What goes around comes around or so the old saying goes , well never has that been more fully proven than the rather inflammatory Twitter spat between Owen Jones and Rachel Riley this week.
On what was holocaust Memorial Day Ms Riley has been both a strong voice against anti semitism in the Labour Party recently both giving and certainly receiving a boat load of flack. Very often some of the vitriol against her has crossed a line and in many cases displayed itself as downright nasty somewhat proving her point I guess.
Mr Jones walks a rather fine line between commentator and poster boy for new Labour and is no stranger to the sort of rancid vitriol dished out liberally by far right protagonists.
I have found their discord unsettling, but not unfortunately unsurprising. In the age of social media where everyone has the right to their own opinion what seems to have been left behind is the ability to be civil to those who have opposing views. I have learnt this on two occasions where I was targeted by the Trumpian far right evangelical Christians and by the left leaning Corbynista’s. The perils I guess of holding a centralist world view.
What irks me is the lack of finding some ground on which the opposing views can be discussed and debated. Ms Riley views Mr Owen as an apologist for a labour movement harbouring anti Jewish views, indeed she considers Mr Owens past record points to not only his appeasement of such views but his participation too. A tweet from Mr Owen in support of Holacost Memorial Day only brings fresh allegations of appropriation.
Mr a Jones for his part offers strong denials , you can almost sense his exasperation as his defence of his position falls on deaf ears.
While I have a certain amount of sympathy for his frustration it’s worth remembering only a couple of weeks ago the tables were turned somewhat, Mr Jones was subject to a quite horrendous assault by extreme right wing thugs where he was pushed , harassed and spat upon, a awful experience, however when some commentators offered support to Mr Jones this was met with anger from Mr Jones, in his view anyone to the right of his viewpoint was equally responsible for the attack he suffered. It was quite a bizarre and entrenched view he upheld. It appears to be Mr Jones view is agree with me or be my enemy.
Which brings us to the present situation, Mr Jones tried to reason with Ms Riley are met with the same response, if you don’t agree with me you are and will remain my enemy, I can only think this entrenched position is not helpful going forward and yet this is just a micro example of what is happening throughout society , whether it be remain/leave, Corbyn-Centre left, democrats and GOP we are more entrenched than ever at a time we need to talk and understand more than ever, antiseminism is a very real problem for labour but they need to listen.
I only hope one day Ms Riley and Mr Jones can debate openly and honestly with each other, Twitter or any social media is not the place for this to happen.
I also hope that we can understand that we don’t have to have the same viewpoint to get along , I have friends from all over the political spectrum, I disagree fiercely with a number of their belief yet value them for more than that. Perhaps that’s the key to somehow get back what social media with it’s juxpositions has given us, the ability of discourse and debate and while we don’t always agree with others we do value others.