Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Recently a British composer of note described for me how the gutter instinct infects every strata of limey journalism. “The broadsheets can’t wait for the tabs to call somebody a pedophile because then they can call the same guy a ‘pedophile’—quoting the tabloids—and achieve the same effect.” A similar phenomenon was in evidence over the weekend in Sarah Sands’ fare-thee-well to Barbara Amiel in the pages of The Independent. Sands, who used to edit Amiel at The Daily Telegraph, has over the last several years made something of a cottage industry out of long “balanced” appreciations of the Blacks. It’s a neat trick. She sets up a distorted public perception of the Blacks as horror freaks, then knocks down those straw monster(s), all the while nudging and winking at the reader that, all this having been said, they really are pretty bad. Take the following two passages, for instance:

“The parties became grander. The Chicago jury was nonplussed by the account of Amiel’s 60th birthday, held for her by Black at La Grenouille in New York. The cost of $62,000 included 1993 champagne at $320 a bottle. Hollinger shareholders may have grinned bitterly when Black remarked that Amiel did not like parties, but he is partly right. I was at a party in her Kensington home at which she pleaded with a waitress to shield her from her guests. ‘I hate parties,’ she winced to me. ‘I prefer sausages on a stick.’ Of course she was being disingenuous, but she was never the Leona Helmsley figure of tabloid fiction.”

“When Amiel was a ‘right-wing bitch’ columnist on the Telegraph, she had scorned the ‘victim’ society. ‘This is a grievance society, and if you want to get into its leading edge you pretty well have to become a victim,’ was one of her aphorisms. Yet she was more complex than the Fox News pin-ups such as Ann Coulter. Amiel has an operatic sense of her own tragedy, setting her own ‘persecution’ in the context of Jewish history rather than the more recent past of corporate governance investigations.”

So what are we left with? That Barbara Amiel isn’t quite as galling as Leona Helmsley, and that she’s more complex than Ann Coulter in her willingness to exploit history to shore up her sagging fortunes. Talk about damning with faint praise. Still, come December 10, even these consolations will give way to Lord of the Flies-like stompings. And like any good smash-up, it will be near impossible to turn away.

Barbara Amiel: Farewell, my lovely: Source [The Independent]