The morning following the Manchester bombing, Katie Hopkins posted an anti-Muslim tirade on Twitter, including a tweet, aimed at TV presenter Philip Schofield, stating: “We need a final solution” to terrorism.
The self-styled voice of ordinary people then deleted the tweet, reposted an edited version – replacing “final solution” with “true solution” – and deleted it again, but not before she’d been reported to the police for her “insensitivity”.
Whether or not she intended to invoke the Nazi Holocaust, Hopkins’s “final solution” tweet was rightly met with outrage and she later was sacked from her job at the radio station LBC. A couple of hours later, Hopkins boosted a day-old tweet referring to herself as “the Jesus of the Outspoken” alongside a photoshopped image of herself as Virgin Mary.
Hopkins’ claim to Christ-status is nothing new, however. In 2015, Hopkins also informed delegates at the Church and Media conference that she was “Jesus of the Outspoken”. She added:
Jesus had his followers; I have 600,000 followers on Twitter. It’s about leading the way – I am the new Jesus … I’m pushing back the walls closing in on freedom of speech.
In March, after losing a court case to blogger Jack Monroe, Hopkins gave her Christ/Virgin Mary meme its first airing on Twitter and has frequently responded to comments with allusions to her messianic status.
By photoshopping her face onto an image of Virgin Mary with seven swords through her heart, Hopkins co-opts the Lady of Sorrows icon. The seven swords represent seven ordeals experienced by Mary, Mother of Jesus, in the New Testament. Hopkins presents herself as worthy of veneration and celebration, mirroring the Christian persecution narratives from some evangelical communities, particularly in the US. Some might suggest that Hopkins’ meme and repeated Christ allusions are benign, perhaps by pointing to the humour behind them; however, jokes are often a deadly serious way to reinforce prejudice and bigotry of all kinds.
While Christians do experience genuine persecution in some areas of the world , Hopkins allies herself with a persecution myth that white Christians are the focus of constant attack. Despite her apparent distaste for the creation of modern-day martyrs, she seems to martyr herself as an icon of persecution by the “intolerant liberal left”, a “voice for the voiceless” and a guardian of free speech.
The myth that white Christians are persecuted and oppressed comes from the falsity that “outsider” groups are “stealing” wealth, jobs, and women. This is the type of fearmongering language that Katie Hopkins invokes, as she has in the past, when she uses the phrase “final solution” while also announcing that she is a Jesus figure.
As made clear by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others, the phrase “Final Solution” is inextricably associated with the Nazis’ plan to annihilate the Jewish people. And the first steps of that plan were to reduce freedom of movement and access to civil rights for Jews and other populations considered undesirable by the Nazis.
We are all aware that the plan culminated in the construction and operation of death camps or concentration camps where genocide was carried out. Jews, homosexuals, Roma people, people with disabilities and other groups were considered enemies of the state and murdered. Almost a third of European Jews were killed. We now know this “Final Solution” as The Holocaust.
There is no suggestion that Hopkins is a Nazi, but in the mouth of the self-proclaimed “Jesus of the Outspoken”, the use of such a loaded phrase is troubling.
Nazis embraced and exploited the anti-Semitic legacy of Christian supersessionism (the theological premise that Christianity replaced Judaism) in order to promote their discrimination and genocide against Jews. They justified their anti-Semitic policies in part by appealing to the authority of Christ, putting their ideas into Jesus’ mouth.
The racist construction of a white Christian identity as one that is threatened by religious and ethnic groups labelled as “outsiders” has a long and troubling legacy in the West. This kind of thinking promotes the kind of hate that leads down a dark path.
Genocide is not a relic of the past. We are not immune from making the mistakes that other nations made. The infamous statement about Jewish refugees by a Canadian immigration official in 1939 that: “None is too many” should ring in our ears as governments propose limiting refugees, in particular from countries under siege by ISIS.
And Katie Hopkins is sadly not alone in her troubling attitude and rhetoric against Islam and Muslims. Already since the bombing of Manchester Arena and Katie Hopkins’ tweet calling for a “final solution”, hate crimes against Muslims and people of colour have doubled.
In policy and in expression, the current atmosphere is hostile to Muslims and to immigrants. Even in times of fear and grief, calling for “final solutions”, seemingly in the name of Christianity, runs the risk of reinforcing racist and genocidal patterns that can develop into policy.