Katie Hopkins is a large blank in my life and I intend to ensure that blankness continues after today and this single post. I don’t read ‘The Sun’ and I’ve rarely (to point of it being never) watched ‘The Apprentice’. I only knew about her because I’d previously noticed that sensible people seem to hate her with a deep happy intensity.
I had no opinion about Ms. Hopkins until I read what she’d written yesterday about the situation off the coast of North Africa. It was pretty strong stuff but I was sadly not surprised. It wasn’t eloquent in any way. As far as firebrands go, it wasn’t particularly scalding. The article contained essentially mundane ideas presented in a mundane way by what is quite obviously a mundane mind.
I thought I might write a response in a more fiery fashion but about three seconds into my attempt I realised that I couldn’t bring myself to call for the Royal Navy to sink Katie Hopkins off the coast of Gibraltar. I couldn’t write any line that suggested that I’d be indifferent if I saw her corpse bobbing up and down in the sea. I’m better than that. Unlike Katie Hopkins, I’ve retained a touch of humanity. I would not want to wish her ill.
So, instead, I thought I’d try a different line of attack and I began by drawing a picture that I hoped any of her defenders might find offensive. Should you not see it attached to this brief essay, it’s of a bony Hopkins, her withered teats sagging over a malnourished body, her legs splayed apart as Hitler crawls from the stretched vagina. Had I better skills, Hitler wouldn’t have been alone. I wanted Stalin, Pol Pot, and every tyrant I could recall crawling from her bloodied chamber.
I would guess they might find the cartoon offensive because they would fail to understand my point which is about how Hitler came into existence. Culture presents Hitler as a monster beyond the context of the early twentieth century. You rarely (if ever) hear anybody talk about Hitler’s mother or family (Norman Mailer’s novel, The Castle in the Forest, being one notable exception), presumably because it’s inconvenient to conceive of such evil being born in a human way.
Yet Hitler was born like all of us in a sudden flood of blood and embryonic waters and his ideas were born in similarly crass and messy ways. People wrongly attribute the evil ideology of the Nazi regime to the writings of Nietzsche but that, again, is to push them to the sidelines as the warped ideas of an intensely mad intelligence gone awry. Hitler was not Nietzsche. His morality was cretinous, dumb and servile to a completely fictitious notion of Teutonic history, fed to him via German Romanticism. He succeeded not because he had better wits than the rest but because he rode to power on an ugly popularism which swept through a largely unthinking Germany only too happy to attribute its problems to its most vulnerable members.
It’s why we should not simply be insulted by the kind of lowbrow mean-spirited hate spewed by the vapid Katie Hopkins. It’s why we should not simply marginalise her for the barbaric troll she is. She is something new that we’ve not seen before, or, at least, haven’t seen for a very long time. She is making money and fame by putting a flame beneath people’s fears. She speaks a language that divests humanity of that vital quality that makes us more than flesh and blood. Instead of speaking about lives lost, families ruined, individuals dying in a terribly tragic way, she has reduced the argument to lumps of meat rotting on the shore. She is not serving a public good by supposedly speaking truths that nobody dare speak. She is harming the public good by replacing our natural compassion with an artificial fear, manufactured anger, and a supposedly ‘comic’ indifference. It’s a long time since we’ve had such a public commentator use language that dehumanises vulnerable people in such a way. Hopkins’ language is not simply toxic. It is the diseased language of the sociopath, a person who feels no empathy and is capable of doing great evil.
Her sport is obvious. She throws her saddle on a problem and rides the poor beast until blood is frothing with snot in its dead distended nostrils. Migration of the North Africa is a problem that any commentator has the right to address. The arguments against immigration are similarly valid, as are arguments that suggest that people attempting to cross the Med should be turned back. None of that is beyond debate. It is the very matter of the debate we should be having.
Yet to talk about human beings as ‘feral’ and ‘cockroaches’ is something beyond rhetoric. It is dangerous. To talk dispassionately about ‘coffins’, ‘bodies floating in water’, and ‘skinny people looking sad’ is the language of a severely diseased mind that should not have a public forum in which to spread such a morally bankrupt message. It is a message dangerously voiced because there are others who revel in such language, who are susceptible to the festering ideas of inchoate totalitarianism. They are the people with a deep moral sickness that leads them to groups such as Isis, where human brutality has found a new dispassionate host. They are the people willing to lead mobs to the gates of the lawmakers and demand satisfaction in blood.
Can nobody see that terrors begin not with mad eyed loons but with figures who profess respectability and the common good? What history has taught us in every century of our existence is that evil is not beyond us. It is within us always and we must guard carefully against the fools who would tempt it out in the name of entertainment, fame and wealth.
So, let me end with a plea. Don’t read ‘The Sun’ so long as this hag faced screeching scagbitch is getting money for her bile-filled screeds. Don’t make fear popular again. No action is justified if the victims of that action are somehow considered less human than we are. Beyond her well tamed hair, her glitzy TV smile, and soaked-in-brine tan, Katie Hopkins is a soulless harridan of neo-fascist propaganda. Her confident swagger, the jaunty turn of her head at the top of the page, the slight glow she exudes: it’s all a facade that disguises a pitiful human being. I was tempted to reach for the worst words I know to describe her but I decided that would be to stoop to her level. She is somebody about whom I would never wish ill. Just somebody who I hope finds help, illumination or (failing that) censorship, before her sickness infects that yobbish unthinking segment of our society who would do bad things in the name of decency and the common good.