Imagine readers, that you are Richard Littlejohn, star columnist of the Daily Mail. One day you are lolling around your Florida mansion, when you get a phone call or an email from your editor Paul Dacre. Perhaps it goes something like this:
‘ Richard, You remember that hate preacher we talked about last year, you know, Haitham al-Haddad, the one whose organization hired out the Chessington World of Adventures theme park for a “Family Fun Day”? Well on March 9 he’s planning to do the same thing – in Legoland!’
Because you are Richard Littlejohn, you immediately share your editor’s outrage. A red mist descends on your eyes. A family fun day for Muslims you say? In Legoland? Over my dead body.
Because Chessington World of Adventures was one thing, but Lego is another matter. Both you and Paul Dacre remember playing with it as kids, before Enoch Powell’s prophecies came true; before the Muslims and the other foreigners came and wrecked the country; before the politically correct commissars and the lesbians and genderbenders took over the schools and forced the nation’s children to be homosexuals; before Haringey town council used taxpayers money to finance ‘ hopscotch lessons for Asian women’ – according to you.
Those were days that will always be surrounded with a perpetual sunset glow in both your minds; when John Pertwee was still Doctor Who, when choc ices and sky rays were still on sale; when Mum made roast beef and Yorkshire pudding every Sunday not chicken tikka masala; when you and Dad watched the footie together and English was still spoken everywhere and there weren’t too many black or brown faces around and everything was ok.
And now the bloody Muslims are hiring Legoland as part of ‘ a number of events that allow for Muslim and Non-Muslims to come together in a peaceful family environment to help establish a real spirit of togetherness and community’ and it looks like game over, doesn’t it?
But maybe not. Because you are Richard Littlejohn, the UK’s highest paid newspaper columnist. And so, like a 21st century Saint George, like an Essex El Cid, you don your armour, you pick up your lance and sword and you ride into battle, determined to stop the Muslims playing with your Lego, with a characteristic display of knockabout humour and satirical flair that you wittily entitle ‘ Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland.’
Having done your research carefully, you have established that Haitham al-Haddad’s organization, the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) is ‘in favour of turning this country into a Sharia state’ – whatever that means.
You inform your readers that Haddad is ‘among the top 25 hate preachers in Britain’; that he is ‘ an enthusiastic supporter of Taliban policies’, who ‘believes that “Jews are descended from apes and pigs”, homosexuals are criminals and those who are leave Islam should be killed.’
Naturally you reference the Quilliam Foundation, which you describe as a well-known ‘moderate, anti-terrorism thinktank’, to support your depiction of Haddad as a terrorism-promoting Islamic fascist.
On one level, some of the socially-conservative views attributed to Haddad should not bother you too much. Because you are Richard Littlejohn. And a number of commentators have noted your unhealthy and possibly obsessive fixation with homosexuality – something you generally describe in negative terms.
In 2012 your determination to protect the nation’s youth from what you regard as sexual deviance led you to write a vicious attack on the transgender teacher Lucy Meadows, as part of an ongoing campaign of press vilification which according to the coroner’s report last year was a significant contributing factor to her suicide.
Had you had been able to summon up even the most minimal powers of investigation, you would quickly have discovered allegations that the Quilliam Foundation appears to have running a smear campaign against Haddad. You would have read that he himself has denied many of the statements attributed to him.
Even a look at the MRDF’s website would have told you, among other things, that its mission statement is not to turn Britain into a ‘Sharia state’, but to ‘articulate Islam in a modern context and address the unique situation faced by Muslims in the West.’
But none of this interests you really. Because you are Richard Littlejohn. And for you, and for those who think like you, Haddad’s views, whether real or imagined, are only a pretext and a peg on which to hang your own racism. This becomes clear as your column moves quickly into satirical mode, and you humorously outline an ‘itinerary’ that the children might experience on their ‘Family Fun Day.’ It includes events such as this:
The hilarity culminates in a Lego bonfire, in which Bush, Blair and Miley Cyrus are burned in effigy:
Positively Swiftian isn’t it? Well no, not really. Because Swift, like all great satirists, had an essentially moral purpose. But you are Richard Littlejohn, and there is nothing moral about what you are doing. Pretending to be an opponent of Haddad’s ‘fun -damentalism’, as you amusingly put it, you use a children’s excursion to Legoland to depict Muslims as members of a barbaric and primitive culture/religion.
It’s neat game, for those who want to play it. And because you are Richard Littlejohn, your words have influence in certain quarters. Following your column Legoland was bombarded with hate mail and death threats from the English Defense League, Casuals United, and other far-right groups, that threatened to picket Legoland when the kids showed up.
As a result the Legoland management cancelled the MRDF’s ‘Family FunDay 2014’, even though 4,000 tickets were sold, because they could not ‘guarantee the safety of the attendees and their staff’.
This is a signal achievement, comparable to the Battle of Poitiers and the Ottoman retreat from Vienna, that you are no doubt congratulating yourself for, because you are, after all, Richard Littlejohn.
Since then the Muslim Council of Britain has written an open letter to the Daily Mail, calling for an apology and a retraction, declaring that ‘Mr Littlejohn may think he is humorous, satirical in fact. But there is nothing funny about inciting hatred. The language he deploys is exactly the same as those used by racists and the far-right.’
No retraction or apology has been forthcoming. And why should it? Because you are Richard Littlejohn, a racist and bigot just speaking his mind. And you don’t have to apologize for anything at all.
And as the surf washes up against a Florida beach that is forever England, you can sit back and smile with some satisfaction perhaps, at a job well done