Resisters gonna resist. Remoaners gonna remoan. It’s called democracy.
If you’ve taken part in enough online discussions with a diehard Brexiter, a Trump supporter or any other species of fascist, you may have noticed certain phrases cropping up with tedious regularity. The wording doesn’t vary much; it’s almost as if the phrases were lifted directly from a playbook — or a Paul Joseph Watson tweet.
The thing is, they’re all rubbish. While some of their lines are superficially valid, they’re all predicated on either on a logical fallacy, or false information. And even though most of these lines of reasoning have been demolished time and time again, there are still plenty of basement-dwellers smugly regurgitating them as if they’re the last word.
So for those of you still fighting the good fight, I thought I’d put together a handy reference guide — a liberal playbook, if you will — setting out exactly why the far right are wrong, on basically everything, and how you should respond.
“Stop trying to overturn the democratic result, you anti-democratic democracy-hater!”
Referendums are about the closest thing we have to true democracy — government by the people. However, the western world worked out long ago that true democracy is not a very effective system. For one thing, we don’t all have the time to be voting on every single issue. For another, people aren’t, on the whole, very well informed about things. This is why we have politicians; we need people who know their stuff, or can designate other people (the civil service) to find out about the stuff. That way, they can make what they think to be the right decision based on the best evidence available.
The belief that a view must be correct because the majority of people hold it is a fallacy called the argumentum ad populum, about which I’ve already written at length. In brief, crowds are not famed for their wisdom. You think a million people can’t be wrong? Well, there are 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and they sure as hell can’t all be right.
For this reason, the system of government we’ve ended up with in the west is not true democracy, but parliamentary democracy, under which the people appoint representatives (MPs) to make decisions on their behalf. And as systems of government go, it’s worked pretty well. Most of the world has tried to emulate it.
For much of its history, the UK has fought shy of referenda, for the exact reasons above. They’ve also been banned in Germany since Hitler used them to arrogate so much power to himself. Plebiscites violate the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.
In referendums on matters of great constitutional importance, a supermajority is usually required — a minimum turnout, and a minimum threshold for change (say 66%). This makes the result binding. But no such parameters were set for the Brexit vote — a simple majority only was required — which means it was only advisory. Someone (*cough* Steve Baker MP *cough*), somehow, lowered the bar for a Brexit vote, but then insisted that the result be imposed as if the bar had been higher.
That, plus a bit of gerrymandering — banning 16- and 17-year-olds from voting, plus EU citizens and UK expats (what was the criterion for eligibility? Residence, or nationality? How can you justify excluding people on both?) — was enough to drag Leave over the line.
As news emerges every day of further suspected tampering with the result — funding restrictions broken, illegal cooperation between campaign groups, Russia-sponsored disinformation campaigns, harvesting of data and microtargeting of voters — one has to ask: was this really democracy in action?
Democracy of any stripe only works when the decision-makers are properly informed. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the level of information going into the June 23 vote was risible. The Leave campaign was a snot-soaked tissue of lies, and far too many people swallowed it.
“But Remain lied too.”
The EU referendum campaign is likely to go down as one of the dirtiest of all time. But the hardcore Brexiters insist that, since both sides were as bad as each other, the Leavers can be excused their shameless lies.
First off, most of the Remain “lies” weren’t lies at all. Most were simply attempts to predict what would happen if the UK left the EU. Some may turn out to be inaccurate (although that looks increasingly unlikely), but that doesn’t make them lies; it makes them inaccurate predictions. Why would you even campaign for Remain if you didn’t believe the consequences would be awful?
Leave, meanwhile, were cynically and systematically mendacious, saying things they knew to be untrue. Turkey is not about to join. The EU didn’t ban bendy bananas. We don’t always get outvoted in the European parliament, and we sure as hell won’t have £350m a week to spend on the NHS. (There’s a more comprehensive, authoritative list here.)
“What happened to world war three? Instant recession? Austerity budget?”
Contrary to popular belief, David Cameron, almighty dickwad that he is, never claimed that a Brexit vote would lead to an apocalyptic global conflict. That was, in fact, Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, straw-manning Cameron’s much more reasonable point. (Don’t just read the headline — read the story. Idiot subeditors.) Although it’s salutary to note that within hours of questions arising over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, a former Tory cabinet minister was on a war footing.
Most of those who forecast a recession said it would happen after we left the EU, not the day after we voted to leave it. That prediction is looking increasingly safe.
As for the austerity budget, you may or may not have noticed that the man who threatened to impose it was sacked.
“We’re leaving! Get over it!”
The “There is no alternative” fallacy in action. As often as not, this is literally the only argument Brexiters have, and it’s not even an argument.
Of course Brexit can be stopped; if it couldn’t, your tone wouldn’t be so histrionic. There are a number of ongoing legal cases, and we might yet get a referendum on the exit deal with an option to remain. Even if we do leave, there’s nothing to stop us rejoining soon afterwards, and the demographics suggest that’s exactly what we’ll do.
“You lost. Suck it up.”
If this is Brexit (or Trump) we’re talking about, and you’re not Arron Banks or Donald Trump or any of their billionaire friends, so did you. We’re all going to be poorer, many of the brightest and best minds are already leaving or cancelling plans to work here, and the UK and US’s global reputations have taken a hammering from which they could take decades to recover.
So, as long as there’s any prospect of Brexit being reversed and Trump being impeached, or at least of the damage being reduced, that’s what all true patriots — those who stay, anyway — are going to continue to fight for. Resisters gonna resist. Remoaners gonna remoan. It’s called democracy.
Besides, the ardent Brexiters didn’t shut up for the 40 years of our EU membership, and arch Republicans bitched about Obama from day one. Why should the losers this time round conduct themselves any differently?
“Now we’ll be free to trade with the world!”
We’re already free to trade with the world. Who do you think accounts for the other 56% of our exports?
“They need us more than we need them.”
I find it hard to believe that there are still people out there still regurgitating this bilge, but apparently there are –
– so here goes:
The UK exports around £240bn worth of goods to the EU every year. The other EU member states, meanwhile, export £290bn of goods to the UK (2015 figures).
This means the UK has what economists call a trade deficit with the EU (of £50bn). We buy from them more than they buy from us. And Ray, along with a few others of Leave’s clueless wang elite, seems to conclude from this (after some nudging by the Daily Express) that the EU has too much to lose to permit trade barriers to spring up.
True, the loss of our custom would be an annoyance to the continentals, and doubtless they would rather avoid it. But however glorious our empire may once have been, Ray, we are far from essential.
See, it’s not the absolute figures that matter, here, Ray; it’s the relative ones. The £240bn works out at 44% of the UK’s total exports. The £290bn, meanwhile, is just 10% of the EU’s total. Who’s going to suffer more if trade ceases, Ray? The country that just lost half its trade, or the 27 countries that lost a tenth of theirs? (Especially when you consider that they have dozens of pre-existing free trade agreements in place with which they can replace our custom, while we will have none, and that much of our services industry is relocating to EU countries as we speak. Come Brexit Day, our exports will already be significantly lower.)
Let’s run with an analogy you might understand, Ray. Say you join a club with 27 members, bringing the total to 28. The time comes for the whip-round for the Christmas do. The other 27 members put in £3-£4 each, raising a total of £100. When the hat reaches you, what amount do you put in? By your bizarre reasoning, because “you” and “everyone else” are somehow equivalent entities, you’d put in £100.
The UK and the EU are not equivalent entities, Ray. The population of the UK is 64 million people. The population of the 27 other EU states is 444 million. They can spread the pain more thinly. A cessation in trade between us would damage the EU, but it would crucify the UK.
Oh, and while I’m here: the German automotive industry, despite what the Express may have told you, does not even set German foreign policy, much less that of the EU. Here’s evidence, from the, er, Express.
Besides, if businesses really have so much political clout, how come the UK voted to despite the fact that twice as many British businesses were in favour of remaining in the EU as against it?
“We’re taking back control from the EU dictatorship! SOVRINNTYYYY!”
The UK was never a subject of the European Union. It was a fully fledged member — and among the most influential of them, to boot.
The UK had a hand in drawing up most EU legislation, and a power of veto over the stuff it didn’t like. We were very rarely on the losing side of a vote, and we always had the threat of leaving as a last resort. (Now that we’ve played that card and are on our way out, we no longer have any such clout.) It wasn’t about 27 other countries telling the UK what to do; it was about 28 countries deciding together what to do, and then abiding by that decision.
In any case, the legislation passed by the EU was generally trivial, technical stuff. Laws about industry regulations, manufacturing standards, safety protocols, environmental targets. Little of it was controversial (unless you were a Daily Mail leader writer); it was oil for the wheels of commerce. We’ll still need to pass equivalent laws in our own country — by ourselves. Now we’ll be footing the bill for that (this work accounted for a lot of our annual membership fee).
In no real sense is anyone in the UK “taking back control”. We’re simply taking it from one set of faceless bureaucrats (the EU commission and parliament) and handing it to another (Westminster — to all intents and purposes, the Tory party). And of those two sets of bureaucrats, I know which I believe has the interests of ordinary working people closer to their heart.
“But look at what the EU has done to Greece!”
Greece’s financial problems date back to long before its membership of the euro. Its economy was in poor shape when it joined the then European Community in 1981, a fact that successive governments went to great pains to conceal. Structurally weak and plagued by corruption and waste, it would have tanked during the economic crash of 2008 whether it had been in the EU or not. Things may not have been managed as well as possible since, but the fact remains that Greece would be in just as much financial trouble, if not more, if it had stayed outside the EU.
In any case, Greece’s fate is irrelevant to any discussion about the UK’s place in Europe. The UK has not adopted the euro, has a stronger economy, and was much better placed to ride out the recession, as a quick glance at any statistics will tell you. While Greece has record youth unemployment, the UK is currently enjoying its highest employment levels ever.
Finally, if the EU really has made things so bad in Greece, how do you explain the fact that the majority of Greeks consistently want to remain a member?
“Ask the young people in Europe what they think of the EU!”
The Pew Research Centre did, in July 2017. Across the 28 EU nations, support for the union among 18–29-year-olds stood at 73%. All other surveys of the same subject have reported similar figures.
“Have you got some sort of crystal ball?”
Frequently offered as a mocking retort to any suggestion that Brexit may have adverse effects (even though it’s now beyond any doubt that Brexit is having exactly the adverse effects Remain campaigners said it would). As an analogy for Brexit predictions, however, it suffers from one fundamental flaw: fortune tellers are full of shit. While crystal balls offer zero useful information regarding future events, the predictions of economic, political and social problems after Brexit were based on sound and thoroughly researched analyses by the most eminently qualified people in their fields.
“These warnings about a hard Brexit are Project Fear. Look at the scaremongering about the Millennium Bug!”
I’ve been hearing this particular “argument” from a suspiciously wide range of sources lately (August 2018) — almost as if it’s on some official briefing paper being distributed to everyone with an IQ below 70. It is so colossally, obviously flawed as an argument that I scarcely know where to begin, but since it’s being wheeled out as an attempted smackdown so frequently, I suppose I had better.
Bug: About 20 years ago, a number of IT experts raised concerns about the possibilities of some older computers experiencing problems with their internal clocks as the date changed to 01/01/00. This might, they pointed out, cause some issues with things like flights, hospital equipment and power plants. Because ordinary folk knew nothing about computers, they trusted the experts’ view — even though said experts had much to gain from the emergency, and might have been overstating the danger for their own gain. As a result, somewhere between £300bn and £500bn was spent fixing the problem worldwide. In the end, disaster was averted, although the “bug” did still have some adverse effects.
Brexit: A number of experts in the fields of economics, trade, business, science, politics and diplomacy raised concerns about massive damage being done to the UK’s businesses, economy, international relations, and world standing. They stood to gain nothing from such an emergency. Few people fully understood the issues at hand, but, after decades of the rightwing press undermining faith in intellectualism, only a minority trusted the experts’ view. As a result, nothing was done to avert any negative consequences.
Apart from the fact that experts issued a warning, there are no similaritiesbetween the two situations. The people involved were different. The conditions were different. The entire realm of knowledge was different. The problem was different, and the possible solutions are different. (Perhaps the most worrying divergence is that between the amount of preparation completed in each case.)
Next time someone squeals “Millennium bug!” in response to the sounding of the Brexit alarm, try gently pointing out to them a few of the occasions when experts issued warnings, and were right: the Titanic. Fukushima. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The rise of fascism in Germany in the 1930s. The Lusitania. The subprime mortgage crisis of 2007. The 2018 Genoa motorway bridge collapse.
Experts are not always wrong. In fact, they are rarely wrong. That’s why they are occupying their positions, and not you.
“Your patronising attitude is exactly why we voted out”
Really? You voted to wipe out 10% of GDP, sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs and turn the UK into a global laughing stock because a stranger on social media was insufficiently sensitive while schooling you in economics 18 months in the future? Come on. That’s kind of petty. If quantum-mechanically impressive.
(What they’re really doing here, of course, apart from flailing pathetically, is attempting to tone-police you: to shoot down your argument on the basis of its character, rather than its content. Because they can’t find any obvious flaws in the content to attack.)
“Britain managed just fine before it joined the EU!”
It really didn’t. You, my friend, are guilty of rosy retrospection: a common cognitive bias that leads us to remember things as better than they in fact were. Sure, you were younger then, with hopes and dreams intact, and still enjoyed occasional sex.
But the blunt truth is that in the early 1970s, the country was up shit creek. As the last tendrils of its empire withered, growth and productivity were slipping, industries declining, poverty increasing. Strikes left large parts of the country paralysed. Power cuts were commonplace. For over two months in 1974, the UK was operating on a three-day week.
The new members of the European Economic Community, meanwhile, were surging ahead, leaving the UK with the “Sick Man of Europe” dunce’s cap. Successive British governments, Conservative and Labour, begged to join. Charles de Gaulle vetoed the British application twice, warning that it would lead to the breakup of the union. Membership, when it came in 1973, was a huge relief — and marked the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the UK.
But more importantly, in 1973, the UK had its own trade arrangements and supply lines in place. It has spent the 45 intervening years frantically reshaping its economy to function as part of a frictionless trade bloc. If those arrangements are ended, and no substitute system is introduced — fat chance of that in six months — then the country will, quite simply, cease to function.
“I can’t be racist. Islam isn’t a race.”
If you’re being face-achingly pernickety, then yes, attacking a religion does not technically make you a racist. However.
Strictly speaking, no one can be a racist, because there is no universally agreed definition of the set of characteristics that constitute a race, or where to draw the lines between them. It’s pretty obvious, however, that plenty of people treat others differently based on the colour of their skin, that they discriminate, and it’s generally agreed that these people are scum — hence your strenuous objection to being called racist. (Let us also note, in passing, that the overwhelming majority of followers of Islam are brown.)
Second, those who set out to discredit Islam might have a different target from a racist, but their methodology — or rather, their error — is identical. They’re still discriminating, just on the basis of religion instead of colour.
English speakers haven’t quite settled on the right word for this yet — I’ve seen “faithism” and “religionism”, but those give us the rather clunky derivatives “faithist” and “religionist” — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. On far right websites the world over, it clearly does.
You may not, by the strictest definition, be a racist for demonising all Muslims because of the actions of a few of its adherents, but you’re no better than a racist. You may not be a racist, but you most certainly are a cunt.
“I can’t be racist. I have a black friend”
You only have one black friend, and you claim you’re not a racist?
“The Nazis were socialists. It was even in their name!”
The full name of the Nazi party was, indeed, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or German National Socialist Workers’ Party. But things don’t always do what they say on the tin. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea isn’t democratic, run by or for the people, or a republic; Panama hats aren’t from Panama; and tin cans aren’t made of tin.
This is just a ham-fisted (albeit remarkably persistent) ploy by those with evil far-right views to distance themselves from the evil far-right demagogues of the past.
Hitler had a different definition of socialism from the one we understand today, as this quote from him explains: “Communism is not socialism. Marxism is not socialism. The Marxists have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take socialism away from the socialists.”
That’s exactly what he did, and the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands were the first opponents he took out; he banned them the day after he won absolute power. His actions in the summer of 1941 were also a subtle hint as to his true feelings towards those on the left wing of politics.
The Nazis may have paid lip service to socialism in order to appeal to a wider demographic. But they were first and foremost, far and away above any other consideration, nationalists. And that is the evil that we face again today.
For a more authoritative explanation, see Mike Stuchbery’s consummate demolition of alt-right urethral swabs Paul Joseph Watson and Ian Miles Cheong on the same issue.
“Liberals. You’re all such hypocrites!”
I’ve dealt with this point before, but here’s a recap.
Accusing liberals of hypocrisy is probably the far right’s favourite pastime. “Do as I say, not as I do,” they sneer, despite having no clue as to how you spend your day. Apparently, because they lack even a scintilla of empathy for their fellow man, everyone else must be similarly handicapped.
Well, this may come as a surprise, buster, but a lot of us actually back our words up with action. We give to the homeless and to charity; we raise awareness of, and funds for, good causes; we volunteer; some of us even actually take in refugees.
But even those who don’t spend every minute of their spare time doing disabled veterans’ shopping are not wrong to speak their minds in the hope of influencing public debate. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what all the alt-right seems to spend all its time doing; I’ve yet to see one of them putting his money where his mouth is and jetting down to the Levant to fight Isis, or unilaterally deporting a family of Muslims.
I’ll continue to “virtue signal” as much as I like, thanks, if you’re going to carry on evil signalling.
“How many refugees have you taken in?”
The most tiresomely common example of the above. Again, I’ve talked about this. We cannot physically do all the things we wish were done, and it’s not up to us anyway. We can, however, draw attention to problems we think are not being allocated sufficient resources (in fact, it seems to be Twitter’s sole raison d’etre these days).
“Everyone who disagrees with you is a fascist.”
I’ve disagreed with plenty of people. Muslims, Jews, socialists, conservatives, doctors, teachers, plasterers, feminists, vegetarians. And none of them were fascists. (OK, maybe the doctor was a bit of a prick.)
The difference was, they made their arguments politely and reasonably, and were willing to listen to what I had to say. We usually found some common ground, and learned something from each other.
The far right, meanwhile, for all their bleats of “free speech”, do everything they can to silence opposition. They make (ahem) liberal use of ad hominem and smear tactics, they lie, they fabricate stories, and when given half a chance, they kill. I have yet to learn anything from a fascist, except a creeping disillusionment at the coldness of some of my fellow men.
“Ha, liberals, they say they’re so tolerant, and yet they won’t tolerate any views that don’t agree with theirs.”
Aka “Liberals are the real fascists”. Occasional variation on the above. Liberals can, and do, and have, for years, tolerated differences of opinion. There’s only one view that we won’t tolerate, and that’s any view that involves silencing others’ views. Such as, for example, fascism.
“‘Racist!’ That’s the only argument you have.”
It’s really not. It’s just the most obvious, important one, and often the only observation of substance I can fit in 140 characters.
If you fancy a change of insult, I also have unimaginative, unoriginal, gullible, backward, reductive, simplistic, binary, ill-informed, mendacious, misleading, and utterly lacking in compassion.
“We voted Leave to regain control over immigration.”
The UK government has always had full control over immigration from countries outside the EU. It simply failed to invoke those powers. The vote to leave the EU will have precisely zero effect on the numbers of, for example, Pakistani Muslims coming to live and work in the country. (It might even lead to an increase, as if EU migrant numbers fall, certain sectors will still need a workforce, and many trade deals, such as the ones we hope to strike up with India and the Philippines, are dependent on visa quotas and/or free movement of labour.)
It’s true that under freedom of movement laws, any EU citizen can come and live in the UK, and many have chosen to do so; but even they are under restrictions. They can only claim benefits for a limited period, for example; they can be asked to leave if they do not find work within three months or otherwise have means to support themselves.
What’s more, EU law does not prevent us from deporting criminals from outside the UK. Anyone considered a sufficient threat can be chucked out, and those powers have been beefed up in recent years.
Why did the government not make more of an effort to reduce immigration? Because, along with just about every economist, it knows that immigration benefits the economy. Attracting the best minds from all over the world has a hugely positive effect on GDP.
“Immigrants are benefit scroungers.”
Bollocks. EU immigrants pay far more in tax than they take out in benefits. As I mentioned above, their access to welfare is limited. In fact, the proportion of UK natives claiming benefits is higher than the proportion of EU citizens doing the same.
“Immigrants are stealing all our jobs.”
Let’s gloss over the fact that this assertion totally contradicts the last one. Immigration is not a zero-sum game; the number of jobs to go round is not fixed. The more people come into the country and earn and pay taxes and spend, the more jobs get created. It’s no coincidence that two of the most migrated-to countries in the world, the United States and the United Kingdom, are also two of the richest; or that the most insular — North Korea, Cuba, Somalia — rank among the poorest.
By way of illustration, unemployment in the UK, now host to more immigrants than at any point in its history, is at an all-time low.
“Immigrants are driving down wages.”
The data is not conclusive, but on the whole, this seems to be a myth. One study found that large-scale immigration can exert a slight downward pressure on pay in certain sectors, but most think the impact is negligible. For the most part, what’s kept workers’ salaries down in recent years is spiralling executive pay, rising rents, and the economic crash of 2008.
“Immigrants put a strain on social services.”
The great majority of immigrants — from all countries, not just the EU — are young, healthy net contributors to the economy. If services are under strain in certain areas, that’s the government’s (or the local council’s) fault, not the immigrants’ (and it certainly has naff all to do with the EU).
In any case, given that so many immigrants work in the very social services they are allegedly destroying, our infrastructure would be a lot shakier without them than it is with, as we are seeing with the mass exodus of EU nurses and doctors from the NHS.
“Those Syrians aren’t refugees, they’re economic migrants.”
Really? They’ve abandoned their home country and everyone they love, given their life savings to people traffickers, risked death several times over and lived in a filthy camp for months, just so that they can claim £60 a week? Isn’t it more likely that their homes have been turned into warzones and their loved ones have been killed, or they’ve been the victims of religious persecution, and that their only choice, if they want to live any sort of worthwhile life, is for a fresh start in another country?
“Why don’t the ‘refugees’ stop in Saudi Arabia?”
Many do. The reason official statistics list Saudi Arabia as having taken zero refugees from Syria is that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE never signed up to any UN protocols on refugees. Ergo, it has a different classification system: anyone from a nearby state who turns up seeking a haven in Saudi is not registered as a refugee, but as an “Arab brother or sister in distress”. It’s estimated that around 500,000 such distressed siblings from Syria are currently benefiting from Saudi hospitality.
“Why don’t they stop in Poland or Germany or France?”
Again, lots of them do, but not many of them speak Polish or German or French. One of the side-effects of being a great commercial and cultural power is that a lot of people abroad learn your language, and it just so happens that English is the most widely spoken European language in many parts of the Middle East. Furthermore, some of the refugees have friends or family already in the UK, so it makes sense for them to head somewhere they have contacts and support.
“All the refugees from the Middle East are men of fighting age.”
In a bid to stoke up fears of terrorist infiltration, or of “white genocide”, the far right are for ever banging this drum: “If all these people trying to get into the country are genuine refugees, why are they all young and male?”
They’re not. According to UN figures, 50.5% of all refugees worldwide are women, and a further 17% are aged under 18. Males aged from 18 to 59 make up just 22% of all refugees worldwide.
It’s true that a higher percentage of recent refugees from the Middle East to Europe appear to be male; a UNHCR report estimated that 72% of the 400,000 people known to have crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 were male. But this isn’t so sinister when you think about it for a second. How many children, women and old people do you think could survive that perilous crossing, a walk of thousands of miles, and countless nights without shelter and food?
It’s also worth remembering that because of the lower life expectancy, a higher proportion of Syrians are young males. The average age of a man in the UK, with its relative peace and prosperity, is 39.3. The median in Syria is 23.7.
“Mohammed was a paedophile.”
According to the Qu’ran, when he was in his 50s, the Prophet married a nine-year-old girl. Extremist rightwingers take inordinate glee in repeating this point at every opportunity, using it as “proof” that Islam is a corrupt and evil religion.
First, debate is still raging among Muslim scholars about the actual facts behind this story. Mohammed certainly seems to have been betrothed to a girl, but no one knows when the relationship was consummated.
Second, this is seventh-century Arabia we’re talking about. Times were different. Puberty was regarded as the onset of female adulthood. Marriage to, and sexual intercourse with, young girls were commonplace — and not just in the Middle East. Here are a few examples of other historical figures who are believed to have had what would today be considered improper associations:
- Joseph, “stepfather” of Jesus (married Mary when she was 12)
- St Augustine, father of the Christian church (betrothed to a 10-year-old girl)
- Edward I (his bride, Eleanor of Castile, was eight, according to Britannica)
- Isaac II Angelus, Byzantine emperor (took a nine-year-old wife)
- Richard II (married his second wife, Isabella of Valois, when she was seven)
- Giralomo Riario, Lord of Imola (took a 10-year-old wife)
- Thomas Jefferson (strong evidence that he had a relationship with an underage slave)
- Even in the modern era, we have Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13-year-old cousin, Elvis Presley dating a 14-year-old Priscilla, and Bill Wyman preying on the 13-year-old Mandy Smith. As recently as 1984, the Paedophile Information Exchange was an active campaigning group in the UK. Times change. You can’t judge yesterday’s men by today’s standards.
“Islam is a religion of hate.”
Trust me, if Islam were a religion of hate, and all 1.6 billion of its adherents were hellbent on destroying western society, I would not be here to write this, nor you there to read it. Most respected estimates put worldwide membership of jihadi groups at about 100,000. That’s 0.006% of the Muslim population. Almost all of them are in their native lands or nearby, and the battle with Isis in Syria and Iraq will have put a dent in that figure.
For the record, the vast majority of liberals hate those evil bastards just as much as the far right do. We just don’t want to tar the 99.994% with the same brush.
“Muslamic rape gangs!”
A proportion of men commit sex crimes, and Muslims are no different. But some high-profile cases, such as the Rotherham child abuse scandal, which involved abuse on a huge scale from the late 1980s to the early 2010s, have given fascists plenty of ammunition for their anti-Islam smear campaign.
True, the proportion of Muslims in UK jails (15%) is higher than in the civilian population (4%), but that corresponds almost exactly to the profile for black people (12% versus 3%). Muslims are more likely to go to prison largely because they’re statistically more likely to be from poor areas with higher crime rates, and they’re more likely to be stopped and searched. The authorities may have turned a blind eye to wrongdoing in Rotherham, but the wider pattern, it seems, is one of racism as usual.
It’s also probably worth a reminder at this point that a lot of the stories of rapes of white women by Muslims are either exaggerated, endlessly repeated to make them seem more common, or just plain made up.
The fact remains that most sex offenders, by a huge margin, are white men. And no one is proposing to deport all white men.
“Hillary Clinton took part in ritual sacrifices and ran a paedophile ring from a pizza parlour.”
There is literally no evidence to back up this ridiculous assertion. If there were, Donald Trump would have been able to follow through on his promise to “lock her up”.
Mistakes were undoubtedly made in the run-up to the attack on the US embassy in Libya, but a hearing at the House of Representatives in October 2015 largely cleared then secretary of state Hillary Clinton of any direct responsibility for the tragedy.
Next time you catch anyone trotting out any of this guff, don’t waste time Googling and copy-and-pasting. Just reply “BS” and paste a link to this page.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few out, and that more will crop up. Please chip in if you have any far-right bollocks you’d like debunked — I’ll keep this updated, and maybe, if I get enough time, some day turn it into a wiki.