Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Local journalism at its finest.

One of my agents in Shropshire (I have agents everywhere) sent me a classic piece of local opinion journalism, by a chap called Peter Rhodes. He's like a toxic mix of Peter Hitchens and Jeremy Clarkson, only more embittered because he's never made it on the national reactionary stage. He has columns in the Express and Star (popularly known as the Express and Swastika for obvious reasons) and its sister paper The Shropshire Star.

That's right! Even though he calls you Blackshirts (that's the treasonous British Union of Fascists, by the way: Hitler's Jew-hating UK wing), you're the one who doesn't believe in 'reasoned debate' and uses the 'vilest terms' while trying to establish a 'tyranny' through the… er… fascist tactics of standing for office and expressing opinions in public.

I can't link you to Peter's article because his employers don't think it's worth wasting pixels and bandwidth on, but it's a classic of the Reactionary Paranoid White Man kind. Hence a short letter from yours truly to that paper. I'm guessing they won't print it.
Sir,Peter Rhodes' latest lazy effort ('scratch a liberal, find a fascist') omits to mention that liberals have not as yet resorted to gas chambers. They were built and operated by a group which did hate immigrants, ethnic and sexual minorities. Peter Hitchens and Mr Rhodes invent liberal bogeymen to hide the fact that what they fear is difference of any kind. If it's any consolation, the world still appears to be run by angry heterosexual white men like themselves. They aren't (sadly) a persecuted minority. 
Much as the Peters might like to think otherwise, angry white heterosexual conservatives are still quite powerful – from the press to politics to business. I'd been inclined to guess that they form the majority of reporting and editorial staff at the Shropshire Star. The 'freedom' they tend to espouse is usually the freedom to silence people who aren't like them. That's the difference between Peter and us liberals and lefties.

Much as I fantasise about putting Mr Rhodes in a prison camp and subjecting him to twenty four hours of Julian Clary, Malcolm X and Shami Chakrabarti's greatest hits, we tend to shake our heads and hope that reasoned argument will change their minds. Rhodes and his friends spend their time muttering darkly about 'them'. They promote Section 28 and dream of the days of Empire when black people contentedly cut sugar cane for white people's tea and didn't moan about having their countries invaded by the Bwana. Rhodes and his friends see every effort to treat subaltern groups equally as some kind of Stalinist plot to make them contract gay marriage and salute the North Korean flag every day. And they get paid very well to stoke these fears too. I wonder if he's descended from famous imperialist conqueror Cecil Rhodes?

It must be tiring to be so bitter and paranoid all the time.

As luck would have it, I'm reading some academic papers today which would make Peter's head explode. They're about Jackie Kay's wonderful novel Trumpet, which features a black! Scottish! trans-sexual! jazz! trumpeter and celebrates the claim that racial, national and sexual identities are unstable and all the richer for it!

I am available to give Peter and his friends remedial classes in Coping With Post-Medieval Life. Give me a call.

Update! Peter has indeed contacted me (via email rather than in the comments like the hoi polloi:

You are quite sure about this?
Regards, Peter Rhodes (former winner of the Commission for Racial Equality "Race in the Media" Awards)
So I'm happy to offer a clarification. Peter is definitely a reactionary who doesn't know his political arse from his historical elbow. And his newspaper is racist. But he is clearly not a racist. He just doesn't understand the irony of British people opposing immigration while celebrating an Empire built on over-running everybody else's countries. Nor does he see equating advocates for equal marriage with the Blackshirts who wanted Britain to put Jews, homosexuals, trades unionists, communists, Roma, Jehovah Witnesses and assorted others in gas chambers just like their Nazi masters as at all inaccurate or offensive.

Peter: 'liberals' are for things. Fascists are against things. You're against gay people marrying and people immigrating into Britain (except for the Romans, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Norwegians, Normans, Huguenots and Dutch, I presume). You may not be a racist but it's clear which side you're on.

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