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Younge at Heart
Member Name: Valej
Date: 09/05/12, updated on 10/05/12 (22 review reads)
Advantages: You can't understand modern Britain without reading the Guardian
Disadvantages: Have a look at modern Britain
If you are a member of the Guardian-reading community, do you appreciate it as you should? Are you truly engaged in terms of issues around what makes this paper so outstanding vis-à-vis notions of fiercely committed, über-intelligent progressive journalism? Here's a little test. This is a sub-heading from a recent article by the Guardian journalist Gary Younge:
"Trayvon Martin's death is lifting the lid on the US's racist underbelly."
How did you react to that? Well, if you didn't laugh out loud, I'm afraid you don't appreciate the Guardian as you should. If you didn't spot the solecism either, I'm afraid you don't even appreciate the English language as you should. That sub-heading sums up what makes the Guardian so outstanding in terms of issues around semi-literate, pseudo-intellectual, self-righteous progressive politics. I also suspect a sub-editor was deliberately taking the pee of Mr Younge, who is famous for his mixed metaphors -- my favourite is probably the "kernel of a message" that took "centre stage" after black folk had been trying to "hammer it home for decades". Believe me, it is not easy to write as badly and thoughtlessly as that. Guardian journalists do it with ease, though few with the fluency and skill of Mr Younge. His article this time was about a murder in the US. Travyon Martin was a thirteen-year-old Black choirboy who was returning home from inventing a cure for cancer when he was set upon by fifteen neo-nazi skinheads with close links to the Republican party. The skinheads gang-raped the defenceless teen, tortured him with cattle-prods, then beat him to death with copies of Mein Kampf printed on paper made from non-sustainable rain-forest resources.
That's the way the Guardian would like it to have been, anyway. In fact, the death of Trayvon Martin is a bit more "nuanced" than that and not the simple story of evil white racism that the Guardian would like it to be. They've still tried to spin it in the right direction by using a photo of the victim that is three years out of date, to pretend that the victim was much younger and more innocent-looking than he really was. Lying in a righteous cause is no crime to Guardian journalists or to most Guardian-readers. But sometimes the Guardian does use accurate, up-to-date photographs that reflect an important reality. For example, there is a vile sexist myth that feminists are ugly, embittered, and over-weight. The Guardian demolishes this myth by publishing photos of its feminist columnists, who are revealed to be... Then there's Polly Toynbee, Queen of Compassion and Concern. She looks like a cross between Rosa Klebb and a phosphorescent ferret. Rosa Klebb is the blood-thirsty lesbian torturer in the James Bond book (and film) From Russia With Love. Polly isn't a lesbian and doesn't drink blood, to the best of my knowledge, but she does operate a torture chamber. For the English language. Here she is, merrily mixing her metaphors almost as skilfully as Gary Younge:
"Labour [is] still straddled between being a tarnished government and an insurgent opposition. But since the budget, blame for the past is receding; Tory finger-pointing is losing its poke. Labour's cautious tendency tugs back towards the centre-ground "where elections are won", but Bradford West shows over-caution has great dangers too. What's it to be: a fiscal straitjacket or a business-building, demand-stimulating, jobs-and-growth Keynesian answer to hyper-austerity? Some blend of the two is cooking ...[The Tories'] every step will be hobbled through to the next election, stifling any high-flown protestations of political virtue... The political establishment needs shock treatment from time to time: a whiff of revolution from riot or electoral rebellion gives Westminster a defibrillator jump..."
I repeat: it is not easy to write as badly as that. Try it sometime. Unless you're a member of the Guardian-inflected community yourself, you'd probably find it very difficult. But I'd be guilty of dishonest spin too if I pretended that all Guardian journalists write badly. No, I have to admit that some write well. Simon Hoggart writes well and is funny with it. I don't agree with many of George Monbiot's political views, but I do think he's a good writer. Catherine Bennett is much less well-known than Polly Toynbee, but a much better writer. She's rumoured to have been behind Norman Johnson, the "Free Radical" columnist who wrote a very funny (and clever) spoof of David Aaronovitch, the ex-communist, Iraq-war-supporting, former Guardian journalist whose conceit, deceit, and autophilia were viscerally skewered with clubs of acidic satire on a week-by-weekly basis. As Gary Younge might have put it.
Summary: The world's finest and most famous journal of progressive politics