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Melanie Phillips (born 4 June 1951) is a British columnist and author. Her articles appear mainly in the Daily Mail newspaper and cover political and social issues; she has also written for The Guardian and is a regular panelist on the BBC Radio 4 programme, The Moral Maze and on BBC One's Question Time.

Personal life, education, and career

Phillips was born into a Jewish family. Her father was a dress salesman and her mother ran a children's clothes shop. Both parents were committed Labour voters. She was educated at Putney High Schoolmarker, a girls' independent school in Putneymarker, London, and later read English at St Anne's College, Oxfordmarker.

She trained as a journalist on the Evening Echo, a local newspaper in Hemel Hempsteadmarker, as her probationary period in the provinces, then compulsory for the profession. After winning the Young Journalist of the Year award in 1976, she spent a short period at the New Society magazine, before joining The Guardian newspaper in 1977 and soon became its social services correspondent and social policy leader writer. Gaining initial attention for articles on the treatment of asylum seekers and immigrants, she broke a story that some female immigrants were being submitted to virginity tests at Heathrow Airport. The policy was quickly changed.

After a stint as the paper's news editor, Phillips fainted on her first day in 1984, she started writing her own opinion column in 1987. As a writer for The Guardian in 1982 she defended the Labour Party at the time of the split with the Social Democratic Party.

Leaving The Guardian, her relationship with the newspaper's readers had become fraught "like a really horrific family argument,". Phillips first took her opinion column to the Guardian's sister-paper The Observer in 1993, and then to the Sunday Times in 1998, before writing regularly for the Daily Mail in 2001. She occasionally writes for the Jewish Chronicle and other periodicals. Since 2003, she has written a blog, now hosted by The Spectator.

Phillips was awarded the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1996. In 2003, she won the award for "Most Islamophobic Media Personality of the Year" from the Islamic Human Rights Commission. In 2009, she was awarded the Sappho Prize (an award given to a 'journalist who combines excellence in his/her work with courage and a refusal to compromise') by the Danishmarker Free Press Society.

She is married to Joshua Rozenberg, former legal affairs correspondent for the BBC, now Legal Editor of the Daily Telegraph. They have two children.

Political views

The BBC has said that Phillips "is regarded as one of the [U.K.] media's leading right-wing voices" and a "controversial" columnist, although she defines herself as a progressive and a defender of liberal democracy. She began her career on the liberal left with the Guardian newspaper, and her gradual drift to the right of the political spectrum has been mirrored by her journalistic career: she now writes for the Daily Mail. She has used her Daily Mail columns and her blog to discuss, amongst other issues, progressive teaching methods, science, Islam, anti-semitism, and Israeli policy; and to support strict anti-drug policies.

Barack Obama

She has accused Barack Obama of believing in "revolutionary Marxism". She also accuses him of "adopt[ing] the agenda of the Islamists", being "firmly in the Islamists' camp," and of appointing "fifth columnists" for Iran to his administration. She wonders if Obama is still secretly a Muslim, writing: "We are entitled to ask precisely when he stopped being a Muslim, and why. Did Obama embrace Christianity as a tactical manoeuvre to get himself elected?"

Britain's "collective derangement"

She says that Britain is "sleepwalking towards cultural suicide" and "has capitulated to Islamic terror." She added: "Britain at this moment isn’t really sane. It is gripped by a kind of collective derangement... This is no longer England, however. It is Lemmingland." This is part of a deeper "moral sickness of the West", causing it to "destroy itself" and permit the rise of Islamism. She has written "in support" of Geert Wilders, who she says is being criminalised in Britain "for telling the truth".

Homosexuality

She opposes civil partnerships and other rights for gay people, calling them "toxic," and arguing that "the traditional family... has been relentlessly attacked by an alliance of feminists, gay rights activists, divorce lawyers and ‘cultural Marxists’ who grasped that this was the surest way to destroy Western society." She argued that giving IVF fertility treatment to lesbians would "help destroy our understanding of human identity," and said the opposition to it represents "a fightback to save our civilisation."

Israel

Phillips has called the Palestinians "a terrorist population", and argued that while "individual Palestinians may deserve compassion, their cause amounts to Holocaust denial as a national project". She has also claimed that footage apparently showing people injured by Israeli attacks on Palestinian areas has been "fabricated/faked".

She says:

She argues that many critics of the state of Israel's military policies, including many Jews, are motivated by anti-Semitism. She described the paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, as a "particularly ripe example of the 'global Zionist conspiracy' libel", and she expressed her astonishment at what she called "the fundamental misrepresentations and distortions in the paper". On one occasion, Phillips has briefly commented that "[c]riticism of Israel’s behaviour is perfectly legitimate", and she said she disagreed with Ariel Sharon administration in Israel for targeted assassinations and house demolition in Palestinian villages and said that those policies leave her "appalled". In the same article, she said Israeli settlement building in the West Bankmarker was wrong. However, critics argue that she offers these points only in passing, and that she "smears" anybody else who tries to criticize Israel, especially liberal Jews (see below.) She argues that critics of her views are staging a "verbal pogrom" against her.

Phillips supported Operation Cast Lead. In December 2008, Phillips wrote that ongoing Hamas attacks on Israel constituted an attempt at "genocide". She further referred to the United Nations as the "Club of Terror UN" (sic) and argued that "[t]hose who scream ‘disproportionate’ think — grotesquely — that not enough Israelis have been killed".

She has said that she supports a two-state solution in theory but that it cannot work in practice, commenting:

Criticism of her

Phillips' criticisms of liberal Jews who disagree with her positions on Israel have been condemned by Jewish writers such as Jonathan Freedland, Alan Dershowitz, and Rabbi David Goldberg as well as the non-Jewish Johann Hari.

Freedland was horrified that Phillips labeled Independent Jewish Voices, a group of liberal Jews, as "Jews For Genocide". He wrote in The Jewish Chronicle:
"Now, as it happens, I have multiple criticisms of IJV... But even their most trenchant opponents must surely blanch at the notion that these critics of Israel and of Anglo-Jewish officialdom are somehow in favour of genocide — literally, eager to see the murder and eradication of the Jewish people... it is an absurdity, one that drains the word 'genocide' of any meaning."


Hari quoted the former editor of Ha'aretz in response, who had called Phillips' behaviour "nascent McCarthyism". Hari also argued further that "it is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree, it works". In her response, Phillips asserted that Hari believes in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hari replied that he had worked undercover to expose Neo-Nazis and Islamic fundamentalists who believe in the Protocols, receiving death threats as a result, and said her arguments are "beyond the boundaries of civilised disagreement".

Alan Dershowitz has accused Phillips of lashon harah, a Hebrew term for spreading malicious lies, in her commentary about the Obama administration's policies towards the Middle East. More generally, he has also stated:
"I support its liberal policies... if Israel were to turn against these values— if it were to become an oppressive theocracy, like all Muslim countries today, that subjugates women, discriminates against gays and subjects science to religious censorship— I would become extremely critical of any such nation. Israel will never become such a country because, fortunately, the vast majority of Israelis reject the extremist views of Melanie Phillips."


The Church of England

In a 2006 column, Phillips criticised the membership and leadership of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Britain for what she saw as Christian antisemitism, citing a poll in which about 80% of respondents do not believe that Israel is "engaged in a struggle for its survival" and do not "support its efforts to root out its enemies". She also singled out specifically the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and criticised remarks he made about the plight of Bethlehem Christians under Israelimarker occupation. The article ended with a condemnation of what she sees as the churches' failure to criticise the President of Iran's desire to "destroy Israel", with Philips concluding that "the churches in Britain are not only silent about the genocidal ravings emanating from Iran but are themselves helping pave the way for a second Holocaust". She has written in support of Anglican figures Michael Nazir-Ali and Patrick Sookhdeo and against Stephen Sizer.

She wrote for The Spectator in March 2009 that:

Iraq

Phillips supports the 2003 invasion of Iraq and on-going occupation, and later described the members of the Iraq Study Group as being "as intellectually deficient as they are morally malodorous". She argues that George Bush was right to say Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2003, and they were secretly "excavated by Iraqis and Syrians, with help from the Russians, and moved to Syria. The location in Syria of this material... is also known to these intelligence agencies. The worst-case scenario has now come about. Saddam’s nuclear, biological and chemical material is in the hands of a rogue terrorist state — and one with close links to Iran." She has, however never been known to make similar criticisms of Israel's stockpile of nuclear weapons. On the BBC's Question time program she was perculiarly quoted as saying, "...the desire to get rid of Saddam, regime change, eh, was adopted as a policy of the American administration in 1988[sic], under Bill Clinton."

She has also written that James Baker and former US president and Nobel peace prize laureate Jimmy Carter are "the kept creatures of the Arab world" and that "they are intent on smoothing the path to Israel's destruction".

Education

In All Must Have Prizes, first published in 1996, Phillips offered a detailed critique of the British education system, claiming that an egalitarian and non-competitive ethos (progressivism; multicultural education) had led to a catastrophic fall in standards. (The title comes from the description of the caucus-race in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.) She criticised John Dewey's "'disastrous' influence", although a subsequent academic paper said that "Phillips gets Dewey quite wrong," for example in claims that Dewey promoted ahistoric and cultureless education. Phillips singled out one academic paper - on primary-school children's constructions of British identity - for criticism. Its authors responded to her book with a followup study, showing that young adolescents, in common with their counterparts in primary schools, tended to adopt a pluralist viewpoint with virtually no nationalist or racist comments.

Phillips has commented on what she sees as the politicisation of education, particularly at Aberystwythmarker University. In 2005, she claimed there was an "anti-Jewish witch-hunt going on in our seats of learning" with particular focus on Aberystwyth Universitymarker, based upon an unnamed student's testimony. In 2008, following further allegations made by another anonymous student regarding the biased nature and reading list of a course on terrorism convened by International Politics Department lecturer Dr. Marie Breen Smyth, as well as allegations by the same student regarding bias against Israel by Breen Smyth and her colleague Dr. Richard Jackson, Phillips wrote to the Vice Chancellor of the University complaining that Breen Smyth was a "subversive" who should not be allowed to teach. These accusations were dismissed by Breen Smyth.

Culture

Phillips has written on "political correctness", and been described as one of "a small band of critics that are cited as representing the backlash". In 2001, Civitas published her book America's Social Revolution, looking at the United States' social policy and drawing lessons for Britain, arguing that the "culture wars" were less entrenched in the US, permitting more open debate.

In 2003, she published The Ascent of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement. As well as the history, the book also detailed the evolution of the various ideas that lay behind the movement.

Her most recent book, Londonistan, was published in 2006. In it, Philips claims that radical Islamism has established London as a base of operations, blaming what she sees as the broader failures of multiculturalism, cultural relativism and appeasement in Britain.

Views on science issues

Evolution

Despite having no scientific training, Phillips argues that evolution is "merely a theory." She writes that it "does not explain the irreducible complexity of certain cells for example, which cannot have been formed by simple organisms coming together". She claims that it "does not explain human self-consciousness; it does not explain altruism; it does not explain how existence began". She has also defended the teaching of creationism, alongside the teaching of evolution, in schools.

MMR vaccine

Despite a scientific consensus that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, Phillips has repeatedly questioned the safety of the vaccine, continuing to insist that "urgent questions about the vaccine’s safety remain unanswered", shortly after a 2005 Cochrane review of the vaccine, finding "no credible evidence" of a link with autism, led the rest of the media to conclude that the affair was over. Science journalist and physician Ben Goldacre has called Phillips "the MMR sceptic who just doesn't understand science".

Global warming

Phillips has said of global warming that the current "warm spell is well within the normal cyclical fluctuations in temperature from century to century",that blaming "warming on mankind’s activities in producing carbon dioxide" is "utter garbage",and that the campaign to stop man-made global warming is like a "witch-hunt"and is “one of the greatest scientific scams of the modern age”. She believes environmentalists act in a fascistic manner, writing: "It was no accident that Hitler was a green." She has criticised John McCain for his environmental policies: "Anyone who endorses, as he does, the man-made global warming scam displays an alarming absence of judgment and common sense". Further comments by Phillips on the general issue of global warming include: "there is no evidence for global warming", "the ice is increasing, it is not decreasing", and "polar bears are increasing in number, and the temperature is going down, not up".

George Monbiot has accused her of "scientific illiteracy" and says she is aligned with a "denial industry" funded by oil and tobacco companies.

Books

  • The Divided House: Women at Westminster, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1980, ISBN 0-283-98547-X.
  • Doctors' Dilemmas: Medical Ethics and Contemporary Science by Melanie Phillips & John Dawson, Harvester Press, 1985, ISBN 0-7108-0983-2.
  • All Must Have Prizes, Warner, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-2274-0.
  • The Sex-Change Society: Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male, Social Market Foundation, 1999, ISBN 1-874097-64-X.
  • America's Social Revolution, Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society, 2001, ISBN 1-903386-15-2.
  • The Ascent of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement and the Ideas Behind it, Little, Brown, 2003, ISBN 0-316-72533-1.
  • Londonistan: How Britain Is Creating a Terror State Within, Gibson Square Books Ltd, 2006, ISBN 1-903933-76-5.


References

  1. Andy Beckett "The changing face of Melanie Phillips", The Guardian, 7 March 2003
  2. Peter Hillmore "NS Profile - Melanie Phillips", New Statesman, 10 March 2003
  3. "The multicultural menace, anti-semitism and me", Jackie Ashley meets Melanie Phillips, The Guardian, 6 June 2006
  4. List of Panelists for Question Time, BBC website, 6 June 2007.
  5. Phillips, Melanie. "Why I am a progressive", New Statesman, 1 January 2000
  6. Phillips, Melanie. The national literacy debacle, Daily Mail, 3 March 2005
  7. Phillips, Melanie. Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is the new enemy of reason, Daily Mail, 6 August 2007
  8. Phillips, Melanie. "No Surrender", Daily Mail, 11 July 2005
  9. Phillips, Melanie. "The Tories’ disproportionate response", Jewish Chronicle, 6 October 2006
  10. Phillips, Melanie. "The international drugs fifth column", Daily Mail, 14 January 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2007.
  11. Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, 9 September 2008, Revolution You Can Believe In
  12. Melanie Phillips 'A defining moment', The Spectator, January 22 2009. Retrieved March 7 2009.
  13. Phillips, Melanie. "The graves of academe", Melanie Phillips' Diary, March 21, 2006
  14. Phillips, Melanie. "Bush Alone", Melanie Phillips' Diary, December 10, 2006
  15. BBC Question Time - 26th November 2009
  16. Phillips, Melanie. "The kept creatures of the Arab world", Melanie Phillips's Diary, December 21, 2006
  17. Petrovic, J.E. (1998), "Dewey is a Philistine and other grave misreadings", Oxford Review of Education 24 (4), pp. 513-520
  18. Carrington, B., Short, G. (1998), "Adolescent discourse on national identity - Voices of care and justice?", Educational Studies 24 (2), pp. 150-152
  19. Melanie Phillips, The Spectator, 15 April 2008, Terror in academia
  20. 'Illiberal Liberalism', M Phillips in The War of the Words: The Political Correctness Debate, S Dunant, London: Virago 1994
  21. Ken McLaughlin, Spiked, 18 February 2004, PC or not PC?
  22. Melanie Phillips (2001), America's Social Revolution, Civitas
  23. Phillips, Melanie, "Intolerance against religion", Daily Mail, 15 March 2002
  24. Geoffrey North, for example, states that “there is a clear and strong scientific consensus: the overwhelming scientific evidence is that the triple MMR vaccine does not cause autism”. North, Geoffrey. “ Which expert should I believe?”, Current Biology, Volume 15, Issue 12, 21 June 2005, Page R433. Retrieved 7 April 2007.
  25. Phillips, Melanie. "MMR: the unanswered questions", Daily Mail, 31 October 2005
  26. Phillips, Melanie. "‘Evidence-based’ ignorance over MMR", The Guardian, 8 November 2005
  27. Phillips, Melanie. "The MMR controversy, yet again", Melanie Phillips' Diary, 8 November 2005
  28. Letters in response to Phillips' Guardian MMR article, The Guardian, 9 November 2005
  29. British Medical Journal, 12 November 2005, Why can't the Daily Mail eat humble pie over MMR?
  30. Goldacre, Ben. "The MMR sceptic who just doesn't understand science", The Guardian, 2 November 2005.
  31. Phillips, Melanie. "The global warming con-trick", Daily Mail, 25 February 2002
  32. Phillips, Melanie. "The global warming fraud", Daily Mail, 12 January 2004
  33. Phillips, Melanie. "Wet, but not the end of the world", Daily Mail, 12 August 2002
  34. Phillips, Melanie. "Blame the trees!", Daily Mail, Daily Mail, 13 January 2006; corrections added.
  35. 'The deep green fear of the human race', February 2, 2009, melaniephillips.com. Retrieved March 7 2009.
  36. BBC Question Time, 26/11/2009
  37. Monbiot, George, "The Denial Industry", George Monbiot, The Guardian, 19 September 2006


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