The Troll of the Month is an incident we choose every month to expose racist and anti-religious haters and to show positive outcomes in the fight against intolerance in Europe.
A local newspaper in Hull, a city in the United Kingdom, published an article in their print paper on March 19th titled: “Our country must unite if we want to become stronger.” The piece, which was an opinion piece from a Hull resident, talked about the coronavirus and how the UK as a country had to come together to fight it. Unfortunately, the author used this positive sentiment to spread hate.
"It is much easier to be united in our aims when everyone shares the same values and instinctively knows that they belong. Enemies of our country trot out cliches such as 'we are a nation of immigrants' and 'diversity is our strength'," the author writes. He continues: "The idea that we have always been a diverse country is largely a false one - often spoken by those who don't wish us well. Similar peoples melted together and have lived as one people for a thousand years." Later on, he writes: "Political Islamists want to forcibly convert the rest of us to a religion that traditionally doesn't belong in our land. Some people retain ties with the Indian subcontinent or various Caribbean Islands, giving them a divided loyalty,” and concludes with: "Others feel alienated because they are essentially foreigners and wouldn't be here in a healthy political climate. Some indigenous people are alienated because they support poisonous anti-British ideologies, that set them against society as a whole."
Many felt it was irresponsible for Hull Daily Mail to publish this in their newspaper, as it includes such clear hate. The author seems to think that anyone who is not natively British does not belong in the country, and that the only way to beat the coronavirus would be to come together as one, which he feels is not possible as the United Kingdom is too diverse.
Hull Daily Mail received several complaints and a few days later printed an apology in their paper: “We would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by an opinion piece submitted by a reader, which appeared in the First Person column in yesterday's paper. The views published were those of the author and did not reflect the opinions of this newspaper or its staff, but we now realise they caused unnecessary offence to a number of people and communities. Furthermore, in light of this unfortunate error, the First Person column has been withdrawn until further notice.” Hull West MP Emma Hardy also commented on the incident, stating: “We as a community and a country cannot tolerate incitement of hatred against anyone, especially when we are united in our battle with coronavirus.”
Opinion pieces play an important part in the media, as they allow readers to be exposed to different sides of certain topics. However, this can be achieved without spreading hate; discussion can take place without hate speech being present. Hull Daily Mail decided to withdraw their First Person column, which is not necessary and would be a shame for those who wish to share their views in the future. Hull Daily Mail just needs to ensure that they preview all content published, and moderate it for hate.