Guardian series on “Racism in a digital age” indicative of the media group’s hierarchy of victims

The Guardian recently launched a series of essays at ‘Comment is Free’ titled Racism in a digital age“.  

The objective of the series is as follows:

“The aim of this series is to explore the changing nature of racism and racist politics, particularly as it relates to online behaviour. Racism continues to dominate the headlines, from the rise of the far right to the status of racial abuse on social media. Nevertheless, not only is the nature and impact of racism disputed, the very idea of racism is contested. This series of articles will investigate these disputes. What is recognised as racism and, in diverse and unequal societies, who gets to decide?”

Here are the essays published since the launch of the series on July 8th:

Here is a very brief textual and thematic analysis of the 10 essays, which encompass nearly 7,000 words:

  • Use of the words “Muslim”, “Islam”, “Islamophobia” etc.: (87).  Essays in the series which primarily focused primarily on anti-Muslim bigotry: (5) 
  • Use of the word “Black” or term “people of color” (19). Essays in the series which primarily focused on anti-black racism: (3) 
  • Use of the words “gay”, “homophobe”/”homophobia”, etc.: (16). Essays in the series which focused primarily on bigotry against gays: (1) 
  • Use of the words “Jew”, “antisemite”/”antisemitic”, etc.: (10).   Essays in the series which focused primarily on bigotry against Jews: (0)

Is the fact that a Guardian series about bigotry disproportionately focuses on anti-Muslim racism, and all but ignores anti-Jewish racism insignificant?


The greater context pertains to a dynamic at the Guardian we’re continually commenting on: The media group’s silence in the face of Muslim antisemitism, in the Palestinian territories and the wider Muslim and Arab world, and their corresponding moral sympathy towards Islamists with decidedly reactionary agendas.

Here are a few examples:

So why does the Guardian choose not to see Islamist antisemitism and how can it continue to frame adherents to such dangerous movements as victims and protagonists?

It almost seems as if Guardian editors fear that even accurate characterizations of racist or intolerant Muslims are manifestations of Islamophobia.

Indeed, Jonathan Freedland, in his contribution to CiF’s series on racism, which focused primarily on anti-Muslim bigotry, wrote the following:

“…we should call [blatant examples of Islamophobia] by its name: it is racism, of the crudest kind. [But] subtler [forms of Islamophobia]…can be confusing, because they often dress up in progressive, Guardian-friendly garb – slamming Islam as oppressive of gay and women’s rights, for example – but the thick layer of bigotry is visible all the same. Call it progressives’ prejudice.” [emphasis added]

While Freedland didn’t cite ‘slamming Muslims as antisemitic’ as an example of progressives’ anti-Muslim racism, a clue into his thinking on the subject can found in an expansive essay he wrote about the persistence of antisemitism in the world, in 2011, titled “Antisemitism: the hatred that refuses to go away“.

In an ambitious, serious meditation on “the world’s oldest hatred” Freedland failed to mention where such Judeophobic invectives enjoy the most fertile ideological ground and most hospitable political climate, where the most vile and ingrained anti-Semitism is not considered aberrant: The Arab and Muslim world.

As I’ve noted previously, polls of Muslim countries in the Middle East clearly demonstrate that animosity towards Jews (not merely Israel) often exceed a staggering 95% of the population – based on empirical data compiled by one of the more credible global polling organizations.

Historian Robert Wistrich, Director of the International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, has argued:

“The scale and extremism of the literature and commentary available in Arab or Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, on Islamist websites, on the Middle Eastern radio and TV news, in documentaries, films, and educational materials, is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst.”

Indeed, unlike in previous eras where decent people could reasonably have claimed ignorance about antisemitic attitudes, it is incomprehensible, in an era of the internet and mass communications (and with sites which consistently document such racism), how anyone can seriously argue that they are unaware of the extent to which this malignant animosity towards Jews dominates the public discourse in places like Cairo, Damascus, Amman, Islamabad, Riyadh, Tehran and Ramallah.

Jonathan Freedland and his colleagues at the Guardian seem to possess something of an ideological aversion to honestly confronting and exposing Muslim antisemitism.

As the epicenter of  of anti-Jewish racism in the world has certainly migrated since WWII from Christian Europe to the Muslim Middle East, the Guardian’s Left’s hierarchy of victims seems to prevent an honest assessment of this disturbing dynamic.

Of course, anti-Muslim racism is never justified.

But, neither is it ever acceptable to bury, ignore, or otherwise refuse to confront painful and politically inconvenient truths about Muslim culpability in perpetuating hatred and intolerance.

Such moral abdication in the face of racism is cowardly for sure, but, as history has clearly demonstrated, also supremely dangerous.

19 replies »

  1. The Guardian takes virtually no time to check facts, it just prints bigoted pro Muslim crap. It is an anti Jewish publication, which has managed to be successful through stealth.

    • It is an anti Jewish publication

      Yeah right. An “anti Jewish publication” that has plenty of Jewish writers and also has its own Jewish podcast!

      The question is: do you and the people recommending the above genuinely believe this nonsense?

      • Pretzel: “Do you people genuinely believe this nonsense?”

        Yes, we do old bean, and here’s why:

        The Guardian has a partisan, anti-Israeli agenda that whitewashes one of the main causes of this conflict: Arab nationalism / fascism in the shape of the old Ba’athist model, and anti-Semitic Islamism, both of which take an eliminationist view of Israel specifically and Jews generally. Both have, and continue to use Nazi-style anti-Semitic tropes, libels and myths.

        None of which is exposed or condemned by the Guardian, which pretends it doesn’t exist to fit its cosy ‘enlightened’ agenda on the world.

        The Guardian takes a proud position as an enemy of Israel, injects anti-Semitic invective into the mainstream by endorsing ‘sugar-coated’ propaganda pieces for Hamas, or vilifying Israel as criminal and bloodthirsty through lies like the Jenin massacre, and as such, the paper has positioned itself with the most intractable enemies of the largest, most important and most representative Jewish collective that exists in the world today: The state of Israel.

        In short, the Guardian is anti-Semitic, probably in the same way as traditional anti-Semites like Hungary’s Admiral Horthy, who could distinguish, just like our dear old Rudsbridger, the difference between the ‘good’ / ‘useful’ / (anti-Zionist) Jews and the ‘bad’ ones. (All the rest).

        • The Guardian takes a proud position as an enemy of Israel

          Only if you believe that the West Bank belongs to Israel. Seemingly you do.

          … injects anti-Semitic invective into the mainstream

          It does nothing of the kind.

          OK. You don’t like the G.’s criticism of Israel and the settlements.
          But nowhere has it called Israel “bloodthirsty”. That’s a plain lie.

          So despite the G. having plenty of Jewish writers and having a Jewish podcast, you would have others believe that it is an “anti Jewish publication”.

          If you genuinely believe that, then I feel sorry for you. If you don’t, then you consciously spreading lies.

          • Pretzel. You don’t know my views on the West Bank. You make an assumption to fit your own prejudices.

            The lie in this case, was the Guardian lapping up anti-Israeli propaganda to spread rumours as fact, that the Israelis had massacred hundreds of innnocent civilians in Jenin. And why would it accept unsubstantiated rumours? Because it fits their perception of Israel as criminal and bloodthirsty.

            You ignore, as an inconvenient truth, the whitewashing by the Guardian of the eliminationist anti-Semitism that it pretends does not exist amongst its friends in the Middle East.

            • The lie in this case is that the G. is an “anti Jewish publication”.

              What kind of perverted world do people live in to believe such nonsense?

              Why not just challenge this preposterous claim?

                • Do you always call people who disagree with you “liars”?

                  Or is that so only when it comes to Israel?

                  p.s. On a lighter note, your Germanicisms are entertaining.

                  • Thanks, you are invited to correct me, as I began to use English in written form last year after more than twenty years without using it.

              • How do you know dubi whether the Guardian is anti-Jewish or not? According to yourself on a previous thread you never read it. If you lie then the minimum is to remember your lies.

  2. Islam is not a race, it is a set of ideas. Legitimate criticism of those ideas is not Islamophobic. There are those who would like us to believe that it is, and Guardian helps them to advance that agenda. The term itself is an artificial construct and used, in the main, to manipulate western liberal guilt, i.e., that all and any criticism or questioning of Islamic ideas and practices is ipso facto racism against a Muslim who may be advancing those ideas. But legitimate questioning of ideas and beliefs is what makes the West the West. Racism is hatred of someone for their race. Hatred of foreigners is xenophobic. Criticism of racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and the like is legitimate, even when its practitioners are Muslim (or members of any other group that advances such human maladies as virtues). Nor is it Islamophobic to criticize those who use the Koran to sanction such practices and beliefs. That’s fair game for criticism, and it’s what Islam is most criticized for, not an adherent’s particular skin color.

    • Jeff:

      “Islam is not a race, it is a set of ideas. ”
      It is a religion.

      Judaism on the other hand is more than a religion to most Jewish people.
      It is a nationality.

      Saying that, some of the Jewish nationals would not approve modern state of Israel as representing them.

      Some people argue you can apply the same about Islam using the Uma as an example.

      It can be viewed one way or the other.

    • Legitimate criticism of those ideas is not Islamophobic.

      I agree with that and much of the rest of your comment.

      But it cannot be denied that there are a lot of bigots out there on the Web who slander Muslims merely on the account of their religion.

      That said: any claims (and there are many) that said prejudice is reminiscent of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s are absolutely preposterous.

  3. Berchmans explained it in a post yesterday.

    He thinks the Muslims are being bullied, and he stands up for the victims of bullying.

    Flawed perceptions and an imperfect view of the world informing a childish outlook

  4. There are bullies and there are victims of bullies. There are antisemites and there are Jews.

    I wonder how it is that bullies and antisemites ( or just outsiders ) can ever really know what it feels like to be a victim. The Guardian and its partisan readership, for all their protestations, are like the blind leading the blind.

    First the religious fanatics came for Salman Rushdie and many Guardian readers did nothing except make excuses for the fanatics. Then they came for the Zionists, and the Guardianistas jumped on the bandwaggon, making excuses for the Arab terrorists. Then came Osama bin Laden, and the Guardian readers made excuses yet again blaming the USA.

    Who will stand up for the Guardianistas if freedom dies?

    • Bullies CAN be victims too, and often are. The big boy in the playground is often the one who is beaten by his parents at home (have you never seen Porky’s?). It is far to simplistic to say that if you have ever been one, you are incapable of being the other. To put it simply – the spider may seem to be a bully if you are a fly, but it is just a tasty snack if you are a bird.

      In the case of I/P it can’t be denied that there have been wrongs committed by/suffered by people on both sides of the conflict, and there is no point in trying to set out a facile “Israel good Palestine bad” agenda – nor indeed the opposite, as so many on CiF and other places seem to do.

      On topic, I have no doubt islamophobia exists and that it should be exposed (by the Guardian as much as anyone else) and eliminated but, it is also true to say that the playing of that “card” is open to abuse by people trying to make themselves immune from justified criticism.

      I am reminded of certain people on this site who jump up and down citing sexism every time a Harriet Sherwood is fisked.

  5. I am reminded of Dalrymple’s excellent post

    My main criticism with the Guardian is that it seems to side with those it perceives as being least able to represent themselves. For example there are numerous articles about racism and the plight of black people in the Uk, though never anything similar about east Asians or Orientals. I fear they do the same with the middle east situation