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Friday 7 August 2009

The Madness of Richard Littlejohn

Recently, C4 aired a documentary about Anti-Semitism in the UK. It was thoughtful and disturbing: many might think that we don’t do that sort of thing here, but some unfortunately do. This useful – overdue, even – look at a centuries old prejudice was presented by one Richard Littlejohn. Yes, the same bloke who writes a regular rent-a-rant in the Daily Mail.

Littlejohn not only found Anti-Semitism across the UK, but also a strange reaction from fellow journalists: whenever they found he was tackling the subject, the reaction was invariably “I didn’t know you were Jewish”, as if only a follower of Judaism were allowed to broach the issue. The programme was challenging and, yes, eloquent – and, no, I’m not seeking to be ironic or mocking.

It was not long after seeing the prog that I visited Berlin: as I mentioned a while ago, there is a security presence watching over the Holocaust memorial there. This experience, and seeing the precautions taken at the great Synagogue in Budapest, brought home to me that the UK and Europe are not over this one yet.

So far, so informative, but then this is the same bloke who churns out pages of low grade Islamophobic drivel on a worryingly regular basis. Perhaps this is the preference of the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor, Paul Dacre, but I doubt it: Littlejohn was ranting in similar vein in his days at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun.

How can this be? On the one hand, Littlejohn shows us the results of centuries of irrational and vicious prejudice, and then on the other, indulges in, er, irrational and vicious prejudice. Is this the same person? If so, perhaps there is a more straightforward explanation: maybe some kind of schizophrenia is taking hold of the Daily Mail’s gorblimey rent-a-rant.

Because to promote and rail against something at the same time is surely madness.

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