Whom they broadcast, and what they don't
THAT'S how I like to see fascists, with BOTH hands up!
Nick Griffin is second from left, and next to him and third from left
is former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
WELL, the British National Party leader Nick Griffin has had his night on BBC Question Time, and by way of gratitude he says he will complain that he was sibjected to a "lynch mob". Oh dear. I don't normally watch the programme, and last night ws no exception, but I read in the papers that some members of the audience - one of them black, and another Jewish - asked Mr.Griffin some awkward questions. Some even jeered and laughed at him. Diddums.
Maybe we should sympathise with him over this unpleasant experience, but...the reports did not mention any crowd in pointy white hoods waiting with a noose for Mr. Griffin. Now that is what I would call a lynch mob, and I'd be sorry if I'd missed it, indeed not been part of it. But then, I am sure that Griffin, whose party has ran a fund raising operation among white supremacists in the 'States , does not need telling what a lynch mob is. As David Dimbleby reminded the BNP leader last night, he met former KKK leader David Duke on one of his Transatlantic trips.
But that won't stop Griffin making his complaint. One thing the fascists have never been short of is chutzpah. Audacity, as their Italian originals used to say. Getting on Question Time, regardless of performance, was bound to encourage them.
BBC bosses said before last night's programme that not inviting the BNP leader would have amounted to "censorship", and this was not the BBC's job. Really? It may have slipped my memory, but how much coverage did the BBC give the long Liverpool docks struggle, before Robbie Fowler upset commentators by revealing his tee shirt supporting the dockers, in front of the 'Match of the Day' cameras?. Then there was Labour MP John McDonnell's campaign with a view to challenging Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership. The MP got well-attended public meetings wherever he went, with enthusiastic backing from trades unionists. but so far as the news on BBC television went, he did not exist, to the extent that Michael Meacher's abortive stand was treated as the first entry to the jousts, without mentioning McDonnel's campaign let alone giving him a platform on TV.
But we must not accuse the BBC of responding to pressure for censorship on that occasion. After all, they showd themselves perfectly capable of deciding what to keep off the air when it came to the Gaza charities appeal. That wasn't censorship?
When it comes to the BNP, intentionally or otherwise, some BBC reporting gives the BNP and its arguments a chance which isn't afforded other points of view. We hear about the "white working class" feeling betrayed by Labour, but not about the working class without that colour label, which is entitled to feel betrayed. A report on Barking and Dagenham gave voice to those blaming immigrants for decline, and intending to vote BNP, but not a word against two particular groups of foreigners who did damage the areas - Cape Asbestos, whose Barking factory left a legacy of asbestos-related diseases, and Ford Motor Co. who pulled the rug from under employment at Dagenham.
Then there's the publicity which the Beeb and other media don't give to the BNP. Take the 'war on terror'. When two Asian Muslim men in Forest Gate, east London, were arrested for what proved a non-existent terror plot, their homes were turned over by search teams and nothing was found, but for a week or more local people had a job getting home past police cordons and without tripping over television cables. But last year when police found the largest cache of explosives seen in years up in Lancashire in a former BNP candidate's shed, the story somehow didn't make national news.
I commented on this at the time, but Independent columnist Johann Hari, though he thinks the BBC was right to give Griffin the chance to expose himself, looks at this wider picture:
Exactly a decade ago, a 22-year-old member of the British National Party called David Copeland planted bombs in Brixton, Brick Lane (where I live), and a gay pub in Old Compton Street. He managed to lodge a nail deep in a baby's skull, and to murder a pregnant woman, her gay best friend, and his partner. He bragged: "My aim was political. It was to cause a racial war in this country. There'd be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people would go out and vote BNP."
Last year, a 43-year-old man called Neil Lewington was arrested "on the cusp" of waging a "terror campaign", it emerged at his trial. He had built a bomb factory in his parents' house which he planned to use to launch attacks against people he considered to be "non-British". He was only caught by chance: he picked a panicked fight with a train conductor, and the police who turned up found he was laden with explosives.
The list of far right-wingers who have been busted for planning violence has spiked up in the past few years. In the home of a BNP election candidate called Robert Cottage in 2008, the police discovered "the largest amount of chemical explosives ever found in this country", they said.
The same year, a thug called Martyn Gilleard was caught with a huge stash of nail bombs, and rage-filled letters in which he declared: "I am so sick of hearing nationalists talk of killing Muslims, of blowing up mosques, of fighting back, only to see these acts of resistance fail to appear. The time has come to stop the talk and start to act." He was only caught by fluke: the police busted him for distributing child porn.
It's not hard to get in on this act. There are dozens of far-right websites that explain – with handy video links – how to make bombs, and then urge you to head to the nearest mosque, synagogue or gay club.
But as the New Statesman's Mehdi Hassan has pointed out, as far as public debate goes, it's as if these crimes never happened. While planned attacks by jihadis (rightly) dominate the news agenda for days, these remarkably similar plans pass unmentioned and unnoticed.
This disjunction exposes a rash of hypocrisy. The parts of the right that gleefully blame all Muslims for the actions of a tiny minority are mysteriously reluctant to apply the same arguments to themselves. If Martin Amis was consistent, he should now declare: "The white community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation. Strip-searching people who look like they're from Hampshire or from Surrey ... Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children."
The Looming Threat of Terror that comes from the far Right, Johann Hari, Independent, October 14
Amis is the well-known writer and well over-paid guest lecturer at Manchester University, a reminder that though Nick Griffin might not have made intellectual respectability, there are quite a few intellects and Establishment-types around pushing their right-wing views in the media and academe. They can affect to despise Griffin, just as he can whenever necessary distance himself from the convicted thugs and nail-bomb nutters of the Far Right.
If reason and ridicule were enough to defeat the fascists, neither Mussolini nor Hitler would have ever made it to power. Nick Griffin is not up to either, not even to Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose French TV appearances were cited as a worrying precedent. But while others can worry themselves about 'free speech' and quote Voltaire, we might as well quote Griffin. When the BNP won a council seat in Millwall, he spoke about about the value of "well-directed boots and fists" - : "When the crunch comes, power is the product of force and will, not of rational debate.”
You can't argue with that.