Why do we want newspapers to survive, again?
When I saw this Daily Express front page online, I thought it must be a parody. It wasn’t until I saw a physical copy of the paper the next day that I really believed that they had actually printed something so inflammatory and xenophobic:
The current outrage over the BNP, who won a couple of European Parliament seats earlier this year, and whose Führer Nick Griffin was invited on a specially-convened inquisitorial edition of BBC Question Time this week, is more than a little disingenuous.
The demagogic press has been creating and provoking anxieties over immigration and imagined Muslim fifth columnists for quite some time. The Labour government has responded, not by correcting the lies and misperceptions (such as immigrants jumping the housing queue) but by loudly introducing crowd-pleasing immigration controls (like the risible UK Citizenship pub trivia quiz) in some bizarre attempt to outflank the overtly racist BNP.
But the truth appears to be that racism and xenophobia win votes. They also sell papers. Anton Vowl has performed a valuable public service by looking back over recent front pages and stories from the newspapers that are currently excoriating Griffin for the same views, and the BBC for allowing him to present them.
Here’s an example from the Daily Star of a particularly toxic headline:
BBC PUT MUSLIMS BEFORE YOU
The old canard of special treatment for the other is there, but there’s a more insidiously hateful message behind it: Muslims are not ‘us’. We’ve heard that message before.
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing of late about the demise of print newspapers. Personally, I’d be happy for all newspapers to go out of business if it meant the death of spiteful organs like the Star, Express, and Mail. Sure, they’d be replaced by hateful online publications, but, without such an oligopoly on information, the Two Minute Hate against Muslims and foreigners would be harder to co-ordinate.
In reality, though, I suspect that these newspapers will probably cling onto life the longest, using ever more outrageous front page headlines to draw in the crowds.
So, anyway, go and read Hmm … remember this?