This post is inspired by Matt Haig, fiction and mental health writer.
Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson
Haig recently replied to a Tweet by Katie Hopkins, the well-known controversy courter. She recently said in a tweet: What matters is the fight back for our Christian culture we desperately need to defend. Whilst I am not quite sure what this ‘Christian culture’ she speaks of looks like, the lady is passionate about defending it. Does this ‘Christian culture’ look like a Friday night in any UK city. Or does it look like the aftermath of a Millwall football match? Or perhaps it’s her culture of hate rather than love. Who knows.
Whatever the case, Haig was the first to weigh in with a reply, saying: This is the heart of it, Katie. You court this. You want to be called these things. You are virtually asking for it here. Why do you want to be so hated? Before it was Muslims, you hated obese people and working class people for money and attention. Why choose a career of hate?
A career of hate does seem at odds with the central message of Christianity but perhaps Katie knows best. She also recently retweeted a Trump ‘speech’ in which he said, ‘if you hate our country or you are not happy here, you can leave’. Hopkins added her own comment when she retweeted the video saying, ‘How I wish we had such leadership in the U.K. “Don’t like this country? Don’t like what it gives you? Then leave”. Donald Trump is clearly a fan of Hopkins. He recently retweeted a couple of her tweets.
Hopkins is also a supporter of Tommy Robinson who is currently in prison for contempt of court. He believes he was ‘convicted of journalism and wore a T-shirt just to prove it.
Robinson was basically reporting on an ‘Asian-grooming gang’ case even though reporting of the case was not supposed to happen. He read out the names of the accused who at that point had not been convicted and also filmed them. Robinson reserves his ire for Asians who abuse girls. He talks about Asian ‘grooming gangs’ as though they alone sexually abuse young girls. He does not talk about the powerful politicians and men of power who abused boys back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Nor does he talk about the general objectification of women in Western culture or the oversexualised society we live in and the harm this does to young minds. How about the availability of pornography and the harm it causes young minds. I know everyone has a cause but demonising a race is perhaps not the best cause to tag yourself onto. It stinks of subjectivity. It stirs some, sure, but it deafens others.
Donald’s latest targets
The Donald stoked up tension recently by suggesting four female non-Caucasian politicians ‘go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came’. But where these women come from is America (The U.S of A). I know they may not ‘look like’ they come from America, but they do. Trump acknowledged these women were American but still insisted on saying what he did.
Trump continued with his vicious tweets, ‘if you hate our country or you are not happy here, you can leave’. Implicit in the word ‘our’ is the idea that the country belongs to some people but not to others. Since the non-Caucasian politicians were told they could go back to their countries of origin, I will make the assumption that Trump believes America is not their country. I assume also that anyone who is not happy with the way things are in America should leave. Though where they should leave for is not quite clear.
It’s the silent majority we need to fear not the figureheads who represent them.
I always prefer those who speak their mind over those who bubble away in secret. I’ll always prefer an outright racist to a secret racist. I’ve experienced overt and covert racism. It’s the covert racism which sometimes leaves me feeling paranoid and fearful. I much prefer to know that you think less of me because I am Black than for you to smile in my face and spit on the ground when I have left your company.
Hopkins has almost a million followers on Twitter (986.3k to be precise). Trump has 62.2 million followers on the same platform. Whilst I recognise that some of these supporters follow the latter just to see what he’s up to (Victoria Derbyshire????), if you take a look at the ‘you can leave’ tweet from the 16th of July, you’ll see that it had 334,000 likes and over 76,000 retweets. That’s scary. That means that there are plenty of people that think that America only belongs to a certain kind of person and that if you are not white, you are less likely to be that certain kind of person.
As for Tommy Robinson, he does not appear to have a Twitter account but he does have a whole host of followers. Some of them congregated on Westminster Bridge on the day he was found guilty and stopped traffic from heading up the bridge. There was a woman on a motorbike shouting in support of Tommy, lots of other white men waving British flags. The silent majority will not be silent forever. Today they will close down a bridge and tomorrow they will burn down the bridge.
In the latest episode of Trump, the man who defies all logic, we saw a bunch of his supporters shout at one of his rallies ‘send her back’ in reference to Ilhan Omar. Trump said ‘I’m not happy .. when I hear chants like that’ without acknowledging that his rhetoric of hate whips the crowd up. Trump said he spoke over the chant but it took him 13 seconds to speak again once the chant started. He did not silence the crowd, the crowd simply started to simmer down.
Behind every Trump, Robinson and Hopkins type character, are hundreds of thousands of supporters. These are the people I call the silent majority. They are the people that for the most part only say hateful things when they are in the company of similarly minded people. They are the majority because they are the kind of people that got Trump elected.
Liberals forget that just because they speak the loudest or dominate mainstream media does not mean that they are in fact in the majority. Some liberals have an extremism about them which they oftentimes fail to acknowledge and which simply leads to people like Trump supporters, hiding underground waiting for an opportunity to show their hate. Some liberals are unfortunately less liberal than they would have us believe. I have seen lots of people with opposing views shut down, shamed, no platformed etc. Neither liberals nor conservatives should have a monopoly on discourse. All this does is stoke up more anger and division.
Boris Johnson is on the verge of being chosen as Prime Minister of the UK. Some of the careless and downright ignorant things he has said about Blacks, Muslims, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe amongst others show that the man is not fit to be Prime Minister. And yet he will become Prime Minister, most likely. He will be supported by the silent majority within the Conservative membership.
So where now?
I will return to the post I wrote many, many months ago called The Dying Art of Conversation/Where Now For Rage?
We will not win the argument by silencing those who disagree with us. It’s true that sometimes it is impossible to win people over. But, we must still attempt to reach out to others, encourage them to speak about the things which ail them, reason with them, listen to them, provide facts where they provide baseless arguments and also be willing to accept the validity of some of the things they rail about. We need to hear from people who feel marginalised for whatever reason and we need to respect rather than ridicule them.
If not, we face more situations like Brexit, the election of Trump, the rise of populism – this appeal being made to people who feel marginalised by mainstream politics and political elites.