Podcast Ep. 160: The Great Masquerade

This week we discuss the sneaky Russians infiltrating British society, the fascist government forcing us all to wear masks, and everybody losing their jobs for having naughty opinions.

Joining us are Jazza’s plans to cancel Jimmy on Twitter.

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The narrowing of the progressive newsman’s mind

Most people will justifiably not give a shit about the resignation of a New York Times opinion editor. Partly because most people are not American – and basically nobody is a New Yorker – but also because media on media commentary is by definition masturbatory.

The subtext for Bari Weiss’s resignation is nonetheless an essential one for any writer: what can you say? It’s a question that can be understood legally, socially, and morally, and teasing out distinctive answers is tricky.

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Can we cancel cancel culture?

Some time ago a listener of the podcast asked me not use the word ‘retarded’ in any future episode. I declined, somewhat impolitely. He bid me farewell, and I assume he’s not heard from me since.

In some way this was a tiny act of ‘cancel culture’. The listener enjoyed the podcast, but felt he could not keep tuning in if I was to use the r-word again. And so a one-man boycott began, which is somewhat less impressive than the 7.8 billion who don’t listen due to lack of interest.

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Politics and ice cream deserve to be different choices

Few would have guessed that in 2020 an alleged resurgence of ‘white supremacy’ in the United States would face condemnation from a plucky ice cream maker based in Vermont. Yet after a black man was killed in Minneapolis, Ben & Jerry’s issued a statement calling for an end to “a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black [sic] bodies as the enemy from the beginning”.

“Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms,” the ice cream maker said. It had four demands.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s misleading American revolution

Yes, Hamilton is a masterpiece. The tunes are great, the costumes pleasing, and the melding of rap and hip hop with 18th century constitutional wrangling inspired. You should stream it on Disney Plus as soon as you can.

But there is something unconvincing about the musical retelling of the US treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s life. The work’s politics sit oddly with the history of the time, even if they make sense in a year where American shame about its past is felling statues nationwide. Its progressive ‘narrative’, as the kids say, makes for dubious history.

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