Kelvin MacKenzie, the man who brought us Topless Darts, is concerned about female oppression. Kelvin MacKenzie, a man who defamed the victims after Hillsborough, inventing stories so repugnant they could only be true in the imagination of the depraved, is concerned about journalistic sensitivity. Kelvin MacKenzie, a man who was editor of a newspaper that objectifies women as a daily feature, is concerned about rejection of progressive values for women. As a consequence of these definitely legit concerns, Mr. MacKenzie has complained about Fatima Manji. Ms. Manji is a woman who had the temerity to do her job of reporting the news whilst being simultaneously female and Muslim. In case you aren't racist enough to be offended by that, Kelvin is paid to be offended for you. Kelvin is sort of like the human embodiment of a Talk Sport phone-in. He recently defended his criticism of Ms. Manji by writing in his column:
"I'm told feminists in the Muslim community are really worried at the march of the hijab as they see it as a rejection of progressive values."
This quote is interesting to me for several reasons:
1) He starts by saying, "I'm told..." - Who told him? Does he have many Muslim feminist friends? Genuine question.
2) He appears to care about progressive feminism. This is entirely at odds with literally everything he's ever said about women.
3) He purports to care about the concerns of the Muslim community. This is new. I call bullshit.
There seems to be more than a smidgeon of disingenuousness about this column. Perhaps Kelvin MacKenzie really isn't too concerned with The Truth. If he's really concerned about Muslim women and doesn't understand why many choose to wear the hijab, perhaps he could, I don't know, ask one of them? Or, maybe it isn't his intention to inform, but rather to incite fear, division and hatred. I can understand why Kelvin is upset - Ms. Manji is a well-respected reporter. It can't be easy to see a fellow journalist (a woman!) doing justice to their profession, whilst he denigrates it. Fatima Manji has enough integrity to do her job without creating a narrative of fear invented by an oligarch, whereas Kelvin MacKenzie wrote the headline 'Freddie Starr Ate my Hamster'. Maybe MacKenzie feels like he's wasted his career. Maybe he feels like old news. I get it, but his fragile ego is inflaming a feeling of intolerance at a time when we're seeing a spike in racially motivated hate crime. It's time for us to stop pandering to old overpaid white dudes who gleefully peddle racism in the guise of respectability. In the same column MacKenzie expresses a concern about Islam's attitudes to the gay community. This is another interesting comment coming from a man who presided over a newspaper that called AIDS 'the gay plague', and who wrote headlines calling gay men 'poofters'.
Fatima Manji wrote her own, perfectly pitched, response to MacKenzie. There is a sense of poetic justice about it being published in the Liverpool Echo. But this isn't only about Fatima Manji. When will we stop letting racists hide behind women's and LGBTQ rights to further their sinister agendas? Kelvin MacKenzie doesn't speak for me. He can't hide behind my gender to justify his Islamophobia. He can't propagate homophobia for years and then hide behind the LGBTQ community whilst slurring all Muslims. He can't silence women in the media. He can't be allowed to say 1.6 billion people are violent. He can't erase Muslim culture. He doesn't speak for most decent people when he bullies a respectful and professional journalist. We won't fall for it. We see you, Kelvin MacKenzie. We see you.