American rock group Sparks are currently courting the media circuit in order to promote their latest offering, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. In their latest interview with music magazine Classic Pop, it seems the duo have jumped on the bandwagon of berating British pop legend Morrissey over their “disappointment” of his views. “We love so much of what he's done, to see his stance against humanity seems so contradictory. From his music we thought inclusion would be part of his views. When it comes to us versus them, Morrissey seems to be on the side of them. It's very disheartening.”
What remains unclear to Morrissey's supporters is how any of his views are “against humanity.” On the contrary, for all of the criticisms the music icon has faced, he seems to be one of the rare figures in the public eye who has shown more humanity towards animals and fellow man than any of his counterparts.
One wonders whether the vocal Morrissey detractors have delved much beyond the surface of NME's clickbait headlines and the lefty identity politics of formerly reputable publications like The Guardian. It is hard not to be at least a little suspicious of people who parrot the rhetoric spewed by these publications almost verbatim, adding nothing of original thought and making sweeping blanket statements in the process. On the rare occasion his detractors do deal in specifics, they usually resort to selecting single line quotes of his (always out of context) and trying, somehow, to equate these handful of words as a representation of who he is as a whole, without digging deeper—without, it seems, even wanting to dig deeper. Sometimes, unfortunately, the truth is a little less headline worthy.
Whilst Sparks—amongst a few others—have joined in the chorus of those condemning Morrissey, it might be a fitting time to take a deeper look at exactly how Morrissey is anything but against humanity.
In 2008, the Love Music Hate Racism event – a free concert to raise awareness of racism – was in peril. Intended to take place in London, in late April of that year, the show had been put in serious jeopardy after the main sponsor withdrew financial support. Morrissey stepped forward and helped to make up a large portion of the needed £75,000, saying, “this is a historic event spreading an important, anti-racist message... it must be allowed to go ahead. This is something I am committed to and we appreciate everyone coming together so quickly to make it happen.” Of course, Love Music Hate Racism appeared to forget this act of generosity some years later; yet it is remembered by many considering it was the saving grace that allowed an important show to go ahead.
Whilst that act is but one example of the fact that Morrissey not only cares but puts his money where his mouth is—it's quite interesting that many do not equate humanity as a worthy trait when it comes to caring about animals and animal rights. In my recent article with The Post Millennial, I wrote about the shocking treatment of animals in China, and how, although some criticized his choice of words on the matter, there was an angry passion in Morrissey about the cruelty shown to many vulnerable species. Famed for his love of animals, Morrissey has supported significant animal charities over the years, allowing his concerts to be host to PETA campaigns and raising awareness of the plight of animals across the world. It was only in 2019 that the star paid proceeds from his tour towards animal rights organisations, and allowed several animal charities to set up stalls at his venues. In 2013, Morrissey signed a copy of his book, Autobiography, and sold it on Ebay with the £8,000 he raised going straight into the pockets of his favourite charity, PETA.
While having a heart for animals doesn't seem to mean much to his detractors, it appears his critics have often got their condemnations at the ready when it comes to Morrissey's political views. Yet are Morrissey's political leanings against humanity? When the star came out with support for UK party For Britain, it seemed the negative headlines that ensued left no room for deeper thought or debate on the topics the party claimed to represent—and why Morrissey was perhaps drawn to them in the first place. A party firmly opposed to animal cruelty, which was always going to appeal to the singer's passion, For Britain also take a firm stance against the mistreatment of women in the name of religion, and supported Brexit. Whilst the critics seem to chase their tails crying out “bigot” when it comes to pointing out Morrissey's support of that party, few seem to be crying out with any rage towards the religions in the world today that use their beliefs as an excuse for underage marriage, enforcing the covering-up of women, Female Genital Mutilation and arranged marriages. It seems the media have made it far too easy to attack the opinions of somebody than actually examine the roots of why people are, more and more, turning away from the two-party political system in the UK and looking elsewhere in the hope of true change.
Whilst the mainstream media had a field day labelling Morrissey as racist or “Islamophobic,” (because of his criticisms of Halal and Kosher meat) it appeared to his many fans that those targeting the singer were more offended than Muslims ever were by anything he has said or done. Why do upper-class white careerists feel it is their place to rage about something when not even the demographic they are claiming to “protect” are offended? In late December, 2019, an exhibition organised and run by Muslims at the Elham Art Gallery was created, entitled, 'To Morrissey, With Love.' One of the event organizers—Hakim Ali Elhaj, said, “We have been following with concern and shock the unjustified hate campaigns from media towards Morrissey, for being honest and outspoken, accusing him of racism, fascism and hate, and other non-sense. For us at the gallery, as majority of us are Muslims, we believe it is not true what they say about Morrissey, and from my side personally I recall an interview with NME magazine, quote, "I would do anything for my Muslim friends, and I know they would do anything for me." As a response from us at the gallery, we decided to stand by Morrissey, as his Muslim friends, to acknowledge we are aware of him as a true and passionate friend, and to tell the world we know he's not our enemy or hater, and dedicate a group exhibition to him as a thanks for being brave in this cruel world.”
It was only several months ago that the spotlight fell on police brutality across the globe, a subject Morrissey has been extremely vocal about long before the gruesome murder of George Floyd made it a good PR move for two-bit, bandwagon jumping celebrities to rally behind. Morrissey has been using his songs and public platform to focus on how people have been mistreated and abused by those in power for decades. It seemed to many that the world was finally ready to make a stand on something that Morrissey had been shouting about from the rooftops for years, yet this, predictably, was ignored in favour of lurid headlines that make a quick sell.
Bravery in this “cruel world” is, unfortunately, not always rewarded, and Morrissey has paid a price for being one of the rare few being willing to talk about and tackle uncomfortable issues. His supporters, and those who know him well, trust in Morrissey as a person not interested in the colour of a man's skin, but in the content of his character. When it comes to horrific animal rights abuse, mistreatment of minorities, and lack of social fairness, Morrissey will not quieten down—and nor will he let the willful ignorance of his critics stop him from expressing his views. For Morrissey's world view is not born of hate, but of love, and his desire is almost certainly to see a world where no one is mistreated, no animal is abused, and where the right of free speech is protected and honoured for all.
Whilst Sparks—and others—let their flippant dismissal of Morrissey leave their lips with little thought about the man (or truth) behind the headlines, it might be a good time to reflect on our own responsibility to not be so sharply shaped by a mainstream media that is always—without fail—fuelled with agenda.