Thank Allah for The Sun newspaper. Without it, I would be completely unaware of things like benefit cheats who live in £600,000 palaces with their thirteen kids, people called things like ‘The Skull Cracker’ being let out of prison for a laugh, or fast food chains trying to Muslim up my guts with their Secret Cruel Jew-Chicken.
And thank Buddha for the Sun’s Facebook page, which gives me almost hourly updates on how my country is literally going to Hell in a handbasket, because of something, something, minorities outnumbering us, something something, gays. The people who comment on Sun articles are, like those who do on the Mail, a mixed bag. In this bag, are people who already believed whatever shit is printed, and have come to express pretend outrage at stuff which doesn’t even really outrage them, as that’s what they thought anyway, and people who hate those people (and the newspapers they read).
It would be naive to call what goes on a ‘debate’. If there are two sides, one is definitely not listening to the other. There are the believers, who latch on to any tenuous bullshit propaganda which tells them that they’re in danger of being overrun by brown folk, gayers, and child-touching 1970s celebrities. And there are the non-believers, who think they are contributing by calling the other ones ‘mongs’ and ‘fucktards’. I am of course in the latter group, but I at least remember a time when I was in the former. We had The Sun (or similar) in our household growing up, and it’s impossible to read those things (or even skim them) at an impressionable age and not have some of it sink in. If you combed your hair for a year with a lump of shit, there is no way that you wouldn’t stink of poo.
People who still have the sort of misguided views as adults that I had (however casually) at twelve years old, are just people who have never felt the need to think any differently. They’re not stupid- they hold down jobs, read books, can recall reams of information relating to the things about which they are passionate. They are functioning human beings who are comfy in a reality which informs them that they are constantly under threat from some silent menace, and it doesn’t occur to them that they might be being manipulated, because we live in a free country, and it’s only places like North Korea and Russia where the people are duped and opiated by an unscrupulous media. Couldn’t happen here! And, yet…
Since the beginning of time we have been tribal, and proud of our roots, and suspicious of outsiders. It’s one of the ways we survived as a species. But equal to our survival have been the concepts of migration, integration, and cross-pollination. We only are who we are today because our ancestors strengthened the gene pool by marrying outside of the family tree (not including the Royals, obviously.)
The people who publish these newspapers don’t actually care about you, or your safety. They’re not interested your nation’s sovereignty, or how well the football team does at the World Cup. They’re not looking out for your interests in any way, shape or form. They just want your custom on a daily basis- be it physical sales, or click-throughs on their websites. And they know that if they keep you on a steady diet of fear, anger, and moronic hate, it’ll be easy to snare you the next day, and the day after that. Coming out of a tabloid addiction is like recovering from any other sort of substance abuse. You feel lucid, confused, euphoric. You start to change as a human being.
You see some Muslim women in traditional garb walking down the street, and your first thought isn’t ‘FFS, IF THEY WANT TO LIVE HERE, THEY SHOULD LIVE BY OUR RULES, IF WE WENT TO THEIR COUNTRY, WE’D HAVE TO LIVE BY THEIRS!!!’ Because you remember all those times you lived in this country and didn’t always play by the rules, or that time you went to Dubai and got really pissed in a hotel.
You see a black man coming towards you on a dark street, and your first thought isn’t ‘OH FUCK, I’M GOING TO BE MUGGED’. Because you remember all those other times when you walked past gangs of white teenagers and felt anything but safe.
An old man gives your four year old a big smile outside the chemist’s, and your first thought isn’t ‘OMFG HE’S A PAEDO LIKE JIMMY SAVILE AND GARY GLITTER’. Because you remember when you were four, and old people would smile at you all the time, and none of them had erections.
What I’m trying to say is- don’t lose hope if you’ve read The Sun, The Star, The Mail or The Express since as far back as you can remember. There is a way out, and you’re strong enough to get through it. If you’ve been reading The Guardian though, no such luck. You’re literally going to spend the rest of your life thinking you’re better than everyone, and thinking hummus is actual food.