I thought I’d seen it all when ‘anti-fascist’ rent-a-mob types screamed words such as ‘racist’ and ‘coconut’ at UKIP’s Black, Asian, Muslim and Jewish supporters at a big rally in London back in May. Now, my astonishment at the lunacy and double-standards of the vociferous far-left has ratcheted up another notch.
I’ve just finished writing a chapter on women’s rights in a new publication called Beyond Multiculturalism, edited by UKIP’s culture spokesman, Peter Whittle. My contribution focuses on how decades of enforced multiculturalism – which dictates that all cultures have equal value – coupled with the disparagement of British culture and values, created a situation where we all became so fearful of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘bigoted’ that we began to tolerate the intolerable.
I argue it is women and girls in ethnic minority communities who’ve suffered most as a result, for by surrendering to the regressive demands of certain cultures we’ve prevented women and children asserting rights that as British citizens they should be able to take for granted, rights such as control over their own bodies and choice in their relationships.
It’s an issue I feel passionately about. So, when over the weekend I came across a spoof picture of a Taliban Online Dating Website with profiles of burka-clad women listed as: Occupation: Not Allowed; Income: Not Allowed; and Hobbies: Not Allowed, I re-tweeted it saying humour can be a most expressive form of critical comment.
To my shock, a torrent of abuse landed in my Twitter feed. Despite the picture being beyond any doubt a pop at the Taliban – and only the Taliban – the UKIP-haters still did their worst. By the end of the day I’d been labelled a ‘truly sickening racist,’ ‘openly racist,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘xenophobic,’ ‘Islamophobic,’ ‘vile,’ and a ‘lout.’ And that’s just the stuff I can publish here.
When I tweeted back, expressing astonishment anyone could think I was bigoted because I slated the Taliban and suggested one particularly vituperative correspondent might struggle to defend his claims in court, I was accused of ‘harassment,’ ‘thuggery’ and being a ‘bully.’ A few then started copying journalists not known for their love of UKIP into their tweets. You really couldn’t make it up.
Presumably these agitators generally consider themselves to be the very epitome of feminist, free speech-loving liberalism. They probably even complain on occasion that there aren’t enough women in politics – oh the irony!
Yet in their bloodlust for seeing someone, anyone, in UKIP humiliated they effectively defended one of the world’s most despicable political organisations, one that wouldn’t hesitate to execute a teacher who taught a girls to read and write, or slaughter a gay man on sight.
But of course, that doesn’t matter; because for the anti-UKIP internet ‘liberals’ who hide behind false profiles and fake photos and scream ‘intolerance’ while hurling abuse and trying to ‘expose’ you to all and sundry, this isn’t about right or wrong, or it’s about perpetuating a political witch-hunt. That and completely muddle-headed thinking.
A few years ago, Martin Amis addressed a gathering at the Institute for Contemporary Arts and asked whether anyone present thought they were morally superior to the Taliban? Less than a third put their hands up, very tentatively. He was appalled at how far cultural relativism had hollowed people out, saying: “We’re in a pious paralysis when we can’t say we’re morally superior to the Taliban.” It’s sobering to think the same might happen today with ISIS, or Boko Haram, or any other Islamist terrorist organisation.
It’s terrifying how cowed we’ve all become and it’s why the incontinent use of the word ‘racist’ has got to stop. It belittles the term and turns us into timid scaredycats who won’t speak out against or support those who are suffering on the ridiculous grounds we feel we don’t have the right colour skin to be able to comment, or because we worship the ‘wrong’ God.
Some of my detractors said my retweet wasn’t what they expected from a ‘serious politician.’ Presumably they mean ‘serious politicians’ aren’t allowed to have a sense of humour. Perhaps from now on I should just completely restrict myself to dull-as-ditchwater comments on social media of the kind that end up on @BoringMP, you know, ‘Today I was delighted to meet…’ and ‘Honoured to be invited to….’ blah blah blah stuff? Well, sorry, but I didn’t go into politics to express numb platitudes. I did it to make a difference.
Politicians who do their job properly inevitably end up offending a few people, yet too many tiptoe around sensitive – and even not so sensitive issues – because they’re terrified of upsetting someone. Some struggle to give a straight answer to the simplest of questions in case opponents make hay with their answer, which of course they will always try to do, such is the sad nature of the Punch and Judy political circus.
The public say they want politicians to be ‘human,’ but aim to destroy us if we make the slightest mistake, which of course being human, we all inevitably do at some time or another.
This is why I’m deeply worried about how opposition politicians and journalists seem desperate to pick up on and expose ‘offence,’ not just because those who claim something is offensive usually aren’t the ones affected by the alleged misconduct, but because ‘offence’ has become a sloppy, McCarthy-esque political campaign tool.
We would do well to remember that we have to ‘take’ offence for words to hurt; it’s not just about offence being ‘given.’ Frankly, too many people get too wound up about an awful lot of quite petty issues when really they should just move on and get a life. Preferably one outside Twitter.