Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beyond the pale

Should a broadcaster with links to extreme politics present the BBC's election special? How about one who said this, back in 2003:

I suspect that these days I'm politically closest to the BNP...
That's not quite what Dermot O'Leary told the Guardian back then. As pointed out by the Biased BBC blog today, in the Guardian interview in question he said:
Labour, Tory, Liberal or Socialist Workers?
I suspect that these days I'm politically closest to the Socialist Workers, but they'd take all my money so it's still Labour.
It's worth asking why The Guardian chose to add the tiny, electorally insignificant political cult that is the SWP to a list of mainstream political parties in the question. They're not the only ones who do this. Following Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time last year, Jack Straw was quoted in The Times as saying:
"... there is something basically decent running through Britain and British politics from UKIP to the Socialist Workers Party. But he is beyond the pale on that."
The BNP is beyond the pale, in my opinion. But so is the SWP, which allied with reactionary Islamists in the RESPECT party. This isn't a left/right issue, plenty of mainstream democratic socialists object to the SWP, and the BNP's policies combine communitarianism with a form of socialism which, to many conservatives and liberals, places them on the left of the spectrum even though they are racists.

Islamists would place all non-Muslims in the position of second class citizens, all women would be third class citizens, and they would murder free-thinkers, gays, apostates and others in the cruellest ways imaginable.

These Islamist policies are not SWP policies, but the SWP have been willing to pander to them. SWP policies themselves are straight from the political tradition that murdered more than 100 million people, and enslaved billions, during the 20th century.

Odious as they are, the BNP do not propose to do remotely as much harm to anything like as many people. Their ugliness is just a subset of that of the SWP, with race and class acting as substitutes between them, different lenses performing the same task: focussing hate.

The BNP is beyond the pale. But so is the SWP.

[Thanks to J for the email about Question Time]

1 comment:

TDK said...

places them on the left of the spectrum even though they are racists.

Given the growing anti-Semitism on the left as documented by Harry's Place, Adloyada, CIF Watch, Robin Shepherd, Tom Gross and many others, you can drop the "even though they are racists"

In fact, it's worth reminding ourselves about the amnesia of progressives regarding racism. Before the twentieth century, leftism and racism frequently went together. You can find quotes from Marx and Engels about the inferiority of Hungarians. French leftists kept out of the Dreyfuss affair because it was an establishment battle. And so on.