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Friday, December 08, 2006


The fantasy of Christmas

After the fantasistic front pages of the Sun [1, 2, 3, 4], the fascistic rants of Melanie Phillips [here are the 2001 and the 2004 rants – I would bet a fiver that she comes up with something similar, though perhaps more extreme, this year] and the plaigiaristic hackery of Janet Street-Porter, the great contemporary myth of Christmas is stripped bare in newsprint. Despite what you might read for the first twenty four days of December in papers from across the political spectrum – at least the spectrum as defined by the mass market newspapers – Christmas is not under attack. It is not being banned. And these things that are not happening are not being done by foreigners, ethnic minorities, migrants, asylum seekers, or any other poxy proxy phrase behind which the tabloids hide their racism.

Thanks to Oliver Burkeman and The Guardian for doing what The Independent should have done. And it might well have done, if it were not for the fact the The Independent was lumbered with an editor-at-large who cannot see dangerous bigoted nonsense for what it is. And it was hardly very well disguised bigoted nonsense. It was on the front page of The Sun. It may as well as come in a box labelled ‘bigoted nonsense’. Mind you, Street-Porter once chose to work with the ‘award-winningKelvin MacKenzie.

In other news, Jack Straw wants to talk to an imaginary person. And he wants to do so on behalf of an imaginary person. I would have had some respect for him if this imaginary person were Santa Claus. At least there is some evidence for Santa’s existence. Children do in fact receive presents, even if the distribution of such gifts is contrary to Santa’s mythic mission statement. The resulting inequalities are just a small part of the persuasive argument for the non-existence of Santa. But at least there is a speck of an empirical case. By contrast, there is no material evidence that anyone is ‘banning’ Christmas. It is not just, as Jack Straw acknowledges, that there are no ‘people of other faiths’ calling for Christmas to be banned on the grounds of offence. But there are no ‘PC’ ‘do-gooders’ who are “second-guess[ing] how they think others will or may react, without even asking them”.

So Straw wants to speak to a fictional character invented by The Sun on behalf of the Archangel Gabriel in order to have a 'big conversation' about something that is not happening. Straw was Home Secretary (responsible for the release of Pinochet - perhaps Straw can petition Gabriel to ease the dictator's entry to Heaven) and Foreign Secretary. No wonder he has some problems dealing with the actually existing world, a world where, in fact, Iraq had no WMDs, and a world where, in fact, the advocates and administrators of the invasion were notorious human-rights violators.

Thursday, December 07, 2006



Perhaps not. But Janet Street-Porter is, at best, a lazy columnist.

The column bearing her by-line that was printed today in The Independent is, for a large part, a faithful copy of the ‘Foreigners Are Stealing Christmas’ story printed in The Sun on Wednesday. The JS-P article is not a simple restatement of independently gathered facts, but bears the rhetorical imprinteur of the article in The Sun. JS-P repeats the dishonest trick that has been developed by The Sun to aid the fabrication of xenophobic propaganda. The Sun and JS-P both open their articles by describing how ‘Christmas is being banned to avoid offending ethnic minorities’. They both then support this statement of how the world is by citing examples of something Christamassy being altered for reasons that are categorically unrelated to ‘avoiding offending ethnic minorities’.

Why would JS-P attempt to forge an image of the world in which ethnic minorities are a cause of events that are rolled into one laughable title; ‘the banning of Christmas’?

Five Chinese Crackers is providing a public service by digesting the tide of hate-filled bullshit that is rising in the British press. FCC has, as usual, a superb takedown of relevant article in The Sun. The comprehensive shredding of the fabricated image of the world presented by The Sun would equally apply to the JS-P column, printed in a supposedly quality paper. I write ‘would’ because the JS-P column is a second-hand impressionistic reproduction of the tabloid story and as such has an even looser association with ‘evidence’. The Sun article, in comparison, is rigorous, balanced journalism. In fact The Sun article is bullshit. And that leaves the JS-P article as a diarrheic stain on a page.

Of course, JS-P might not have copied her column from The Sun. She might be an independent bigot.


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