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Press: Liz Truss is the latest victim of the Right’s cancel culture  

21 October 2022


ONE of the grave responsibilities of this column is to keep track of angels in aubergines. Wherever and whenever the supernatural manifests itself in a vegetable, the Church Times will be watching. But the Daily Mail will probably beat us to the scoop.

“A mum-of-two said it was a ‘miracle’ to discover the perfect outline of an angel in her aubergine she kept in the freezer for 14 years,” the paper reported this week.

“Maya Rana was making a aubergine curry back in 2008 when she cut up the fruit and found the angel outline running through it.

“At the same time the 54-year-old started doing reiki — a Japanese form of energy healing — when she became obsessed with the religious beings.

“She has claimed to have heard them while also insisting that a group of them formed a choir in her bedroom and woke her up one morning.”

You might think that only the Mail could make a story out of a 14-year-old aubergine manifesting an angel — even if that is the right sort of age for an encounter with a supernatural being. But the readers of the paper will have missed one final twist. On the web version, the word “woke” is hyperlinked, and when you click through you reach a page full of stories about the iniquities of the Left. Many of them are in the United States.

THERE is slightly more evidence for the existence of the Woke than for that of angels, but, in both instances, the more you believe, the more you will see. And, just at the moment, the right-wing press is extremely anxious that you not see or remember what it was publishing three weeks ago.

Even by the standards of the Mail and the Telegraph, there is something remarkable in their continuing to attack “cancel culture” when they have themselves decided to cancel the hapless Liz Truss. It took only three weeks for the Mail’s front page to go from “Cometh the hour, cometh the woman” and “Liz has the boldness, vision and strength of conviction to build on what Boris began,” to “In office, but not in power”; and, in this instance, in contrast to the cancel culture of the Left, the woman was being punished for the very beliefs that the paper itself has been propagating for the past six years. The mechanism of bullying and shaming, and the desire for the victim to lose their job, is the same in both cases. So is the invincible self-righteousness. Before there were social media to distil our worst instincts into an intoxicating drug, there was the popular press.

AT LEAST the Government is not involved in this kind of persecution. The New Yorker had a piece about the cultural censorship exercised by the Bharatiya Janata Party in India: “Recently, a Muslim journalist was imprisoned for three weeks because someone complained that a four-year-old tweet derided Hinduism. The account that reported him was anonymous, had one tweet and one follower on the day of the arrest, and went offline thereafter.” Hindu extremists have also been targeting Aina Khan, a north-of-England correspondent for The Guardian, over her coverage of the disturbances in Leicester (News, 23 September). But at least the Government is not on their side here.

IN ALL this excitement, no one much noticed the Archbishop of Canterbury having a go at the mini-Budget this week. You have to admire his footwork when he told The Guardian that he was not going to make a party-political point “because both parties are deeply divided. . . But in the UK, the priority is the cost of living, with the poorest.

“And from an economics point of view, I’m deeply sceptical about trickle-down theory.

“We have seen in some areas food bank use already going up 400%. At a recent meeting of the bishops, someone said: ‘I just don’t know how this diocese will cope in meeting the social needs.’

“It just feels like a monstrous wave coming at us and we know it is going to hit. We can do our best to prepare for it but it’s very very difficult.”

Of course he’s not making a party political point if it’s true that “both parties are deeply divided.” And it’s almost true that they are: not all one-nation Tories have been driven from the Tory Party — but, hang on a moment, where are all the Labour MPs calling for trickle-down economics and austerity?

IN CHINA, apparently, the problem is not that religion is getting into politics, but the reverse. According to The Economist, “Last December an article by Zhu Xiaoming, a party scholar of Tibetan affairs, expressed concern about Chinese believers who, he said, had evolved from using religion for utilitarian purposes to embracing it for spiritual sustenance. ‘The ideological contest between theism and atheism is a struggle for hearts and minds,’ said Mr Zhu. Party members should preach more atheism and materialism, he said, to win the Chinese people back.”

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