Two headlines from the same news-paper, less than three weeks apart. So, the Guardian on 31 July: ‘The Guardian view on delaying elections: it’s what autocrats do.’ This was in response to a suggestion from the US President that the elections might need to be delayed on account of Covid. And then on 17 August: ‘By delaying the New Zealand election, Jacinda Ardern appears magnanimous and conciliatory.’ This was in response to the New Zealand Prime Minister postponing the elections on account of Covid.
The only rational response to this fairly typical piece of doublethink is that the Guardian likes Jacinda Ardern whereas it does not like Donald Trump. I am not sure why they like Ardern: she seems to me a simpering fraud and almost as irritating as the Canadian black-facer Justin Trudeau, but each to their own, I suppose. The woman recently reimposed lockdown on Auckland, despite the country’s much-heralded defeat of Covid, but she seems to have received no international criticism, or even very much criticism at home. She gets no flak for anything she does, much like that Swedish doom goblin who bestrode the planet hectoring everyone, before lockdown mercifully put a stop to her wanderings.
Anyway, in much the same way, nobody seemed terribly pleased by the fact that Trump also managed to secure a normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, perhaps the first genuine step forward in that scorched and benighted area of the world since Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 — or perhaps before, with the Egypt-Israel treaty of 1979, for which Nobel Peace Prizes were handed out. Nobody is mentioning that Trump might be awarded the prize, because the possibility simply doesn’t exist. Barack Obama got one for having done nothing whatsoever. Trump, meanwhile, could convince Hamas to recognise the state of Israel, hold properly democratic elections in Palestine and usher in a series of laws protecting gays, women and infidels from the wilder excesses of Islamist fervour, and he would still miss out because the liberal West considers him a racist and crypto-fascist and nothing he does will alter that perception. The next prize will probably go to the doom goblin or the NHS or something.
Or perhaps to Alicia Garza, one of the founders of the insane organisation Black Lives Matter. Certainly BLM should receive the Antonio Gramsci Award for Most Rapid March Through The Institutions. I can just about call the organisation ‘insane’ today, but six weeks ago it would not have been possible in the mainstream media. It would have been struck out of any newspaper or magazine. Back then it was not possible, either, to suggest that the armed robber George Floyd was anything other than a hugely peaceable chap whose fight against injustice ranked alongside those of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. Our institutions jumped aboard the holier-than-thou newly woke bandwagon and even minor criticisms of BLM could end with a sacking. (And it is not so long ago that people were sacked for saying ‘All lives matter’.)
Around the same time, if I remember rightly, Yorkshire Tea tried to prevent someone from buying its product because she tweeted that she didn’t sign up to the BLM manifesto. Spineless, frit, desperately stupid, and above all anxious to show off their progressive credentials, corporations and public bodies took collective leave of their senses and punished anyone who dared to transgress. As Brendan O’Neill put it, this was a chilling time for democracy — the more so because none of those institutions or corporations actually agreed with BLM about almost anything.
Best of all, when football resumed behind closed doors, the Premier League, the Football Association and the English Football League backed teams, commentators and pundits wearing BLM badges and players ‘taking the knee’ in support of this absurd, extremist organisation and its aims. Those aims include, of course, the abolition of capitalism — an economic system which previously the Premier League, in particular, had seemed to hold in a certain warm affection. As time progressed, the mono-mania subsided a little. I am delighted to say that Millwall and Middlesbrough, my two favourite teams, were the first to not take the knee before a game.
We rightly worry when our institutions become captured like this. We may even begin to suspect that perhaps we have got it wrong, given the apparent unanimity with which everyone else is genuflecting to the patently risible. But lockdown was a strange time, even if I found it more pleasant than that old former life. For example, those football matches had no fans in attendance. It would have been interesting to have been at Millwall’s New Den with the 14,000 regulars to see how everyone responded to the taking the knee obsequies in that first game after lockdown. But we were barred. A clue comes from Major League Soccer in the USA where in the Dallas vs Nashville game, the first among paying spectators, the taking-the-knee business was roundly booed. So it will be by many, I reckon, when our football fans are allowed back from 1 October. Try it at the New Den and see what happens.
And this is the one cheering factor of the whole hideous charade: the public simply does not buy into this stuff. It is at best uninterested and at worst hugely averse. Our institutions may have enormous power, but they do not have hegemony. They do not carry with them the people who pay for their existences. They float above, virtue-signalling, believing that we respect them for this self-serving obeisance. But we do not, in general. We think them gullible idiots, and we are right.