By Ben Pensant
Few things warm the hearts of modern liberals more than a self-righteous anti-Brexit diatribe from James O’Brien. Since the EU referendum he has regularly schooled shit-for-brains Leave-voting callers to his LBC show with a cunning blend of wit, knowledge and hysterical over-reaction. And this week was no exception as he took to the airwaves to blame the right-wing media for turning ignorant proles into ignorant proles who beat up immigrants.
Bemoaning the shocking rise in hate crimes since that dark day in June, James offered a lengthy monologue on how this ‘spike’ was the fault of the press for ‘normalising’ racism by writing nasty stories about immigrants. Of course, ‘normalising’ ugly views is something James knows a lot about as he’s spent every day since we left the EU normalising the idea that Leave-voters were too stupid to know what they were voting for.
More tellingly, James has first hand experience of what goes on at these vile publications having worked at The Daily Express for several years. Presumably he spent his time writing the William Hickey gossip column documenting all the goose-stepping that went on during editorial meetings so he could expose them years later. Indeed, so clever was his subterfuge that there is no record whatsoever of him condemning his employers for whipping up anti-immigrant hatred while he was in receipt of their racist blood money.
Which explains why he targeted those who ‘cheerleaded’ Brexit for the rise in attacks on foreigners, despite the fact that not one newspaper has ever told its readers to attack foreigners. In fact, the only British publication to explicitly encourage violence was The Guardian, who recently produced a video in which a well-spoken journalist celebrated the ‘cathartic’ release she felt when Nazi idiot Richard Spencer was assaulted, supported the use of violence instead of ‘reasoned debate’ and called for an end to ‘the narcissism of good behaviour’. O’Brien occasionally writes for The Guardian too which probably explains why he was far less vocal about an actual instance of a newspaper condoning violence than he was about the imagined incitement of the right-wing press. And by ‘far less vocal’ I mean ‘quieter than JK Rowling’s Twitter feed since being asked if she’d be willing to let the refugees she cares so much about doss in one of her mansions’.
But James isn’t worried about facts and evidence when there’s a narrative to protect. And that narrative – that hate crimes have risen and it’s all because of Brexit and The Daily Mail – is one that really needs protecting as it’s about as robust as Donald Trump’s weave.
‘Hate crime has broken every single record this year’ he lamented, cleverly positioning it as a scourge on society on par with murder, as opposed to a term rendered meaningless by the CPS applying it not just to racist violence or bigoted abuse but opinions we don’t like and funny looks on the bus. Indeed, while there is little to admire in our fascistic police force, one area in which they excel is in their ongoing re-definition of what constitutes a hate crime. So now, if a taxi driver believes a lousy tip was motivated by racism rather than stinginess and reports it to the police it will be logged and added to the stats quicker than you can say ‘if you’re expecting more than 10% with an offensive hula doll on your dashboard forget it’. So when James talks of hate crime breaking more unwanted records than Alan Pardew, he’s actually talking about reports of hate crime. Which as any good leftist knows, is exactly the same thing.
Of course a police officer or a lawyer may tell you otherwise, as would anyone who isn’t too ideologically warped to note that there’s a huge differences between reports and convictions. But the real point isn’t actual hate crime; no-one really cares about immigrants and ethnic minorities being assaulted. No, the priority is our self-worth which is so fragile and paternalistic it needs constant validation. And that means blaming Brexit for a spike in hate crime despite scant evidence that this spike had anything to do with Brexit or even exists. The point isn’t the welfare of immigrants – the point is to feel as morally superior as possible by putting everything from global warming to the steady decline of Sherlock down to Britain leaving the EU.
And few are as morally superior as James, who was well ahead of the curve in predicting that post-Brexit the ‘lid would come off’. As he told a sceptical friend: ‘You don’t know what I do for a living. I deal with this every day’. Indeed, few people do know what James does for a living, other than berating people less virtuous than him, contorting his brow into increasingly earnest positions every time an immigrant calls his show, and donning his special BBC specs to present Newsnight when Evan has the shits or Emily fancies an evening in with a couple of hookers and a box of knives.
Of course, what James does do is tough it out on the frontline, and there’s no war zone more dangerous than talk radio. Quoting his own pre-referendum warning he summed up the descent into hell that started last summer: ‘I said ‘the people bubbling away on social media are gonna start doing it in public now. I hope I’m wrong. But it’s gonna happen’. And then it happened. Overnight. Jo Cox was dead before the vote was cast. It happened’.
Stirring stuff, despite there being no evidence that Thomas Mair read The Sun or The Mail or that either newspaper told their readers to murder MPs. There is evidence Mair had a history of far-right sympathies, anti-social behaviour and buying bomb-making manuals, but these pale into insignificance compared to the after-effects of reading one too many Rod Liddle columns.
James then turned his ire on the hacks themselves and their attempts to deflect blame: ‘If I’d been a cheerleader for it I’d pretend it wasn’t my fault too’ he suggested, and you can be sure that when the police and public start treating genuine hate crimes with scepticism James and every other fearmonger will be happy to admit their complicity. Except they won’t, silly. Because even when the modern left are wrong they’re wrong because they’re right – virtue beats reality any day of the week. And when it comes to complicity, James has nowt on the tory press.
‘You encouraged people to vote to leave the European Union, to punch themselves really hard in the face for several years’. Because the low-information idiots who got us into this mess couldn’t possibly have made their own minds up about the EU without the guidance of Rupert Murdoch. But James has to believe that all it takes is a story about round bananas or a photo of a 40-year-old Syrian toddler to convince the public to vote Leave or set fire to a mosque. Because the more powerful and influential bad people like Katie Hopkins are the more powerful and influential good people like James become.
‘Then you realise the upsurge in race-hate crime is down to you as well’ he scolded. And indeed it is, though James shouldn’t let the righties take all of the credit. The scaremongering and alarmism practiced by him and firebrands like Owen Jones played its part in misrepresenting the statistics too, as did adding to the fears of immigrants by warning them Britain is over-run with violent racists. ‘Immigrants are living in fear!’ cry the left-wing press, and we should be grateful that James helped embolden that fear telling immigrants that everyone hates them.
Sadly, most immigrants are sensible enough to ignore the hand wringing of self-righteous DJs, preferring to see the world through their own eyes rather than those of a man who doesn’t know the differences between reports and convictions. Equally, most Brits are tolerant enough to read a Telegraph story about the Rotherham rape gangs without going on an anti-Muslim killing-spree. But as the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump have shown: what do the majority know?
Because allowing The People to control the narrative is asking for trouble. Let those degenerates have their way and there’d be no hate crime discussion at all. Because despite the tireless work of the CPS, the ACPO and an unholy alliance of anti-free speech activists and brain-damaged academics, the majority are uninterested in going that extra mile. They won’t report the Home Secretary for making a speech about immigration, they’re unlikely to threaten a train driver with the police for discussing the migrant crisis, and there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance they’ll be so disturbed by a neighbour handing them a leaflet on Brexit that they hide under the settee and dial 999.
All of which are documented examples of the appalling surge in race hate; race hate which didn’t exist pre-referendum, when life in Britain was one long multi-cultural Mardi Gras, all races and creeds co-existing in rainbow-tinted harmony thanks to our membership of the caring, sharing EU. But that was then. We live in a different world now, a world in which newspapers turn people racist and Donald Trump plans to flex his white supremacist muscles by deporting illegal immigrants, horrifying liberals worldwide despite the fact that every country on the planet does it and notorious white supremacist Barack Obama did it more than any other President in history.
But to maintain the narrative we must focus on deportations and travel bans because otherwise we might have to admit that one of Trump’s most illiberal traits – his dislike of press freedom – is something the British left wholeheartedly approve of. Indeed, Trump would applaud the censorship-via-corporate blackmail tactics of Stop Funding Hate, as outside of the regressive left there is no-one who hates opposing views more than The Donald. And as a wealthy, powerful man he’d go crazy for Section 40’s proposals to stop newspapers from printing true stories about wealthy, powerful men. It’s almost a shame he chose the Republicans as someone as censorious as Trump could have been a fantastic fit for the contemporary left. If only he’d hated Jews instead of Muslims…
Unfortunately he’s had his chips now and won’t be forgiven by the likes of James, much like Brexit voters, right-wing columnists and people who value facts over hysteria. And Mr O’Brien was up to his old tricks again when presenting Newsnight this week, dismissively introducing Trump-voting Muslim reformer Asra Nomani as someone who has ‘written for Breitbart and The Hill’, despite the fact that she’s a respected journalist who’s worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times. And has never written for Breitbart.
But facts are expendable and only Kellyanne Conway knows this more than James. Hence his deployment of the same misrepresentation he used when discussing hate crimes to gently nudge the Newsnight audience into pre-judging Asra as someone not worth listening to. Unless James actually knew nothing whatsoever about his guest and was too busy practicing his earnest face and polishing his glasses to do two minutes of research. Let’s just hope the next time James appears on Question Time David Bumblebee doesn’t introduce him as ‘that bloke with the beard who used to pop up on The Alan Titchmarsh Show’.
Because that really would be a hate crime.