It's not going to stop, but that doesn't mean that it's pointless to be angered by it; or that there's no reason to try and stop it.
It's been going on for some time, as 5cc chronicles today, this pandering to racists, this out-and-out fearmongering about the scale and impact of immigration, this filthy stain on an already tarnished profession of journalism. And it's going to carry on. It's not just one accidental putting of the wrong word in a headline box, or a few mealy-mouthed liberals getting their knickers in a twist over some transgression of the arbitrary lines of political correctness; this is a deliberate policy*.
There's no way that by expressing our anger at the Daily Express and the Daily Star, or by correcting the falsehoods when they appear, or by declaring that we don't want to have anything to do with this kind of lowest-of-the-low reporting, that we're going to change anything. This is the policy. The people who run these businesses believe their readers want to be fed a diet that appeals to racists. They may well be right, but that doesn't make it the truth. And it's not going to stop.
But still, you have to try. We have to try. I'm assuming here that you think racism is a bad thing, and that newspapers misrepresenting minorities to pander to people's very lowest dregs of humanity is not a good idea. I may be wrong, but I like to hope that I am right; without hope, there is nothing. And so while it's unlikely that any of us, individually or even collectively, can stop any of this disgraceful excuse for journalism from appearing on our news-stands, or from making millions of pounds from it, there's everything to hope for.
Today's Express is at it again, of course. Of course it is. After yesterday's atrocity using the archaic racial slur 'ethnics' in a headline - with an accompanying editorial complaining about ethnic minorities being 'over-represented' in professions and linking crime with immigration, while also saying that people who said that Britons were being taken over in the 1960s and 1970s were wrongly labelled as racists - and last week's abomination saying NOW ASYLUM IF YOU'RE GAY - backed up by the memorable NO ROOM FOR GAYS headline in the Star - comes today's little effort.
Is there really 'mounting pressure' for Britain to ban the burkha? I suppose it depends on what you call 'mounting pressure', really. If you think 'mounting pressure' is 'a significant and growing number of people demanding something', then probably not. If you think 'mounting pressure' is 'some rentagob Tory zealot wanting to make a name for himself', then yes, it certainly is. You have to see the front page in the context of the others; it's the policy, it's the pattern, and it's not going to stop.
But that doesn't mean anyone should stop bothering about it. Easy to dismiss the Express and Star as just a couple of nutters shouting in the precinct; but they're 20% Britain's daily newspapers. In the same style as yesterday's Express front page, you could say ONE IN FIVE NEWSPAPERS IS RACIST GARBAGE - but then that would ignore the similar stories being churned out, albeit with a half-ounce more of subtlety, by the Daily Mail and the Sun, and even the Telegraph. It's probably more than 20% of newspapers that happily trot out this vileness on a fairly regular basis, if truth be told.
It's a big and influential target to try and attack, then. And it's not going to happen overnight. We're never going to knock Richard Desmond out of the park in one hit, or smash his polished desk of oak, or stop his boring dirty joke and make him yell. But that doesn't mean it's not worth fighting back. Will targeting advertisers make a difference? It's hard to tell, but Glenn Beck staggers on in the US as brands desert him. Will targeting readers work? It's hard to win the hearts and minds of racists; but there are plenty of people, no doubt, who pick up the Express or Star because it's what they've always done - or because they're cheap - and don't necessarily buy into the politics. There's still a chance for them, and it would be wrong to alienate them by calling them all racist scum - although some undoubtedly are.
But we are many, they are few. And we've got a long way to go before this kind of bilge is regarded as being unacceptable. I don't want to censor anyone; I just want this kind of thing to be seen for the naked racism it is, and for readers not to want to buy it. This isn't about freedom of expression; this is about some people's expression being seen as influential, and important, and somehow representing the truth, whereas in fact it's far from that. The more these newspapers are allowed to keep peddling this awfulness, the more eroded the image of journalism is as a whole, and the less credibility the real, decent, honest reporters have, purely by association.
And I think it's important for very simple reasons. I'm pleased I live in a multicultural society, where people from different backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities can exist together. I feel almost apologetic about saying this kind of thing, as if it's somehow naff or cliched or will be scoffed at as being naivety of the highest order, but do you know what? It isn't. It really isn't. I don't care what the racists say, or do, or try to tell me is the truth; I know what I think, and I'm not going to be part of their lies. Now we're in a recession it's more important than ever that minorities aren't seen as scapegoats or parasites - it's very easy for them to be portrayed as such.
I have limited skills and I am afraid I am not very good at organising people, or things, or anything. All I able to do, as able as I am to do it, is to write about this stuff and to challenge it when I see it, and to call it out for what I believe it to be. It may make no difference at all; it may be a tiny drop in the ocean. But I can't just sit back and let it sit there unchallenged.
It's not going to stop, but sales of newspapers are declining - apart from the cut-price Daily Star, which is why it's important not to dismiss it as simply some kind of comic that no-one reads. People are getting their news from other places now, and they're more and more sceptical about the printed page. It's going to take time, and it's going to be a slow process. But anything that fights it is worth it. Don't ask whether it's worth it or not to try; just try. We may not get anywhere, but let's try.
* It could have been even more explicit. It was only staff standing up to their employers that saw the "Daily Fatwa" edition of the Star fail to make it into print, so we were spared the 'hilarious' sight of "What Britain would look like under Muslim rule".