Sunday, 7 November 2010

Subtle differences

My last post was about the Sun's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric, in which the paper printed statements like the following:
What changed? Well, like wannabe martyr Roshonara Choudhry, Shamsudeen was brainwashed by the perverted rantings of fascist madmen like Anwar al-Akwali.
Ooh, perverted rantings! Fascist madmen! Inflammatory, no? How terrible.

On the other hand, a few days ago I posted:
She's now been jailed for life. Because she watched the videos of homicidal maniacs like Anwar al-Awlaki and Sheikh Abdullah Azzam
Homicidal maniacs! Indeed.

The overlap between my position and the Sun's troubled me a little. I've always, always considered the Sun to be the polar opposite of all my politics, all my ideals. Are we really that different?

One difference is... I'm not a huge tabloid newspaper, run by a global billionaire for his own business and ideological ends.

So there's a difference, right there.

The main difference, I realised, is that the Sun is criticising Islam from a distinctly pro-Christian perspective. Search the Sun's site for "Islam", and the top 5 headlines are:
  1. From Spider-Man to a web fanatic
  2. Silence Them (a leader demanding that al-Awlaki be kept quiet)
  3. Enemies of Britain
  4. Fanatics protest at MP stab trial
  5. Gunmen take Brit hostage
The headlines never tell the whole story of course, but the implication is clear. There's another story on the site about a Catholic school being taken over by a mosque in Manchester. Regardless of how the population may have changed to make this appropriate, it's presented as more evidence of "them" taking over "us".

Search for "Christianity", though, and you get this:
  1. Killer in dog collar (about a pastor who became Christian after being convicted of murder)
  2. Christmas is back on
  3. PM praises Pope's "moving" visit
  4. Papal power (another leader on how Christian festivals should remain at the heart of society)
  5. Pope: Don't let the PC Brigade wreck Christmas
Now we're getting down to it. You can criticise Islam from a Christian perspective, you can criticise Islam from an atheist perspective, but it's not the same thing. Ultimately, by attacking Islam but saying nothing about the evils of Roman Catholicism, it's a hollow critique.

In any case, the Sun's viewpoint is only informed by religion to the point that it's part of the dominant culture of this country, therefore it chimes with the inherent fears and prejudices of the population, therefore it's going to sell newspapers. There's an argument to be made about whether xenophobia is actually as widespread as some parts of the media would have you believe, or whether the media is what propels that anti-foreigner sentiment in the first place, but that's for another day.

So that's good, I don't have as much in common with Rupert Murdoch's bile-filled mouthpiece as I first thought. That much bile in my mouth would leave a nasty taste, anyway.

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