Well, beat me, guv! I didn’t know I wasn’t a patriot. I don’t hate the Queen, mind you (although I am a fan of the band), but I couldn’t give a toss about ma’am either. I am an atheist, so religion ain’t my cuppa tea either. As for the army, I consider myself a pacifist, although I would go to war to defend a country’s right to self-sovereignty. For instance, if that country were the UK and our democracy were under threat. Same with my country of origin, even though I don’t agree with the Castro government I would die to defend the land where I was born.
So, am I a patriot or not? I have loved and supported the British way of life since I arrived on these shores many years ago. At the same time I believe that no country is above criticism. I might not use a past-its-use-by-date theory like Marxism to express my views, but I do, too, have a social conscience and want a better future for the people who live in Great Britain.
|Ralph Milliband: not patriotic enough according to The Daily Hate|
If you live in the UK, you will probably have borne witness this week to the furore caused by The Daily Hate’s decision to smear Ed Milliband’s father with what can only be labelled “distorted views”, otherwise known as “lies”. Under the umbrella of free speech, the paper laid into Ralph Milliband, saying that the late academic "hated Britain" and going as far as to making him look as if he agreed with Stalin’s excesses.
Fortunately for Ed Milliband, most people sided with him. An apology was demanded from The Daily Hate immediately. Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, showed solidarity with Ed as well. The former actually said that “"if anyone had a go at my father, I would want to respond vigorously".
The problem with The Daily Hate is that it is frozen in a time-warp. A time, perhaps, when there were no single mothers, gays, immigrants and working class people in Britain, or in England, which is how The Daily Hate usually sees the United Kingdom. Immigrants, single mothers and homosexuals are the usual targets of The Daily Hate, amongst many others. The problem with The Daily Hate, to sum up, is that it has not realised, or it hasn’t wanted to realise that Britain has changed beyond recognition. On my arrival here my first impression was how different the country of my lectures in university was from the one on whose soil I was setting foot.
If someone hates the UK, it is not a long-deceased Jewish immigrant. Ralph Milliband's ideas about social and economic justice were drawn from a long-standing tradition of British liberalism. The Chartists, the suffragettes, the miners in the 80s, the Levellers. They all represented Britain somehow. They also represented the promise of a better future for Britain. By contrast The Daily Hate is never short of articles to run about what they see as the poor state in which this country is. If someone hates the UK, it’s The Daily Hate. This is the same newspaper that allied itself to Oswald Mosley’s infamous fascist blackshirts. This is the same newspaper whose owner not only appeased Hitler but also admired him as well as looking up to Mussolini. The Daily Hate does not represent the views of most British people anymore than football hooligans symbolise British football.
That’s why I am doing my bit for this country. This country that is not perfect but which I have grown to love over the years, warts and all. This is the country that gave me the person I have loved for seventeen years and where the two other people I love equally - my children - were born. I may not be British by birth, but I feel as British as I am Cuban. Taking a cue from Mehdi Hassan's outstanding performance on Question Time the other night I will be fighting The Daily Hate where it hurts it more. Sales. Like Mehdi, I think enough is enough. He was right when he said that we needed a “debate about who hates Britain more, it isn't a dead Jewish refugee from Belgium who served in the Royal Navy, it's the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, Muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail." Starting today, every time I walk into a newsagents or news outlet I will take whatever copies they have of The Daily Hate and place them under another newspaper. It could be The Independent, or The Guardian (that’ll probably make Paul Dacre, The Daily Hate’s editor, very, very cross), or The Times or even The Daily Telegraph. I ask you to join me.
This is not just about Ralph Milliband, or Marxism, or a reporter (from The Hate on Sunday) gate-crashing a private memorial service for a relative of Ed Milliband’s and trying to gather yet more information on his father. This is about what I believe Britain, my adopted land, in the 21st century stands for: diversity, acceptance and fairness. Moreover, this is not about readers of The Daily Hate. Obviously, trying to find their paper under any of the other big piles of publications might be a tad bit inconvenient. I apologise beforehand. They could, however, take their complaints to Paul Dacre and Geordie Greig, the editors of The Daily Hate and The Hate on Sunday respectively. I know that in the grand scheme of things my initiative will not unleash a revolution. It's a small act of rebellion. But sometimes we need to stand up to bullies, no matter how small our actions can be. Besides, I am one today, you, reader or fellow blogger, are another. Tomorrow there will be others and before we know it, together, we might have caused a dent in The Daily Hate's sales.This is our Cable Street moment. Let’s smash the fascists, let’s show The Daily Hate what we’re made of.
Next Post: “Let’s Talk About...”, to be published on Wednesday 9th October at 11:59pm (GMT)