Thursday, 31 March 2016

The extraordinary gullibility of the extreme-right

Anyone who is familiar with the Britain First Facebook page will know that when they're not busy trying to scam money out of people, they fill their timeline with outrage inducing content designed to stir up hatred against Muslims, the EU, lefties, liberals, refugees ... all the usual scapegoats of the right-wing press.

In March 2016 Britain First really surpassed themselves by posting an obvious spoof article about how the EU is supposedly forcing the Essex villages of High Easter and Good Easter to change their "offensive" names.

The musings of the right-wing permanent outrage brigade

Hundreds of Britain First followers shared the article as if it was a serious story and hundreds more left furiously outraged comments, spewing their reactionary bile and hatred for Muslims, the EU, immigrants, liberal, and lefties.

The fact that the right-wing permanent outrage brigade are so intellectually challenged that they fell for a spoof article is matched by their pitiful attempts at spelling, grammar, punctuation and coherent criticism. Here are a few examples from of the hundreds of outraged comments:

"Wonder who it offends ?? Could it be the work shy moaning mussies ??"
"Who the hell is running this country, bloody muslims, these little .jobworthys ought to be sacked and deported to who they work for anybody bar the english"
"We should complain and get all mosques closed down. They are offensive to look at. I bet the council would not even consider it! Time to start doing 'things' ourselves."
"Muslims get out of our country now, we are so weak to these invading foreigners"
"Things are going to far taking everything that's British away from us next will be the English breakfast"
"These f*cking PC nutter's want naming and shaming for trying to erase culture and heritage of High Easter and Good Easter. To think the people who live there are paying for these idiot's golden plated pension's through their council tax."
"Offensive to who..??certainly not the English the rightful indiginous population...whose customs rights and religion are our souls our characters..our religion Christianity is what out countrys laws and Western way of life is based on..Any other religions or ideologies in our and allways has been forign to our native country and any acceptence of their requests and implimenting them is totally illegal to artical 61 in The Magna Carta."
"These liberal fools. ... Unreal."
"well islam offends me. lets outlaw that."
"I bet no one has complained, its the spineless lefty toads complaining on behalf of people who dont have a problem, that would be my guess" 
"Bloody redicklos" 
"It may upset certain types but there not to quick to not take benefits or houses" 
" ... stop this cultural genocide"
"And I say to Connor wibbly we are a christian country and we have christian values. It's not forced down our necks we enjoy it. Are you going to demonstrate to have mosques removed ?"
There are some real gems of foaming-at-the-mouth right-wing idiocy in this tiny selection of the hundreds of outraged comments, but the last one is a real peach. The name-drop shows that the guy who posted it has actually read the article where the only quoted sources were Dr Malcolm Touchi (supposedly "an expert in Domicile Perception Law from the University of South Thurrock"!) and Connor Wibbly (who was quoted as saying "there will naturally be plenty of critics, but I have one question to ask them: How many towns in the UK have the word ‘Hannukah’ or ‘Ramadan’ in them? Hardly any is the answer!") and concluded that it wasn't a spoof article.

If the ridiculous names, occupations and quotes weren't enough, the amusing conclusion that the town of Christchurch would be facing double the "compensation payouts" for containing two Christian words was surely such an obvious clue that the article might not be entirely serious that only the deeply credulous (or those who didn't even bother to read the article before writing outraged comments about it) could ever fall for it.

Britain First weren't the only ones to fall for it

It's probably no surprise to find out that a UKIP page also posted this spoof article as if it was a serious news item, and that it provoked a slew of outraged comments from 'kippers too. The UKIP Warrington page that posted it is an extraordinary page that spews a cognitive dissonance inducing bombardment of anti-European, anti-Scottish, anti-austerity (they like sharing UK Uncut infographics), anti-Muslim, anti-Tory (several articles from the left-wing news site The Canary) and anti-refugee posts.

Here is a selection of outraged comments from Warrington 'kippers:

"We are losing all our christian identity and for what to be taken over by extreemists who probably do not pay anything into the county only take what they can. Right lets see what affends me Burka,Mosques, praying with their asses in the air in the street can we have all these banned please"
"if this country changed our bennifits to merry xmas bennifits,and easter bennifits, do you honestly think it would stop them from claiming them!"
"So are we supposed to wipe this old village from the map to satisfy fanatical terroist and invaders ?? be better and more useful to eject the invaders and block the benifits and forign aid"
"political correctness kills"
"If we carry on like this there will be a civil war"
"we are a christian country not a muslim country or seihk country .and they have had this name for centuries .this is political correctness gone mad .another reason to leave eu ."
"The leftie fascists are winning."
"Most councils now have muslims this should not be alliwed in the UK."
If anything, this outpouring of extraordinarily gullible and hate-filled comments from UKIP Warrington followers displays even more shocking levels of intolerance and atrocious writing skills than those from the Britain First lot.

How did it come to this?

It's tempting to just laugh at the gullibility of the right-wing permanent outrage brigade because it is pretty funny that so many of them fell for such an obvious spoof, but there is actually a serious issue to consider.

Britain First now has over 1.3 million followers, and literally millions of people see the shameless ideological shambles that is UKIP as a serious enough political party to actually vote for them in elections!

Of course a few people are following the Britain First page just to laugh at the idiotic comments, a few more were duped into liking the page with cynical honeytrap images, but the majority clearly like their daily bombardment of extreme-right hatemongering.

Back in the 1930s the British people rejected Oswald Mosely and his British Union of Fascists (even though he was strongly backed by the tabloid press). In October 1936 the people of London came together in solidarity to give Mosley and the BUF a kicking they never recovered from at the Battle of Cable Street. Then the people of Britain spent years and made countless sacrifices 
in the Second World War during the fight against fascism on the Continent.

Despite all of the bravery and sacrifices of our forefathers, the extreme-right is undeniably back in fashion, so how did it come to this?

In my view the answer is twofold. The first is the way the English education system teaches kids that easy answers are dripped down from authority to be rote learned and regurgitated on demand. Only a tiny fraction of the 93% of us who go to state schools end up with anything resembling a decent education in vital subjects like critical thinking, philosophy and basic economics that would allow us to see through crude political propaganda (or to spot an obvious spoof article for what it is!).

The second factor is the dominance of the right-wing press. The UK has the most right-wing biased press in Europe owned by a tiny bunch of extremely right-wing tax-dodging billionaire sociopaths.

Our right-wing tabloids, which are still read by millions on a daily basis, are deliberately written in childishly simplistic language and feature the repetition of familiar recurring tropes over and again (like children's television does). They are written like this so that even the most intellectually stunted people can read, absorb and repeat the propaganda themes they contain.

If you take a huge demographic who have been badly failed by the education system and then drip feed simplistic right-wing tropes for decades, the obvious consequence is that they're eventually going to be attracted to the even simpler offerings of outright fascism.

Once the political establishment decided that the best way to keep the British public passive and servile would be to systematically deny them the thinking skills they need to see through the right-wing political propaganda they're being drip-fed, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before someone else (like Britain First or UKIP) comes along with even simpler and more enticing right-wing propaganda narratives in order to turn this demographic against the political establishment that wanted them that gullible in the first place.

Now that it's becoming obvious that this is happening, the political establishment has the choice of either moving further towards outright fascism in order to appease this huge demographic that they deliberately created, or doing something to begin trying to undo the immeasurable damage that has already been done.

Given the appalling legislation on the table (new spying powers that would have made the Gestapo turn green with envy, economically insane deportation policies for working people, a massive crackdown on the feeble vestiges of trade union power, abolition of the right to free speech, the banning of intellectual opposition to the government, numerous forced labour schemes and the forced privatisation of the entire English education system into the hands of unaccountable private sector pseudo-charities,
 all of it backed up by a barrage of shockingly Orwellian propaganda) it's absolutely clear which direction the Tory party have decided to move in.


I guess the best conclusion I can offer is an apology. I'm sorry that I've taken something that's actually pretty funny and pointed out the deeply sinister undertones.

I guess one small way that we can fight back is by actively confronting our Facebook friends if we ever see them sharing extreme-right or UKIP posts. 

Another way to fight back would be to confront any Tory voting friends and family with some of the disgusting policies they've been pushing (see the list above) and asking them to actually defend them (without resorting to tiresome "but Labour ..." whataboutery).

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Sarah Saad said...

Sarah Saad said...

Sarah Saad said...