Thinking Your Way Through a Labyrinth of Contemporary Issues
Anger at a particular issue is usually understandable. The need for passion and anger in all walks of life is necessary and politics exemplifies a need for that ‘positive anger’. Yet recently particular forms of anger and passion have become an increasingly unhelpful contribution where the Left are concerned particularly in a media frenzied world. There are tiresome arguments about the way the media portrays a particular incident and thus the public make up their mind based on what they see.
The graffiti on the war memorial in London after the Conservative party victory has now given the Right Wing media a field day in Left Wing bashing. ‘F**k Tory scum’ written on a war memorial is rather unhelpful, the predisposition may be welcomed in the mind but the mind only. It is true that numerous people with distributive intentions regularly intervene in protests and this does tar people with the same brush. The problem however cannot be confined to such an argument.
When Margaret Thatcher died there were countless posts on social media and celebrations in the street of her death. While this is legally permissible (and so it should be for the right to freedom of speech) this did nothing to help the Left Wing cause. Not only did it reinforce the positions of the Right Wing (socialist scum was often reverted to in the media and elsewhere) but even myself being Left Wing was disturbed with the over dramatic displays of gladness from Margaret Thatchers death.
Regardless of what you make of the argument above it cannot be ignored that violent and thuggish behavior helps nobody. Equally being unwilling to even listen to another viewpoint is extremely unhelpful. Two examples both exemplify this point. The first being the video where a women is shouting at Nigel Farage in the audience on Question Time. This persons behavior is disgraceful and unhelpful in allowing debate to flow.
The second as mentioned is the unwillingness of the Left (as well as Right at times) to even listen to another viewpoint. The infamous video of Nick Griffin on Question Time exemplifies this point. Whilst there is rightfully little room for the BNP and other extreme vile groups in society we must hear their points of view nonetheless for the benefit of a healthy Democratic society. On Question Time Nick Griffin was given very little opportunity to explain his viewpoint and causing controversy for viewing purposes became the aim of the host – David Dimbleby. There is as mentioned very little room for these extreme points of view whether Right or Left Wing but being welcomed to speak on a panel is something that should be granted for any person and peaceful protesting is very different from a torrent of abuse, though to some peaceful protesting gets mixed up with abuse.
David Petraeus who took up a job working at City University of New York has also has been on the receiving end of abuse for the Iraq war he was involved in via an apparently ‘peaceful protest’ seen in this video. The shouting and abuse from students in the video demonstrates the point once again that the aggressive verbal nature disguised behind protest does not do any justice for a protesters cause. In fact on occasions sympathy may begin to lie with the very cause or person that people are protesting about in the first place. Any reasonable person would protest in a way that has no association with aggressive behavior. When Tony Blair asked to shake hands with the Father of a soldier killed in the Iraq war, the Father Peter Brierley refused stating ‘You have blood on your hands’. This was a more than reasonable response from someone who had one of the greatest reasons to show an aggressive attitude. Yet he did not and for that he must be condoned.
The Left Wing media also have a responsibility to ensure that they are not giving ammunition to the Right Wing viewpoint. Bryony Gordon said in the Telegraph:
The thoughtless tweet by Laurie Penny is perhaps doing more to shape arguments of the Right Wing media and give ammunition to those trying to maintain the Right Wing world-view. Undermining the cause of the Left is increasingly becoming something that is being helped by the very people who are in fact Left Wing.
The EDL and the Anti Fascists in Britain have regularly clashed in the past, yet to even the most open minded person alive, all that appears are two groups demonstrating thuggish behavior. The media can certainly overplay and discredit peaceful demonstrations but behavior like that mentioned and through this article can undermine the greatest of causes. Minimizing the media’s attempts to whitewash a protest or point of view must be the goal the Left Wing as it attempts to get it’s point of view across. Returning to civil disobedience models and moving towards a more peaceful approach must be the goal of those on the Left wishing to change the establishment.
(Oliver Wilson, 2015)