The great American commentator, Edward Murrow, that country’s voice of integrity through the Second World War and beyond, wrote some words that come to mind in response to the strong odour of ordure emanating this past week from the journalistic house of ill-repute otherwise known as the Daily Mail:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
Middle England’s modern incarnation of Joe McCarthy is Paul Dacre, a man who not only confuses dissent with disloyalty when his contemptible organ attacks Ralph Miliband as some kind of traitor to Britain, but in fact has no standard against which to measure either. The only criterion that the Mail can call upon when it acts as judge and jury is whatever asinine prejudice or ugly whim its editor-in-chief decides to parade at any one moment.