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The subjectivity and sincerity of different views

For my sins, yesterday I happened to watch a segment of Good Morning Britain, ITV’s early morning show anchored by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid in which some advance relish Morgan took on an elected member of the Scottish Parliament – and the Scottish Greens spokesman on Europe – named Ross Greer, aged 24.

Greer had hit the headlines for a tweet he had issued on the anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death in which he effectively summarised the WW2 period (and also later) Prime Minister as a racist mass murderer.

Piers Morgan has been building himself something of a reputation in past years as a British version of a US ‘shock jock’ radio/TV presenter by taking a broad “Has the world gone completely mad?” stance from which vantage point he lays into every new example of female equality/diversity-disability-promoting/anti-meat-eating PC-campaigning with pantomime directness.

About a year ago I saw one edition of Good Morning Britain in which he took on – I cannot recall exactly which it was as I type – a member of either the LGBT community, or possibly it was a girl who claimed that she was ‘gender fluid’ and therefore, depending upon how she felt as she woke up, spent each day as either a boy or a girl.

Morgan came at this proposition from the angle that the modern tendency to pander to young ‘snowflake’ Millennials – e.g. by schools abandoning sporting contests in case any pupils were mentally damaged for life by not winning and, more latterly, so much encouragement to youngsters around the age of puberty etc. to agonise over their gender identity (boys so afflicted then acquiring the right to use the girls toilets, and vice versa) that it was now practically mandatory – was a complete load of piffle.

Eventually, having harangued this guest for several minutes, he reduced his argument to “Okay, I’ll tell you what … I might wake up tomorrow and decide to self-identify as an elephant. That will mean, of course, that I have the right to identify as an elephant … and everyone I meet tomorrow will have to treat me as an elephant … it’s all baloney [etc., ad infinitum] …”

Anyway, back to yesterday.

From my perspective, it seemed as if Morgan thought he was on a slam-dunk winner in taking on this Scottish politician.

But it didn’t quite turn out like that.

After Mr Greer had opened by not only repeating his remarks an expanding them with two minutes’ worth of supporting evidence (Churchill’s racists attitudes generally, his performance  during the Bengal Famine, the bombing of German civilians during WW2 and so on), in response Morgan steamed in with all the invective that any intelligent man might summon to put Mr Greer on the spot in having the effrontery to subject one of the great Englishmen of the 20th Century to a schoolboy-level attack as a ‘racist mass murderer’.

It demonstrated (Morgan implied) no understanding of history at all, no attempt to provide any ‘balanced’ view of Churchill’s towering achievements (not least including saving us from Hitler and the Nazis) and was an insult not only to Churchill but to everyone who had ever lived through WW2, and indeed the entire British nation.

Pausing only to draw breath, Morgan then noticed that Mr Greer was either smiling or worse as he listened – I think  – from down the line somewhere in Scotland.

“Stop smirking, you little …” [and so on and on it went].

The item must have lasted in all about ten minutes and – to be honest – from where I was sitting the result was a victory to Morgan, but not by a knockout or ‘referee stopped fight’.

It was more of a 115-113 points verdict.

The fact is that, every time Morgan paused for breath, Mr Greer came back with a rapid-delivery and pretty voluminous list of incidents and reported anecdotes that showed Churchill in a bad light.

He was quoting chapter and verse back at Morgan on historical incidents – for example, Allied/British WW2 policies on the Balkans etc. – virtually matching him blow-for-blow.

Mr Greer ended bloodied, but unbowed.

To declare an interest, I am a fan of Winston Churchill – and am currently reading and enjoying Andrew Robert’s new one-volume biography of him – notwithstanding that, for many, and indeed many contemporaries, he was a man of sometimes suspect principles (and on some occasions seemingly none) whose amazing drive and capacity for hard work, for large parts of his life, were directed at one aim and one aim only – self-advancement in the world of  British politics.

However, it seemed to me that yesterday the main impression I gained was that as many different views and interpretations of historic events – and those who shaped them – as it is theoretically possible to hold will at some point be held by someone.

And that applies whether an individual may be thick or intelligent … slightly unhinged, earnest but misguided, simply seeking the truth, grinding a particular political or other axe … or just making it up.

In other words, if you come from disadvantaged circumstances and have been drilled by left-leaning parents, teachers and/or lecturers all your life, your view of the world may be coloured by an assumption that all great men and women, particularly and of them who come from a different background to you, are inherently anti-equality and out for themselves.

And then, of course, if you come from relatively privileged origins, there’s a 50:50 chance that your attitudes to others will be equally affected by your formative experiences and education generally.

When great minds and expert captains of academia can hold diametrically-opposed views of the world and history one can be forgiven for thinking that actually there’s no right and wrong.

Only opinions.

I guess it’s another aspect of the whole “Fake News” phenomenon.

About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts