#oneaday Day 924: Hey Daily Mail, This Isn’t Okay, And It Isn’t Funny Any More

[Note: This will probably go without saying if you read the whole post, but the cartoon above obviously does not reflect my own opinions, and is a parody of what I am about to describe below.]

The Daily Mail has long endured a popular perception as the racist, old, slightly mad uncle of the British newspaper industry. Regularly spouting crap on all sorts of subjects and displaying astonishing hypocrisy on plenty of issues, The Daily Mail has always been sort of tolerated as a kind of national institution we’re all slightly ashamed of — and one that we all secretly enjoy getting comically angry at.

With some recent articles, however, I think it’s time that people actually started getting properly angry at the Mail. The first of these two articles is no longer available on the Mail website — presumably after a ton of complaints — but is by far the worst example of a Mail correspondent poking the fire with some frankly astounding racism. You can read the article via FreezePage here.

“The NHS did not deserve to be so disgracefully glorified in this bonanza of left-wing propaganda,” wrote correspondent Rick Dewsbury as the headline to his piece ostensibly focused on the Olympic opening ceremony. He then launched into a lengthy diatribe regarding the incompetence of NHS staff in the case of Kane Gorny, a diabetic who died due to neglect by hospital staff. A tragic case, sure, but hardly evidence that the NHS — regarded by many as a rather good aspect of this country — is worthy of “shame” as Dewsbury seems to believe.

Dewsbury’s article then continued on its rambling way, pausing to note that the athletes’ parade featured “banana republics and far-flung destinations nobody has ever heard of or even cares for” and later decrying the “multicultural equality agenda” that he found “painful to watch.”

“It was the absurdly unrealistic scene — and indeed one that would spring from the kind of nonsensical targets and equality quotas we see in the NHS — showing a mixed- race middle-class family in a detached new-build suburban home, which was the most symptomatic of the politically correct agenda in modern Britain,” wrote Dewsbury. “It is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family.

“Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer,” he continued, as if this was somehow a bad thing. “The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London.”

Yes, there was a lot of “multiculturalism” in the opening ceremony, but here’s the thing: the Olympic stadium is in the east end of London, which is a particularly multicultural part of an already very multicultural city. To deny that people with non-white skin live in London — and, for that matter, are capable of integrating with Caucasians — is blinkered at best, amazingly racist at worst. Britain as a whole is filled with a diverse array of people from all over the world, and to deny this is to deny what has become part of our national identity — something which the Daily Mail regularly claims to want to defend.

Let’s get one thing clear: this is Not Okay, free speech be damned. It is Not Okay for someone to write a piece for a national newspaper’s website displaying such flagrant disregard for certain parts of the population. It is Not Okay for someone to use their racism as a rather tenuous part of their argument against something which a lot of people believe is actually quite a good thing. It is Not Okay to speak of camera shots including “ethnic minority performers” in a disparaging tone, as if they had no right to be there.

And it is Not Okay to refer to a non-British Olympic competitor who happened to beat the GBR contender (who still won a medal) as “some bitch from Holland” — which is exactly what Jan Moir did in a separate piece — which also gave an undue amount of attention to whether or not certain athletes and presenters had had any cosmetic work done. (The piece is still up here; FreezePage here; a screengrab can be seen here if it does get pulled or ninja-edited, or if the FreezePage is unavailable.)

The Olympics are about the world coming together in peace and competing against one another in sporting events. It’s always touching to see competitors from “rival” nations competing with good sportsmanship rather than animosity, and the whole event is, by its very nature, inclusive and — yes — multicultural. To complain about a “multicultural equality agenda” and to refer to a foreign competitor as “some bitch” is just awful. It really is.

It’s obvious why the Mail does this, of course — to get hits. They know that people will get fired up and upset about these issues. They know that the articles will be shared across social networks with people making indignant comments — but they still get their page views and ad revenue every time it happens. It’s become a depressingly predictable trend that people have just been putting up with until now.

But it needs to stop. Whatever “comedy value” the Daily Mail’s flagrant racism once had — if indeed it ever had any — has no place in modern society. This isn’t “political correctness,” as Dewsbury would put it — it’s just common decency, acceptance and tolerance. It’s 2012. We should be over the “skin colour” and “horrible foreigners” thing by now. But sadly, it seems, some people really aren’t.

Screw the Daily Mail. It’s stuck in the past, just like that racist old uncle lying in his hospital bed, his bigotry tolerated because “he’s old” or “he’s ill” or “he doesn’t know what he’s saying”. Unfortunately, the Daily Mail knows exactly what it is saying, which is why this keeps happening.

It’s Not Okay. And it’s time that those of us with a sense of common decency about us should start speaking up a bit more about this rather than just laughing it off as we have done in the past.

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Pete Davison

Southampton-based music teacher, writer and enthusiast of Japanese popular culture.

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