Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Parents and the Daily Mail

One of the first things my mother did after my much beloved father died was cancel their subscription to the Daily Mail! Though as a newspaper, it did reflect my father's opinions, it never reflected his person as a kind and generous man. We are, thankfully, never simply our own opinions!

I was thinking of this when I saw reference to the piece that the Mail penned at the weekend on Ralph Miliband, the father of Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK's Labour party.

I cannot myself summon up much enthusiasm for Marxist intellectuals as a group (as Ralph Miliband was), though I am sure some are quite delightful as individuals, especially those fortunate enough not to live under the system that Marx's ideas and ideals helped to construct (however, arguably far those systems were and are from Marx himself). Nor, in fact, can I summon up a huge amount of enthusiasm for the current Labour Party (or indeed party politics of any kind that presently gives me the impression of ever more precisely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).

However, if it is possible, this article (and the newspaper's reaction to being persuaded to publish Ed Miliband's spirited and righteous defence of his father) takes us to new depths in the history of journalism in this country (which admittedly is not too difficult).

First, by assuming that a father's opinions determine the son's. They will undoubtedly influence them but in what direction? Mine sent me off in quite opposite directions. Second, in taking the quote of a newly arrived refugee of seventeen as indicative of the person's formed and sustained opinion - how many of us would survive our opinions at seventeen? Our aspirations and hopes are a different matter! Third in comprehensively failing to imagine what it might actually look like to be a seventeen year old refugee in an alien country whose ability to welcome the stranger is haphazard at best (and this was wartime) and where anti-Semitism was entrenched. Fourth to simply gloss over the fact that Ralph had indeed fought for Britain in its darkest hour. He was in the Royal Navy and at D-Day. Fifthly deciding to editorialise Ed Miliband's response as 'tetchy and menacing' (not a characterisation that occurred to me) This is an interesting, possibly ancient tactic, whereby having been gratuitously offensive, if your insulted party is anything less than heroically 'Christian' and turns the other cheek, he is obviously being 'defensive' and, thus, the allegations must ring true!

The Daily Mail does know how to translate fad (see their health pages), prejudice and fear into tills ringing at the Mail (globally the most successful English language news website). It is probably the most influential newspaper in the UK. This probably says a great deal about us, sadly.

One of the signs of the coming of the kingdom will be when people follow my mother's lead and decide that their life can do without its pollution (her word)! As my mother would recognise loving one's country must be subordinate to a greater love and such love demands we see that which is of God, of the good, in every person. A singularly sad failing of the Daily Mail.

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