By Ben Pensant
Little good has come from the twin horrors of Brexit and Trump, unleashed three years ago to strike fear and loathing into the hearts of celebrity QCs, milquetoast columnists, and shit-for-brains actors everywhere. Sure, leaving the EU has emboldened decent liberals who spent years fighting hatred and bigotry, gifting them a free pass to be hateful and bigoted towards 17 million people they’ve never met. And if it weren’t for President Pussy-Grabber we may have been denied the rise of Alexandria Arcadia-Cortez and her clever plans to revitalise the left by offering free money to people who don’t want to work, punishing future generations for stuff their parents did, and blaming the conservative media because almost 50% of her own party have never heard of her. (As we know, registered Democrats are notorious for talking their cues from Fox News and Tucker Carsehole.)
Sadly, these crumbs of comfort are few and far between. Indeed, since 2016 the political discourse has spewed out more dangerous trends than you could shake a shitty banner at, from the craze for accusing anti-fascists of fascism just because they like disrupting college talks and hitting people with bike locks, to the right’s habit of believing it should be judges and juries that determines if a man is guilty of sexual assault rather than Twitter and Opera Winfrey.
But the most insidious development has been the way sneaky trolls have started attacking their enemies by claiming they’ve said stuff they haven’t. Indeed, in this era of impending economic Armageddon, misrepresentation is one of the few growth industries. And the past week has emphasised this tenfold, as one of Britain’s most respected political thinkers saw his words twisted beyond recognition. For nothing has summed up how low the Tory smearmongers will go quite as grimly as the violent hounding of The New Statesmxn’s George Eton.
I won’t regurgitate the vile views relayed to George by ageing Nazi war criminal Roger Crouton, partly out of sensitivity to my readers but mainly because I’ve read neither the article nor the full quotes and until Wednesday had no idea who either of them were. Needless to say, all you need know is that while being interviewed Crouton admitted to the courageous hack that he hates Muslims, believes George Sorrows is an evil emperor, and thinks all Chinese people look the same.
Of course, anyone who took thirty seconds to find out what Crouton actually said knows that none of the above is technically, literally, or remotely true. Luckily, one of the bravest things about the modern left is our refusal to take thirty seconds to find out anything that might piss all over our ideological chips. And why bother, when all it takes is a crusading journalist tweeting cropped edits of some innocuous comments to force a gutless Tory MP to fire someone from an architecture commission that nobody outside of Westminster and the editor of the Stockport & District Heritage Review give two shits about?
Predictably, the outrage merchants pounced, accusing George of deliberately trying to get Crouton sacked by misquoting him, using piss-poor, flimsy evidence such as the full unedited quotes and a crudely photoshopped image of the young leftist toasting the decrepid racist’s dismissal with a bottle of champagne. (As if we’d fall for that when everyone knows liberal journalists only drink craft beer and charred parsnip Mojitos. Nice try, fash.)
Cue a torrent of abuse and harassment towards George for having the balls to remove words from Crouton’s replies to give the impression he’s a racist Islamophobic antisemite. They even pathetically presented the original quotes as proof that he had set out to stitch up the old duffer, when anyone with half a brain knows these crafty edits simply exposed what Crouton actually believes despite the fact that there’s no evidence that he does.
This is misrepresentation in a nutshell: Make non-bigoted comment to journalist. Allow journalist to report it as a bigoted comment. When bigoted comment gets you the sack claim you never actually made bigoted comment and accuse journalist of spreading lies by misquoting non-bigoted comment. Fade to black. Gaslighting at its purest, people. And it fucking stinks.
Fortunately, the modern left are old hands at fighting these gross distortions using a foolproof combination of lying, deflection, and grassing people up on Twitter. Indeed, just last week the words of moderate extremist Mehdi Hussein were crassly re-jigged to suggest he was deliberately misquoting Sam Harrison when he accused the far-right atheist of “attacking all Muslim immigrants in bigoted terms”. Mehdi’s evidence was a eye-poppingly racist column Harrison wrote in 2006 which claimed that “Muslim immigrants demand tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their antisemitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques”.
Of course, Mehdi neglected to mention that Harrison was specifically talking about Muslim immigrants within the EU, and had also removed the word ‘often’ from after ‘immigrants’ and before ‘demand’. This was predictably seized upon by the intellectual dark wanker’s rabid fans as evidence of Mehdi’s dishonesty, as if omitting trivial facts and words from a sentence completely changes its meaning or something. Thankfully, both Mehdi and his fans weathered the storm with grace and dignity by ignoring or blocking anyone who pointed out he was full of shit.
The left played a similar blinder last week when self-hating right-winger Candice ‘Auntie Tom’ Owens accused brave Democrat congressman Ted Lee of misrepresenting her after he played a context-free video during a senate hearing in which she praised Hitler, denied he was a nationalist, and claimed the former German Chancellor “just wanted to make Germany great again”. Bless ‘im.
Unsurprisingly Owens wasted no time in pouncing on Ted, accusing the Japanese war hero of thinking black people are ‘stupid’ and deliberately trying to smear her as a fan of the Fourth Reich. She even desperately claimed that if anyone cared to watch the full clip they would see that she wasn’t praising Hitler but condemning him, responding to a question about nationalism by using the mono-knackered megalomaniac as an example of someone who got it wrong. (Kind of like the alt-right version of ‘The Soviet Union wasn’t real communism!’ but said by idiots.) Since when have leftists demeaned themselves by watching a film clip in its entirety before commenting on it? Have these conservative clowns learnt nothing from Covington?
Luckily the damage was done, and despite her lame protestations Candice’s reputation was sealed: a black white supremacist with a soft spot for the man who wanted to wipe her ancestors off the face of the earth. But as beautiful as this episode was, it was nowhere near as satisfying as the huge ‘fuck you!’ leftists gave to the subservient Trumpster trolls who rushed to their hero’s defence after shocking new footage emerged in which he referred to asylum seekers as ‘animals’.
At least that’s how it looked if all you saw was the 40-second film which did the rounds last weekend: liked and re-tweeted thousands of times by principled leftists with neither the time nor inclination to find out the full story before spitting Twitter feathers. The video was so disturbing even Julia Hartley-Brexit stopped being a fascist witch for five minutes to condemn it: “This is terrifying stuff. And it’s become normalised now. No-one in the room even bats an eyelid when he says it. Horrific”
Cue a cavalcade of abuse from MAGA-bots, including one sick puppy who pointed out that the reason they never batted an eyelid is probably because they knew that the ‘animals’ Trump was talking about weren’t in fact refugees or immigrants but members of the ultra-violent MK-17 gang. Some even had the brass neck to counter the principled cries of “he’s said this before!” by pointing out that the speech was from May 2018, meaning the video clip was the exact same one they lost their shit over 11 months ago. As if that somehow excuses using such offensive, dehumanising language to describe vicious drug-dealers with a penchant for raping and murdering children.
Happily, the great and the good saw through these sad attempts to claim Trump was misquoted and were left with a feeling of warm contentment, satisfied that their pre-conceived prejudices about people they disagree with had been thoroughly confirmed. The likes of Islamophobic Punch columnist and professional gay traitor Dickless Murray tried their best, scrabbling around making terrible excuses for their hero but by that point no-one was listening.
As grim as the post-2016 landscape has become, it’s refreshing to know that despite spending all week being abused by the most virulent right-wingers on the planet, it still takes more than lies, smears and demonstrable facts to bring down a good pro like George Eton. Which was emphasised yesterday when George published a startling column so dripping in sincerity you could almost believe it wasn’t hastily written after a sound bollocking from the NS top brass. In the piece he clarified the quotes he misrepresented by misrepresenting them again, before pulling off the remarkable feat of both offering a heartfelt apology for his unethical behaviour and doubling down on it: “It was not my words that caused Roger’s sacking but his own intemperate comments”
The modesty is admirable George, but we all know who did what. They can misrepresent you all they like but the fact is Crouton got the bullet because of your words, your lies, and your brilliance.
It won’t be forgotten.