Remember kids - the Daily Mail is not friends with the EDL

"They call themselves ‘patriots’ and wear masks emblazoned with the red cross of the Knights Templar.

But behind the ­inflammatory propaganda and war paint of the English Defence League (EDL) — the ­far-Right ‘anti-Islamic extremism’ group that is fast becoming an even more pernicious ­influence than the BNP — we find such men as Jeff Marsh.

Like all the other EDL ‘patriots’, Marsh — or ‘Marshy’ as he prefers to be known — insists he is not racist."

That was the opening of a Daily Mail Special Investigation into the EDL from the beginning of last week, showing off the paper's totally non-racist credentials less than two weeks after a special report about how we should restrict immigration to keep black and brown people in a minority.

As I said at the time:
The Mail, however, will continue to write about Muslims in an exaggeratedly negative way.
Today, the paper has decided to do just that. Twice.

First, we have the paper helping out Anjem Choudhary's bunch of inadequates by publicising their latest stunt. Apparently, they've been sticking up posters about how evil Christmas is. Trouble is, the posters are so transparently designed to do nothing other than wind people up it makes you wonder that anyone over the age of about twelve would fall for them. The web address emblazoned accross them doesn't even work. You'd think the paper that called the EDL more pernicious than the BNP would think twice before helping a bunch of cartoon goons wind them up but this is, after all, the Mail.

And being the Mail, it links in the middle of this story to one it's recycled from 2008, that was exaggerated and dishonestly reported even back then. As Martin Robbins points out in his blog at the Guardian, 'The latest WikiLeaks revelation: 1 in 3 British Muslim students back killing for Islam and 40% want Sharia law' is actually based on a Daily Mail article from two years ago. He says:
The figures were dodgy in 2008, and they're dodgy now, painting a spectacularly misleading picture of the results of a poll of British Muslim students conducted by the Centre for Social Cohesion. Unfortunately the original poll is no longer online, but luckily I worked through some of the actual questions two years ago.
Wouldn't you know it, the paper has exaggerated and misrepresented negative results in the poll and ignored positive ones.

Here's an extended quote, although you should really pop over and read the blog for a full rundown of how dishonestly this poll is treated:
But the biggest and clearest misrepresentation is the claim that "one third of British Muslims students say it's acceptable to kill for Islam." This is such a blatant distortion that it's hard to explain how journalists could twist the results of the poll in such a perverse way by accident. The actual question asked was:

"Is it ever justifiable to kill in the name of religion?"
Yes, in order to preserve and promote that religion - 4%
Yes, but only if that religion is under attack - 28%

32% said that it was acceptable to kill in the name of a religion - not Islam, any religion. Of those, 87.5% said "only in self-defense", while the tiny remainder said yes to an answer that includes the confusing conflation "preserve and promote". I'm curious to know what percentage of Christians would give similar answers, and what proportion of human beings in general if we substitute "religion" for "philosophy" or "way of life".

In fact Kenneth Ballen at the Christian Science Monitor tackled this point quite neatly in 2007, in his article on "the myth of Muslim support for terror," pointing to opinion polls that showed, for example, that:

"...only 46 percent of Americans think that 'bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians' are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are 'often or sometimes justified.'"

You could report that as "54% of Americans think it's fine to kill civilians in the name of capitalism!" but then you would be as stupid as the ubiquitous anonymousity who lurks under the name "Daily Mail Reporter."
Remember though - the Daily Mail hates the EDL. Te last thing it wants is to promote it.

There must be some other reason for giving publicity to a dunderheaded stunt and taking a 2 year old story, pretending it's new, and keeping all the distortions and exaggerations that were in it in the first place.

Here's the disturbing thing. If this latest was really uncovered in Wikileak's publication of US diplomatic cables, someone in a position of responsibility somewhere is treating this tabloid bullshit as if it's real.


atomicspin said...

The cable in question is UK MUSLIM DEMOGRAPHICS (C-RE8-02527). It is pretty much just a dump of data on Muslims in Britain from a whole pile of sources, so none of this is new (goodness knows why the US classified it "secret").

It does point out that Muslims were more likely to say killing in the name of religion is okay than other people, but it lumps all other students, religious and irreligious, into one group. There's no breakdown between atheists/agnostics (who would obviously be against killing in the name of religion, and who probably make up a large proportion of students) and Christians (or any other faith) - though there is the interesting fact that "Only 2 percent of non-Muslims felt killing in the name of religion could be justified" but "only 2
percent of non-Muslim students attend any religious service" - looks like response rates for religious students of other persuasions may have been similar.

ACG said...

"the posters are so transparently designed to do nothing other than wind people up"

i think you're giving it a bit too much credit there. just change that list of "evil" christmas things to a random string of words and you've got about 90% of all club night posters.

it's not just that it's intent is to wind up people like the edl, it's design is so shoddy as to more or less render it invisible, so it couldn't possibly succeed at it's goal without the mails promotion.