Katie Hopkins presents a conundrum; she’s like sudoku, or shitting yourself in public.
Just by simply being, she generates a problem that quickly requires solving. What are you supposed to do with her? Do you call her out – which is most certainly what she wants you to do – or, instead, do you refuse the invitation, banishing her to her own, unpleasant devices? It’s a toughie. How do you solve a problem like Katie? Nobody knows. Nobody’s managed, yet.
Take what happened this week, for instance. Two days ago, she retweeted praise from a fellow Twitter user. Nothing new here – she does this all of the time. It’s part of the brand. The Twitterer in question was responding to a segment Hopkins had shared from her LBC show, in which she claimed the word ‘racism’ has “lost all of its meeting“. Vintage Katie; divisive, inflammatory and fishing for an instant, gut reaction. We’re accustomed to these kind of comments by the self-christened rent-a-gob. They aren’t new. However, this particular Twitter engagement was.
Why? The user she retweeted was named ‘AntiJuden’. You don’t need to speak German to translate the meaning. But, just in case there was any confusion; their display picture, an American flag with a swastika on it. That’ll probably do it.
So, what we have here, is a proud and vocal neo-Nazi finding that their facist viewpoint correlating with that of a national newspaper columnist and mainstream radio presenter. On top of that, they’re also finding that she deems acknowledgement of such a correlation sharable. Sharable, in social media currency, pretty much equates to ‘good’. So, to simplify: Nazis like Katie Hopkins, and she doesn’t seem to mind.
Cue outrage, right? Well, kind of. With Hopkins, it’s never as simple as that. She’s metafictional; as soon as you’re aware of the mechanics by which she operates, the simplicity behind any kind of honest reaction is evaporated. If you express outrage, you’re doing so publicly. Hopkins, as a public figure, feeds on this. She’s a controversy junkie that relies on overt quarrel to feed, sucking the exposure out of communal mentions like a dogmatic vampire bat. Without the outrage she creates, she cannot be. So, when, out of a primal desire to survive, she constructs a situation you deem outrageous, what do you do? “Just ignore her,” you’re told. “Don’t give her what she wants” – you’re only helping the vicious cycle.
This time, though, was a little different. Katie Hopkins’s regurgitated offences of unconcealed awfulness are one thing, but publicly engaging with the support of a Nazi is another. People don’t tend to like Nazis, you see. For most, it’s a step too far. She backtracked, albeit half-heartedly, deleting the tweet and claiming that she “didn’t look at the Twitter handle“, but the damage was already done.
In a climate where hate preaching can be dressed up as ‘alternative‘, ‘radical‘ and ‘anti-establishment‘, Hopkins went and slapped a high-five on a fat fucking swastika. You went full Nazi, Katie. You never go full Nazi.
Too long have we allowed the double-ended nature of condemnation to give figures like Hopkins a free pass. Ignoring her isn’t the way to stop her; it just allows her to creep further and further into the mainstream conversation, gradually desensitising us to her toxicity as she does so. To destroy hatred, you have to pull it from under its veil, kicking and screaming.
Not only must we come together to denounce her kind of rhetoric, we also need to pull the platforms from which it is projected. You don’t even have to stoop to censoring – just stop fucking paying her for it. She isn’t honest, she isn’t forthright and she isn’t telling it how it is. She’s a smart and morally vacant opportunist, who has capitalised on our inability to come up with a valid solution on how to halt her giddy march of intolerance.
How do you solve a problem like Katie? You don’t ignore it, that’s for sure. Doing so makes her normal – and that, she most certainly is not.
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Words by Niall Flynn