Sickening hypocrisy: how the right-wing press feigns concern at hatred it inspires [TWEETS]

Support us and go ad-free

On 12 December, a man with a knife terrorised passengers at Forest Hill station in southeast London, openly shouting that he wanted to “kill me a Muslim”. And yet the right-wing press reporting on the event seemed woefully unaware of its own hypocrisy. Indeed, it is arguably responsible for much of the frenzied anti-Muslim rhetoric and fascist sentiments resurgent in the UK today.

The terrorist incident

A man in his 40s was stabbed, and taken to hospital with “serious but not life-threatening injuries”. The alleged perpetrator was arrested on account of grievous bodily harm (GBH) by London Transport Police.

The specific words that the attacker shouted have varied slightly in reports, with only The Express making a jump to the plural, alleging it was “I want to kill Muslims”. The Sun and Sky News also reported on his rampage, and how he asked people “who is a Muslim?” before finally attacking his victim.

No longer hiding in the shadows

Hate crimes and xenophobia have spiked in the UK since the Brexit referendum of 23 June. Fascist groups and those with far-right sympathies have been empowered. They no longer hide behind obscurity provided by the internet. The election of Donald Trump in the US only provided them further affirmation. And the UK government is now taking action against some of the worst offenders.

But it was arguably the right-wing press that fuelled this wave of hatred in the first place. And award-winning journalist and broadcaster Mehdi Hasan shone a light on the media’s hypocrisy in a recent tweet:

The tabloid press, meanwhile, is even worse, running with headlines from the likes of Katie Hopkins that speak of turning gunships on refugees. Or handy cut-outs to help you identify what terrorists look like:

But even the more carefully phrased attitudes of The Telegraph still feed into the idea that Muslims in Britain are a ‘danger lurking beneath the surface’. And The Times has published sensationalist [paywall] headlines about all-Muslim enclaves. In fact, even liberal publications like The Guardian sometimes focus attention on the increase of the Muslim population. Tabloids such as The Daily Mail and The Sun, meanwhile, seem to exploit such figures to spread as much fear as possible.

In reality, the number of Muslims in the UK is only about 5% of the population.

Backlash against the right-wing press

A 2016 YouGov poll suggested the British press is the most right-wing in Europe.

Campaigns such as Stop Funding Hate have gathered momentum in recent weeks. Large consumer-driven companies have come under pressure to no longer advertise with organisations touting divisive rhetoric and prejudice. The Daily Beast recently reported on the organisation’s backlash against the prevalence of UK tabloid xenophobia, and its calling out of the retailer John Lewis. It described the John Lewis commercial as the “big daddy of the lachrymose but heart-warming Christmas advert”. Its advert may have tugged at heart-strings of acceptance and inclusion, but Stop Funding Hate pointed out the hypocrisy by asking it to end its support of The Express. A publication that frequently deluges its readers with prejudicial onslaughts such as these:

The murder of Jo Cox: a wake-up call?

In the days leading up to the Brexit vote, far-right terrorist Thomas Mair murdered Labour MP Jo Cox. He shot and stabbed the staunch supporter of inclusion and multiculturalism and said “death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

Many journalists and writers have raised the question of double standards. White murderers like Mair are described as “gunmen” or “mentally-ill”. Their crimes are deliberately diminished, and made to seem less threatening to the populace. But minority groups (particularly from an Islamic or Middle Eastern background) are nearly always described as “terrorists”. And the very definition of ‘terrorism’ implies an indiscriminate threat to wider society. In the US, however, where citizens are statistically far more likely to be killed by gun violence, Caucasian and right-wing gunmen are almost never described as such.

London Transport Police specifically stated the stabbing in Forest Hill was being treated as a hate crime, not an act of terrorism. Whether or not it would have been portrayed as such by the tabloid press had it been a Muslim shouting for the death of Christians is a very different question.

A personal perspective

The husband and widower of Jo Cox had his own view on the stabbing in Forest Hill:

And he makes a fair point. Given his personal loss, it is quite understandable that he seeks greater recognition for the threat posed by a resurgent far right. And continuing in the spirit of his late wife’s campaign, he calls for religious minorities not to be unfairly vilified.

UK citizens should be acutely aware of the hypocrisy. Right-wing newspapers feign concern at right-wing acts of violence, when hatred and vengeance against religious minorities is exactly what they’ve spent vast resources trying to whip up.

They’re taking their readers for fools.

Get Involved!

Support the Stop Funding Hate campaign.

Follow them on Twitter.

Featured image via Twitter

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed