The Independent’s diarist, Matthew Norman, today reflects on the controversial comments made by Melanie Phillips about Arabs:
“What desperate moments for all among us who revere Melanie Phillips and the rigorous self-restraint she brings to her work. In the coming days, the Metropolitan Police must decide whether to prosecute her over a classically thoughtful posting on her Spectator-hosted blog.
“No one could argue with Melanie’s outrage at the brutal murder of a family of West Bank settlers. What roused Muslim lobby group Engage to write to the Press Complaints Commission and Trevor Phillips, as well as the law, was her wontedly subtle extrapolation from the specific to the general… the extension of one horrendous crime to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”; one reference to Arabs as “savages”; and another to “the moral depravity of the Arabs”.
“Some will wonder about the public reaction were a parodist to rework this piece by substituting “Arabs” with “Jews”, and perhaps they have a point. Even so, we ask the Met to show clemency. Clearly an investigation is required, recalling the hate-crime inquiry into Mr Tony Blair once referring to “the f***ing Welsh”. But I hope the police conclude that our prisons are already adequately clogged with those who need treatment rather than punishment. The last spectre that Mad Mel supporters such as I would welcome is the weekly internal-cavity search on visiting day at HMP Holloway.
“* Whether the BBC will now retain MM on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze may depend on whether its commitment to positive discrimination outweighs its concern about the excitement of hatred for minorities. One for Mark Thompson to ponder there, though the director-general shouldn’t hang around. Thommo is believed to be seeking alternative employment, and according to one executive was recently “spotted in swanky offices on the US west coast”.”