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Dog Whistle Of The Century

Dog Whistle Of The Century

The Daily Telegraph has brilliantly employed juxaposition of text and image on its front cover 29-May-2009 to Dog Whistle to the fear and paranoia of Muslims and Islam felt by many of the ‘Howard Battlers’ or ‘working families’ of Sydney.

The cover is completely filled with a picture of one of Skaf brothers (notorious young Lebanese Muslim rapists) being visited by his parents in jail. Skaf and his mother occupy most of the shot. Skaf has his arm and hand extended towards his mother palm-up and is holding something indistinguishable. The text reads (to paraphrase) ‘How did the evil Skaf brothers get a mobile phone in jail ?’

The answer, supplied by the highly suggestive picture is that his mother smuggled it in under her Islamic garb in which she is dressed. Here’s the story from the on-line edition.

Islamophobic fear, for which female Islamic attire is a lightning rod, is thus aroused by the implication that a MUSLIM RAPIST has received COVERT SUPPORT from an ISLAMIC woman DECEITFULLY using HIJAB to CONCEAL CONTRABAND.

The sub-texts:
– They can’t be trusted.
– They are not repentant.
– SHE COULD HAVE A BOMB just as easily as a phone.

The sales strategy of the Daily Telegraph is to reflect, reinforce and justify prejudice (and supply the racing form guide). The May 29 issue is a surpassing example.

Whatever Skaf’s crimes I find it entirely understandable that his mother should wish to be able to speak to him and, notwithstanding the repulsive nature of Skaf’s crimes, it is understandable he wishes to speak with her. But its jail. He can’t have a mobile phone.

The Daily Telegraph does not explore this human angle on the story, but instead bashes on relentlessly in its supporting article about Law And Order issues, content to let its cover Dog Whistle the rest.

Which it does brilliantly for the coffers of the Telegraph, for the xenophobia of its readership and to the general poisoning of the mass culture.


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