BY BEN PENSANT
A common misconception of the regressive left is that we hate anyone who disagrees with us. From smearing people who voted to leave the EU as bigoted morons to branding liberals like Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz ‘anti-Muslim extremists’, the accepted wisdom is that we refuse to tolerate opposing views, especially ones which expose our ideology as hypocritical horse-shit.
However, as anyone who’s ever read a Polly Toynbee column will know, we don’t hate the working-class; we just pity them, fear them, and think it’s about time they left the big decisions to those of us educated enough to understand them, such as Guardian journalists, Art students and Bob Geldof.
Likewise, it’s not that we despise Islamophobes like Harris and Nawaz. Rather, we are disappointed in them and their commitment to secularism, non-violence and universal human rights; progressive values we threw under the bus years ago to show solidarity with every theocrat, terrorist and dictator alive just as long as they’re not mates with the yanks.
And in the wake of the Thomas Mair trial, there was no greater example of our willingness to understand our opponents than my personal reaction to The Daily Mail’s coverage. Because sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say ‘well-played, lads’ even as you’re Tweeting manically about the MSM and repeatedly typing ‘Daily Heil’ as if it’s not a play-on-words about as fresh and funny as calling the former MP for Sedgefield Tony Bliar.
Indeed, their coverage of the Mair verdict – shoved away on page 30 – was a textbook example of apologetic victim-blaming so well-crafted it could have come from the pen of Glenn Greenwald. And after a week in which Greenwald championed a Guardian piece on alt-right radicalisation that turned out to be a massive piss-take, it’s a fair bet he could land a plumb job at the Mail if he ever got as bored of the left as he did with the law and went over to the dark side. Though his bullshit-detector may need some fine-tuning first: rumour has it after reading about planes dumping ‘blue ice’ he refuse to fly and is still terrified to set foot in New York in case that big monster caught on film chinning the Statue Of Liberty comes back.
But the Mail story which asked ‘Did Neo Nazi murder Jo over fear he’d lose his council house?’ was a work of genius. As someone who’s bent over backwards to blame everything from 9/11 to the Orlando nightclub massacre on Islamophobia, Western foreign policy and Islamophobic Western foreign policy, I had to applaud their dedication to truth, ideology and blaming acts of terrorism on everyone but the terrorists.
In fact, close one eye and you could almost be reading Gabi Hinsliff’s piece on the Cologne sex attacks from earlier this year, in which she deduced Western materialism played a huge part in men from a culture that treats women as sex objects celebrating New Year by roaming the streets treating women as sex objects.
Of course none of this changes the fact that the Mail were completely wrong and most probably begin editorial meetings with a rousing chant of England, England, Uber Alles. Because as everyone with half a brain knows, it was Brexit voters who killed Jo Cox, with a helping nudge from Nigel Farage.
Farage, of course, has a vice-like grip on the British public. Not those university-educated Brits who love democracy and hate neo-liberalism so much they voted to remain in the most undemocratic, neo-liberal institution of the 20th century. No, it’s The Others who are under his spell, those denim-clad wretches who while away the hours ‘til giro day stealing scratch-cards, fire-bombing mosques and beating up their feral children.
It’s these people who murdered Jo Cox, egged on by Farage, a man with a surprising amount of influence considering his party has one solitary seat and at the last election mustered only 4 million votes. But you know we’re in trouble when that influence becomes so destructive it turns normal people into Neo-Nazi murderers overnight.
Because a man on a flying horse can see if it wasn’t for the Leave campaign Jo would still be alive. Farage’s infamous billboard depicting ‘swarms’ of migrants heading for Britain couldn’t have been a more blatant attempt to titillate white supremacist murderers if it featured subliminal images of Eugene Terre’Blanche getting fisted by Hitler. And having since learned about Mair’s long history of reading far-right websites and books it’s painfully clear that what really radicalised him was a poster.
Predictably, Tory trolls pondered if a Leave campaigner murdered by a Remainer would therefore be the fault of the ‘hateful rhetoric’ of the pro-EU press who have spent the last 5 months calling 17 million people idiot racists? The obvious answer is: of course it bloody wouldn’t. And they can bring up the case of Duncan Keating – a Brexit supporter beaten to death by his Remain-voting neighbour during an argument about the referendum – ‘til the cows come home. Because only an idiot would suggest that an unhinged individual might commit murder because of something unpleasant a public figure said. And I’d hazard a guess Keating’s neighbour incited him anyway so that makes it 1-1 as far as I’m concerned.
But still, rather than mourn a wife and mother needlessly killed by a far-right nutter, we should applaud her for making the ultimate sacrifice and giving liberals something to feel virtuous about. Much like in June, when we gleefully exploited a young woman’s death to score points against Brexit while her killer was still in handcuffs, so the last week has seen us absolve the hateful, pathetic figure of Mair of any responsibility and pin the blame on the very existence of people who think differently to us.
I bet even Paul Dacre would raise a glass to that.
Ben Pensant is a Country Squire Guest Writer. His writing is housed here.