At the weekend I looked at how the Mail sometimes misses out on positive immigration stories and wondered why that might be. Today's story in the Mail, well, it's kind of positive, but... you'll see.
We can argue about the word 'tolerance' and whether a society really needs to 'tolerate' its own citizens another time. But this would appear to be suggesting that British people are liberal and welcoming of other cultures... not what the 'silent majority' who patrol story comments are likely to say. Still, I think it's something to be proud of. Obviously the story is illustrated by two women in burkhas, because otherwise we wouldn't understand what Muslims are, but perhaps it's a start. I don't want to be accused of ignoring positive Mail stories about immigration, because it would seem that this is one. And how heartwarming to know that the British are the most liberal and culturally grown up in Europe, according to the report. Isn't it? Well... we'll come to that.
Also, here's what appears to be some more good news about British Muslims:
I wonder if you could connect the two facets of the story - Brits are the most liberal and culturally welcoming nation in Europe, and in return, Muslims who come here feel more British than they do in other countries. It's not beyond the realms to suggest that.
Well, so long as the Mail don't go to Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch for a quote, then this story sits perfectly as an example of balance. All they need to do is just leave the evidence as it is - after all, when Green pipes up with his anti-immigration bollocks, the other side of the argument doesn't ever get a look-in at all, so it's not as if he's needed in this story. It's balanced as it is by existing in the first place. Brilliant. So, as long as he doesn't turn up, this will be a fair and balanced... oh.
Ah well. It couldn't last, could it? Nevertheless, this is a story which suggests that (a) people in Britain are liberal, welcoming, culturally intelligent and decent, and (b) British Muslims are more patriotic than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, perhaps even because of that attitude they experience from other Brits.
And if I ended it here, then you could say fair play to the Mail. But you know and I know I'm not going to end it here, don't you?
That a sentiment such as 'live and let live' should be voted negatively by readers of this article suggests that the Mail's readers aren't representative of the 'tolerant' Brits depicted in the article itself. Want to know what kind of comment gets voted positively? Well, you asked for it...
You get met with a wall of resistance. It can't possibly be that British people are tolerant, say these readers; it's all a big Lib-Lab-Con conspiracy to deny the silent majority. In their world, everyone has the same view as them, everyone is entirely hostile towards other cultures, and it's all a big political conspiracy to stop the vast majority from being represented.
You could argue that the Mail doesn't help itself by portraying Muslims as women in a burkha, who are a tiny minority of the British Muslim population - which draws the inevitable reaction from some commenters. But on the whole this is a positive story, and one to be welcomed. Shame about the comments, of course, but then the Mail has courted these kind of readers for a long time now - not necessarily 'readers' representative of Mail readers, you could say, but people who seek out immigration stories in order to splatter the comments with an bowel evacuation of nonsense and hostility. Maybe articles like this are a step in the right direction, though. The cynic in me says "Yeah, until tomorrow", but we'll see.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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