“There are some people so famous, so much the focus of media attention and public conversation, that they ceased to be viewed by many as human beings.”
So said Tony Blair’s former megaphone Alastair Campbell in The Times last week observing the rise and fall of semi-clothed pop megastar Britney Spears. The fall element of the story culminated last week in Spears ending up being led away by the proverbial persons in white coats to be put under the US equivalent of a section.
Since then, a gleeful cacophony of commentators and psychiatrists, who apparently feel able to diagnose the patient from several thousand miles away by looking at her picture in the redtops and tapping their toes to her back catalogue, have queued up to consider whether or not Spears may be suffering from bipolar depression.
Disgusted by this brutal media circus, Campbell storms: “Does there ever come a point where a judgement forms that says let’s just leave her alone?” before adding: “Being a hard-nosed journalist or businessman does not require you to suspend basic humanity.”
It was, of course, this misguided faith in the underlying humanity of turbocapitalism that lay at the heart of the Blairite debacle.
It’s true that being a hard-nosed journalist or businessman doesn’t require you to suspend your basic humanity, but, if fraternal love for your fellow people is a big thing for you, it’s unlikely that hard-nosing will be your profession of choice.
Turbocapitalism exploits more or less everyone, but it’s particularly merciless in its exploitation of young women.
Spears has been much luckier than the millions of young women in the developing world who are forced to turn their bodies into products in a much more unpleasant way than she’s had to and the millions more in the West who are encouraged to hate themselves for not being her.
But, ultimately, she’s been packaged, sold and remaindered by a system that cares about profits more than people.
Those in search of a slightly – very slightly, as it turns out – more intellectual mental collapse could have read The Independent, where novelist Martin Amis was allegedly trying to convince interviewer Johann Hari that he is not a racist.
So, was it racist to suggest, as he did in 2006, that the Muslim community would have to suffer “discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children?”
It certainly wasn’t unusual or interesting. Amis joined a gaggle of former leftish journalists and intellectuals who, at various points of since 2001, have anointed Islam the enemy of all that’s good and then labelled anyone from the centre-right leftwards who fails to follow the same path as the extremist’s patsies.
The sad thing is that Amis, Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens and co do have part of a good point. The left, particularly in Britain, has struggled to articulate a coherent post-September 11 analysis that could be described as “neither Washington nor mosque.”
Left-wing supporters of what was the Respect Coalition – who, in many cases, probably now regret it – were so keen to exploit the gap in the market for religiously defined anti-Americanism that they positively encouraged and traded off the utterly perverse notion that the war in Iraq was a religion-specific war against Islam, as opposed to a cackhanded exercise in assertive geopolitics.
The left has no business accepting “cultural differences” as an excuse for reactionary social positions and practices which are clearly not shared by most British Muslims, including the rejection of rights for women, gays and lesbians and hatred of Jews and the US. In these cases, there is no room for well-meaning confusion about what is “different” and what is wrong.
Unfortunately, Amis isn’t focusing on any of that. He’s just saying mad stuff.
He’s obviously not the only one calling for lots of strip-searching of young men who look like they may be of Arabic descent, but the pick of the Hari interview is lauding of a man who David Icke could’ve been if only he’d been Canadian, wacky author Mark Steyn.
Steyn’s recent book America Alone tells the story of a Europe converted to Islamic law in 2020 by European Muslims whose phenomenal breeding rates have enabled them to become the majority, elect an Islamist government and demand “mass evacuations” of white people.
According to Amis, Steyn is “a great sayer of the unsayable.” Amis, it seems, is failing to distinguish between something that’s unsayable and something that can be said but which, once said, will be widely regarded as ridiculous.
Apparently, Amis’s new world order encompasses not only authoritarian defence of liberalism but also comically irrational defences of rationalism. And so on we go.
This article first appeared in the Morning Star newspaper.
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This post was written by David Floyd