Showing the maturity that they are famous for, the press has launched a full-scale assault on Nick Clegg. It’s largely not about the issues but a range or other things including doing a bit of investigative journalism discovering Google can find them things they think will embarrass the Lib Dem leader. The Daily Mail accuse him of a Nazi slur on Britain, when he was actually writing (in 2002) about how as a student, his classmates had behaved appallingly towards German exchange students.
A boy called Adrian started it. He shouted from the back of the coach, “we own your country, we won the war”. Other boys tittered. One put a finger to his upper lip – the traditional British schoolyard designation for Hitler’s moustache – threw his arm out in a Nazi salute, and goose-stepped down the bus aisle. Soon there was a cascade of sneering jokes, most delivered in ‘Allo ‘Allo German accents.
I remember two things vividly. First, none of the girls in my class joined in. It seemed to be a male thing. Second, the German schoolchildren did not appear angry, or even offended. That was what was so heart wrenching. They just looked confused, utterly bewildered. To a generation of young Germans, raised under the crushing, introspective guilt of postwar Germany, the sight of such facile antics was simply incomprehensible.
Fortunately, there is a court of appeals for the media these days. People have a way to respond to histrionic nonsense in the press. Twitter has responded with a satirical hashtag #nickcleggsfault, which is trending strongly this morning. It is a masterful display of humour in 140 characters of less.
urbancyclist: Nick Clegg was seen two weeks ago poking Eyjafjallajokull with a stick #nickcleggsfault
In the time that it took for me to copy those from Twitter, another 100 tweets have been posted. The hashtag has become so popular that you will now see some Lib Dem opponents riding the hashtag to add attacks against the party. The other pushback in Twitter has come from people pointing out Daily Mail support for the Nazis. Martin Belam posted this to Twitter:
Examples of real Daily Mail Nazi slurs, when the paper supported Mosley, Mussolini and Hitler in the 30s
Nick Clegg Nazi slur front page from the paper that opposed Jews being granted asylum in the UK in 1938. Irony much?
See Editors, the public can use Google too, and they’ve got you outnumbered. At the end of the day, I’m sure that the Editors will all agree that it’s #nickcleggsfault.