Which is not generally hated

It is hated, threatened and read - now Julie Burchill can stage herself as a victim of the cancel culture

The English polemicist Julie Burchill cannot publish her new book: an exchange of blows on Twitter was full of hatred and also Islamophobic, argues her publisher. A setback? Not at all.

Hardly anyone loves noise like Julie Burchill. And hardly anyone has such a big mouth as she does. Now the British star journalist is embroiled in an argument again. Your book “Welcome to the Woke Trials” revolves around the excesses of the cancel culture - and this book itself has now been canceled.

The work was due to be published by Little, Brown in March. But after Burchill had an exchange of blows on Twitter with the left-wing Muslim journalist Ash Sarkar, the publisher terminated the contract. And accused the author of spreading hate speech and Islamophobia.

«Racist» criticism of religion

This confrontation ends up exactly where Julie Burchill's book aims: the fundamentalist, even intolerant claim to tolerance. Banning the language, preventing works and attempting to destroy careers are among the means practiced by wokeness activists. In doing so, they want to force a collective rethinking of gender and minority issues - with the long-term goal of creating a morally pure, allegedly just society.

The Twitter dispute between Burchill and the Guardian author Sarkar sparked over an old article that Burchill's colleague Rod Liddle had written eight years ago. At that time Liddle placed the moderately funny joke in the conservative magazine "The Spectator" that he never wanted to be a schoolteacher because he would probably have tried to seduce his students. The sentence matched the satirical-provocative tone of the article - a bad joke, but at least recognizable as such.

Ash Sarkar, however, brought out the sentence eight years after its publication in order to scourge the author Liddle as a pedophile. Whereupon Burchill jumped to the side of her colleague on Twitter and asked Sarkar what age was the Prophet Muhammad's first wife? She herself, Burchill added, does not worship pedophiles - unlike the Muslim Ash Sarkar. (Burchill was incorrectly referring to Muhammad's first wife, who was older than him, but was probably referring to her successor, Aisha, whom he is said to have married at pre-pubescent age. *)

The blogger Sarkar then accused Burchill of Islamophobia. The subsequent Twitter storm was followed by the termination of her book contract. Little Brown, an offshoot of Hachette, announced that they are passionate about freedom of speech. But Burchill's comments on Islam cannot be defended from either a moral or an intellectual standpoint.

She has crossed a line with regard to "race and religion" and her announced work is inseparably linked to these views. The publisher referred exclusively to the journalist's exchange of blows on Twitter, as if criticism of a religious founder were racist.

"Unrestrained Vulgarity"

In the pre-announcement, “Welcome to the Woke Trials” was touted as “a characteristically disrespectful and entertaining analysis of the key elements of an ongoing and disturbing phenomenon”, “told with the general intelligibility and rampant vulgarity that made Burchill famous”.

The announcement sounds as if the publisher was afraid of its own author in advance. Everyone who works with Burchill knows what they are getting into. Even before the publication of her previous book “The Unchosen” (2014), the philosemitic Zionist was prophesied that many Muslims and multiculturalists would be deeply shocked by their “Islamophobia” and “racism”.

The journalist Ash Sarkar, with whom Burchill quarreled on Twitter, is a sharp critic of Israel, once described by the Times as “Britain's loudest supporter of Corbyn”. As is well known, the former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly caused criticism for his lack of demarcation from anti-Semites.

Praise for the Falklands War and calls for elections for the left

In 2018, Sarkar himself defended the anti-Zionist activist Ewa Jasiewicz, who once sprayed “Free Gaza and Palestine” on a wall in the Warsaw ghetto. The blogger, who has 276,000 followers on Twitter, described herself as a communist. In an interview with the Guardian, she explained that she was not concerned with authoritarian bureaucracy and the suppression of individual freedoms, but rather with the “longing to dismantle the coercive structures of the state while having fun”.

A deeper reason for the dispute between Burchill and Sarkar, however, lies in the irreconcilable style of the conversation. Even the most furious diatribes by the hedonistic, libertarian polemicist Burchill contain elements of amused provocation; a gift that persistent woke activists usually lack. She has a pronounced aversion to nuanced considerations - which makes her not exactly recommended as a serious political commentator.

Her strength lies in the observation of social developments, whereby she likes to start with her own experiences and blaspheme about herself as much as about others. The author established her fame as a teenager; she worked for newspapers as diverse as the Sunday Times and the Guardian, defended Margaret Thatcher's Falklands War and got a column in the right-wing Daily Mail. However, she then asked their readers to vote on the left.

Contradiction and contradiction are Burchill's elixir of life. She was repeatedly involved in legal disputes, among others with the actor and theater man Steven Berkoff, whom she had described in an article as "terribly ugly".

She argues non-academic and explains it openly. The fact that with every article, whether hair-raising nonsensical or brilliant, she overshoots the target and makes explanations that would cause heart attacks to others is one of her trademarks. It anticipated the style of the escalating debate on social media before it became a widely available weapon. After all, there is a reason why Burchill was ranked 85th of the “100 worst Brits” in a 2003 survey by Channel 4.

Shame on the son's suicide

The dispute over Burchill's canceled book seems as absurd as the transgender debate over J. K. Rowling. The "Harry Potter" author had triggered a shit storm with statements about transsexuality; This is partly because she finds claims that biological women have no common experiences "misogynistic and regressive".

But while Rowling was hurt by the hateful reactions, Burchill processed the attacks in her own way. This despite the fact that her Twitter haters were not too bad to cover the author with malicious remarks about her son's suicide. Burchill signed off her Twitter account, but continued to comment on the event from her Facebook page.

She confronts her opponents not only in a robust manner, but also with the sarcasm that is typical of many of her texts: "I've been receiving death threats since I was 17 and it excites me sexually." Even if the 61-year-old can compete with her opponents in terms of polemics and loudness, she has some advantages over them: above all, the gift of writing better and funnier than most of her critics.

Because these are not about jokes, on the contrary, they are downright eager to misunderstand jokes and satire. A telling symptom of the post-ironic woke culture is its complete lack of humor. With the backing out of the publisher, Burchill's latest book is now receiving even more advertising, which of course has not escaped its critics. They would probably have gotten exactly the book they deserved from Burchill - and they will very likely get it after Burchill finds another publisher.

* The addition in brackets was added after this article was first published.