Sunday, November 14, 2010

Muslims, Tabloids (again) and Remembrance

The day after our wonderful Remembrance Day assembly one of my pupils asked:

Sir. Did you hear about what Muslims did?

Now primed by having listened to the Today programme I already knew what she was referring to. A small group of Muslims had burned a large poppy in a demonstration about the British military presence in Afghanistan and chanted slogans like "British soldiers burn in Hell." Well, yes, incredibly insensitive but hardly worth a banner headline or a front page photo given the isolated nature of the incident and the small number of people involved. My newspaper gave it no column inches. The Daily Mail on the other hand, that bastion of right-thinking did both.

TEXT HERE (It's worth having a look at the comment thread, particularly the "best rated" to get a sense of just who this paper is aimed at.)

Note the juxtaposition of white patriotic boy and brown unpatriotic boys. Oh! Let me think. What is the message here I wonder?

My pupil is a lovely girl. She was not being awkward but merely expressing confusion and a need for clarification. On Remembrance day she was on study leave and so not present in our special assembly. It was worth stopping the class (Buddhism, suffering and evil) to discuss the issue and hopefully nipping in the bud the sort of response the oh-so-respectable Daily Mail would wish to whip up while claiming to abhor racism.

I talked about the assembly and about how moving it was. I also talked about how every member of staff came into the Sports Hall including our Muslim colleagues and student teachers, each of whom was wearing a poppy and each of whom stood with bowed heads during the two minute silence.

I'd like the Daily Mail to have featured that picture. Or this one: