In a recent piece on Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for a post-Brexit custom union, the editors of The Guardian praise the Labour leader for a plan ‘smarter and less fantastical’ than that of his Tory counterparts, whom they accuse of peddling ‘fiction’ and ‘fallacy’. It is encouraging to see Guardian highlight the need for Brexit to be discussed pragmatically and with factual accuracy. Unfortunately the concern does not appear to extend to their own journalism, which frequently contains contradictions, illiteracies, fictions, and fallacies.
I don’t object to a newspaper having a policy: I use The Guardian as an additional source and I welcome the intellectual accountability that comes from true critical thinking.
What I object to The Guardian’s hypocrisy. It criticises Brexiteers as stupid and characterises its own reporting as intellectual, while providing a platform for the most asinine anti-Brexit arguments.
The Guardian has been the uncritical channel for Brexit-bashers such as Tony Blair, Lord Adonis, and Eloise Todd – the chief of a campaign for a second referendum (“Best for Britain”), which is funded by George Soros, the Greek billionaire, whose intervention was endorsed by The Guardian’s editors.
The arguments put forward by these figures within Guardian pages are far from pragmatic, nor are they rigorous in ensuring accuracy. Let us take as a particular example a recent opinion by the Guardian’s associate editor (Martin Kettle). His explicit message was: “Brexit is stupid,” or, in the quote of his anonymous Canadian friend, “the stoopidest”. Kettle admired this sentiment, noting that the “accent made it [e]specially eloquent and damning”.
Kettle’s evidence for “foreigners’ views of Britain” sums to three people of his own selection: one is this anonymous Canadian friend; another a German diplomat who told Theresa May live on stage at the recent European security conference that Brexit is “highly regrettable”; the third is an assistant editor of the Irish Times.
For Kettle these “three people…know Britain’s oddities…all three are right. They get it. And they speak for the overwhelming majority of the rest of the world.”
So Kettle starts with a motivated bias, selects sources to fit his bias, interprets them to confirm his biases, misrepresents his sources as representative of almost everybody in the world, and proposes things as true without evidence. Hardly rigorous, intellectual journalism.
He then attacks the English in ways that his own newspaper would report as “hate speech” and “racism” if seen in another newspaper and if the targets were anything other than English. According to Kettle, his Irish source “gets it that Brexit is mainly about the English. Things such as being allowed to win penalty shootouts, compelling Spanish-language atlases to call Malvinas the Falklands, and sending children up chimneys…Brexit is an act of English self-love.”
Apparently, therefore, 50 million people can be written off as rule-breakers, cultural imperialists, child exploiters, and narcissists.
Kettle is too busy insulting the majority of Britons to acknowledge their arguments. Having repeatedly characterized Brexiteers as stupid, Kettle admits the “so-called brains for Brexit” (actually, they launched as “Briefings for Brexit”) “are worthy of serious respect. Some of what they say is genuinely worth considering, as alternative views always are. But these things don’t make them right.” That’s where his direct engagement ends.
Then there’s Kettle’s facile discussion of the Irish question , during which he claims that “there can be no hard Brexit without a border in Ireland.” Britain has maintained a border with Ireland since the creation of the Republic. Presumably the proposition was meant as: “there can be no hard Brexit without a hard border with Ireland.”
To characterize borders as either hard or soft is ignorant of the spectrum; and Britain can have both free trade and secure borders, like most of the world.
His hyperbolic conclusion to all this claims that Brexit is a challenge to the “rules-based order…liberal democracy…rights, freedom, openness and coexistence.” Thus, for Kettle, “Brexit must be softened and eventually reversed”.
In this article, and in so many others, The Guardianindulges arguments which arebiased, fallacious, prejudicial, partisan, dismissive, illiterate, ignorant, insulting to our intelligence, pseudo-intellectual, hypocritical, and – worst of all – hypocritically stupid.
AUTHOR: Bruce Oliver Newsome, Ph.D., Lecturer in International Relations, University of California Berkeley
TWITTER ID: @bruce_newsome