Saturday, December 01, 2007

WANTED: George Hook, for crimes against intelligence in broadcasting

Melancholicus is often exasperated listening to the ramblings of this man on Newstalk 106 while stuck in rush-hour traffic on his way home from the university in the evenings.

To be fair, Hookie is a competent broadcaster, an engaging personality, regularly interesting and informative, and in the battle for Melancholicus’ attention with RTÉ’s Drivetime programme, he wins more often than not.

But yesterday evening’s edition of The Right Hook really took the Fortnum & Mason. George’s guest was the actress and human rights activist Vanessa Redgrave; and while some might have considered the conversation more of a fawning session than an interview, what annoyed Melancholicus most of all was the unthinking soft leftism evinced by Hookie throughout.

Perhaps his slot on Newstalk should more aptly be re-named The Left Hook?

Ms. Redgrave was in Dublin yesterday, speaking in her capacity of human rights activist at a dinner for the Irish branch of Amnesty International. Neither Hookie nor Ms. Redgrave seemed in any way sensible to the glaring fact of Amnesty’s having contracted a wee bit of a credibility problem through their well-publicised advocacy of so-called “abortion rights”.

But anyhow, that’s not the issue.

From the beginning, their discussion of human rights abuses and the activism designed to fight such abuses focused on fashionable left-wing causes. After the obligatory shot at the Nazis (to be fair, the Soviets came in for a good deal of criticism as well), the so-called “war on terror” was addressed. What astonished Melancholicus was that here the criticism was directed entirely at the US, Britain and Israel. Now while Melancholicus would certainly be at one with Hookie and Ms. Redgrave on the illegal British and American-led invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, that’s beside the point. Britain and the US are hardly pure as the driven snow, but they are most assuredly not the leading abusers of human rights in the world today (unless of course one would describe state-sponsored abortion services as an abuse of human rights, but one couldn’t really see either Hookie or Ms. Redgrave losing much sleep over the number of abortions carried out in these countries daily). The detainees of Guantanamo Bay received excessive attention, the CIA was duly slated over the issue of extraordinary renditions, but not a single word was said about the appalling human rights abuses that take place on a routine basis in Muslim countries. Likewise, not a word was said about the horrendous treatment of Christians and other religious minorities in the same. Even while Hookie and Ms. Redgrave were on the air, Mrs. Gillian Gibbons, 54, a teacher from the UK, had already begun her sentence in a Sudanese prison. Her crime: she allowed her class in Sudan to name a teddy bear Muhammad, for which she was arrested and convicted of the charge of “insulting Islam”. As she languished in her cell, there were protests in Khartoum by crazed sword-wielding fanatics calling for the unfortunate woman’s execution. Yes, it was not sufficient to send Mrs. Gibbons to prison: these prehistoric savages wanted to cut off her head!

If that is not an abuse of human rights, then Melancholicus does not understand the meaning of the term.

Hookie also drew attention to his guest’s socialism, and that in a positive light. Melancholicus was not surprised to hear that Ms. Redgrave is a socialist, but he was more than a little bemused by the fact that neither Hookie nor Ms. Redgrave seemed aware that socialism has been responsible for some of the most outrageous violations of human rights in the twentieth century. To add the icing to the cake, Hookie then pressed his guest for her views on New Labour’s betrayal of its socialist roots in Britain. Melancholicus cannot recall Ms. Redgrave’s comments at this point, but by then he had heard enough.

They were like peas in a pod, the two of them; soft leftists, idealistic and irenicist, but totally lacking in any grasp of the real situation in the world as far as human rights are concerned. As such, they are indistinguishable from the countless millions of other soft leftists which make up a goodly share of western society. These people mean well, but they really haven’t a clue. That much should be obvious, when one squanders precious airtime waxing indignant over Guantanamo, and that in the very shadow of the real elephant in the room, now looming totally unnoticed.

Talk about straining out a gnat and then swallowing a camel. Our Lord used those words against the Pharisees, but in a different time and context they could be applied just as fittingly not only to Hookie but to most of those who ply their trade in the newspapers and on the airwaves. And so the consensus of soft leftism continues undisturbed, and the five-hundred pound elephant continues to evade detection.

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