John Cleese fights back after being branded a 'racist' for saying London is no longer 'an English city'
'Monty Python' actor John Cleese's fans are coming out in support for him after his tweet about "London" not really being "an English city" attracted a major backlash.
The actor took to Twitter on Thursday to talk about an observation that was deemed "xenophobic", "racist" and "culturist" by netizens.
"Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation," he wrote, "So there must be some truth in it... I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU."
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was also among his critics. "These comments make John Cleese sound like he’s in character as Basil Fawlty. Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength. We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub," he said.
After a heated backlash on Twitter, he went on to write, "I suspect I should apologize for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, but in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it."
Comedian Dom Joly also took a jab at Cleese's tweet, "John Cleese is one of my comedy heroes … Suddenly this thing came out of nowhere and it’s so depressing on so many levels. He’s clearly a really smart, funny man, but it is basically a very racist tweet. Secondly, it’s a racist tweet by a man who lives on a Caribbean island – the irony of that is insane. Even the language is insane. Who uses the word ‘opine’?" he quipped.
Cleese defended himself in a series of tweets and his fans stood by him.
"I remember when we could have different opinions and yet still get along. Sadly those days seem to have gone missing in the social media era. I've always admired you John. You've always been yourself and never tried to pretend to be anything you're not. (apart from acting)," wrote a fan, referring to the Political Correctness police slamming the 79-year-old star.
Some fans said that his simple statement had been grossly blown out of proportion. "Wait, did he mean it in a negative way? I read it as praise. London is so much more than another English city," the user wrote.
"Why do you try to discredit me for criticizing things I have not said. Keep your projections to yourself," Cleese tweeted, sounding pretty fed up of the backlash. He further added, "I think it's legitimate to prefer one culture to another For example, I prefer cultures that do not tolerate female genital mutilation. Will this will be considered racist by all those who hover, eagerly hoping that someone will offend them - on someone else's behalf, naturally," he said.
"Let's leave the PC aside and face the truth. London is no longer an English city, it's a multi cultural city," another fan wrote summing up the sentiment of his fandom.