It was Dean Howells who first said, ‘The problem for a critic is not making enemies but keeping them.’ On this account I have been diligent and fortunate in my life so far.
There is Nick Griffin of the BNP, for instance, who attacks me for many things including being ‘a cheer-leader for multi-racialism’ and, like some others, for being gay. In recent days two other critics who I regard as equally insignificant have once again been active. I generally try not to get into this kind of thing because I have a lot of work to do and deadlines to meet. But I thought it might be time to deal, briefly, with both. They are called Marko Attila Hoare (of a publicly-funded body called Kingston University) and Sunny Hundal. Let me take them in order.
It is no one’s fault if they have not heard of Hoare. His opinions are largely self-published. But he is someone who carries a particular and apparently unquenchable animus against me. This has been demonstrated in an endless stream of blogs and tweets. He appears to find two things particularly trying. The first is my insistence on expressing my own opinions rather than his. Despite his frequent abuse, I can still find no way in which to solve this problem. The second are his complaints that I have on occasion been found in some room or other with some writer or other of whom Hoare himself disapproves. He often alerts people to this on Twitter. Among those he tries to rouse and promote are some of the most notorious vilifiers of Israel and the Jews. He may be unhappy with the company I keep, but I should think that students and academics who come into contact with him should be far more unhappy with the company he keeps.
Hoare’s latest outburst is caused by my March article (in Standpoint magazine) on the 2011 census for England and Wales, and in particular to my reference to ‘white British’ people. The fact that ‘white British’ is the terminology which the census itself employs is either not known to this individual or not his concern. But if he wants to continue his attempts to insinuate that I am racist because of this usage then he really ought to go the whole hog and accuse the authors, compilers and most participants in the 2011 census of being racists as well.
Very occasionally there are those on the fringes of the political left who have given Hoare the blog-space to air his opinions to a wider audience. This platform tends to be extended not due to Hoare’s distinction as a writer but because he claims a sort of ‘whistleblower’ status, claiming to have been a leading member of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) – the think-tank of which I am a member. My colleague Alan Mendoza – the Executive Director of HJS – has dealt with this false claim here. I would only add that until reading Alan’s piece I had no idea that Hoare has ever been even once into the HJS offices. He certainly has not for some years. He has also never met any of the HJS staff, let alone me. His ‘insider knowledge’ appears to be based on having been a freelance contributor to the website some years ago before it was an actual up-and-running organisation. All this is particularly sad because had Hoare ever approached me before becoming obsessed with me I might have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with him.
The second critic is someone I have met – indeed we crossed over in a TV studio only the other week. This is someone called Sunny Hundal who is the sole editor of a not-for-profit left-wing blog-site. Like Hoare he likes to engage in – and whip up others into – a certain amount of name-calling of me online. This does not surprise or trouble me, but perhaps I should finally reveal the reason for this.
Some years back Mr Hundal began writing unpleasant but silly articles about me on his blog. This did not bother me. However, one day I was directed to something he wrote which was profoundly, disturbingly and very provably defamatory. I resorted – for one of the very few times in my life – to the protection of the law. English libel law may be in a mess, but it is still there and ought always to be there to defend against malicious and flat-out falsehood.
Mr Hundal was invited to retract. After a certain amount of evasion on his part he did so, thus ensuring that the case never reached court. Had it done so I would have won the case and it would have cost Mr Hundal a very large amount of money. As it was he agreed to pay my costs. The gorier details of this process are not something I will make public because they are deeply embarrassing for Mr Hundal.
Hundal accepted that he had been entirely and completely in the wrong. He published a full and complete retraction and apology to me on his website. I don’t doubt that had this happened to me I would feel sore about it. But I like to think that had the roles been reversed I would not have developed such a Hoare-like obsession, keeping me up on the internet until the early hours of the morning. In any case, keeping these details private up until now has obviously done no good, which is why I lay them out publicly now.
Anyhow – apologies to readers for troubling you with this.
I am now getting back to work.