The Daily Mail. Or the Daily Fail if one prefers to use the epithet by which it has become labelled amongst those whom view its ridiculous and worryingly regular sentiments of unsourced xenophobia a consistent outrage. A national newspaper with a right-wing stance which would be nothing more than a comedic caricature if it wasn’t for the simple fact that it has somehow attained a readership in its millions amongst its middle class target audience, a section of society that undoubtedly ingests these articles as the gospel truth of the world they live in.
You know the types of stories? The Left wing are the great unwashed, all Muslims are terrorists and and asylum seekers are not victims of oppressing regimes but grasping thieves of the benefits system. This is the paper that proclaimed that 61 members of the 2012 Olympics Team GB were not actually British but “plastic Brits” including heroes Mo Farah and Bradley Wiggins, which naturally caused much offence. They then went a step further by lambasting the representation of Multiculturalism at the Olympic opening ceremony and scoffing at the idea of mixed marriages, of which I personally am the product of. The opinion piece included the lines “it was the absurdly unrealistic scene showing a mixed-race middle-class family in a detached new-build surburban home” before quickly following it up with “it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up“. Ridiculous.
On Monday 26th November another target was attacked by this pitiful publication and that was the Welsh Language and by proxy the Welsh people whom utilise this language. The article was run with the headline “Tyranny of the Welsh Taliban”. What? The Welsh Taliban? I’m sorry, but I didn’t realise that there was the equivalent of the extreme Afghani fundamentalist sect prospering within Wales. Barely a day goes by that I see a plethora of executions on the Millennium Stadium pitch and suicide bomb attacks around the town centre of Aberystwyth. Ridiculous comparison before even reading the article, and indicative of the Daily Mail’s propensity to insert any negative connotation that relates to the Muslim world into their stories. Whilst I can how it can confuse those wonderful people over at the Daily Mail, what with Wales being a mountainous region with a history of military invasion from the English, to make the sudden leap to Taliban-based comparisons seems extreme in the least. Of course I suppose we should be thankful to their stupidity for it has helped initiate on of the Twitter highlights of the year in the #WelshTaliban hashtag that highlights the best of Welsh humour.
The article professes to have been written by Roger Lewis, who opens his diatribe by highlighting his Welsh credentials. Nicely played Daily Mail, it can’t be a racist or offensive article if written by one of their own can it? All this proves is that Mr Lewis clearly has an element of self-hate regarding his Welsh background and probably has longed for acceptance into the English establishment. He states he knows that “popty-ping” is the Welsh word for microwave. No its not. Its slang. He then goes on to state;
“In South Wales, where I am from, there was never any tradition of Welsh speaking. And at the turn of the last century, though my great-grandparents spoke Welsh to each other…”
Wait…what? There was not tradition of Welsh speaking you state, but then highlight a perfectly good example of Welsh speaking. It takes an incredible skill to contradict oneself in the same paragraph. Mr Lewis stated that he had been raised in Monmouthshire, an area of Wales with a low quota of Welsh speakers. He seems to use this as his basis for stating there is no tradition of Welsh speakers. He has clearly never travelled further West into Wales, into areas like the Amman Valley or other parts of Carmarthenshire which have regularly posted above 50% Welsh Language users in official census’. Last time I checked, this is still South Wales.
“For Welsh has become a political and divisive weapon in the principality – and the stories one hears are like those tales of oppression that used to seep out from behind the Iron Curtain”
Another scaremongering story from the Daily Mail, this time a subtle dig at socialists and the left-wing, attempting to compare a couple of people speaking Welsh to each other to the regime of Stalin. They do love an overreaction don’t they, these Daily Mail types? As for divisive and political? I’m sure Plaid Cymru, that bastion of Welsh Nationalism, have only recently appointed a non-first language speaker as their Party Chairman and I do know personally having never been excluded from the friendships of those who speak better Welsh than myself. Ridiculous line from Mr Lewis.
“Now we learn that one school in Ceredigion – which used to be quite happily Cardiganshire when I was a lad – the children are not allowed to use the toilet unless they ask the teacher in Welsh. Furthermore, one mother is said to have been urged not to read her child English bedtime books, and at another school, a child was admonished for speaking English in the playground”
Ah yes, Mr Lewis’ desire for anglicisation. How dare the Welsh, recently empowered to reverse centuries of imposed Anglicisation from Westminster, proudly rename their country Ceredigion. Is Mr Lewis aware of the history? Yes it might have been Cardiganshire when he was a kid, but 1000 years ago it was Ceredigion. So surely it is irrelevant if it was ok when 50 years ago, or is he that self-important that his own memory is more important than history? I’m sure a Welsh school might urge a parent to help improve a child’s usage of Welsh through ideal teaching practices like bedtime reading, but it is up to the mother to act on this. I’m sure she could just say no? Its hardly being demanded to at gunpoint. Why have these schools and teachers remained nameless? Is this yet another Daily Mail story without source. Name and shame these schools if you are going to stand behind this story, otherwise I have to admit I don’t quite believe you. Remember those yearly rumours that a Muslim has cancelled christmas or refuses to sell Poppy’s in his store…always without source. One may even consider a sourceless story to merely be lies, fiction, conjured up from a hateful mind to further ones agenda.
“Some children are, it seems, too frightened to speak English, even at home. This sort of thing would have done the Warsaw Pact proud”
I find this hard to believe. Are children who are made solely to converse in French or German during high school language classes too afraid to speak their native language at home? No. More fiction I believe, again without sourced material. As for the Warsaw Pact, merely the second reference to Communism. In a story about Wales. Go figure dear reader.
Mr Lewis then goes on to lament that many employers request applicants to be proficient in Welsh. How dare employers advertise for a Welsh speaker for a job in Wales. God forbid that an English employer in England want an English-speaker in the role, or a French employer in France want a French-speaker and so on. Mr Lewis may never have considered the fact that many people, contrary to his claims, expect services to be done in Wales through the medium of their first language of Welsh and thus there is a duty to these people to offer such services. His desire to outlaw this ironically paints him as the fascist and not this “Welsh Taliban”. Not surprising considering the Daily Mail’s history of supporting Fascism during the pre-World War II days. He also claims that such Welsh speakers are ill-equipped with the world at large and would be confined to Wales or Patagonia, completely ignoring the fact that every Welsh speaker is also a fluent English speaker as well. Don’t let facts get in the way a good scaremonger however.
Roger Lewis also refers to a former colleague of his at Oxford whom backs up his views that Welsh is a dying language, although again without a name or source it is impossible to verify such quotes. Does this former colleague exist? Can he corroborate this? What exactly is his role at Oxford? He also states there is no Welsh Shakespeare. How would he know, he has shunned the Welsh language. Although I am not a fluent Welsh speaker or reader, I am not so ignorant as to not accept there is a plethora of great Welsh literature on the market, both modern and historical. He then cites the Welsh Language Society as the equivalent of the Taliban. This comparison deserves no further comment, such is the patheticness of such a mentality.
Mr Lewis finishes his hatchet job of an article by lamenting that Tenby was always Tenby until only a few years ago when it suddenly became Dynbych-y-Pysgod. Displaying his incredible sense of ignorance and lack of research, he would be keen to note that it is not “Dynbych” but rather Dinbych and the name is an historical reference and not suddenly dreamt up by the Taliban in the last decade. He then refers to YET ANOTHER story about a Welshman refusing a taxi and preferring to walk home because the said-vehicle didn’t have the Welsh variation of “tacsi” on it. I say story because surely this is a work of fiction. I’d be interested to know where he heard about this story or did he create it?
I hope that the millions of Daily Mail readers are able to treat this article with the cynical contempt that it deserves, a rabblerousing piece of racist rubbish against the Welsh Language. Mr Lewis has previous on his attacks against the Welsh Language. On 12th August 2011, in a review on Jasper Rees’ brilliant book “Bred of Heaven”, the journalist, and I use the word loosely, states “not many people in full possession of their faculties would find it appealing or necessary to try to turn themselves into a ‘real Welshman’. He also states “I abhor the appalling and moribund monkey language myself“. He claims to be a Proud Welshman. I suggest the hateful Mr Lewis look up the definition of the word Proud in the Dictionary, an English language one if he prefers, and stop aiding in the incitement of racial hatred against the people of the Land of his Fathers.