Journalist Hafsa Kara-Mustapha says that Katie Hopkins has chosen the right minorities to offend – Muslims and dark people who have no power. But would she dare take pot-shots at Jews or homosexuals who enjoy the protection of the media and political establishment?
Looking at pictures of the floating body of a little girl in the Mediterranean sea would apparently still not move Katie Hopkins who has now turned offending and casual racism into a full-time and very lucrative job.
Much has been said about the former Apprentice-contestant-turned-Sun-columnist over her shameful piece on the equally shameful national newspaper which agreed to publish it, except of course that for all her revelling in the role of “professional offender” there are some red lines even she will not cross.
Those red lines were accurately drawn last month when she was once again embroiled in a short-lived controversy that involved suggesting Ed Miliband’s wife should have her head shoved in an oven.
Nothing particularly controversial unless you know the Milibands are both descendents of Holocaust survivors and which ultimately turns a rather innocuous comment – by Hopkins’ usual standards – into an insensitive one on Jewish suffering.
But the response on the Twittersphere from both her followers and herself proved one point which is that while casual racism towards black people or Arabs is defended in the name of free speech, abuse aimed at Jews isn’t.
In her usual irreverent tone, she replied: “Look peeps, Jews and gays love me, get over it. Scots and Palestinians (whom she’d previously described as sweaty jocks and rodents) are not so keen, I’ll give you that.”
Jews and gays
And so we have it, in one short succinct tweet, all was said. There are clearly red lines not to be crossed, even by Sun columnists, which consist of not offending Jews or gays.
Callously describing black immigrants fleeing war and poverty as “cockroaches” however is tolerated. Criticised of course but tolerated never the less.
The question which has to be asked is whether she would still be a staple in our media landscape if she had described Jews as a whole or some Jews as “cockroaches” or “feral human beings”?
Would Katie Hopkins still have a column in the Sun, be a regular contributor on TV programs, become a favourite housemate in Big Brother or indeed gain a radio show all to herself if she’d tweeted something akin to this:
“Walking along Stamford Hill surrounded by misogynist cockroaches dressed in funny clothes. How long should we tolerate these feral human beings?”
Again in her attempt to demonise all minorities who do not belong to her particular ethnic or social group, would Hopkins ever have tweeted something about “gay men congregating like cockroaches on a Saturday night in Soho?”
The short answer is no.
Right to offend
For all the “right to offend” discourse, actually offending Jews or gays are career-breaking comments.
Jews and gays of course belong to two of the most privileged groups in Britain today. Present at the highest echelons of politics, the media sector or the entertainment industry, anti-Semitism along with homophobia are crimes punishable by law.
Contrast that with racism against black people (unless it involves physical violence), black and ethnic minorities are simply not afforded the same level of protection.
While the Rochdale child abuse case involving some men of Pakistani origin prompted her to tweet to an MP organising a Pakistani/Britain day in his constituency: “Your Pakistani friends saw young white girls as fair game when they abused them,” the high profile cases of historical child abuse involving prominent Jewish figures did not lead her to make such sweeping and grossly offensive tweets about the entire Jewish community which is of course not responsible for the alleged actions of Leon Brittan or Granville Janner.
It’s in details such as these that lie the real issue of acceptable racism and those infamous red lines that should never be crossed.
Sadly the truth is that while most civilised and humane people briefly shuddered when reading Hopkins describing black immigrants as cockroaches, it simply sounds far less shocking than had it been aimed at two of the most protected groups in society today.
What this says is that for all our talk of a post-racial Britain where lessons were supposedly drawn from the Stephen Lawrence case or the numerous other issues related to police brutality or racism in the workplace, actually bigotry only becomes intolerable if it affects those who are the most privileged.
In fact Katie Hopkins has also regularly turned her ire towards the working classes she regards as lazy and pointless.
In response to her increasingly offensive and callous tweets, we are told that the key is to ignore her. Admittedly not going on Twitter or following her is an option many will have chosen but how can we ignore a woman who regularly appears on popular daytime programmes such as This Morning, has a column on the country’s best selling daily and is given an extra outlet to vent her bile every time she ups the offending ante?
As much as many would like to ignore her, the question is how do we ignore a woman who is given more platforms than the prime minister himself?