Black Lives Matter activists verbally abused journalist Peter Hitchens as he strolled through the streets of Oxford to observe the far-left protest.
Footage shared on social media showed one Black Lives Matter protester with a microphone chanting, “I don’t know what I’ve been told, Peter Hitchens’ got to go,” while the hundred or so others echoed the lines back to her.
I love how Peter Hitchens looks like he couldn't possibly care less about the people in the background as he enjoys his evening stroll. pic.twitter.com/SWZ5qumA5r
— Chris Rose (@ArchRose90) June 17, 2020
Mr Hitchens, a self-confessed reformed member of the “left-wing mob”, was undisturbed by the chants, saying later that he was “less troubled by these pale copies of the 1960s than I otherwise would be”.
“I just followed the march, as any journalist (or indeed anyone else interested in it) is entitled to do. There was a feeble attempt to (I assume) intimidate me by chanting my name, but I wasn’t bothered. I remain my usual 5 ft 9 in,” he said.
Tweets flooded in in support of Mr Hitchens casually carrying on the duty of a journalist whilst young left-wingers chanted his name.
Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes congratulated the writer for being “unapologetically hard arse”. He continued: “Not everyone could do this, not everyone could refuse to bend the knee to a baying mob of people arguing an entire ethnic group must flagellate themselves over a murder in the USA, but he did. More power to him.”
They’re harassing him cause he refused to take a knee. This is how you handle the intolerant mob. 💪🏽 https://t.co/iWTAiZbmbp
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) June 17, 2020
Educator and Free School founder Katharine Birbalsingh said: “What is this madness?! Peter Hitchens, we love you.”
While others expressed concern the manner in which journalists are now being harassed while exercising their free duty to observe a protest in a public space.
talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer said: “Appalling mob. How this can happen in our country in 2020? Disgusting behaviour. Every single one of these people should hang their heads in shame.”
Writer and academic Matthew Goodwin said: “Uncomfortable with journalists being treated like this. Hat off to Hitchens for strolling along.”
Kristian Niemietz, the head of Political Economy at the IEA, said: “I guarantee you that every single member of this mob, and every single member of the much larger Twitter mob around them, is convinced that THEY are the brave nonconformists in this.”
I admire @ClarkeMicah for the insouciance with which he ignores these protestors baying for his blood, but this is genuinely disturbing. In a free country, no journalist should have to face a howling mob when they leave their house. https://t.co/egev15u3s2
— Toby Young (@toadmeister) June 17, 2020
This is not the first time in recent weeks the Oxford local casually defied the mob. Earlier this month, his image made the rounds on social media for not taking the knee during a Black Lives Matter protest which focused on the continuing Rhodes Must Fall campaign.
The veteran of far-left protests later wrote on his decision not to “take the buttock” in the Daily Mail that either in his capacity as a journalist or not, he would refuse to ‘take a knee’.
“I hadn’t heckled the speakers, and I wasn’t going to endorse their opinions either. And I know enough about the clenched-fist salute to be pretty sure that I won’t be doing that again. But I did not think I was doing anything especially dramatic by staying upright,” he observed.
After a five-year campaign, the governing body of Oriel College, the University of Oxford, agreed on Wednesday to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the nineteenth-century South African politician whose scholarship funds 100 students a year, a fifth of which come from Africa.
"In a time of universal conformity, not taking the buttock is a revolutionary act"
— George Orwell, probably pic.twitter.com/EkXk4q6IEp
— Jack Montgomery (@JackBMontgomery) June 10, 2020
While Mr Hitchens showed no particular love for the statue, in the current climate of memory-holing Britain’s past, the move signals another surrender of Western civilisation.
Archaeologist and television presenter Neil Oliver warned that the mob denouncing and toppling the statues of long-dead figures, such as what happened to the Bristol statue Edward Colston, is a “very dangerous precedent” towards denouncing and committing acts of physical violence against people.
Such acts of iconoclasm, Mr Oliver told talkRADIO last week, were “baby steps on a road that leads to people being encouraged to think that they can denounce family members, the neighbours.
“That’s what happened in Mao Zedong’s China in the Cultural Revolution. Thirty-odd million people were hounded in that way. Ultimately, 100 million people died in Mao’s China, and yet people feel happy and proud to wear t-shirts with Mao’s face on them, even today.”