Minority Thought has written a stellar post today exploding the front page of today's Express:
Rather than leading with the story at hand, the sentencing of Choudhry to "life" imprisonment, the Express has chosen to focus on the deranged rantings of a few nutcases in a courtroom instead. Both the Daily Mail and The Sun have also gone with this angle, but neither has chosen to put it across in as brazen a way as the Express.
That there are Muslim extremists who say such things is beyond a doubt. However, the Express' decision to make this the key focus of the story, along with the language used in the headline, is an attempt to imply that these shouts are in some way an expression of what every Muslims thinks about the British.
Can you imagine, for example, what the Express would have done if the men who broke into shouts of "Go to hell, Britain" were Christians? Would the Express have replaced "Muslims" with "Christians" in the headline? Would they even have mentioned it so prominently in the first place?
I doubt it.
The Express sees Muslims as a homogeneous mass that is in complete agreement with the ramshackle fanatics at its fringes. The headline is a dog-whistle signal for the idea that "Muslims" disapprove of "us British".
The splash in question
has a heritage that goes back a while with Richard Desmond's newspapers. You can see its ancestry here:
and this really isn't an accident. This isn't a case of 'Oh, we just need to get slightly shorter words into the headline' or anything like that. No, this is all on purpose, every word there because it was meant to be there.
And the message is clear. Muslims are not us. Muslims are not you. Muslims are not British. Beyond that, Muslims are just one great big homogenous lump of humanity, which 'we' - nice, white Express and Star-reading folk - should probably be afraid of. You can see that clearer with this kind of thing:
You might say, oh well the headline doesn't mean all Muslims, does it? It just means some - the kind of people who'd put a minaret up the top of Nelson's Column - rather than all. But I think, looking at the pattern and the messages from the front pages, the agenda is pretty clear. The message is a simple (and simplistic) one: there are Muslims, and then there are the rest of us. And what kind of people are Muslims? Time and again, what image is used to portray Muslims in a tabloid - a smiling child? A man in western clothes going about his daily business? Er, not quite. This is the classic you see time and time again (this time from the Mail, but the Express love it too):
I don't think that's particularly true, or particularly helpful. It could be the case, I suppose, that 99.9% of Express and Star readers aren't Muslims - I wouldn't be surprised, given what turns up in the paper - but I don't think that's the point, either. The 'us and them' tactic serves to draw up battle lines, to create division where there might not be a great deal, to taint all followers of a faith with the characteristics of the most extreme end of the scale.
Funny thing is, as I was looking through the Express website to research this story, I found this:
I wonder where on earth those negative views of Islam have been coming from, and why so many people might associate Islam with terrorism?
No related posts.