OK so this morning Abi Wilkinson was asking on Twitter what we should do about tabloid newspapers like the Express, the Daily Mail, the Sun & the Star, when we see them peddling out and out racism. Personally I don’t buy any of them, and I’m very ambivalent about the Mirror too. The worst in my estimation is the Express, which gives its support to UKIP. Its headlines are always screaming about asylum seekers “vanishing” or “NEW MIGRANT RUSH TO BRITAIN” or “HOW MASS MIGRATION MAY KILL OFF CORE BRITISH TRADITIONS SUCH AS CHRISTMAS”.
Newspapers like these, in my opinion, are at the heart of why we idiotically voted to leave the EU. They’re at the heart of the rise in racist violence. They’re the ones fueling the kind of hate that sees hijabs ripped off the heads of girls and women just going about their daily routine, going to school or work, and that sees a frail old Muslim man get stabbed to death, like Mohammed Saleem 3 years ago in Birmingham or kicked and stamped to death like Muhsin Ahmed in Rotherham last year.
In Liverpool you can’t buy the Sun. You can’t buy it because in the 80s the Sun started a campaign of demonising the working class beginning with the miners’ strike in ’84-’85, blaming miners for their horrific beating at the hands of mounted riot police while trying to picket Orgreave colliery, trying to save their industry which Thatcher threw under the bus in the name of globalisation & free market economics. This continued with the demonisation of Liverpool fans at the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985 and the Sun’s relentless condemnation of Derek Hatton’s rebel Liverpool city council who stood up against rate caps & restrictions that would have meant vulnerable people dying (as they are now under today’s Tory austerity), and then finally in 1989 the Sun broke the camel’s back by blaming Liverpool fans again, this time for their own deaths at Hillsborough. You can’t buy the Sun there, and if you could, you’d be vilified & rightly so.
We’re seeing the same crap coming from all the tabloids these days. Xenophobia & racism. This affects us all. There have been Polish people stabbed and beaten for speaking their own language among friends. We as a society are turning into 1930s Germany. The Germans look at us and see history about to repeat, I shit ye not.
So what can we do? I think we can learn a lot from the “Don’t Buy The Sun” campaign. Billy Bragg did a song about it. People made stickers, and still do, and you can see them on lampposts & bus shelters. Get the word out. Talk to people. Challenge them. Assume that they’re reasonable & don’t want to be labelled a racist. Granted, a few might, but I’d lay odds that most wouldn’t. Have a friendly, non-threatening word with newsagents. Lastly, maybe we need a poster campaign. We might need images of death camps – because that’s where these papers are leading us. Alan Kurdi is what happens when we swallow the Express’ shit.