display ingroup bias and a desire to maintain distinctiveness from other groups. Media narratives about Muslims or any other group that exists outside of our Monkeysphere play into this irrational desire to negatively perceive those outside of our immediate groups – whilst maintaining a positive bias to those in our own groups. Arguing that somehow all his could be resolved if massive cultural groups – which are in themselves split into near infinite amounts of vastly different spheres – were somehow assimilated into what is seen as the dominant cultural norm is ludicrous.

All we can do as individuals is realise that we don’t normally process people outside of our tiny social groups as being real human beings. This is why a loving, doting son is able to mug someone else’s mother and we need laws with significant punishments to suppress such actions. We are hard-wired to stereotype outgroups, homogenising millions of people into one simple schema. But we have conscious thought, we can take a step back and challenge our default cognitive processes so that we can force ourselves to realise that Muslims are individual human beings and they cannot possibly be judged by the actions of an insignificant minority who happen to share the same religious belief.

Multiculturalism hasn’t failed, it’s not even a real concept when we consider how our brains function and that we only really share a common goal with the select few inside our Monkeysphere.

The Daily Mail and the Gay Agenda

/* This post originally appeared on my old blog on 30 April 2009. As part of the migration of content from my old blog I may occasionally post them here as a current post if I feel they are relevant. Due the the constant themes / narratives in the Daily Mail old posts often cover ‘new’ Mail articles. */

‘If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.’
Malcolm X

The Daily Mail has contained quite a few articles on ‘gays’ recently and the tone, content and spin of the articles is uniformly depressing – whilst the comments underneath the offending articles are shameful. Today’s effort skewers an incident so once again the ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ lobby are the aggressors, and the intolerant and bigoted are the victims of some kind of ‘gay agenda’.

It is an idea fomented by – amongst others – Richard Littlejohn; who sees teaching diversity in schools as a mission to ‘peddle’ or ‘force-feed’ ‘gay propaganda’ to children. So, in the world of the Daily Mail the very act of reaching for equality is seen as an act of aggression – in simple terms the gay agenda is not seeking equality but is actually intent on banishing heterosexuality and converting us all to homosexuality.

This article, like many others, pitches a god-fearing Christian teacher against an evil homosexual preaching ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’. The headline, naturally, is designed to raise the blood pressure of any Daily Mail reader: ‘What makes you think it’s natural to be heterosexual?': Christian teacher suspended over gay rights promotion row.

The basic story is:

A senior teacher has been suspended from his £50,000-a-year job after he complained that a training day for staff was used to promote gay rights. Kwabena Peat, 54, was one of several Christian staff who walked out of the compulsory session at a North London school after an invited speaker questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural.

Now, this is essentially the crux of the ‘gay rights promotion row’, Sue Sanders appears to have asked a philosophical question: ‘what makes you think it’s natural to be heterosexual?’. Now, without context this does seem to be an odd question, but consider for a moment the question being used as a discussion point, which as this was training, seems likely.

The question seems to be designed to get participants questioning what is ‘natural’ – what does the concept mean and does the concept of natural differ based upon individual perception? The point probably being made is that for a gay person, to them being gay is perfectly natural; consequently, from the perception of a gay person, heterosexuality – for them – would be unnatural.

The important thing to remember is that this is a question, it is not a statement decreeing that heterosexuality is abnormal and homosexuality is normal. However, to properly engage with the question a person needs to be free of the common misconceptions about homosexuality. This is the difficult part for a Daily Mail reader as they are constantly being told that homosexuality is a perversion, a choice made by perverted people (hence the fear of education in schools, tell more people, more will choose to be gay).

Richard Littlejohn – as just one example – has grouped homosexuality with fetishes, and as I said at the time:

He… does not seem to understand that being gay isn’t really a choice. ‘Why a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender month, anyway?’ he argues, ‘Why not a Foot Fetishists, Spankers, Sadists and Masochists History Month?’. Littlejohn lists these fetishes for two main reasons: one; to make Gay, Bisexual or Transgender people sound as perverted as Mail readers assume those who practice those fetishes to be, and two; to make it seem as if being Gay is a behaviour that one can choose not to indulge in – with the implicit assumption that to indulge in such a behaviour is a perversion.

Littlejohn clearly wants to ferment the idea that homosexuality is a perversion and as we all know, a perversion is something considered outside of ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ sexual practice. Therefore, when the notion of what is ‘natural’ is placed in front of a Mail reader, they already harbour a strong prejudice against homosexuality.

Therefore the question allegedly asked by Sue Sanders will be met with horror, as homosexuality has already been labeled unnatural, so in the eyes of the Mail reader the perversion in this instance is the philosophical questioning of why heterosexuality is considered natural.

This is not the only problem with the. The article is also constructed to make the Christian teacher the victim, yet in many ways he seems to be the aggressor:

According to Mr Peat, Ms Sanders, herself a lesbian, said that staff who did not accept that being gay was normal had ‘issues’ they had to deal with.Mr Peat, a history teacher who is also a head of year, said he was upset that people who disagreed on religious grounds had no chance to respond.

He wrote privately to the three staff members who organised the session, complaining about Ms Sanders’ ‘aggressive’ presentation. In his letter, he cited the Bible and warned that practising homosexuals risked God’s ‘wrath’.

But the staff complained to the school’s principal that they felt ‘harassed and intimidated’ by the letter and, after an investigation, Mr Peat was placed on paid leave.

It does not seem unreasonable to state that staff who do not accept homosexuality as normal have issues they need to deal with. As we have already discussed the question asked by Sue Sanders seems a perfectly valid discussion point – that if properly considered by an adult mind helps to tease out why the concept of normality can apply to both heterosexuality and homosexuality. What does seem unreasonable is the response of Mr Peat, the supposed Christian.

You’d have thought a devout Christian would turn the other cheek, be tolerant or do unto others, but instead he preaches violence and intolerance as a perfectly acceptable solution to a problem he has. It seems to be significant that although the Mail claims that Kwabena Peat ‘was one of several Christian staff who walked out of the compulsory session’ this is never elaborated on; whilst what is a fact is that Mr Peat has been suspended after the complaints made against him by staff.

The Daily Mail sets Mr Peat up as the victim, yet the truth seems to show that he is an intolerant Christian being wheeled out as a martyr to the ‘gay agenda’. Not that this seems to have been realised by the majority of commentators on the article:

In answer to Ms Sanders, “What makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?” It’s bloody obvious, you’re here on the planet! If it wasn’t normal then the human race would have become extinct as it had failed to reproduce. Or would you even twist science and history around?

Again,the public are being force fed left wing political correctness, just to keep so called minorities ‘happy and in control,’ The scarey part is that they are allowed to be in schools to preach their views!!!!!

– David ex-pat, Perth, Australia, 26/4/2009 4:39

David – he is not alone, but I dare not copy and paste reams and reams of ignorant Mail commentators for the sake of some brevity – again, thinks that normal cannot ever apply to a homosexual. His argument is a biological one: homosexuality doesn’t allow for reproduction, therefore it is not natural. Yet, what he hasn’t the intelligence to consider, is that people are born gay.

It isn’t – as Littlejohn likes to believe – something we can be forced into or converted to by interacting with gay people, or by attending diversity or awareness sessions. Therefore, can it be concluded that as sexual preference is not a result of nurture, it must be the result of nature? This conclusion would mean that homosexuality is perfectly natural and must be biologically determined – making David ex-pat’s argument as bad as his spelling.

The point I am trying to make is that gay people are not making a choice about their sexuality anymore than a straight person is. What equality is trying to achieve is the freedom for a person to be comfortable with whatever biological attraction they are born with. The message that being a homosexual is normal is being delivered because as a society we do not want people wandering around suppressing their nature in fear that they will be victimised or ostracised for simply being who they are.

In particular the issue is important in schools because we want to let children know that whatever they are feeling is OK. If they have an attraction to the same sex they should not feel like a freak, and they should not feel scared. Instead they should be given the opportunity to understand and embrace their biology, embrace what is for them natural and normal. The insidious implications in recent Daily Mail articles that ‘promoting homosexuality’ in schools is damaging children is to deny them their biological right to be happy.

It is assumed by bigots that children would all be happy heterosexuals if they didn’t hear about homosexuality through the ‘gay agenda lobby’, when in fact if they deny their basic urges or desires because they feel uncomfortable expressing them, is surely a recipe for unhappiness.

There is no such thing as a ‘gay agenda’ or ‘gay lobby’ that works on behalf of all gay people. To give gay people one voice is to homogenise, judge and dehumanise them. We are all individuals doing our best to make some sense of the world around us and our own emotions, it makes no difference whether an individual is gay, straight or bisexual.

Unless of course, you read the Daily Mail and other tabloid newspapers.

Shameful ‘journalism’

Saw this headline on the Mail website today and immediately thought it sounded dodgy: ‘Bah humbug! Father Christmas banned at children’s centre… to respect faith of one Muslim family‘. Bad journalism is like a virus that is easily carried around the globe via the Internet. Searching for more information on the story led to me having to trawl through hundreds of blog posts, news sites, forums all of which were littered with the most hateful and violent denunciations of all Muslims because of this one story.

Going back to the source of the story takes us right back to the 14th December when the Mankato Free Press run this story: ‘Santa gets the heave-ho-ho-ho‘. The article makes a number of assumptions and is fuelled by the suspicious of the ‘banned’ Santa:

Dennis Jackson said it was over-reaching cultural sensitivity that led to being told his annual Santa appearances must cease at St. Peter Head Start classes for young children.

Jackson said he was told “it was against some people’s wishes” for him to make the half-hour appearances for two classes catering to about three dozen children.

He said St. Peter Head Start personnel gave him no reason for the action. He’s made Santa appearances there the past four years to dispense candy bought at his own expense.

“It kind of burnt me up,” he said, speculating that program officials turned him away in deference to requests from immigrant families that don’t celebrate Christmas.

So, right away we are told that the Santa (Dennis Jackson) was given no reason for the action and that it is Jackson’s ‘speculation’ that he was turned away at the request of immigrants. This does not seem to fit in at all with the Daily Mail’s confident assertion that the ‘ban’ was caused by one Muslim family. The spokeswomen for the organisation does not necessarily help matters with her comments – but then, who knows if she has been quoted in full or in context:

“We have Somali families in the program,” she said. “We’re respecting the wishes of families in the program.”

She didn’t say how many objections were made, but said that program parents are surveyed annually to gauge their feelings toward holiday observances in classes.

She indicated that more than one objection would be sufficient to waive an observance.

“The simple truth is that southern Minnesota has become a much more culturally diverse society than it was a few decades ago,” she said.

“Part of our challenge in Head Start is providing an environment where young children from many different cultures can all feel comfortable.”

Again, no confirmation of how many objections were raised or who had raised them. If this journalist had any decency they would not have run the story as essentially conjecture, knowing the result would be mass intolerance from people seeking a justification for their own racial and religious hatred of Muslim immigrants. Who knows, the lack of invitation (which is not exactly a ban, is it?) may have been caused by one Muslim family, but equally it could have been for other reasons. This is why journalists spend time being trained, so that they can look into things to establish the facts prior to publication. Journalism is not accepting the comments of one aggrieved individual and sending them around the globe as pure speculation.

None of this really matters though. The sad thing is that people all over the world cannot separate the individual from the group label. Why would the complaints of one Muslim family (if this is the case) automatically lead to anyone wanting every single Muslim person out of the country? People act as individuals, irrespective of what labels we might want to apply to them. Everyone on earth can be labelled – whether it be through nationality, race, religion, gender and so forth – and we all deserve to be respected as individuals because we very often don’t choose the labels that are applied to us. As individuals we want to be judged for our own deeds and actions, not the actions of any other individual who can be put under the same label as us.

Racism, intolerance and bigotry is born out of ignorance. This kind of journalism is precisely the ignorance that helps to perpetuate and feed such behaviours. The outrage has been stirred, sent around the world and absorbed before any journalists has even attempted to establish the true facts.

That isn’t just bad journalism, it is dangerous journalism.

As for the Mail’s utterly unfounded assertions that:

Father Christmas was banned from visiting children at a Head Start Program… because Santa, and all he stands for, offended one Muslim family.

They are an absolute disgrace. Remember articles like this the next time the Mail pretends it does not support the EDL.

Daily Mail back on the subject of baby names

This time they cover a survey of 423,000 children born in 2010 which claims that ‘Oliver and Olivia become Britain’s most popular names for children in 2010‘. Which is odd, considering that it wasn’t long ago that the Mail was claiming that Mohammed was the most popular boy’s name. Even stranger, Mohammed doesn’t even make it into the top 10 – a top ten which seems to suggest ‘that TV, celebrity and news trends continue to have a major influence on what parents call their children’.

Still, there must be a perfectly rational explanation for why Mohammed does not appear at the top of this list, and thankfully the Daily Mail reassures xenophobic and deeply worried readers that:

The list was compiled by online parenting club Bounty from names given to it by parents who had children this year.

An official Office for National Statistics list of names released earlier this year revealed that Mohammed, encompassing all its different spellings, was the most popular boy’s name. But it does not appear on the Bounty list because of the site’s social demographic.

OK. So, the message is: Muslim children are still taking over the country, but their parents do not use the online parenting club called Bounty. Glad they cleared that up. However, the Daily Mail (shock, horror) is not being entirely honest by saying that Mohammed does not appear on the Bounty list, because it does, way down at number 105, just beneath really bizarre names like Sean, Patrick, Tom and Elliot.

Daily Mail prints latest article in support of the EDL

Another Daily Mail story of those sensitive Muslims getting offended by a tradition upheld by the ‘indigenous’ population of the country they happen to be living in. This time a 63-year-old Austrian has been fined £700 for ‘yodelling while mowing his lawn because it offended his Muslim neighbours next door‘. Obviously, any sane reader would immediately think that there was something more to this story because you don’t just get fined on the spot for upsetting a neighbour, even if they are Muslim – no matter how much the Daily Mail would like to think so.

Thankfully, another blogger has already taken the time to look into this and reports that in fact:

the fine was the result of a year-long campaign of disturbances by the OAP, and that he would time his Friday yodelling practice with the Muslims call to prayer. Apparently, according to the court papers submitted (although Kobuk is vague on the details), Griese also used other methods of disruption. Basically, it sounds like one man hassling his neighbours because he doesn’t like them and their call to prayers, and instead of talking to them or calling the police, he decides to torment them. Ah, neighbours, gotta love them.

Kobuk goes on to report that the Muslims tried to reason with Griese and stopped broadcasting the call to prayer over loudspeaker. When that didn’t stop Griese, they turned to the police, who, after repeatedly warning off Mr Griese, did not have a choice but to take the matter to court (something to do with Austrian law). The case was settled after Griese agreed to pay the €800 fine (so the court didn’t actually sentence him, but that’s nitpicking).

Whilst it is difficult to verify this information – given the language barrier, the Austrian newspaper – the Krone Zeitung – is not only described by this blogger as being:

to quality journalism what used toilet paper is to a napkin, and has a similar attitude to foreigners and anything that is different from pickety fency conservatism as the Daily Mail. Its stories thus cannot be taken at face value.

But it has also now removed the story.

However, as usual, the comments section of the Mail article makes for depressing reading and another distorted media report on Muslims has provided yet more fuel for the EDL – a group which the Daily Mail had the cheek to investigate the other day, as if they had played no part in creating and sustaining them with their diet of anti-Muslim stories based on complete distortions of the truth.

The ‘special’ James Slack

James Slack has a reputation for twisting, distortion and good old-fashioned lying when it comes to his many articles on immigration. He is paid to ensure any news story on immigration slots nicely into the Mail’s narrative, which seems to be that Britain is being swamped by brown-skinned foreigners to such an extent that we are becoming a minority. Last night James Slack posted a ‘Special report’ titled: ‘Will the white British population be in a minority in 2066?’.

The whole article is based on a report by Prof Coleman who Slack makes a special effort to verify as ‘one of Britain’s foremost experts on demographics… hugely respected for his academic ­rigour and for the avoidance of ­emotion and prejudice in his work’. However, further on the Mail underlines his credibility somewhat by pointing out that he does research for the MigrationWatch ‘think-tank’, well known for providing completely bogus figures on immigration to be lapped up by an unquestioning media. Prof Coleman’s report suggests that:

The white British-born ­population — defined by Prof Coleman as white English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish-born citizens — would decline from 80 per cent of the total now to 59 per cent in 2051.

Further into the future, and also taking into account factors such as changing birth and death rates, the ‘white British population’ would become the minority after about 2066.

So, already the report seems to be on dodgy ground – as is Slack – because what it is suggesting is that there is a fundamental difference between being a White Briton and a Briton that has a different skin colour. I can understand to an extent people becoming concerned at British identity being lost, but to be concerned because that British identity actually includes people of a different skin colour is just plain racism.

Prof Coleman seems to produce one of these reports every few years and he has been accused in the past as being ‘rather simplistic’ with the projections that he makes. Not surprisingly James Slack does not attempt to question the report in any way – after all, he happily churnalises MigrationWatch reports on a regular basis. At the end of the ‘Special report’ James Slack says that:

Whatever the view a person holds on immigration, nobody should disagree with his desire to see the subject fully — and maturely — debated.

So, what is Slack’s idea of a ‘mature’ and ‘full’ debate? Well, bringing out the usual tabloid rubbish about immigration. Firstly, he claims that Labour and the Lib Dems are ‘widely considered to promote open-door immigration policies’ and that the Lib Dems in the coalition ‘continue to want open-door policies’. Before we can have a mature and full debate about immigration the right-wing must first accept that there has never been an ‘open-door’ immigration policy. People from outside the EU have always struggled to move to the UK. Tell the Iraqi interpretors that we have an open-door immigration policy, or the Gurkhas. The only open-door policy is immigration within the EU, which is reciprocal and largely involves white people which should surely make the Daily Mail feel slightly less scared.

The next point follows on from this previous point: Slack actually suggests that ‘Tories have long believed that Labour encouraged mass immigration in the belief that as newcomers to a nation tend to be more Left-wing, Labour’s electoral chances would be enhanced’. This argument needs to be consigned to the dustbin before any proper discussion can take place.

The next point is the height of hypocrisy: ‘Meanwhile, in the absence of proper debate or consultation with the British people, odious far-Right groups were able to cynically capitalise on the sense of alienation felt by working-class voters in particular’. ‘Odious far-Right groups’ are the result of the perception of immigration, not the reality. The media work hard to create this false perception and it is about time they put their hands up and accepted this.

Slack also argues that integration has been hampered by ‘the failed doctrine of multiculturalism’. Who says it has failed? Who has decided this? Where has the ‘open debate’ been on this point? What does integration actually mean? You can’t just say something has failed. This is also linked to Slack’s claim that:

there was the belated introduction of the so-called Life In The UK test for foreign nationals seeking a British passport. Yet this eschewed questions on British history in favour of risible sections on how to claim welfare benefits.

Show me this test please James. Show me the sections on claiming benefits, show me the lack of questions on British history. If you cannot do so I will assume that the UK citizenship test is actually more like the one on the official test website. A lot of ‘White British’ people took this test a while back and the vast majority of them failed miserably because the questions are so obscure. Also, we all failed to notice the sections on claiming benefits.

Slack argues that ‘it is encouraging to note that his thought-provoking ­article should be published by a Left-leaning magazine, suggesting that — finally — we may be moving to a time when adult discussion of immigration policy is considered possible’. I wonder why he doesn’t describe other reports published on immigration by ‘Left-leaning’ magazines as ‘thought-provoking’? Is it simply because this report says exactly what the Mail wants to believe and the others do not? Of course it is, which is why no ‘adult discussion of immigration’ is currently possible.

As if to really ram home this point Slack also brings up Gillian Duffy – the rather simple granny that Gordon Brown called a bigot, who became a champion in the eyes of the media who kept calling her ‘eloquent’, even though she clearly was not. As I pointed out at the time, the right-wing claim that you ‘cannot talk about immigration’ was ludicrous given that the right-wing talk about little else. What I do agree on is that we cannot have a proper discussion on immigration as long as the right-wing papers insist on only discussing it in racist terms using distorted figures or outright lies.

Currently, James Slack is employed by the Daily Mail to tell lies about immigration. How can he seriously suggest we should enter into a ‘mature’, ‘adult’ debate when this is the case?

What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension?

I know it is not news to anyone that the Daily Mail is staggeringly hypocritical, but sometimes it is just worth repeating because they do something like this:

hypocrisy

Phil Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: ‘[embarking] on a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to “make the white folk angry” enough to vote for him.’ The Daily Mail is appalled at the fact  ‘that while he was stirring up racial ill-feeling against his rival, Phil Woolas was the minister in charge of immigration’.

It it worth mentioning at this point that Minority Thought and Primly Stable have already covered this story and they both move in the same direction here, the only direction possible, and that is to point out the Daily Mail’s own record of running ‘a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to ‘make the white folk angry’. Minority Thought puts forward the smears of Nick Clegg during the election campaign in which the Daily Mail asked: ‘Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?’ Minority Thought then moves on to the recent announcement of a proposed strike on Bonfire Night by the Fire Brigades Union, to which the Daily Mail responded by rooting through the bins of union general secretary Matt Wrack; as well as knocking the doors of various family members to dig for dirt.

Both Minority Thought and Primly Stable give a few examples of the Mail’s efforts to stir up racial tension, but in reality one would need an encyclopedic memory to recall all of them, and it would make this blog post as long as the entire archive to list them. I’ll attempt to pick out a few of their more disgraceful efforts anyway, just to ram the point home that the Mail can hardly criticise a few leaflets, when it has thousands of newspaper editions doing far worse – under the current editor, Paul Dacre, so no excuses.

First of all, the Daily Mail repeatedly repeats the myth that immigrants and asylum seekers rush to the top of social housing lists at the expense of local, white folk. In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing that the BBC summed-up thus:

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says.Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…

“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.

“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”

Most major news sources – including tabloid newspapers – reported this finding: ITN: Immigrant housing priority ‘a myth’; Guardian: Claims that immigrants prioritised for social housing ‘a myth’; The Independent: Study ‘ends myth’ of housing for immigrants; The Daily Telegraph: Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows. Even the Daily Express headline is refreshingly accurate (even if they still shout it):  IMMIGRANTS ‘DON’T TOP HOUSING LIST’.

Accept, of course, the Daily Mail, who instead took a different angle:

Daily Mail lies

This article ignored the main finding of the report in order to protect the Daily Mail narrative that immigrants were being treated better than ‘indigenous’ Brits, a narrative that fuels much of the BNP support as well as the rising militarism of the EDL. Just before the Daily Mail completely whitewashed the findings of this report they were still pushing the myth hard:

‘The “British homes for British workers” plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list’.

Just last month the Daily Mail were again repeating the myth by claiming that Birmingham City Council was putting ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first’. The implication was clear: all other councils were still putting asylum seekers at the top of the housing queue.

Or what about the annual claim that the majority of new born boys in the UK are called ‘Mohammed’? This year the Daily Mail’s coverage earned the first Five Chinese Crackers‘ ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award’, against some stiff competition given that every tabloid and some broadsheets were running with this myth. I’ll let 5CC take over:

Here’s why your version won:

  • It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
  • As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
  • Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
  • It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
  • It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.

Or how about the Daily Mail coverage of Winterval (again, they are not the only newspaper guilty of pushing this myth)? At first the banning of Christmas was aimed at the ‘PC brigade’ but the Mail has now realised it has a much better target: Muslims. The PC brigade were banning Christmas in case it offended Muslims. Councils, not content with giving them all the benefits and free houses denied to good old British white-folk, they were now ‘pandering’ to their ‘demands’.

This may seem a ludicrous idea, but it is believed by many, including the EDL whose leader, Stephen Lennon, recently threatened any council thinking of ‘pandering to Muslims’ in an interview with the Times:

He said that “reluctantly” he uses the threat of a demonstration as “blackmail” to ensure that councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions. “We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down.”

Who are these ‘Islamic pressure groups’? When has any Muslim ever wanted to ‘ban Christmas’? Phil Woolas used racial tensions to get re-elected, the Daily Mail use racial tensions to sell newspapers, whilst providing a stable diet of disinformation to bolster support and shape the ideology of right-wing extremists in the UK. Christmas has never been banned and councils have never renamed it. The myth has been debunked so many times it is worrying that a collection of adults believes it to such an extent they are writing to every council.

So, what is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? The tabloid press.