Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Threat to a British Liberty

Fraser Nelson 9:54pm . March 18th

British understatement is a wonderful thing. Here is how Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, introduced a posting on the magazine’s website (see link above) last weekend: “It’s a funny old world,” he said, “I have now been contacted by two journalists informing me that Bedfordshire Police are investigating The Spectator”. The reason? Because a group called, wait for it, “Muslims4UK” took exception to a piece by Melanie Phillips on her Spectator blog in which she referred to the Arabs who had murdered five members of a Jewish family in Itamar the week before as “savages”.

The story was reported in the media, but if you’d blinked you’d have missed it, and the slant of the reporting was that Israel was at least as much to blame for the killings — due to settlement policy — as the killers themselves. Melanie’s column was a typically robust effort to point out the moral depravity of news outlets such as the Guardian, the New York Times, CNN and the BBC who, if the situation had been reversed — if five Arabs including a three month old baby had been knifed to death in their beds in a lethal racist attack by Jewish “settlers”, for example — would have given it saturation coverage.

So not so much a “funny old world” as a “brave new world”: a prominent British columnist does what prominent British columnists are supposed to do — she attempts to shift the terms of the debate back on to a more rational and principled footing — and the net result is that the police have been called in, with the Guardian newspaper
cheerleading on the sidelines, because she has offended Muslim sensitivities.

As Nelson summed it up, the train of events went like this:
“1) Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, gets angry about what he reads on Melanie’s blog.2) Complains to the PCC [The Press Complaints Commission].3) Complains to the police.4) Phones up The Guardian and says “The PCC are investigating The Spectator!! Story!! Police too!!5) The Guardian duly writes it all up, on its website.6) The Independent follows up The Guardian.7) An inverted pyramid of piffle is thus constructed.”

It isn’t yet clear on what grounds the investigation is being conducted, but you can bet your boots that it is the following paragraph from Melanie’s piece that they are salivating over:

“So to the New York Times, it’s not the Arab massacre of a Jewish family which has jeopardised ‘peace prospects’ — because the Israelis will quite rightly never trust any agreement with such savages — but instead Israeli policy on building more homes, on land to which it is legally and morally entitled, which is responsible instead for making peace elusive. Twisted, and sick”.

An “Arab massacre”? What all of them? “such savages”? So all Arabs are “savages”? Oh, come off it. It is quite clear that she is referring to the “savages” who slaughtered a family in their beds, and it is “such savages” and those who incite them with whom peace cannot be made. It is also clear that in this instance the thrust of the argument is against the New York Times, itself being used as a proxy for the liberal left media in the West, and not the killers as such.
And it is precisely because the multi-culturalist assumptions underpinning the western liberal left media lead consistently to a downplaying or sanitisation of crimes, however appalling, committed by non-white, third-world perpetrators designated as “victims” that Melanie Phillips employs such strong language to jolt western readers out of their dogmatic slumbers. Again, that’s what columnists are supposed to do, and in any other situation this affair would have passed off without notice.

But, as Nelson makes clear, changes are afoot in modern Britain that threaten to rip apart the fabric of one of the world’s most developed free societies: “Freedom of expression is under attack in Britain, from our notorious libel laws to this new phenomenon of police forces being asked to investigate what people put on their blogs,” he said.

And as we know from cases involving Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and others across the continent, all of this is starting to look like a depressingly common feature of the new European politics. To those who value freedom, merely sitting on one’s hands is no longer an option. We all hang together, or we all hang separately, as Benjamin Franklin is said to have averred at the siging of the American Declaration of Independence.

So write to Fraser Nelson in the comments column at the end of the article and tell them you support their right to be heard. Surely, that’s the least you can do.

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