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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We don't need fascists

So if you have a moment, can I ask all British citizens to please contact the BBC and tell them that.

This Thursday, the BBC plan to invite members of the British National Party, the openly white supremacist party of Britain, to appear on Question Time. Which is to say, they're planning to treat them like a legitimate political party rather than the bunch of anti-democratic racist thugs that they are.

As I've been saying quite a lot lately, the BBC is a terrific institution with a deserved reputation for political credibility. Even this latest decision, with which I completely disagree, proves that James Murdoch was talking out of what I shall charitably refer to as his wallet when he suggested that the BBC's publicly-funded status meant that it was an organ of the ruling party: inviting the BNP, who everybody hates including the people they lionise, is a pretty serious nod to free speech.

But you don't need to go on the BBC to have free speech. Nobody is trying to shut the BNP up, and saying that they shouldn't get a respectable slot on the BBC is not taking away their right to talk whatever fascist shit they want under their own initiative.

The BNP are best treated as a joke. They are a tiny and wicked gang of extremists who simply don't belong on political prime time, and putting them on the BBC is giving a stamp of legitimacy and a whole lot of attention to people who don't merit it any more than any other nasty crank. Please take a moment to contact the BBC and tell them that.

And, as it's very possible the BBC will do it anyway, let's also agree not to watch. If we reward them with ratings, we're supporting them. We don't need to see this. Until they say the phrase 'We've all changed our minds and we're very, very sorry,' there's nothing any BNP rep can possibly say that's worth hearing.

Absolutely - don't watch. But don't under-estimate the BNP either. I remember the rise of the National Front in the 1970s, and they soon showed that they were far from a joke - when you have them on your doorstep in South London, warning you that you will meet the fate of all race-traitors, you realise how dangerous these people can be. - Larry
I absolutely agree with you, but I want to raise a point that was recently mentioned by a Swedish blogger I read (relevance: the Swedish equivarent of the BNP being on the rise and looking as if they might get a seat in the 2010 elections).

Unless we steal their topics from them and treat them seriously with better solutions than they offer, they will continue to attract support simply because everyone else are treating not just them as jokes but ignoring the taboo subjects they tend to be raising. We need to find good solutions to those problems (because lets be realistic, there are issues to be solved) so that noone (says the hopeful voice, the realistic nagging one in the back of my head saying "fewer") will gravitate towards those kinds of groups.

We certainly don't want them to grow so big we have to take them seriously, then we have a much bigger problem on our hands.

Right now the ball is a bit in their court because it isn't quite politically correct to even admit publicly there are issues to be faced. We need to steal that ball from them and never give it back.
Kit, you could not be more wrong. The BNP *are* a serious political party, and as vile as they are, they have a number of supporters. And unless their lies are exposed as lies, they can get more supporters. For instance, they claim that council houses go to immigrants first and that gets them votes in areas with low housing availability. The way to counter that is not to ignore them, but to point out that it is a lie. Remember, the target audience of the BNP is not the racists, they have already got THEIR vote, they are after the little old lady who will read a leaflet about how her grandkids are being disadvantaged by these "immigrants", or the young man who can't get a job and will be told that it is because of the "immigrants". What those people deserve is to be shown how full of lies the BNP are.

And of course that is all without my opinion that it is NOT the role of the BBC to decide which elected representatives deserve airtime. The BNP have as much right to airtime as the Green Party, much as I detest them.
I don't think I talked in any way that was out of order. I am not going to make one of those false apologies wherein I say I am sorry you took something the wrong way. I have too much respect for you and I detest those; the function of an apology is where the person apologising acknowledges they have behaved badly. I do not believe I did behave badly. I pointed out that you were wrong. I did not mean, and do not see, that as any personal attack. It's a shame you will not continue the discussion with me, but thats the way it is. See you on the next thread!
If giving the BNP credible exposure will only strengthen their voting bloc, what of the 6.2% that voted for them in the last European Parliament elections?

The reason that Question Time's even considering an invite, after all, is that they hold two seats in the EP. Are those 6.2% truly the skinhead element, or is a large fraction of that just a misguided attempt at a protest vote?

If it's the latter, then bringing the party to light can only help things. The BNP's evil rhetoric needs to be dismantled, crushed, and scattered to the four corners of the Earth. Clearly, nobody's done that yet.

Who's job is it, then?

1) The BBC? They're not an advocacy group, so they can only call the BNP liars and thugs in a bona-fide report on the party. If they're not a legitimate party (and thus should be banned from Question Time), then the BBC will have no interest in a proactive debunking.
2) The other parties? They've fallen down on the job so far. If they're sitting with the BNP on Question Time, then they have to do their duty. And they better do a damn good job, or else British Democracy is unworthy of the name.

In my view, the lesson of America is "underestimate fanatics at your peril." The Religious Right got organized first, and with that large base of time and money they can compete in national elections on issues unrelated to their goals.

The typical American moderate probably doesn't even have a strong opinion on gay marriage or abortion, but s/he might be swayed by an "ACORN voter fraud oh noes!" argument (to quote the last election).

The best thing for Britain is to stop the BNP now. Their next leader might not be so tone-deaf. If they're a few years removed from their current idiocy, then it will be all the harder to make the right label stick.
One way to handle the situation is by direct response on the facts. We don't do that nearly enough here in the land of "just find two opposing views and call it a day", but via Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, here's MSNBC's Rachel Maddow fact-checking Pat Buchanan's claims about how it was white people who built the U.S. (I have no idea why Buchanan is still taken seriously on television. Something to do with conflict generating ratings, presumably.)

Verification word, curiously enough, is "scombarg." I can't tell if blogger is commenting on the BNP or Mr. Buchanan.
Oops! I posted without acknowledging that I was merely providing an example of what I thought to be a textbook example of someone implementing the strategy recommended by Christopher Subich.

The fact that everyone is oohing and aahing over Dr. Maddow's fact-checking report may serve as an indication of how rarely it occurs in practice.
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