Fear and Loathing in the UK

Jeremy-Corbyn-11_3328948k

Yesterday, voting for the new Labour leader came to an end. Tomorrow we should get the results. Today as I’m writing, we remember the horror of 9/11. There shouldn’t be any link between these events, other than their proximity to each other. However, thanks to a recent article by The Sun, there is. In yet another desperate bid to turn people against their own interests, Britain’s most read and most questionable newspaper published an article titled ‘Jeremy Cor-Bin Laden: His vile views on 9/11 boss’.

This article criticises Jeremy Corbyn for a comment made in 2011, regarding the assassination of Bin Laden, describing it as ‘yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy’. It is on this basis that ‘The Sun’ portrays Corbyn as an Anti-Semitic supporter of Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. It’s a reasonable article, if you ignore its failure to mention the rest of the quote at any point. Corbyn went on to say that ‘The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantánamo and Bagram. Can’t we learn some lessons from this? Are we just going to sink deeper and deeper? The next stage will be an attempted assassination of Gaddafi and so it will go on. This will just make the world more dangerous and worse and worse and worse’.

It’s embarrassing enough that The Sun sought to use a comment made by Corbyn four years ago regarding an event that occurred fourteen years ago to try to emotionally manipulate its readers, but on top of that, he was completely misquoted and misrepresented. If this was just an innocent mistake, the writer is clearly incompetent. If it was intentional, he is a manipulative liar that is guilty of abusing a position of power. Either way, he should not be the Sun’s Westminster Correspondent. Millions of people regularly read the newspaper and rely on it for information. So just imagine how much damage could be caused by a contributor so lacking in both ethics and principles, that he is prepared to sink as low as using 9/11 to influence public opinion on a potential leader of the Labour party. Contrary to the words of Former Tory Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, it is Harry Cole who should be ‘confined to the dustbin of political history’, not Jeremy Corbyn.

Admittedly, if Jeremy Corbyn had only said what The Sun has accused him of, it would be highly disconcerting. However, considering everything that he said, in context, he makes a compelling point. He wasn’t saying that Bin Laden deserved to live, he definitely wasn’t saying that he agreed with or in any way supported acts of terrorism. He was pointing out that if we set the precedent that it is okay to bypass the legal system it will give our governments the mandate they need to start employing violent methods more frequently, turning democracies into oppressive totalitarian states. Everyone should be entitled to certain basic human rights, such as the right to a fair trial, and the state should do its best to protect these. A government that willingly neglects such rights is just as dangerous as any terrorist, if not more so.

The fact that the country’s most read newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a man reputed for his dealings with the Conservative party, is able to produce such a biased and misleading article about a popular candidate for Labour’s leadership is, in itself, concerning. But even more worrying is its ability to vilify a man who seeks to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

We live in a world characterised by inequality and suffering. A recent Oxfam report found that in 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet. Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just 5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world.

Every day we see new stories, documenting the unnecessary human tragedy unfolding before our eyes. The families being forced into poverty because their benefits have been cut. The people being gunned down on the streets of America by the police. The people being executed by Islamic State militants. The refugees desperately trying to escape countries ravaged by war and find a better life. Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few politicians that actually seems to care about finding a solution. Despite this, a newspaper owned by a member of the 1% seeks to use the fear, hatred, suffering and memories evoked on a day like today to turn its reader against one of the few people who would fight for their interests.

No one is infallible, everything is subjective and all news is, to an extent, biased. This is an inevitable result of the limitations of human perception and our inability to consider anything from a position of true objectivity. However, there is a difference between this and the Sun’s blatant attempt to promote its divisive and harmful ideology. As I write, we remember an act borne from hatred and intolerance, we should remember to not succumb to it ourselves.

Will Sharman

Westminster & Economy

Sources:

http://www.nrs.co.uk/latest-results/titles-at-a-glance/quick-view/

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/31/jeremy-corbyn-said-osama-bin-laden-should-have-been-tried-not-killed

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6614682/Jeremy-Corbyn-calls-Osama-Bin-Ladens-death-a-tragedy.html

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