Er. Yes. OK. But that is two more than she would really be happy with in an ideal world.
She list the following other writers quoted by Breivik: "Bernard Lewis, Roger Scruton, Ibn Warraq, Mark Steyn, Theodore Dalrymple, Daniel Hannan, Diana West, Lars Hedegaard, Frank Field, Nicolas Soames, Keith Windschuttle, Edmund Burke, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Hayek, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Ghandi, George Orwell and many others; indeed, it’s a roll call of western thinking and beyond, past and present".
She leaves Jeremy Clarkson off the list. Fair enough. Not a thinker.
OK. Scruton, Warrraq, Steyn, Darymple, Hannan and West - all conservative commentators - have some soul-searching to do, along with Phillips.
As do the tabloid press generally.
She goes for the psychopath diagnosis: "the words of a deranged individual are being cited by people like Hundal who are taking them entirely seriously". As a psychiatrist, I doubt that he is psychopathic or psychotic, but we must await the psychiatrists' report for that. From what I have seen so far, I would say he is intelligent, highly controlling, a political activist with an over-valued idea that European culture is under threat from Islam.
With her customary belief that attack is the best form of defence, Phillips says "The supposed beliefs of the Norway massacre’s perpetrator has got the left in general wetting itself in delirium at this apparently heaven-sent opportunity to take down those who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against those who would destroy it. "
Phillips' belief that there is a war on for western civilisation encapsulates Breivik's Manifesto in a nutshell.
A PhD could be written on parallels between Phillips' writings and Breivik's. He killed the Labour young people because they were "traitors" to Christian Europe by allowing immigration and promoting multi-culturalism. And here is Phillips calling the Conservatives a "quisling" party because of signing up to the Lisbon Treaty. (For younger readers, Quisling was a Norwegian traitor in WWII. Ironically, she wrote this years before Breivik's Norweigian massacre).
The parallels are there. Phillips may protest that she is being subjected to the Guilt by Association fallacy, but guilt by association is exactly how Phillips and her fellow Islamophobes work.
They love putting the heat on all Muslims because of the actions of a few fanatics.
They love putting the heat on all immigrants by publicising the crimes of a few.
And they love putting the heat on all benefits claimants by publicising the fraudulent activities of a few.
Phillips and the tabloids generally share another feature with Breivik.
They have an over-valued idea, the idea that immigration is the main problem that we face as a society.
Immigration is indeed a problem, if only because it causes so much anger in the minds of many people, but let us put it in context.
In 2011 we face the following domestic problems. (This is not a full list, just things off the top of my head)
- rising fuel prices
- rising food prices
- absurd penal system
- a set of overbearingly powerful media barons
- police corruption.
Then the broader problems:
- biodiversity loss
- soil loss
- a major nuclear leak that has still not been plugged
- Peak Oil
- exponential population growth
- ocean acidification
- and above all, looming across our children's future, global warming.
Abroad, we have
Note that the last six are major drivers of immigration into this country.
Which problems are the tabloids concerned about? Crime, benefits scroungers, and immigration. The other problems are ignored, under treated, or, in the case of global warming, denied. (Phillips is an AGW denier, as are most right wing journalists).
Even the problems they do highlight are not given an in-depth treatment. Never do they look at causes or reasonable solutions. They just run stories designed to make people angry. I recall Kelvin MacKenzie saying on TV that the whole point of his journalism is to "Make people angry".
They are certainly succeeding. Tabloid readers are angry. Right wing blog commenters are consistently angry.
Breivik shared the anger of the right wing commentators and tabloid readers, but he did something about it.
It was controlled and diverted into his grand 9-year plan to start the 21st century Crusade, a war between "Christian" Europe and the Islamic jihad, and eventually expressed in his horrific terrorist act.
Phillips and the whole crew of right wing apologists and commentators have some distancing to do.
In an ideal world, they would also have some re-thinking to do. They should ask themselves questions like:
- Are my writings calculated to make people angry, pure and simple?
- What is the cause of immigration?
- What can we do politically to reduce the causes of immigration?
- What can we do to help communities understand each other?
Let us hope that the Norwegian tragedy will cause the whole of the right wing press, including Melanie Phillips, to examine what they are writing about, cause them to ask themselves whether they are giving the full picture of the problems that the world faces.
Maybe a critical point has been reached, when the right wing press stops trying to make its readers angry over a handful of problems, and begins to explore the whole range of interconnected problems that we face.
We live in hope.
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