The UK media outlet – which has since acknowledged and corrected its embarrassing error – published the article by left-wing journalist Owen Jones, titled: “Tackling racism on social media is just the tip of the iceberg,” on Wednesday morning. The somewhat painfully ironic gaffe was spotted by eagle-eyed observers on Twitter, including Aruba Red – a London-based music artist.
Jones himself took to social media to voice his horror at the photographic error and offered his apologies on behalf of the Guardian, adding that he did “not choose the photo or sign it off.” Kano – the unsuspecting victim of the race storm – has made no public comment, but has retweeted a message suggesting people should avoid “giving any more energy to those dying publications.”
Wiley – an MC from East London – is being investigated by police following an anti-Semitic rant on Twitter last week. The grime artist ignited outrage online after posting a series of tweets about Jewish people, in which he claimed they are the “real enemy” who want to “rob us blind,” and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan.
The paper’s blunder provoked an avalanche of ridicule online – with many stunned that a media outlet that sought to publish an article attempting to shine a light on racism permeating through social media could ever make such a gaping gaffe.
One commenter suggested the mistake was “emblematic of how the media is not qualified to be the moral arbiters on race(ism),” adding “If anything they’re the biggest culprits.” British comedian Jonathan Pie joked that his “Irony Meter has exploded.”
Another commenter hit out at the Guardian’s “pictorial chain of the command” for seemingly not knowing what Kano or Wiley look like, as they fumed: “What are they searching?!”
It’s not the first time a British newspaper has become embroiled in a “race” controversy. In February, the London Evening Standard published a race storm story involving the BBC mixing up the identities of two Labour MPs – Dawn Butler and Marsha de Cordova – but committed their own gaffe by using a photo of a third black Labour MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy.
In yet another twist of prophetic irony, the Guardian devoted two journalists to the story, and argued that “British media outlets have been left embarrassed and facing accusations of racism.”
It comes as Wiley insists that he's not "racist". In an interview with Sky News on Wednesday, the 41 year-old said that his "comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people.”
“I want to apologise for generalising, and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as antisemitic," the British rapper added.
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