April 23, 2015
God, I hate Katie Hopkins. But not for the reasons everyone else does. I hate her in the sense that I can’t help worshipping her and the ground she treads on because she does what I’d like to do but does it so much better: she annoys all the people who most deserve to be annoyed, she remains articulate and collected in the face of all the brickbats that are thrown at her, and above all, she seems to make a damn good living out of it.
The last bit isn’t as obvious as you’d think. I was talking to an agent the other day about the best way to make the most of a career as an outspoken media commenter and his argument was that you shouldn’t stray too far from the middle ground for that way you alienate half your potential audience.
This is especially true if you’re on the right. Outrageous pinkos – look at Owen Jones, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Polly Toynbee, et al – tend to get a much freer pass from our left-leaning media culture. But their equivalents at the conservative end of the spectrum are much harder to find. In fact I’d say that there’s only one and that’s Hopkins.
Over the weekend, you may have noticed, Katie Hopkins was trending on Twitter yet again – this time because of a piece she’d written in The Sun in which she’d upset the Offenderati by using the word “cockroaches” in the context of the boatloads of hapless, parched, pitiable migrants now fleeing Libya. At this point you’re obliged tactically to distance yourself from Hopkins by noting how distasteful you too find her appalling choice of words. But I’m not going to, for several reasons, the first being that that it was so devastatingly effective.
One reason why so many torpedoed mariners were eaten by sharks in the Second World War is that sharks are drawn to explosions. This is what Hopkins achieved with her “cockroaches.” It was her very own USS Indianapolis: in came a veritable Guardianista Who’s Who of finny horrors: Diane Abbott; Owen Jones (natch); Piers Morgan; Russell Brand – all turning the waters of Twitter red in a roiling frenzy of noisome, bleeding-heart self-righteousness.
And in the wake of all the celebrity offendotrons – the Wankerati, as I call them – came shoal after shoal of opportunistic bottom feeders: the ones trying to get her sacked from The Sun; the ones demanding that Hopkins be prosecuted (no really: a whopping 2200 of them have already signed the inevitable Change.org petition) for “incitement to genocide”; the ones tweeting photos of her children and declaring how unlucky they were to have such a frightful mother.
Now the textbook lefty response to this kind of monstering is to play the victim card, as so-called “anti-poverty campaigner” and professional lesbian single mother “Ms Jack Monroe” has just done. She could, of course, have just quietly stopped using Twitter. Except, being a Social Justice Warrior, she couldn’t. No, she had to weaponise her exit with a heart-rending blog about how she felt Twitter was no longer felt a “safe space” : “Today I left my house at 4pm. Head down. Eyes flicking at every stranger walking towards me on the street. Sunglasses on the Tube. The man arrested roams free after 15 hours in Policy custody, updating his blog with sneering comments…”
The not-so-subtle implication of this – and we’ve seen similar tactics from Stella Creasy MP and a feminist campaigner called Caroline Criado Perez – is that free speech has gone too far and it’s time we had a clampdown. This is the guerilla version of the conventional war which has been waged on free speech by the left-liberal establishment (from Keir Starmer, CPS and an emasculated police force to Hacked Off and their amen corner at the BBC and the Guardian) via the Leveson Inquiry and the vexatious arrests of all those Sun journalists. It’s cynical, it’s dirty, it’s illiberal and it’s much, much more dangerous and ugly than anything Katie Hopkins has ever written.
But the reason so few people appreciate this is – ooh look! Katie Hopkins wrote a nasty word, so we needn’t talk about it. That, I’m afraid, is the level to which so many vitally important debates have been reduced these days by the liberal-left’s Alinskyite tactics.
In the case of Hopkins’s Sun piece, no left-wing commentator, so far as I’m aware, felt under any obligation to respond with any manner of reasoned counterargument. They might have pointed out that because the West created the Libyan crisis it has a moral obligation to fix its consequences; or they could have gone the whole hog and argued that we have a duty to house all refugees, come what may.
They didn’t though because – a bit like with all those rapists out there who just can’t help raping women because they’re provocatively dressed and therefore have it coming to them – their intellectual processes were short-circuited by Hopkins’s outrageously unforgivable deployment of a single term: “cockroaches.”
A piece in the Independent claimed that this was the kind of dehumanising words the Nazis used, so apparently rendering Hopkins’s entire commentary beyond the pale. Lots of people in the comments section and on social media agreed with this analysis. I hope this tendency frightens you as much as it frightens me.
Why? Because it’s a dirty rhetorical cheat, not an argument. No, worse than that it’s a vicious lie. By focusing on just one intemperate word (designed, as so much of the best polemical writing does, to provoke a response) and freighting it with far more significance than any remotely objective interpretation could possibly bear, it calculatingly misrepresents the opinions of a heroically brave, often admirably sensible woman who dares, as so few do, to voice what the silent majority are really thinking.
- Television: Weekly shockers
- I hate Lush. I love Aldi. How about you?
- Twitter: ‘Tweet’ went the birdy, and we did
- I hate to say this but Cameron’s speech has just won him the election