"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mainstreaming extremism #2

You all must be more or less Griffined-out by now so I'll be brief.

The BBC claimed it was their commitment to balance and impartiality that was behind their invitation to Griffin on Question Time - but since the format of the show clearly demonstrated that this isn't a commitment that they take very seriously, one was left wondering what the point of inviting him in the first place was?

I have to say I'm surprised at the number of commentators saying that Thursday's Question Time either allayed their worst fears or even changed their minds from a position of opposition to his appearance. This isn't a feeling I share. Richard Seymour makes two arguments I agree with very neatly here; Dai is even more succinct and to the point here. I've just a couple of things to add:

1) Everyone's going on about how uncomfortable Griffin looked. I don't agree. How uncomfortable did he really look? Uncomfortable the way a leader of a racist criminal gang should look? I don't think so. People have remarked, for example, that the issue of his Holocaust denial was 'raised'. Not good enough. Paxman received plaudits for pressing a question on the then Home Secretary Michael Howard something like eighteen times. But something eminently more serious and malevolent than whether a Minister of the Crown threatened to overrule a civil servant doesn't justify a similar persistence?

2) He looked shifty, uncomfortable and evasive, according to most accounts. So he did. So what? Why are people effectively arguing that making a tit of yourself on national television is in some way politically decisive? I saw the then Governor of Texas George W Bush being interviewed and making a fool of himself because he couldn't name the ruler of Pakistan. You'll recall he then went on to become President of the United States. Making a tit of yourself on the television is a fairly routine experience for politicians. That Griffin also did isn't particularly significant; it doesn't do anything much to 'expose the BNP for what they are' - in the long-run it serves only to normalise them.

Some of us argued this from the outset. While we might well be proved wrong about this, the most recent evidence would suggest that our concerns were not misplaced.

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