It’s time for Morrissey’s periodic turn as a subject of two minutes” hate. In a recent interview with news.com.au, the British singer provoked fury with his opposition to halal slaughter, a practice banned in several European countries. It is also now racist to state that London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks quickly. In the same interview, Morrissey, who was once voted Northern England’s greatest man ever (sorry, Bede), expressed admiration for figures as disparate as George Galloway and Nigel Farage.
Morrissey isn”t the world’s smartest celeb, but he’s far from the dumbest. His insight into the American press” support for Hillary Clinton (“…each time Bernie won in the primaries the CNN headline would be BAD NIGHT FOR HILLARY, yet when Clinton won, the headline would not mention Bernie, therefore it is planted in everyone’s mind that American politics belongs to Clinton and not to Sanders”) is far more insightful than anything Johnny Depp or Sean Penn might blather about American politics.
The left-wing press pounced for the 12th time, which might make him eligible for a freebie. The greatest focus was on Morrissey’s distaste for Sadiq Khan in particular and ritual slaughter in general. The Guardian published a piece that unironically begins with the word “wow.” The Quietus explored the troubling history of British musicians who prefer for Britain to remain British, from Eric Clapton’s praise of Enoch Powell to Roger Daltrey’s support for Brexit. Sadly, there was no mention of Ian Stuart Donaldson, who shares a birthday with me and the man whose name graces our masthead.
Anyone paying attention knows this isn”t Morrissey’s first rodeo. In 1985 he set the British rock press in a tizzy when he declared that “all reggae is vile.” The next year he labeled reggae the “total glorification of black supremacy” and stated that he “detest[ed]…black modern music.” The “hang the DJ” refrain in “Panic” was alleged to be coded racism, with much ink spilled over Morrissey’s lack of cultural sensitivity. “Bengali in Platforms” (“Shelve your Western plans and understand that life is hard enough when you belong here”) didn”t do much to quiet the storm.
In the early “90s, Morrissey traded in his wilting wallflower persona for something far more muscular. He draped himself in the Union Flag, sported Saint George’s Cross tees, and started singing odes to skinheads, boxers, and working-class violence. “The National Front Disco” is sometimes alleged to be about David Bowie’s flirtation with fascism, though if anything it’s an exercise in plausible deniability while singing about British nationalism. Morrissey has stated that “If the National Front were to hate anyone, it would be me,” but has also said that right-wing anger “is simply their anger at being ignored in what is supposed to be a democratic society.”
In 1997, he recorded a song called “This Is Not Your Country.” Whether or not he knows this is an iconic line of dialogue from the Australian skinhead film Romper Stomper is anyone’s guess. In a 2007 interview, he stated that he believed that British identity had changed because of immigration, but walked back on that, stating that his comments were taken out of context. Love Music Hate Racism managed to shake him down for £75,000 due to withdrawn sponsorship, all while Mexicans in the American Southwest were falling in love with the erstwhile Pope of Mope.