Sunday, February 15, 2009

Anti-semitism and the BBC

Roger Bolton, of BBC Radio 4’s Sunday fame, is somewhat nonplussed by the claims of the UK parliamentary committee for anti-semitism that incidents inspired by this prejudice are at their highest level since recording began 25 years ago.

The interviewee, the Rt. Hon. John Mann, is the chairman of the aforesaid committee, and he was most adamant about the rise in the level of anti-semitic incidents, which he rightly described as “disturbing in a country which prides itself on its tolerance”.

Bolton doesn’t believe it, though. Listen to his language: “reported increase ... said to be ... danger of overstating the level of anti-semitism ... incidents are pretty low level ... we’re talking about hate-mail, anti-semitic graffiti ... I don’t want to downplay this [tongue firmly in cheek] but there’s still a relatively small amount of physical assaults and things like that...”

Melancholicus is not in the least surprised by this attitude. He knoweth the BBC far too well.

But who to blame for this “reported increase” of anti-semitic prejudice? Sure, why not the Jews themselves! Mr. Bolton asked his guest if there was a danger that opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza might be confused with racial prejudice. Melancholicus thinks that Mr. Bolton would prefer the answer to be yes, which would comfortingly imply that there isn’t any genuine anti-semitism out there, at least not really. But that would necessarily involve the corollary of the BBC admitting—at least tacitly—its own responsibility for fanning the flames with its consistently partial and one-sided coverage of the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So either way Mr. Bolton can’t win, can he?

So he seeks a scapegoat: “In the past anti-semitism has been driven by religion, Christianity in particular”. Yes, he really did say those words. Listen. It’s at 9:20.

Melancholicus shall let pass this swipe at Christianity, soft target that it is (how brave of you, Mr. Bolton), for he is more interested in the words in the past.

Thus the elephant in the room goes completely unnoticed. Anti-semitism is indeed on the rise as the elephant grows bolder, more militant, and more sure of itself. But Mr. Bolton cannot admit this, since to do so would violate one of the BBC’s most cherished nostrums of political correctness. Witness the obsession with Israel; the other “I-word” doesn’t even get a mention. Melancholicus was disappointed that Mr. Mann likewise failed to cite the Islamic impetus behind contemporary anti-semitism—but then Mr. Mann is a Member of Parliament, so he can’t be expected to have a brain.

But guess who did get a mention? Yes, good old Dickie Williamson again! Melancholicus believes there has not been a single edition of Sunday which failed to mention the holocaust-denying bishop, even in passing, since the story first broke three weeks ago. Some things never change.

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