Daily Mail demonisation and the hypocrisy of Mehdi Hasan
There has been a lot of fuss recently over whether the Daily Mail was wrong to assert that Marxist academic Ralph Miliband (father of Ed and David) hated Britain. This has led to a wider debate of whether the Mail is a force for good or evil in the world.
These are matters of legitimate debate, and it is good to live in a country where that debate may take place.
On those two specific questions, His Grace is of the view that what Ralph Miliband uttered when he was a teenager ought not to be taken as life-long prejudice. Except to say that Miliband Snr in much later life regretted the British victory in the Falkland Islands. Presumably, therefore, he supported the Argentinian military dictatorship, and thereby opposed liberty, justice, democracy and self-determination for the Falklanders. That doesn't sound very patriotic, does it?
And for as long as the Mail is producing front-pages like THIS and THIS, it is difficult to deny that goodness exists in its campaigning motives and moral pursuits.
However, the Left loathe the paper, and Mehdi Hasan succinctly and eloquently explained why on Question Time this week. Specifically, he says it is "immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining (and) gay-baiting".
The Mail then leaked a letter which Hasan had written to Paul Dacre in 2010 in which he applied to be a Daily Mail columnist. Tim Shipman tweeted the sycophantic contents (though His Grace would like to make it clear that there is nothing wrong per se in a freelance journalist selling his wares door-to-door, or in a part-time-job application being mildly sycophantic).
But the most important sentences concern his support for the Mail's social values and its moral worldview. Omitting the fawning, Mehdi Hasan basically wrote the following letter:
Dear Mr Dacre,Now, there are those on the Left who will assert that that the Mail's righteous quest to limit abortion amounts to 'woman-hating': one may not seek to impinge upon female autonomy without being misogynistic. And there are those who will say that its advocacy for marriage and the traditional family is 'gay-baiting': one may no longer defend the uniquely procreative potential of heterosexual union without being homophobic.
I'd very much like to write for your newspaper as I think it would be fun. I am more in tune with the Mail than the Left on some social & moral issues.
Although we don't agree on everything, I am attracted by the Mail’s social conservatism on issues like marriage, the family, abortion and teenage pregnancies.
My fellow leftists and liberals have lost touch with their own traditions and with the great British public.
Lots of love,
Your mate (hopefully),
Hasan's anti-Mail polemic is a public diatribe against elements of the very social conservatism that, in private, he supports. He opposes homosexuality and abortion. He purports (of course) to do so without 'woman-hating' or 'gay-baiting', but hating and baiting are very much in the eye of the beholder. Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome mistakenly sees this in left-right terms. It is not: it is entirely possible to be a right-wing social liberal or a left-wing social conservative.
What it is not possible to be - at least with any integrity - is someone who decries the Daily Mail's social values in public but lauds them in private.
Isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?