AFTER yesterday’s demented headline in the Daily Mail – “OUR REMAINER UNIVERSITIES” – it’s clearly time for me to pay proper attention.
There I am, in my this-and-that life, walking around a university, doing workshops with students and meeting colleagues without ever once noticing any crazed Remainer professors at all.
It is true that one of my brothers is a professor and a Europhile, but he mostly teaches in France these days.
The Mail’s latest spot of rabid intolerance came about because – well, because Paul Dacre, the orchestrator of that newspaper’s daily rants, just felt like going off on one. As a part-time journalism lecturer, I feel safe in passing on that technical term for the Mail’s frequent outbursts and tantrums as it pretends to be speaking common sense, while spouting uncommon nonsense.
The blame for this ridiculous story lies in Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris MP, a man whose name had never troubled my ears until this week.
Harris got into trouble for writing letters to universities asking for information and names about the professors who lectured about Brexit. While he was soon slapped down by the Government, the Mail, clearly concerned that some other loon was getting all the attention, decided to indulge in a spot of McCarthyism
There is a problem with that front page about “our remainer universities” – apart from it being just another rant in a seemingly endless line of rants. Mail world logic involves looking at something and shouting that the opposite is true. Apply that logic to this story and you can happily conclude that Britain’s most educated people are against Brexit.
Inside yesterday’s edition, the Mail even nodded to Senator Joe McCarthy and his scourge against communism in the 1950s. A come-on headline asked: “Have you – or do you know anyone – who has experienced anti-Brexit bias at university?”
Have you now or ever been… taught by an intelligent, informed professor of politics or economics who thinks that Brexit is a bat-shit crazy idea. Well, it’s highly possible, I suppose, but hardly counts as proof of universities being involved in a huge plot against Brexit.
A picky person could even turn this question round and ask the Daily Mail: “Have you now or ever been guilty of flagrant bias in favour of Brexit – mostly because your editor wanted to get one over on David Cameron?”
Mail-world is a planet that wildly over-heats thanks to the hot breath of hatred. In the past, and not without occasional good cause, the paper has raged against hate preachers. Yet basically the Mail itself is a hate preacher, a preacher of intolerance, bile and general nastiness.
Although not according to the banner at the top of today’s front page which claims victory in ending the rationing of cataract operations – “The Mail, a paper that really cares about people…”
Ah, yes, a paper really cares about people – unless you voted Remain, happen to be foreign, a migrant, assorted judges, anyone even loosely connect to the Labour Party or a saboteur needing to be crushed (that’s someone who doesn’t believe in Brexit, by the way, a rising constituency nowadays).
Anyway, at least we have Twitter. All sorts of people aired their thoughts yesterday. Some recalled Viscount Rothermere speaking up for fascists in the 1930s under a headline: “Hurrah for the Blackshirts.”
Others passed on messages they had sent to the Mail, including my favourite from Edna Welthorpe (Mrs) – “Dear Daily Mail. Please take your McCarthyite witch-hunt and shove it up your collective arse.”
Mind you, Edna may not be all she seems, as her Twitter bio says: “Retired. Likes Bridge. Doesn’t much like anything else – young people, gratuitous nudity, hatless politicians, Communists, Johnny Foreigner, wholefood etc.” Satire alert, I suspect, but sometimes satire is all we have.