BY BEN PENSANT
Little good has come from the twin horrors of Brexit and Trump, unleashed three years ago to strike fear and loathing into the hearts of celebrity QCs, milquetoast columnists, and shit-for-brains actors everywhere. Sure, leaving the EU has emboldened decent liberals who spent years fighting hatred and bigotry, gifting them a free pass to be hateful and bigoted towards 17 million people they’ve never met. And if it weren’t for President Pussy-Grabber we may have been denied the rise of Alexandria Arcadia-Cortez and her clever plans to revitalise the Left by offering free money to people who don’t want to work, punishing future generations for stuff their parents did, and blaming the conservative media because almost 50% of her own party have never heard of her.
Sadly, for us lefties, these crumbs of comfort are few and far between.
Indeed, since 2016 the political discourse has spewed out more dangerous trends than you could shake a shitty banner at, from the craze for accusing anti-fascists of fascism just because they like disrupting college talks and hitting people with bike locks, to the right’s habit of believing it should be judges and juries that determine if a man is guilty of sexual assault rather than Twitter and Opera Winfrey.
But the most insidious development has been the way sneaky trolls have started attacking their enemies by claiming they’ve said stuff they haven’t. Indeed, in this era of impending economic Armageddon, misrepresentation is one of the few growth industries. And the past month emphasised this tenfold, as one of Britain’s most respected political thinkers saw his words twisted beyond recognition. For nothing has summed up how low the Tory smear-mongers will go quite as grimly as the violent hounding of The New Statesmxn’s George Eton.
I won’t regurgitate the vile views relayed to George by ageing Nazi war criminal Roger Crouton, partly out of sensitivity to my readers but mainly because I’ve read neither the article nor the full quotes and until recently had no idea who either of them were. Needless to say, all you need know is that, while being interviewed, Crouton admitted to the courageous hack that he hates Muslims, believes George Sorrows is an evil emperor, and thinks all Chinese people look the same.
Of course, anyone who took thirty seconds to find out what Crouton actually said knows that none of the above is technically, literally, or remotely true. Luckily, one of the bravest things about the modern left is our refusal to take thirty seconds to find out anything that might piss all over our ideological chips. And why bother, when all it takes is a crusading journalist tweeting cropped edits of some innocuous comments to force a gutless Tory MP to fire someone from an architecture commission that nobody outside of Westminster (not even the editor of the Stockport & District Heritage Review) gives two shits about?
Predictably, the outrage merchants pounced, accusing George of deliberately trying to get Crouton sacked by misquoting him, using piss-poor, flimsy evidence such as the full unedited quotes and a crudely photoshopped image of the young leftist toasting the decrepit racist’s dismissal with a bottle of champagne. (As if we’d fall for that when everyone knows liberal journalists only drink craft beer and charred parsnip Mojitos. Nice try, fash.)
Cue a torrent of abuse and harassment towards George for having the balls to remove words from Crouton’s replies to give the impression he’s a racist Islamophobic antisemite. They even pathetically presented the original quotes as proof that he had set out to stitch up the old duffer, when anyone with half a brain knows these crafty edits simply exposed what Crouton actually believes despite the fact that there’s no evidence that he does.
This is misrepresentation in a nutshell:
Make non-bigoted comment to journalist. Allow journalist to report it as a bigoted comment. When bigoted comment gets you the sack, claim you never actually made bigoted comment and accuse journalist of spreading lies by misquoting non-bigoted comment. Fade to black. Gaslighting at its purest, people. And it stinks.
Fortunately, the modern left are old hands at fighting these gross distortions using a foolproof combination of lying, deflection, and grassing people up on Twitter.
As grim as the post-2016 landscape has become, it’s refreshing to know that despite spending the last month being abused by the most virulent right-wingers on the planet, it still takes more than lies, smears and demonstrable facts to bring down a good pro like George Eton. Which was emphasised when George published a startling column so dripping in sincerity you could almost believe it wasn’t hastily written after a sound bollocking from the NS top brass. In the piece he clarified the quotes he misrepresented by misrepresenting them again, before pulling off the remarkable feat of both offering a heartfelt apology for his unethical behaviour and doubling down on it: “It was not my words that caused Roger’s sacking but his own intemperate comments”.
The modesty is admirable George, but we all know who did what. They can misrepresent you all they like but the fact is Crouton got the bullet because of your words, your lies, and your brilliance.
Comrade, this won’t ever be forgotten.