Hurrah for the Blackshirts!

The Mail has a funny relationship with the BNP. I mentioned a while ago that I wrote quite a lot about that before, and I want to polish it up. I've not done that yet, but there's an article in Saturday's edition (30 December) that illustrates the paper's attitude nicely.

What the paper does is call the BNP nasty names, while actually supporting some of the party's policies with its editorial stance, sometimes in the very same articles. In short, the paper's attitude is like someone who says, "I'm not racist, but..." before launching into some crazy tirade about how black people are all muggers and are genetically inferior anyway. The important part of their argument is the quite obviously racist bit that follows the, "I'm not racist, but..." opening. The most important part of the Mail's approach to the BNP is not the names it calls the party, but the actual arguments it makes that follow the names. It's not a coincidence that the BNP's own site says:
I don’t know which establishment newspapers are the most popular amongst readers of the BNP’s website, but it would be interesting to find out. My guess is that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday will figure strongly, and that columnists Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips are the ones whose opinions people feel most closely match their own.
(From 'Seeing the trees but not the wood' in the 'Joe's Journal' section of the BNP website, which I'm not fucking linking to).
This Saturday's article is 'The BNP ballerina', and is about how ballerina Simone Clarke is a BNP member. Now, as the Mail is apparently a paper that abhors the BNP, you'd expect this to be a massive hatchet job attacking Clarke for being an atrocious small minded racist, perhaps calling for their readers to boycott productions she stars in. But it isn't.

Of course, it starts by chucking out some of the names it calls the party, saying:
The BNP is certainly repellent, with its knee-jerk hatred of foreigners and history of organised thuggery, and there is something in the juxtaposition of dance pumps and bovver boots that many will find impossible to comprehend, particularly in the liberal world of the arts.
But this is followed very shortly by a 'but'. Straght away in fact. The very next sentence/paragraph says:
But Simone's explanation for why she decided to join the party last year - given here for the first time - cannot be simply brushed aside as a foolish error, let alone ignored.
This is how Mail articles about the BNP generally go. There'll be some namecalling followed by a defence which completely misses the point. The BNP are nasty largely because they have horrible, nasty views and policies. You can't say, "The BNP are nasty and vile and odious, but they have a point," because their points are what make them nasty and vile and odious. At the risk of violating Godwin's Law - the paper is doing the equivalent of saying, "Putting people in death camps is vile and nasty because the nazis did it," which is bollocks. The nazis were vile and nasty party because they put people in concentration camps. See, the BNP are wankers because they exaggerate the negative effects of immigration and use immiggrants as a scapegoat to blame everything they don't like on. They're wankers because they claim that they are the only people to take a stand on the problems connected with immiggration that they themselves have invented. That kind of defines the BNP and what they do.

The 'but' sentence ends with the claim that you cannot brush aside her explanation as foolish error - and we find out why in the next one:
The reason is summed up in one word: Immigration. It has, she told the undercover journalist who exposed her, "really got out of hand' - and today she maintains the BNP" are the only ones to take a stand' on the issue that she believes troubles the majority of voters, even though such views have led to her being branded a racist and a fascist. "Using the word immigration is now a greater crime than cold-blooded murder," she claims.
That's a whole bunch of complete bullshit that can indeed be brushed aside as a foolish error. For fuck's sake. Using the word "immigration" is not a greater crime than cold-blooded murder. That's ridiculous hyperbole that is. I can brush that aside quite easily. But more importantly, the paper has just claiimed that you can't brush aside Simone's views because she said some things the BNP says. Which is fucking odd.

But her story has wider implications. When one of the country's principal ballerinas, a 36-year-old woman who spent much of her recent working life as the Sugar Plum Fairy, decides to join the British neo-fascists, there is an argument that something has gone badly wrong with democratic British politics.
Why does her story have wider implications for anything at all? She's a fucking dancer. It's almost as bad as saying we should listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger's political views because he can lift up heavy things. How does dancing make her any more knowledgeable about politics than anyone else? The key is that this is a ballet dancer. This woman is posh - and therefore right.

The rest of the article is taken up mostly with a sympathetic reproduction of her views, but it includes this little gem that shows precisely why we should sweep aside this stupid bint's views as foolish error:
"We went on to the computer and we looked them up and I read their manifesto. I'm not too proud to say that a lot of it went over my head but some of the things they mentioned were the things I think about all the time, mainly mass immigration, crime and increased taxes. Those three issues were enough to make me join so I paid my £25 there and then." [My emphasis].
She's so stupid that the BNP's manifesto went over her head. It doesn't get much lower than that. By saying this, she's clearly admitting that she doesn't understand what she's talkling about. I couldn't think of a better example of an instance in which it's desirable to brush someone's argument aside.

There's a nice juxtaposition of language in the next couple of sentences/paragraphs:
"I think the BNP are honest. They're not trying to dress up what they want, which is change on these issues."

Simone is certainly honest. More to the point, she is increasingly typical of the albeit tiny band of seemingly respectable, middle-class voters that the reshaped, carefully 'branded' BNP is anxious to woo.
Simone says the BNP are honest, and 'Simone is certainly honest'. Therefore, we are to assume that the BNP are honest.

There are any number of examples of the BNP lying that the paper could mention now to show that the BNP aren't actually honest. And if it really did think the party was nasty and vile and whatever you'd expect it to do just that. But it doesn't. There is, in fact, very little that opposes the views of the BNP among the little justifications the paper offers for her. There's a little bit of incredulity that the ballerina doesn't see any conflict in being a BNP member at the same time as being involved in a mixed relationship, but that's about it.

The article ends with:
So when the curtain comes down at the Coliseum next week and the departing members of the audience hurry out into the cold night air, they should perhaps remember this: that if the marvellous Giselle they applauded to the roof is in any way typical of the thousands in the auditorium, and that if the fear of crime and immigration continues to follow its predicted course, it will be a rather bright 2007 for Nick Griffin and his cohorts.

And for the rest of us, that is a very grim prospect indeed.
Although the article hasn't said very much at all about why this would be a gri prospect. In fact, it's been mostly about defending Simone and making her views - which are represented by the BNP - seem quite normal and acceptable. This closing is the final example of the paper missing the point, while elsewhere on the site is today's story '2.5m workers only speak English as a second choice...and today we open the door to 30m more'. And let's not forget this.

Happy New Year everybody!

1 comment:

Hel said...

you're right - the Mail often says that it doesn't agree with the BNP, but it doesn't show much evidence for that disagreement!