What is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension?

I know it is not news to anyone that the Daily Mail is staggeringly hypocritical, but sometimes it is just worth repeating because they do something like this:

hypocrisy

Phil Woolas is a deeply unpleasant man who not content with authorising the forceful deportation of children during his time as Immigration Minister also decided to run for re-election by – and these are the word of the Daily Mail no less: ‘[embarking] on a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to “make the white folk angry” enough to vote for him.’ The Daily Mail is appalled at the fact  ‘that while he was stirring up racial ill-feeling against his rival, Phil Woolas was the minister in charge of immigration’.

It it worth mentioning at this point that Minority Thought and Primly Stable have already covered this story and they both move in the same direction here, the only direction possible, and that is to point out the Daily Mail’s own record of running ‘a toxic campaign of lies, smears and dirty tricks to ‘make the white folk angry’. Minority Thought puts forward the smears of Nick Clegg during the election campaign in which the Daily Mail asked: ‘Is there ANYTHING British about LibDem leader?’ Minority Thought then moves on to the recent announcement of a proposed strike on Bonfire Night by the Fire Brigades Union, to which the Daily Mail responded by rooting through the bins of union general secretary Matt Wrack; as well as knocking the doors of various family members to dig for dirt.

Both Minority Thought and Primly Stable give a few examples of the Mail’s efforts to stir up racial tension, but in reality one would need an encyclopedic memory to recall all of them, and it would make this blog post as long as the entire archive to list them. I’ll attempt to pick out a few of their more disgraceful efforts anyway, just to ram the point home that the Mail can hardly criticise a few leaflets, when it has thousands of newspaper editions doing far worse – under the current editor, Paul Dacre, so no excuses.

First of all, the Daily Mail repeatedly repeats the myth that immigrants and asylum seekers rush to the top of social housing lists at the expense of local, white folk. In July 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on social housing that the BBC summed-up thus:

There is no evidence that new arrivals in the UK are able to jump council housing queues, an Equality and Human Rights Commission report says.Once they settle and are entitled to help, it adds, the same proportion live in social housing as UK-born residents…

“It is largely a problem of perception,” he [Housing minister John Healey] told Today.

“The report shows there is a belief, a wrong belief, that there is a bias in the system.”

Most major news sources – including tabloid newspapers – reported this finding: ITN: Immigrant housing priority ‘a myth’; Guardian: Claims that immigrants prioritised for social housing ‘a myth’; The Independent: Study ‘ends myth’ of housing for immigrants; The Daily Telegraph: Immigrants do not get housing priority, study shows. Even the Daily Express headline is refreshingly accurate (even if they still shout it):  IMMIGRANTS ‘DON’T TOP HOUSING LIST’.

Accept, of course, the Daily Mail, who instead took a different angle:

Daily Mail lies

This article ignored the main finding of the report in order to protect the Daily Mail narrative that immigrants were being treated better than ‘indigenous’ Brits, a narrative that fuels much of the BNP support as well as the rising militarism of the EDL. Just before the Daily Mail completely whitewashed the findings of this report they were still pushing the myth hard:

‘The “British homes for British workers” plan, if it succeeds, will force councils to end the unfairness which sees immigrants with large families vault to the top of the council house list’.

Just last month the Daily Mail were again repeating the myth by claiming that Birmingham City Council was putting ‘Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain’s biggest council decides to put its locals first’. The implication was clear: all other councils were still putting asylum seekers at the top of the housing queue.

Or what about the annual claim that the majority of new born boys in the UK are called ‘Mohammed’? This year the Daily Mail’s coverage earned the first Five Chinese Crackers‘ ‘Tabloid bullshit of the month award’, against some stiff competition given that every tabloid and some broadsheets were running with this myth. I’ll let 5CC take over:

Here’s why your version won:

  • It’s a crap trick. Adding together 12 variations of a name and saying the official list has Mohammed at number 16 without pointing out that the official list doesn’t add any variations of names together is just a bit dishonest.
  • As is not bothering to mention exactly how popular a name Mohammed is among Muslims.
  • Or that altogether, boys named every variation of Mohammed made up around just 2% of all boys. Actually, the number of boys named all variations of Mohammed actually took a slight drop since last year, but you didn’t mention that either.
  • It’s an old crap trick. I was mentioning it on my blog back in 2007, when the trick made it look as though Mohammed was the second most popular boy’s name.
  • It scaremongers unnecessarily about Muslims.

Or how about the Daily Mail coverage of Winterval (again, they are not the only newspaper guilty of pushing this myth)? At first the banning of Christmas was aimed at the ‘PC brigade’ but the Mail has now realised it has a much better target: Muslims. The PC brigade were banning Christmas in case it offended Muslims. Councils, not content with giving them all the benefits and free houses denied to good old British white-folk, they were now ‘pandering’ to their ‘demands’.

This may seem a ludicrous idea, but it is believed by many, including the EDL whose leader, Stephen Lennon, recently threatened any council thinking of ‘pandering to Muslims’ in an interview with the Times:

He said that “reluctantly” he uses the threat of a demonstration as “blackmail” to ensure that councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions. “We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down.”

Who are these ‘Islamic pressure groups’? When has any Muslim ever wanted to ‘ban Christmas’? Phil Woolas used racial tensions to get re-elected, the Daily Mail use racial tensions to sell newspapers, whilst providing a stable diet of disinformation to bolster support and shape the ideology of right-wing extremists in the UK. Christmas has never been banned and councils have never renamed it. The myth has been debunked so many times it is worrying that a collection of adults believes it to such an extent they are writing to every council.

So, what is worse than leaflets stirring up racial tension? The tabloid press.

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