|Hannan's Willie Horton Moment
||[Aug. 26th, 2009|08:02 pm]
I can't work out what Daniel Hannan is up to. He's made a series of outbursts in recent months; starting with his rant at Gordon Brown in Brussels that became a YouTube favourite and lately he's been touring the right wing radio and TV circuit in the US having a go at the NHS.
We can have a discussion about whether his comments were played back to the UK accurately or whether we should be focusing more intently on the faults within the NHS. But anyone would keep their head down after the firestorm that was caused yet Hannan has been back on the US circuit, being interviewed on reason.tv and deliberately mentioning his admiration for Enoch Powell!
What's his strategy. Is he just being carried along on the hubris of his moment in the sun or is he deliberately trying to smoke out the Notting Hill set that surround the leader's office?
I'm not sure but one thing stands out. He's dangled some red meat to his fan base in the UK Tory party with the mention of Powell. Tories normally do this by mentioning Thatcher but would never risk referencing Powell, such a controversial figure with his 'Rivers of Blood' speech about the dangers of immigration.
Hannan has been clever though in that he's made no mention to race or immigration in the text of what he's said so it's easy to defend in the media. What he's done is appeal to the emotional element of the brain. This is common in US politics, where Hannan is making friends, and works by using certain words or imagery to imply something that activates the emotional side of the brain. It means to you can send signals, which if they were explicit, may cause an outrage, but by being subtle they make the desired impact. They're often referred to as dog-whistle issues.
A famous example was the Republicans' attack ad used against Democrat presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, in 1988. The ad was about Dukakis' record at giving convicted felons early release. The example that kept being used was a black man called Willie Horton, who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a young couple while on weekend release.
This is a shocking crime but it was the use of specific words with the regular flashing of Horton, a black man, using unusual and manacing facial expressions that prompted feverish discussions about what the Republicans were trying to imply.
I'm not for a moment suggesting that Daniel Hannan is racist or anti-foreigner but his use of Enoch Powell and all that he represents to elements of the Tory party was very clever.
Whether Dan Hannan is consciously racist/anti-foreigner, by designating as a political hero someone commonly held in public opinion as a racist and regularly touted by groups as such (for example "Enoch Was Right" and the National Front), he must at least subconsciously believe that flagrant anti-immigration to the point of racism is permissible enough to not discredit Powell's political standing. Basically, he may not (publically/consciously) be a racist, but he thinks being a racist is okay.
So, Enoch Powell supported small government and the free market. Not too dissimilar from how Mussolini made the trains run on time...
2009-08-27 12:20 pm (UTC)
God Bless Enoch.
We now have a huge problem with Moslems blowing up buses and themselves here in the UK, causing widespread misery.
So discussing whether it is "racist" to respect Enoch Powell or not is beside the point- it is obvious that Powell was right about the dangers of mass foreign immigration.
2009-08-27 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: God Bless Enoch.
Is that sarcasm? Terrorism has been a problem here in the UK irrespective of immigration. Mass foriegn immigration has nothing to do with the ideological war between Western democracy and Islamic extremism; to draw some kind of link between them is absurd.
Forgive me if that comment was a joke by the way, only there are enough people out there who genuinely espouse that kind of nonsense for it sound like an honest response.
Hannan in his own words
"Being an immigrant myself, I have particular cause to be grateful for Britain’s understated cosmopolitanism."
Earlier in the same article he criticises Powell's views on immigration.
All of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants (one of my ancestors came over in the 19th century, some after the Romans left, some before the Romans arrived).
Unlike you, Enoch Powell fought against Mussolini - he came back from lecturing at an Australian University to enlist as a private soldier. This could be partly because he supported small government and the free market, unlike Mussolini who was a socialist, but more probably because he was a patriot who opposed Hitler's aggression and racialism. He had overwhelming support from the large immigrant minority in his Wolverhampton constituency to whom he talked in their own languages not only in votes (the white working class mostly voted Labour, as was traditional for them) but also for his proposals to limit immigration.
Powell did not support a totally free market - the first time I heard of him was when he imposed compulsory licensing to prevent Pfizer ripping off the NHS by overcharging for drugs on which it had patent protection.
I don't agree with Hannan on the NHS but trying to smear him by misrepresenting Enoch Powell is ridiculous and pathetic; also offensive in that it treats your readers as idiots.
He may have criticised Powell's views on immigration, but obviously his views on immigration aren't enough to lower Powell's standings in Hannan's mind. That is my criticism. I believe that Powell's position on immigration is unforgivable and discredits him as politician, because I believe that his inflammatory views are a large enough crime. Hannan obviously disagrees, which in my mind means he thinks that Powell's position on immigration isn't so bad, at least not bad enough to stop touting him as a political hero or influence.
Touting Powell as an positive influence because of his stance on the free market as akin to crediting Oswald Mosely because he had the forethought to support commercial radio.
2009-08-29 08:56 pm (UTC)
hero noun A person, typically, a man who is admired for their courage [Source: Oxford English Dictionary]
Whatever you, or anyone else, may think of his opinions, I cannot see how anyone can honestly deny that Enoch Powell was admired for his courage.
You are accusing Hannan, an immigrant, of thinking that "being a racist is okay" with no evidence whatsoever and it seems that your excuse for this smear is that you don't know what "hero" means.
If I say that I admire General de Gaulle's heroism I do not automatically become a French poodle.
Given that those cheering on Enoch Powell for his "courage" are usually National Front thugs and English supremacist bullies, forgive me if I find it disturbing that anyone would want to align themselves with that sort of company.
The fact that Hannan is an immigrant is irrelevant. He is willing to publicly enthuse about a man who is a national by-word for racism. It pretty much returns me to Mark Hanson's original point - which is that invoking such a divisive figure positively is dangerous and makes you wonder what his actual opinions are. I think you underestimate what the invocation of Enoch Powell means to some sections of our society.
What Hannan has effectively said is "I disagree with his policy on immigration, but it isn't enough for me to stop endorsing him in public". Therefore, he cannot think that Powell's stance on immigration is a very bad thing. If Hannan did consider it a bad enough thing, he wouldn't hold Powell in high esteem.
Would you not question someone who said that they admired Robert Mugabe and considered them a political influence or hero, but only because of the ability he had to instil pride in black Rhodesians prior to independence?
2009-08-30 05:19 pm (UTC)
"Would you not question someone who said that they admired Robert Mugabe and considered them a political influence or hero, but only because of the ability he had to instil pride in black Rhodesians prior to independence?"
No, I should not bother because he/she was basing his/her arguments on the basis of something that existed only in his/her imagination and therefore was not subject to rational argument. [You might think to check your history before quoting it - you seem to be confusing Mugabe with Mandela or Nkomo or both.]
If you were both capable and willing to admit that you are wrong after that fact has been clearly demonstrated it would be possible to have a rational discussion with you. Regrettably this does not seem to be the case.
I find your remarks unjustifiably offensive since I emphatically oppose the BNP and always have done so (including its predecessors: National Front etc) and English supremacists (incidentally, did you not know that Powell was Welsh?) and have always strongly opposed to bullying even when I got physically hurt as a result of trying to prevent it. I admire Powell's courage and his magnificent intellect (although not always his use thereof) and see no reason why I should not say so.
"I think you underestimate what the invocation of Enoch Powell means to some sections of our society." Well even the mention of his name seems to make a very small section of it foam at the mouth, but those of us old enough to remember what he actually did can take a more balanced view - and those of us who know what the word "invocation" means can inform you that Hannan did not include a religious ceremony in his interview - and admire some of his achievements while disagreeing with and regretting his "rivers of blood" speech which advocated a more liberal immigration policy than is adopted by the current Labour government. I also disagree with and regret his support of the more reactionary strand of Ulster Unionism in the twilight of his political career.
"A national by-word" is a clever piece of spin. I think that there are a number of national by-words for racism, that would include "racist" (of course), "Nazi", "Fascist" (incorrect, most fascists weren't racists and Hitler regarded Italians as second-class), BNP, Nick Griffin ... but I don't believe "Powell" is one of them.
Apologies if Mugabe didn't empower black people in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. I was under the impression that he did and still does, which is part of why he still has some support in the country and uses the white British man as the enemy. If I'm mistaken then so be it.
I have no issue admitting that I am wrong, only I don't think that I am. I do however think you were being unnecessarily rude in your response to me and I'd appreciate it if you employed a less sarcastic tone.
Why do you find my opinions offensive? Because I find it difficult to believe that anyone could cite Enoch Powell as a political influence without condoning, at least subconsciously, his position on immigration? You can admire Powell's courage and intellect and say so if you wish, nor am I saying that Daniel Hannan cannot do so either. I will however reserve the right to wonder just how much you or he condone his stance on immigration. For me, I consider his take so wholly unacceptable and unforgivable that I refuse to credit him in any way. If you are willing to credit him, I can only conclude that either you do not find his views as unacceptable as I do, or you are willing to forgive his views.
Enoch Powell is a national by-word for racism - that's why there has been the outcry. If he wasn't, there wouldn't be a story. Enoch Powell is best known for his Rivers of Blood speech, regardless of all else that he did in his career. Not only that, he is associated with a brand of "respectable racism". As someone who fears for her life whenever she sees or hears the phrase "Enoch was right", I can assure you that the mention of Enoch Powell is synonymous with anti-multiculturalism and anti-immigration in the minds of certainly a few, and probably many more, people.
2009-08-31 01:43 pm (UTC)
I said "remarks" not "opinion"
As I have said I actively oppose BNP and bullies, so to imply that I "would want to align themselves with that sort of company" is unjustifiably offensive.
I had formed an opinion of Enoch Powell a decade before the "Rivers of Blood" speech with which I disagreed at the time but that did did not suddenly become the only thing that he had ever said. Nye Bevan is most easily remembered for his "lower than vermin" speech but that does not wipe out the rest of his political career.
Your first paragraph is not answering my point but trying to pretend that you did not the make the error in your previous post that I pointed out. Also you might compare the number of black people murdered by his thugs with the number of whites he has had murdered. Also Mugabe did not empower the blacks - that had already been done before he came to power.
There hasn't been that much of an outcry despite it being the silly season because
"Enoch Powell is synonymous with anti-multiculturalism and anti-immigration in the minds of certainly a few" but only a relatively small minority. A lot of people even on the left have dismissed the rehashing of an old interview in California as an attempt by New Labour spinmasters to distract attention from current news. If a lot of people took your view that just mentioning his name verged on thought-crime then there would have been a lot more fuss which I should have noticed.
Powell did not, in fact, oppose multi-culturalism: if he had opposed multi-culturalism he would have suggested imposing "British culture" - whatever that is - on all immigrants. You might find, if you compared his immigration policies with those of the current Labour government, that his were not, except in respect of continental Europeans, noticeably extreme by current standards.
You may reserve your right to wonder anything you like but to suggest anywhere to anyone in any context that I am aligned with the BNP or bullies is totally unacceptable false and insulting.
To complain, after that, that you felt that my tone was sarcastic is mind-boggling. I felt that I was being admirably restrained. If it's rude to point out errors, tough! Failing to do so can never help anyone.
2009-08-27 01:05 pm (UTC)
Tory appeal to BNP voters
I seem to remember that Enoch Powell was used by the Tories in the eighties to attract Labour Voters to vote Tory on the race issue. There were examples of Dockers for Enoch voting Tory against their own interests and Enoch has always been a favorite with rural Tories.
"Hannan has been clever though in that he's made no mention to race or immigration in the text of what he's said" See below!!
"I'm not for a moment suggesting that Daniel Hannan is racist or anti-foreigner"
Yes, of course you are and anyone with an IQ more than their shoe size can see that, but I suppose your libel lawyer has told you to say that
Hannan on immigration:
"For what it’s worth, I think Enoch Powell was wrong on immigration. The civil unrest that he forecast, and that many feared in 1968, didn’t materialise. Britain assimilated a large population with an ease that few countries have matched. Being an immigrant myself, I have particular cause to be grateful for Britain’s understated cosmopolitanism."
Of course it is just possible for an immigrant to be anti-immigration or a Jew to be anti-Semitic, but it would be sensible to check your facts before making implausible assumptions