Firstly the obvious stuff: the NME is a terrible magazine that exists only to make money, that promotes regressive music made pretty much entirely by bulletheaded stupid men. They create and dismantle "scenes" like Lego with no regard for talent or ability, they write as voice-of-a-generation yet seem to write to a generation of eight year olds, and under IPC give the impression that they would say literally anything to sell more of their shit. They are consuma cultcha embodied and forced into skinny jeans.
In contrast, Morrissey is a well-regarded indie superstar with a long career built on writing brilliant songs (well, once upon a time), who generally seems to talk sense, and more importantly talks with great wit and eloquence. Aside from one previous brush with the NME (and a few questionable lyrics), his record is pretty much clean, unlike the filthy magazine.
So when the uniformly Bad NME puts the consistently Good Morrissey at the centre of a row over racism, I think the intelligent music fan could be forgiven for not immediately setting their Smiths collection alight. However, on actually reading the interview and giving it a while to sink in, it's Morrissey who comes across as out-of-touch, regressive and simplistic. His suggestion that Britain has been destroyed by immigration is not only ridiculous, but offensive to any immigrant of any nationality. If I were an immigrant Morrissey fan, I don't see how I could fail to be disgusted by his fierce nationalist streak, and even as a fairly obsessive Smiths fan myself I can't help but liken him to the grand-dad at the dinner party who doesn't even seem to realise why he is so completely wrong. What's more, his claim is completely absurd: immigration generally has a diverse, positive effect on culture. From what I can tell, Morrissey's vision of Modern Britain would be a stagnating pool of baudy, northern comics and dashing, aesthetic-obsessed playwrights. How boring.
Just quickly skimming the internet on the subject, it's easy to see that Morrissey has not alienated all of his fans with his .....edgy views, quite the opposite in fact. One of the many Facebook groups set up in the aftermath of the controversy has a topic entitled "If Morrissey actually WAS a racist.......................would you care?", with not a pinch of sarcasm evident. The type of brainless Morrissey fans who attack NME scenesters for blindly following the magazine ought to see that brainlessly following an aging singer is just as bad, because when he says something that you really should disagree with, you're more likely to make excuses, or try and understand, or at worst just blindly believe him.
I don't think I'm being overly PC or touchy when I say that almost the majority of Morrissey fans that posted on the groups on Facebook contained something equally offensive to me as Morrissey's comments, whether it was latent racism, homophobia (the irony!) or just the "if you don't agree with me then you're a soft cunt" argument. This is not debate about immigration, in the same way that Moz's Mafia claim the NME did not debate it. This is rats following the Pied Piper in the same way that the Topshop-hoardes follow the NME. Incidentally, the NME and The Smiths share the same musical lineage, namely the endless stream of skinny, male, guitar bands that obsess over the minutae of a British suburbia that no longer exists, obsessed with emulating rather than geniunely creating. (Just a note on the fickle nature of the whole thing, my favourite group concerning this on Facebook has this fantastic quote: "Make it known to the NME that you won't stand for the slack music journalism approach by not buying the next couple of issues.")
In my opinion (which I suppose is what matters here), the British identity is a manufactured concept, and in Morrissey's case an entirely imagined one. People have been complaining about immigration for literally centuries. But people have been unemployed, victims of crime, and slaves to wage-labour for centuries more. Immigration is not the problem in the lives of the working class. But that is another story for another day. In the meantime, the court will decide whether either side is legally in the right (no, not that sort of 'right') or wrong. But if, as interviewer Tim Jonze has claimed, all the Morrissey quotes printed are 100% accurate, then what exactly is he sueing them for? He has had his say, and both sides have come out looking ignorant, pompous and stubborn.