Nick Cohen

Jeremy Clarkson and the Political Correctness of the Right

Jeremy Clarkson and the Political Correctness of the Right
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One of the many delusions of the Right is the myth of conservative robustness. Conservatives don’t play the victim card, they say. They tell it like it is, and don't care who knows it. They stand on their own two feet, and take it on the chin. They have guts and backbone too.

It’s easy to mock the anatomical clichés, but middle-class leftists should worry. Millions of people are about to vote for Ukip, in part because they resent a modern version of Victorian prudery that has stopped robust debate, and allowed sharp-eared heresy hunters to patrol the nation’s language.

If fellow citizens are prejudiced, then there is indeed a case for fighting them. But most people resent political correctness, not because they want to criminalise homosexuality or send women back to the kitchen, but because of the trickery that comes with it.

The politically correct damn you for raising your voice to ask relevant questions. Wonder if, for instance, the pay gap can be explained by women taking career breaks for child birth, and the facts are pushed aside and you are a sexist. Your critics turn a wider truth – that misogyny still flourishes – into a reason to suppress specific arguments.

Their condemnations reek of conspiracy theory. You are only raising this subject because you are sexist/racist/homophobic. Your supposedly honest inquiries and relevant questions are not what they seem. They are masks that hide your true motives.

The pervasive cult of victimhood completes this sanctimonious trinity. The put upon and discriminated are survivors of abuse. You cannot expect them to engage in vigorous argument or accept the consequences of their actions, but must treat them as children instead. If you do not, your cruelty reinforces the case for the prosecution.

The desire to play the victim and divert attention is hardly confined to the Left. Match-fixers  can be found across the board, as the supposedly robust British Right are demonstrating to excess in their wails about the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson.

The relevant facts are these. Clarkson turned on his producer because there wasn’t a hot dinner waiting for him at the crew’s hotel. (Today’s celebrities, like yesterday’s aristocrats, expect their servants to anticipate their every appetite.)

He called Oisin Tymon a “lazy, Irish c***”. The abuse went on for 20 minutes, according to witnesses. Clarkson couldn’t stop, couldn’t leave Tymon alone. Finally he attacked him, and split his lip with a punch that left the 36-year-old with blood running down his face and needing treatment in A&E. The BBC inquiry suggested that Clarkson would have kept on hitting him, if onlookers had not intervened.

Most people – well, most men anyway – would have let the matter rest if Tymon had smacked Clarkson back. They would have been square, and that would have been that. However strong my impulse would have been to hold his coat, how could Tymon throw a punch? He was the subordinate and Clarkson was the aristocratic star. Tymon was too low down the light entertainment hierarchy to think about defending himself. According to the BBC report, Clarkson left Tymon thinking his career was over and he had “lost his job,” as if it was he who had been at fault.

Forgive me. I realise I shouldn’t go on about mere facts. The last thing the right-on PC Right wants you to do is concentrate on what happened. Instead, its propagandists say you should dismiss the evidence and head off into conspiracy theory.

The dispute was a “fracas” says Rod Liddle of this parish. “Whatever the rights and wrongs” of  it, the real story is that the “liberal fascists” of the BBC wanted Clarkson out. Now I have always rubbed along well enough with Liddle. The next time I see him I’ll ask if he would ever dream of excusing a leftish celebrity if he had hit a subordinate with the same “whatever the rights and wrongs of it” reasoning.

Meanwhile Brendan O’Neill popped up to tell readers of the Telegraph that what Clarkson did to his producer was irrelevant. No one cares if bosses beat up workers, and Clarkson’s enemies were hiding their true motives. All they were concerned about was Clarkson’s right-wing politics.

The focus hasn’t been on what he allegedly [sic] did with his fists in that hotel, but on what he does with his brain and his mouth the rest of the time: agitate the PC; annoy the eco-friendly; spout values that we — as in that infinitesimally small number of people who work in politics and the media — consider to be toxic and wicked.

Notice how, like magicians manipulating their audiences, Clarkson’s defenders move your eye away from the scene of the crime.

Once again,  you mark yourself as prejudiced, if you concentrate on the evidence. But instead of being damned as a sexist, misogynist or racist, the Right will damn you as a “Guardianista” who inhabits “fashionable Shoreditch salons," as Richard Littlejohn put it in the Mail.

Once again, legitimate questions become masks that hide true motives. Once again a wider truth – there are liberals who could not stand Clarkson – is used to prevent discussion of a specific event.

And once again the politically correct invoke the cult of the sacred victim. Except this time the victim is Clarkson and all who love him. He was “too white, too male and too damned British” for the BBC according to the Mail.  White British men and everyone else who does not share the values of the “liberal fascists” are victims as well, because the fascists have ensured that their opinions will no longer be represented on BBC television.

Thus the infantilising left is matched by the infantilising right. No one on either side of the culture wars is responsible for their actions. They are the victims of a conspiracy by enemies with hidden agendas.

Can I say how pathetic I find this?

Ah, I find I can’t.

First I must issue a trigger warning.

Here it is.

Trigger Warning: This paragraph contains words and/or sentiments that survivors of Toryphobic abuse may find triggering.

You are a shower. You are a disgrace. You are girly men in big girls’ blouses. You are gutless, spineless, gaggle of hypocritical bed-wetting, comfort-blanket-hugging cry-babies. For God’s sake pull yourself together, and stop your bloody whining.

Written byNick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book.

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