After the Christchurch mass killings has come the pleading from our free and fearless press and their hangers-on that they were not to blame for what happened in New Zealand. that they are merely “concerned” about something called “Radical Islam” and “Islamic Terrorism”. This push-back has been led by the likes of lame contrarian Brendan O’Neill and his pals at Spiked, so-called because it should have been long ago.
“Many of the journalists being named and shamed and listed and protested against have not expressed anti-Muslim bigotry - they are simply concerned about radical Islam and some of them are also concerned about Muslim immigration. Whether you agree or disagree with these concerns is immaterial - they are legitimate talking points” bleats Bren.
So let’s put his witterings to the test. Was “Christian girl forced into Muslim foster care” about “Radical Islam”, or indeed immigration? Was the “Birmingham schools ‘Trojan Horse’ plot” about either of those? Was Trevor Kavanagh asking “what shall we do about The Muslim Problem” about that? Was Kelvin McFilth berating Fatima Manji for wearing a headscarf while reading a news bulletin about those subjects? No. Noe of them were.
All of those stories fed the low-level racism that the far-right feeds off, and anti-terror chief Neil Basu was not disagreeing: “Britain’s counter-terrorism chief has said far-right terrorists are being radicalised by mainstream newspaper coverage, while also criticising the hypocrisy of outlets such as Mail Online, which uploaded the ‘manifesto’ of the gunman in the Christchurch terror attack”. There was more.
“Basu invited national newspaper editors to debate their coverage with ‘survivors of terrorism and those of us trying to counter it’ … A piece of extremist propaganda might reach tens of thousands of people naturally through their own channels or networks, but the moment a national newspaper publishes it in full then it has a potential reach of tens of millions. We must recognise this as harmful to our society and security”.
And that extremist propaganda increasingly targets Muslims. So it should have surprised no-one when the Birmingham Mail reported “Five Birmingham mosques were targeted overnight in a shocking spate of attacks. West Midlands Police confirmed officers were called to incidents at locations in north Birmingham in the early hours of Thursday, March 21. The force initially confirmed the Witton Road Islamic Centre in Witton was among those attacked on Wednesday night.” A sledgehammer was the weapon of choice.
“Attacks also took place at centres in Birchfield Road; Slade Road, Erdington; Albert Road, Aston; and Broadway, Perry Barr”. Security is being stepped up. It’s not about free speech; this is a sham excuse. What the press has been relentlessly pumping out for some years now is hate speech. Muslims should stop complaining and suck it up. It’s only legitimate concern. Something and nothing. Trivia. Mere concern.
But as Neil Basu has concluded, “Society needs to look carefully at itself. We cannot simply hide behind the mantra of freedom of speech. That freedom is not an absolute right, it is not the freedom to cause harm - that is why our hate speech legislation exists”.
What the press has done, and Brendan O’Neill has defended, has led to the hatred which is now causing fear, assaults, and criminal damage. Own your problem, press people.
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