Stephen Fry explains what a hateful, terrible thing is the Daily Mail

National treasure Stephen Fry published an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee asking them to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia in response to Russia's banning and scapegoating of LGBT people. Fry compared a 2014 Russia Games to the 1936 Berlin Games, which legitimized Hitler and greatly aided his cause.

Naturally, the Daily Mail, a newspaper that heavily supported Hitler and Naziism, came out against Fry with a predictable, vicious editorial. The Mail is a savage, terrible, morally bankrupt mouthpiece for a clutch of racists, sexists and greedy aristos who'll say or do anything to sell papers.

Fry has responded with a long piece on the Mail and its hatefulness that is a must-read, especially for people who haven't lived in the UK and understood what a genuinely nasty piece of work the Mail is, and how badly it distorts the public debate in this country.

But there’s form here. The Mail still can’t quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything - large and small - from Picasso to equal pay for women.  Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Of course they’ll leap on a Stephen Lawrence bandwagon once the seeds of their decades of anti-immigration racism (read a 1960s or 1970s Daily Mail) have been sown, but deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.

Most notoriously of all, they loved Adolf Hitler when he came to power, and as the Czech crisis arose they were the appeasement newspaper. And woe-betide any liberal-minded anti-fascist who warned that the man was unstable and that consistently satisfying his vanity, greed and ambition was only storing up trouble. The whole liberal left, not to mention Winston Churchill, were mocked and scorned for their instinctive distrust of Hitler. The Daily Mail knew better.

In January 1934 Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, younger brother of the paper’s founder Alfred Northcliffe (the 4th Viscount Rothermere is chairman of the company that still owns it) wrote an article called “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”.  He was sending congratulatory telegrams to “My dear Führer” as he liked to call him, right up until a few months before the outbreak of war.

The Daily Mail and Lord Dacre appeasing again

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Notable Replies

  1. I think that's less the point than this quote later in the piece is.

    "Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Franco and any other despot you care to mention: they become despotic, maniacal, more autocratic, more insane every time they are given a greater sense of their own power. The fanatical junior KGB officer Vladimir Putin will become, if he is allowed to get away with it, as autocratic as any Tsar or any Soviet chairman."

  2. It's not hypocrisy to complain of viciousness against people who don't deserve it, like minorities and people who stick up for their rights, and not for people who do, like those who attack minorities. Can we please stop pretending those are the same thing? The form may be similar but the content is different, and everyone who spares two neurons should be able to see that.

    The point about supporting Nazism is obvious enough to me: not to tar them with some unrelated past, but to point out that this is part of a pattern going back to the worst cases. I really wish more people would point out when some organization has spent decades taking the wrong stance on social issues; if someone doesn't want to be associated with a past like that, they should change what they are doing.

  3. girard says:

    Yes, the right-winger who hates gay people is totally morally equal to the leftist who hates homophobia, because both are being "haters." This is a totally rational conclusion to draw and not at all a bullshit false-equivalency used as a rhetorical strategy by not-very-clever conservatives who want to play the persecution card.

  4. MikeR says:

    At the time the 1936 Olympics were a huge propaganda boost for the Nazis. Tourists flooded into Germany and saw a highly sanitised view of the country. They saw apparent prosperity, low unemployment, the autobahns, Zeppelins and the beginnings of television. They didn't see the concentration camps which were up and running, the Juden Frei signs had been removed and political persecution was toned down for the duration of the games. Many of these people returned home thinking that perhaps the Nazis weren't so bad and could either be actively supported, or at least safely ignored.

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