Thursday 23 December 2010
Julie Burchill: You have to laugh when right-on icons turn out to have the moves of frat boys
Unlike those broads who live on that bit of the Venn diagram where smug socialites overlap with weirdos who campaign for murderers on Death Row, I don't know if Julian Assange is innocent or guilty of being a sex-pest. But I DO know that he is a wonderful thing in that he has given us an up-close-and-personal viewing of that rare bird, the Lefty Lothario, in all his tawdry glory.
"I like women from countries that have sustained political turmoil," he wrote. Ooo, what a catch! What did the Sex Pistols say about a cheap holiday in other people's misery? Sounds like Assange fancies a sex tourism trip in other people's turmoil, the scamp! But calm down, white girl, 'cos he's not interested in you, you namby-pamby pampered princess – "Western culture seems to forge women that are valueless and inane."
What do you bet he's one of those inane, valueless Western egomaniac men who can't stand the L'Oréal ads because they hate hearing women say "Because we're worth it"? Worth a bottle of shampoo? Whatever next? Before you can say "Stop it!", we'll be wanting to make one-night stands use condoms? And then it'll be ANARCHY!
Asked for the "most private thing" he was willing to admit, Mr Assange said he had "Asian teen-girl stalkers"; if that isn't shorthand for "the hottest of hotties on the planet fancy me, so imagine how hot I must be!" then I don't know what is. He ended by saying that women should contact him if they were "spirited, erotic, nonconformist". Which sounds very much like a fancy-pants way of saying "Will be prepared to let me do WHATEVER I WANT with them."
When right-wing politicians and public figures act the sex-pest or the love-rat, we expect it of them. Scratch a racist who talks about "Bong-Bongo Land", pace Alan Clark, and you won't be surprised to find an old-school rotter who ends up bedding two sisters and their mum while the wife sits at home stewing. But when men have enlightened attitudes to issues of race or class, we fondly imagine that they will be similarly decent when it comes to a question of sex – though time and time again it has been proved that just because you subscribe to the Brotherhood of Man, it's no guarantee that you can automatically find it in your heart to be nice to the ladies, bless 'em.
From Arthur Koestler's rape of Michael Foot's wife Jill, which she kept quiet for some 40 years, to John Mortimer chortling away about what a jolly good jape it was to defend wife-murderers, the Left has been complicit in some truly shameful misogyny which has led it to that very dark place where some alleged socialists now find themselves ready, willing and able to accept the most hideously gynophobic excesses of Islamism.
Some of it's just funny, though. Think of the silver-maned liberal barrister Michael Mansfield, banging on about truth and integrity with his wife and mistress installed in the same Manhattan hotel.
Or George Galloway coming over all unnecessary on Al Jazeera in 2005, when his taste for exotic women and weakness for big scary dictators combined to produce the most extraordinarily florid interpretation of Middle Eastern politics: "Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners... Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent. Some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters..."
We're always told that right-wing men are scared of/hostile to women, but that didn't stop the Conservatives from electing the first (only!) female leader of a British political party. (Oh yeah, I forgot, Thatcher was "a man in drag" – that pathetic left-wing diss for a woman who wants more from political life than making tea and servicing whistle-blowers.)
I don't know if Assange is a rapist or not, but I do know that he wouldn't be the first right-on comrade to have the moves of a frat boy at a keg party.
Assange groupies, mind how you go!
It's beggars, not students, who need your financial help
If I could choose who I give money for booze to, I would SO rather give my cash to beggars forever than to students for three years. Students are right at the start of their lives, with so many opportunities and adventures ahead of them – tuition fees or no tuition fees. They'll never look better than they do now. They'll never be this blissfully ignorant again – as history student Charlie Gilmour, who didn't know what the Cenotaph was, proved – or as free of responsibilities.
Beggars are all out of last chances. As they stand in the ice-cold streets looking back on their lives, the bad luck and bad decisions they may have made will haunt them. No wonder they need a drink.
Enter the seasonal Scrooge telling us not to give anything to that smelly man standing there in the snow in case he spends it on alcohol. In the past it's been the likes of John "Big Issue" Bird and Louise "Homeless Czar" Casey, and now it's the Thames Reach charity suggesting that beggars can clear up to £400 on a good day, even getting the occasional "big drop" from a "successful gambler" who will hand over "thousands of pounds".
I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it. When you pass a beggar by, and you choose not to give him money you could spare, you're making that decision because you have halitosis of the soul – that is, you are stingy. You may justify it by saying to yourself "Ooo, I'll write a cheque out to Shelter when I get home!", but nine times out of 10 you won't get around to it. And at this time of year especially, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. As should Thames Reach, for creating such a false and damaging stereotype of the people they are meant to be helping.
Class hatred, race hatred, and stuck-up rioters
When I dissed the Fauntleroy riots last week, I didn't have the space to mention another reason why I despise the stuck-up half-wits. And that would be that they didn't just disrespect generations of mostly working-class men (and the occasional woman) who died in order to win their freedom when they desecrated war memorials. They also set their stall up against the mostly working-class men (and the occasional woman, and horse) who were sent to police their antics.
When I was knocked down by a police horse in Lewisham at 17, after being a bit too showy in my bid to taunt the National Front marchers, I remember coming round afterwards and saying, dazed, "Woooah – that was SOME HORSE!" Even then, I understood why the police had to do it. In all the excitement, I also lost the badge I wore on my leather jacket that day – "I HATE STUDENTS, YEAH!", it said. A punk boy had given it to me in Manchester; I don't do regret, but I SO wish I still had it.
It spoke volumes that the students attacked Topshop – the flagship store of Sir Philip Green, a working-class man from an immigrant family who created his business empire from nothing – rather than the seats of inherited power. As a racist website so elegantly put it:
"Topshop – the Jew, Philip Green's, Black Goons.
"The BBC showed news today of a demo at the Arcadia Group's flagship Oxford Street Topshop store. Topshop is owned by the Jew Philip Green who, despite residence in Britain, ensures that his money is 'earned' offshore and therefore free of UK tax. The demo was in protest against prominent tax dodgers... Almost all of the demonstrators were slight, young white girls who were being manhandled by an army of enormous, exclusively black 'security' guards."
Whenever I am pilloried as a reactionary for being repelled by the Fauntleroy riots, I'll think of that quote. And of the 37-year-old student leader Clare Solomon, who may well be a Holocaust-denier, posting as she did a message on Facebook which said: "The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians."
And, if it's possible, I'll feel smugger and more sure than ever that I'm on the right side.
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