Monday, November 27, 2006

Diana's Death an Islamic Plot?

Stephen Tall speculates how Princess Diana's death would be reported or handled by the media today. He raises the point that the blogosphere would present a new forum for those who weren't all that bothered, or who thought that everyone in general had overreacted:

The 44 per cent of us who had no voice, and began to wonder if we were the only ones with any sense of perspective, would have soon realised how widely shared was our reaction. Blogs, Internet forums, newspaper websites - all would have reflected the spectrum of public opinion.

That, in turn, might have prompted the media to take a step back, to look with rather more cool analytical detachment at the varied response of the public, rather than assume an entire nation had lapsed into a self-absorbed stasis of group-think emotional incontinence.

I was in Japan when she died, and avoided most of the hubbub, although the media coverage there was probably as comprehensive as at home. People were shocked when I told them I wasn't particularly upset by the tragic events.

Iain Dale was one of those emotional types "howling" during the funeral. I howled too, but with laughter (the Japanese broadcast was unintentionally hilarious). His comments on ST's piece:

I am not sure that much would have been different. Stephen is right that those who felt the public reaction was out of all proportion would have had more of a voice nowadays, but I doubt whether that would have had much of an effect on the mainstream media coverage.

I think there would be a big difference now, certainly with regards to explanations for the cause of the crash. Many people then bought into conspiracy theories saying that the British government, or the Royal Family, or the security services, or some combination of all three was responsible for the crash. That they didn't want a Muslim to marry the mother of the heirs to the throne.

At the time, the theories weren't so outlandish. But now I'm sure the Muslim angle on the story would be the complete opposite. Either Dodi would be fingered as a suicide candidate, somehow engineering the crash from inside the car, or (more likely, perhaps) Islamic extremist groups would be linked to the accident - wanting to target a high profile figure to make some political point. Precisely what point would of course be hypothesised by the press and investigating police. Either way, the mainstream media in 2006 could not portray Muslims as victims so easily. If they didn't think it a pure accident, people would assume an Islamic hand was guiding events (well, unless they thought Vladimir Putin was behind it).

Here's a point to finish with. We remember Di and Dodi, but let's also not forget Jemima Goldsmith marrying Imran Khan a couple of years earlier. Their relationships were all over the papers a decade ago. Two proper, establishment ladies, with Muslim partners. Could we see such a thing now? I doubt it very much. In the 1997 media, Muslims were wealthy playboys whose yachts and summerhouses were exotically alluring to British society. Now, if we believe what we see, Muslims are introverted, would-be martyrs who live in semis in Luton or High Wycombe, plotting the best way to nobble a bus.

Think I'm wrong? Try this then:
Say "Muslim" to yourself.
Who do you picture? Omar Sharif or Abu Hamza.

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