Blogger calls Dalrymple evil, journalists endorse

As some of you know, New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny tweeted the following on November 5th:

“Sharing a copy of The Spectator w some hoodie-wearing yoofs on the bus. After some discussion, we all agree that Theodore Dalrymple is evil.”

Note the moral authority the adult writer ascribes to some slovenly-dressed kids and the pathetic attempt to garner “street credibility” by deliberately misspelling the word “youth” in slum fashion (exactly the “downward cultural aspiration” of which Dalrymple has written).

The message was re-tweeted by Guardian contributor Dan Hind and New Statesman legal correspondent David Allen Green.

Hind’s retweet drew a sharp rebuke in the Telegraph from Katharine Birbalsingh, the teacher sacked last month for criticizing the British educational system at the Conservative Party conference. Calling Hind a friend, she pointed out that Dalrymple “spent many years working with the poorest of the poor as a psychiatrist in British prisons” (though in fact this greatly understates his decades of work among the poorin AfricaEngland and elsewhere). She added, “Theodore Dalrymple helped the poor every day of his working life, but I’m not sure whether my friend can say the same for himself. Does working for big publishing houses and attending champagne parties equal working in the squalor of British prisons day in, day out?”.

(Birbalsingh did not name Hind directly, but it is clear that she was referring to him. She tweeted on November 8th that “Dan says Theodore Dalrymple is evil and it has made me so angry I have written a blog”. Hind is the only Dan she was following on Twitter. Other publicly-available communication between the two on this matter explicitly confirms this.)

It’s no surprise that these particular writers strongly disagree with Dalrymple. The New Statesman is an avowedly radical leftist magazine. Hind has no idea who committed the 9/11 attacks. Penny, a self-described deviant socialist reprobate, “incensed with rage” and seemingly at war with the world, is the author of such measured and reasonable statements as “the Tories have just imposed a Final Solution on the urban poor.” She tweeted the following from Wednesday’s protest-turned-riot at Conservative Party headquarters at Millbank Tower:

“Right outside millbank tower. Windows smashing. Smoke bombs going off. Anarchy in the UK!”

“This is simultaneously terrifying and the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

“This is the violence of the disposessed. They are not a minority. They are young and scared and angry. Listen before condemning.”

“No I don’t like violence. But this is what happens when govt decides it can override the people. It’s tragic, yes.”

“there was violence on both sides. I’m not condoning or condemning it. It’s just sad that it’s come to this.”

Got that? Sufficiently outraged to shout “evil” at someone like Dalrymple, but strictly non-judgemental about riots and terrorist attacks. One would think this lunacy would prevent Penny, Green and Hind from being taken seriously. In fact, Penny is on the short list for an Orwell Prize for blogging, Green is a judge for it, and Hind spoke last week at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). So in the end, the whole affair merely confirms Dalrymple’s warnings about the modern intellectual establishment.

37 thoughts on “Blogger calls Dalrymple evil, journalists endorse

  1. Colin P

    Well said! The rank hypocrisy of the left in the UK is beyond parody. The thin end of the wedge began in the 60’s – now complete lunacy passes for serious comment. I do hope the US avoids a similar fate..

  2. Gavin

    Brilliant post. I commented under Katharine Birbalsingh’s article and I think this issue may merit some more attention following your excellent summary.

    This was a juvenile and ignorant insult from “journalist” Laurie Penny which utterly endorsed Dalrymple’s points. She disgraced herself, so the more widely this is known, I think, the better.

  3. David Allen Green

    Given that Laurie Penney is an old sparring partner of mine, I do not think you should rule out that my RT was ironic.


  4. Jonathan Levy

    Well obviously he’s evil. After all, the measure of morality is whether you are willing to chant the platitudes of the multicultural state, and express only sympathy and compassion for anyone poorer than you are, regardless of their actions. What do decades of helping the poor have to do with it? Espousing politically correct ideas makes a man moral, not his actions.


    (sarcasm off)

    It might be premature to worry about the Orwell Prize, though. Didn’t they give it in the past to Nightjack, whose ideas were very much in line with Dalrymple’s? One of his signature posts was titled “The Evil Poor”, if I’m not mistaken.

  5. James

    Would be useful to know which Dalrymple article she was referring to – then we can make a judgement on whether her description of him as evil is accurate!

    Does sound like she was being juvenile, which anyone acquainted with her writing, is the default position. To consider her in any way an intellectual is to completely upgrade the quality of her writing beyond its actuality!

    I write as someone who is of a left persuasion (I vote Green) but tires of the tribalists who keep trying to relive past glories rather than dealing with the here and now!

  6. Calculus

    “Note the moral authority the adult writer ascribes to some slovenly-dressed kids and the pathetic attempt to garner “street credibility” by deliberately misspelling the word “youth” in slum fashion (exactly the “downward cultural aspiration” of which Dalrymple has written).”

    Ahahahahaha! Brilliant, hilarious stuff.

    At least one of our irony detection systems has gone seriously askew, that much is certain.

  7. James Furbiton

    Is this meant to be a joke? Or did you genuinely misunderstand the original tweet so badly?

    If so, this demonstrates such a remarkable lack of perspective that I may have to go back to Royal Wedding coverage for a pinch of sanity!

  8. E. A. B.

    Ah, of course — a joke! Oh, how we laughed!

    …The trick of bullies throughout the ages: when called out for one’s antics, simply feign disbelief with, “Aw, come on, I was only joking!”

    Leftists *love* to watch a rabble of young wasters smashing things to pieces, because at heart that’s what they want to do themselves — and have indeed done, whenever they’ve been able to come up with a pretext.

    Leftism is — and always was — a vehicle by which educated antinomians pass off their resentments as altruism. Whether it’s 1968 or 1789, the players are the same. Yet the ones suffering the most are poorer ordinary folk.

  9. Bunbury

    …But what if “the joke” is so feeble as to barely register as humour? In such cases, “telling everyone you didn’t get it” is surely to one’s credit?

    …Indeed, to laugh one’s socks off at something weak and puerile is merely to demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice one’s wit for conformity’s sake.

    Oscar Wilde it ain’t…

  10. J.R. Cagey

    Didn’t sound like much of a joke to me. Laurie Penny is so extreme that nobody could be shocked to learn she really does think Dalrymple evil. If she had said “we all agree that Dalrymple is a knight in shining armour,” that would be recognisable at an attempt at humour. However, calling someone you are known not to agree with “evil” is not obviously a joke, especially when you have a penchant for ludicrous hyperbole.

    And, even if it was a joke, it is in very poor taste to call somebody “evil” in jest.

  11. Svein Sellanraa

    An observation from the continent: There seems to exist a type of middle-class British leftist who is more obliviously, arrogantly, sanctimoniously degenerate than anything or anyone else in the world. Laurie Penny is only one example — Johann Hari is one of many others.

  12. R.T Smethwick

    George Orwell wrote this seventy years ago and it still perfectly describes people like Laurie Penny:

    `In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.`

  13. R.T Smethwick

    An addendum to the above comment, I also found this gem from Orwell which also perfectly describes the blindness of the left in present day Britain to our social problems.

    `The mentality of the English left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half a dozen weekly and monthly papers. The immediately striking thing about all these papers is their generally negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion. There is little in them except the irresponsible carping of people who have never been and never expect to be in a position of power. Another marked characteristic is the emotional shallowness of people who live in a world of ideas and have little contact with physical reality.`

  14. Gavin

    R.T Smethwick – what excellent and relevant quotations you have sourced from Orwell there.

    I have often reflected on the way that “thought crime” and “news revisionism” have come true in the form of rampant political correctness from the left, not from the right. TD discusses the latter to some degree in “The New Vichy Syndrome”.

    On a related note, I was recently recommended this essay, which was written in 1973 and explains the problems with the liberal/left egalitarian mission – it is doomed to fail because of the variety among human beings, a variety we should embrace rather than deny:

  15. Clinton

    Svein, that is a very astute observation. I think the desire for some middle-class people to flaunt their degeneracy stems from a dumb belief in the need for authenticity, and that only the base and the vulgar is truly authentic.

  16. Clinton

    Gavin, the essay you linked to is excellent! I have often wondered why no one seems to notice the contradiction between the left’s belief in racial diversity and their desire for economic equality. Race comes from genes. Racial diversity is genetic diversity, and genetic diversity leads to varying economic outcomes. If people have different combinations of genes (different races, heights, levels of intelligence, physical strength, charisma, humor, ability to do math, etc.) then people necessarily are going to earn different levels of income, because some people will possess genetic characteristics that society rewards with more income (IE ability to understand math and science) than other genetic characteristics.

  17. Damo

    Yes, he did win the award and then he was outed by a journalist. He had to give up blogging and was reprimanded by his bosses. He was one of the first blogs I used to read when I got connected to the interweb in 2008. There is another cop out there, who would have similar views to TD.

  18. soin

    I’m very interested in this subject and I myself do alot of research as well. Either way it was a well thoughtout and nice read so I figured I would leave you a comment. Feel free to check out my website sometime and let me know what you think soin.

  19. sexy

    Informative, but not convincing. Something is missing, but what I do not understand. But, frankly: – Bright and benevolent thoughts.


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