Sarah Palin to racist DJ: “Don’t retreat . . . reload!”

Palin’s shocking defence of US DJ Laura Schlessinger, who quit after racist slurs.

Sarah Palin has shocked and angered many in recent weeks with her bigoted opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque, but her views have just taken an even more sinister turn.

Palin took to Twitter last night to launch an extraordinary defence of the DJ Laura Schlessinger, who quit her talk show this week after using the N-word on the air 11 times in five minutes. In an exchange with an African-American caller married to a white man, she told the woman that she shouldn't take offence at racial taunts, even if they contained the word "nigger".

"Black guys use it all the time," she said. "Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is 'nigger, nigger, nigger'. I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate."

After a shocked response from the caller, she added: "I'll say it again: nigger, nigger nigger . . . If you're that hypersensitive about colour, and don't have a sense of humour, then don't marry out of your race."

Schlessinger subsequently apologised for the comments and quit her show a few days later. But Palin, for one, is urging Schlessinger not to "back down".

Last night she tweeted:

Palin

As usual, one struggles to decipher Palin's semi-literate prose, but there's something immediately disturbing about the words "don't retreat . . . reload!". The gun analogy alone is rather unfortunate, but does Palin really think besides that Schlessinger should throw a few more racist taunts around? Apparently she does.

Then there's her complete misunderstanding of the First Amendment. That Schlessinger has a right to free speech does not mean that she has an inalienable right to broadcast her racist views on national radio. She was not "censored" in any sense of the word: the (correct) decision to resign was entirely voluntary.

But, as if to avoid any suspicion that she "misspoke", Palin tweeted:

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

Will Palin's many admirers on the British right now finally disown her? Let's wait and see.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The NS leader: Cold Britannia

Twenty years after the election of New Labour, for the left, it seems, things can only get worse. 

Twenty years after the election of New Labour, for the left, it seems, things can only get worse. The polls suggest a series of grim election defeats across Britain: Labour is 10 points behind the Conservatives even in Wales, putting Theresa May’s party on course to win a majority of seats there for the first time in a century. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the psephologist John Curtice expects the resurgent Tories, under the “centrist” leadership of Ruth Davidson, to gain seats while Labour struggles to cling on to its single MP.

Where did it all go wrong? In this week’s cover essay, beginning on page 26, John Harris traces the roots of Labour’s present troubles back to the scene of one of its greatest triumphs, on 1 May 1997, when it returned 418 MPs to the Commons and ended 18 years of Conservative rule. “Most pop-culture waves turn out to have been the advance party for a new mutation of capitalism, and so it proved with this one,” Mr Harris, one of the contributors to our New Times series, writes. “If Cool Britannia boiled down to anything, it was the birth of a London that by the early Noughties was becoming stupidly expensive and far too full of itself.”

Jump forward two decades and London is indeed now far too dominant in the British economy, sucking in a disproportionate number of graduates and immigrants and then expecting them to pay £4 for a milky coffee and £636,777 for an average house. Tackling the resentment caused by London’s dominance must be an urgent project for the Labour Party. It is one that Mr Corbyn and his key allies, John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott, are not well placed to do (all four are ultra-liberals who represent
London constituencies).

Labour must also find a happy relationship with patriotism, which lies beneath many of the other gripes made against Mr Corbyn: his discomfort with the institutions of the British state, his peacenik tendencies, his dislike of Nato and military alliances, his natural inclination towards transnational or foreign liberation movements, rather than seeking to evolve a popular national politics.

New Labour certainly knew how to wave the flag, even if the results made many on the left uncomfortable: on page 33, we republish our Leader from 2 May 1997, which complained about the “bulldog imagery” of Labour’s election campaign. Yet those heady weeks that followed Labour’s landslide victory were a time of optimism and renewal, when it was possible for people on the left to feel proud of their country and to celebrate its achievements, rather than just apologise for its mistakes. Today, Labour has become too reliant on misty invocations of the NHS to demonstrate that it likes or even understands the country it seeks to govern. A new patriotism, distinct from nationalism, is vital to any Labour revival.

That Tony Blair and his government have many detractors hardly needs to be said. The mistakes were grave: the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, a lax attitude to regulating the financial sector, a too-eager embrace of free-market globalisation, and the failure to impose transitional controls on immigration when eastern European states joined the EU. All contributed to the anger and disillusionment that led to the election as Labour leader of first the hapless Ed Miliband and then Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time rebel backbencher.

However, 20 years after the victory of the New Labour government, we should also acknowledge its successes, not least the minimum wage, education reform, Sure Start, a huge fall in pensioner poverty and investment in public services. Things did get better. They can do so again.

The far right halted

For once, the polls were correct. On 23 April, the centrist Emmanuel Macron triumphed in the first round of the French election with 24 per cent of the vote. The Front National’s Marine Le Pen came second with 21.3 per cent in an election in which the two main parties were routed. The two candidates will now face off on 7 May, and with the mainstream candidates of both left and right falling in behind Mr Macron, he will surely be France’s next president.

“There’s a clear distinction to be made between a political adversary and an enemy of the republic,” said Benoît Hamon, the candidate of the governing Parti Socialiste, who had strongly criticised Mr Macron during the campaign. “This is deadly serious now.” He is correct. Mr Macron may be a centrist rather than of the left but he is a democratic politician. Ms Le Pen is a borderline fascist and a victory for her would herald a dark future not just for France but for all of Europe. It is to Donald Trump’s deep shame that he appeared to endorse her on the eve of the vote.

This article first appeared in the 27 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Cool Britannia 20 Years On

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