This Week in the Guardian #7

The increasing diversity of the 1%, toxic mask-ulinity and not all authoritarians were created equal

Every week (or, rather, most weeks, since the coronavirus torpedoed our schedule), we like to highlight three or four stories that go full-Guardian, but don’t require an entire article of refutation.
We encourage reader-participation here, so if you come across something you feel should be included in the next edition either post a link below, or send us an e-mail.

Johnson and Starmer both know a true exit plan means reducing our freedoms

Stephen Bush thinks both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer need to overcome their natural “liberal instincts” and get used to the fact they are going to have to impose some pretty tight mass surveillance laws if the UK ever wants to come out of lockdown.

This would be the same Johnson and Starmer who have never voted against mass surveillance once.

We could breakdown the incredibly flawed argument line by line, but that’s not what TWitG is for. And, frankly, I have neither the time nor the inclination.

Special attention should be paid to this insidious line of thought:

British people are not liberals, instinctive or otherwise. It’s easy to forget that while New Labour’s ID cards scheme was unpopular within the party and in parliament, it enjoyed majority support in the country as a whole. The great British public has enthusiastically embraced CCTV

An entirely false re-alignment of reality, painting the public as desperate to be surveilled at all times, ruled over by the reluctant MPs who just can’t bring themselves to compromise their principles. Suffice to say, it’s nonsense.

Under cover of coronavirus, the world’s bad guys are wreaking havoc

There was a brief window – when we were all encouraged to feel sorry for Iran, and telling Trump to stop being mean to China – where the coronavirus roll-out really did feel like full-on globalism. The Russia-baiting disappeared, and Guaido was side-lined and Gordon Brown was calling for a global government.

All of that is pretty obviously over now. Maybe there were deals going behind the scenes which fell through. Maybe promises were made and are now being broken.

Whatever the cause, the crosshairs have been re-calibrated and they’re once again trained on the usual suspects.

They actually call them “bad guys”, which speaks for itself as far as the balance and subtlety of the content goes.

In China, apparently, Xi Jinping is trying to make sure Uyghur Muslims get infected with the coronavirus. In Syria, Bashar al Assad is supposedly doing the same thing to rebels in Idlib. Both these “tyrants” are, apparently, trying to effect genocide using a virus that, everyone admits, kills less than 1% of the population.

The equivalent of terror-bombing a city with peanuts, in the hope everyone dies of a peanut allergy.

These claims are based on an a memo released by the Center for International Strategic Studies, a Washington DC-based think-tank funded by the US State Department (although Freedland doesn’t mention that part).

In Hungary, we are told, Viktor Orban is undermining parliamentary democracy. But Freedland doesn’t mention that the UK (and many other places around the world, are doing the exact same thing. “Necessary measures” when we do it, “brutal opportunism” when designated “enemies” do the same. There are clips of German police beating and restraining members of the public for simply not wearing a mask in public. But because Merkel is a “good guy”, these are not admissible evidence.

Throw in standard references to Trump and Bolsonaro and you get a very much a pre-coronavirus feel to the whole thing.

Add this to the Russia-related articles from last week, and there’s a definitely a shift away from the global consensus that existed just a couple of weeks ago. Something to keep an eye on.

In fact…

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

To really underline that, as far as geo-political journalism is concerned, normal service has been resumed, we cap off this week with a classic case of “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.”

In this article, Shaun Walker bemoans “strongman” leaders refusing to wear masks because it makes them look weak. He singles out Putin for special mention (of course).

While in this article, Simon Tisdall also singles out Putin for special criticism…but this time for the total opposite reason:

Putin’s decision to shield himself from harm, isolating away from Moscow, has badly dented his image as fearless tough-guy leader.

I don’t know what great globalist dream is fueling the coronavirus narrative, but it’s certainly increasingly apparent it won’t involve Russia, and especially not Vladimir Putin.

BONUS – Sexism and self-parody

Arwa Mahdawi doesn’t get many mentions here. She doesn’t warrant any. But as the author of the “This week in the Patriarchy” series, she might have a claim to be the most “Guardian” of all Guardian columnists. This week she’s talking about how men wear masks less than women do, so “toxic masculinity” is killing people. (In peak hypocrisy mode, Last week she wrote a column all about Adele’s weight loss, with the headline “Can we please stop talking about Adele’s body?”).

Elsewhere we’re treated to an article about how “botanical sexism” means city planners use male trees more than female ones, and this makes hay fever worse. All part of the Patreearchy I suppose.

All told a busy week for The Guardian. And we didn’t even touch on the improving gender diversity of the 1% or the latest totally real story about how Jacinda Ardern is so down to earth and just like us.
Did we miss any others? Tell us about them in the comments below, and keep an eye out for articles that should go in the next issue.


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