Alex Jones De-Platformed & Boris Johnson’s Foghorn Bigotry
A round-up of the hottest takes from the best UK Indy Media
No “Crisis of Leadership” For May Over Johnson’s Foghorn Bigotry
Boris Johnson’s niqab comments earlier in the week scarcely merit analysis on the surface issues of clothing, security, theology or feminism (Johnson LOL). Doing so risks getting bogged down in debates that are far from new, even if they do fill space and time in the dog-days of summer.
the main is that, along with others on the coalescing hard-right agenda, Johnson is working to the Bannon script and signalling to that audience that he is on board.
Most responses were playbook: there were those who basically support him, as represented by The Mail, express and other usual suspects. Within 2 or 3 days of the comments, the cycle kicked in where these forces could act with outrage against the left’s response of general anger. Reactionaries inevitably invoked Orwell and moaned about free-speech, even though Johnson is entirely free to have said what he did, the idea that he isn’t is from the same drawer-file as “They banned Christmas!” Regardless of their entrenched paranoia, he’s free to spout bigotry, just as opponents are free to call him out for doing so.
The liberal-left response across all media perhaps went a little too far into the deconstruction that this piece evades: either asking if he was essentially being bigoted or concluding that he was. Such analysis distracts from Johnson’s objective – signalling himself as onside with culture wars of hatred. It’s an objective he broadly met. Of course, if he has much to say about genuine Islamic violence, the former Foreign Secretary would be fuming a US-backed Saudi airstrike hitting a school bus in Yemen, killing dozens of children. It’s far more real and hideous than the unlikely prospect of an Islamic woman in head-to-toe garb robbing a bank.
However, some mention was given to the Bannon context that is one main issue here. This was especially true on the left and in social media, but it’s encouraging to see that there’s a reasonable amount of awareness in liberal and establishment realms too.
One theme was more lacking though – a consistent sense of crisis being stoked regarding May’s leadership of the party. Tories, such as Baroness Warsi and Lord Sheikh, have been speaking out about Islamophobia within the party while The Spectator allowed Rod Liddle to say there wasn’t enough. But an analogue for the years of ceaseless attacks on Corbyn seems strangely absent.
Once again we have seen that not all bigotries are qual. Some are deemed more offensive, others more politically useful.
Alex Jones De-Platformed and the Power of Social Media Giants
Alex Jones and his InfoWars operation recently have their content removed from iTunes, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube. For the blessedly uninitiated, Jones is something of a grand-daddy of right-wing conspiracy in the internet ages. His work and politics go back a lot further, though not least to the heavy influence of the John Birch Society and Paleoconservatism. More recently, he has thrown his lot in with Trump (Roger Stone is a long-standing mutual friend and associate). Perhaps Trump, a friend of oligarchs who spoons out huge amounts of money to the 1% and the military industrial complex, is pleasingly “anti-establishment” in some fashion. Or maybe his overt authoritarianism chimes with Jones’ frequent libertarian sermons, who can say?
As with Johnson case in the UK, hard rightists, whose voices are replete across media and politics, are playing the martyred snowflake role. They insist their free speech is under attack. For balance, it’s fair to note many US right-wingers aren’t so concerned about the First Amendment. A recent Ipsos poll showed 43% of Republican supporters think the president should have authority to close down news outlets.
In the case of this week’s social media de-platforming, many people with a default support for capitalism have shown little understanding of how capitalism actually works. All the corporations involved are private entities. They can allow or get rid of whoever they want. They have terms of service which Jones was considered to have consistently broken (Twitter don’t consider him to have crossed these lines, at least yet.) Jones also put them in legal jeopardy by advancing potentially libellous allegations that can make the likes of Facebook and Twitter understandably jumpy. For example, he alleged that families of the Sandy Hook massacre were “crisis actors” (a cut-and-paste conspiracy trope) and his show has been a hub of Pizza Gate and Q-anon silliness.
While many of Jone’s critics were pleased, some were concerned about broader implications. The reaction to the story certainly shows the huge power of these platforms: being booted from them is take as some kind of death.
The use of the term “mainstream media” to describe traditional print and broadcast news is debated quite hotly in some circles. Rightly or wrongly it’s use is often associated the right and far right. But social media platforms are now so vast in terms of financial worth and audience reach that they should be considered mainstream too. Tech companies have always been great at positioning themselves as a renegade altruistic alternative, but the reality can be very different. Their content may be more diverse overall, but the way that it’s funnelled and manipulated is quite distant from the dream many once held had for it. Independent progressive media need strong support to grow through the cracks and be heard among the noise.
Picks of the Week
Our hand-picked selections from some of the best independent journalism around
Tory Islamophobia – Another Angry Voice
Picking up from Rod Liddle’s bizarre Spectator piece, AAV takes the right to task for their double standards on bigotry, including their complicity in the Wahabi violence of Saudi Arabia.
Find Another Angry Voice on Twitter @Angry_Voice
Cultural Crisis – Common Space
The culture industry heavily dominated by the white middle class. Backed up by alarming stats, Briana Pegado argues this is a major threat to the sector.
Find Common Space on Twitter @TheCommonSpace
Demise of Global Britain – True Publica
Graham Vanberger on the disarray in UK foreign policy and how the bungling of Brexit has come at just the wrong time.