The Case of Nick Griffin and the BBC
|Monday, November 2,2009 07:01|
|By Sarah Gillespie|
We need Nick Griffin to save us from looking in the mirror. It is us the collective that is complicit in genocidal crimes and institutional intolerance. We are implicated in the death of millions of brown-skinned foreigners in remote lands - as we endorse killing in the name of democracy, universalism, and ‘women’s rights’ (even as we drop bombs on women), notes Sarah Gillespie
‘Nick Griffin is right to say London is not his city. London is a welcoming, tolerant, cosmopolitan capital’- Boris Johnson, Conservative Mayor for London.
‘I would ask you to again, unless you’re going to condemn the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks for writing a book: ‘Will our Grandchildren be Jewish’, then don’t call me a racist, or some kind of wicked bigot.’ - Nick Griffin interviewed, Independent 4th July 2009.
All week the British media have been deliberating over whether or not the BBC should have hosted Nick Griffin. In actual fact we need Nick Griffin to save us from looking in the mirror. It is us the collective, that is complicit in genocidal crimes and institutional intolerance. We the British electorate, are implicated in the death of millions of brown-skinned foreigners in remote lands. As long as we endorse killing in the name of democracy and universalism, as long we cite ‘women’s rights’ as a reason to drop bombs on Afghani women, then we are the ultimate pathological bigots.
With so much blood on our hands we had to make Nick Griffin the Nazi de Jour. Watching him booed and pilloried on Question Time last week was like a disturbing combination of the Opera Winfrey Show and the Adolf Eichmann Trial. The BNP have been around for over 60 years in various guises. They have been consistently ostracized by mainstream media and politicians. Yet Griffin’s debut on Question Time transformed a conventional news program into a pantomime courtroom watched by 8 million viewers. Liberals on the Left and Right were united in a unanimous outpouring of BNP-bashing. As the media frenzy unfolded it became clear that there was something to be gained from despising the ‘repugnant, slimy’ (Daily Mail) Nazi.
The purpose of his BBC appearance was certainly not to hear Griffin ’speak freely’ or to discuss a national ideology that is gaining more and more support amongst Brits. And it doesn’t seem to have delivered BBC Chief Executive Mark Thomson any closer to his holy grail of ‘impartiality’. What it did achieve, however, was a potent diversion from the encroaching reality of our own phobias, fears and murderous inclinations. After all, it was Jack Straw’s party that launched an illegal war in Iraq killing 1.5 million Iraqis. In the light of mounting Western barbarism against Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Palestinians, not to mention the curtailing of civil rights for British born Muslims, Griffin provides a conduit for British inhumanity and hypocrisy. He personifies the bigotry we despise in ourselves.
Why does the left support indigenous national movements in faraway places but fail to support their ‘compatriots’ at home?
It may be possible that Griffin has managed to get as far as he has because he skillfully plays with semantics in a way that detonates empty liberal rhetoric. His use of the term ‘indigenous Britons’ for instance highlights the gap between the explicit meaning of ‘original people’ and the implicit meaning of ‘abused people.’ Lefty Westerners lavish the term ‘indigenous’ upon Aborigines, Indians or Palestinians and historically have campaigned for their rights, recognition and sovereignty. Yet, irrationally, Westerners cannot apply the term to white Celts and Anglo Saxons. We fetishize differences between others in far-flung corners of the globe. Yet when economic migrants and refugees move next door, necessitating a share of resources, space, hospital beds and jobs, the tribalism we pretend to celebrate in World music and ethnic jewelry, is airbrushed out of existence. We do not bestow the same empathy upon unemployed John Smith of Hartlepool that we extend to impoverished populations of foreign lands. To do so would reveal that multicultural rhetoric is there, not in spite of British supremacy, but because of British supremacy.
Here is a clue embedded in Boris Johnson’s post Question Time statement:-
‘The secret of (Britain’s) long-term success is its ability to attract the best from wherever they are and allow them to be themselves – unleashing their imagination, creativity and enterprise’.
Wow, it sounds wonderful. I want to live in that Britain, the one that is a magnet for entrepreneurs, artists and iconoclasts. However Boris Johnson omits 2 things. How does he feel, I wonder, about ordinary immigrants who like many people I know and love, contribute absolutely nothing of note to society and simply survive. How does he aim to incorporate immigrant job seekers and single mothers into his well-oiled multi-faceted Nation of productivity? One can only assume that, according to Johnson’s criteria, mediocrity, bad luck or a simple lack of ambition, will not guarantee you a warm welcome in Blighty. Secondly, if Johnson is right and the British do indeed cream the finest minds from nations crippled by a legacy of imperialism, civil unrest and famine, what does that say about our ethics? Johnson basically describes the golden age of the British Empire with the added bonus that it is now the colonised, instead of the coloniser, that does the schlepping.
Multiculturalism and Tolerance
When Nick Griffin refers to losing his ‘British identity’ I must admit I scratch my head and wonder what he’s referring to. The BNP’s appropriation of the Winston Churchill motif doesn’t exactly clarify matters. It is well known that Churchill’s mother was an American decedent of French Huguenots who probably would have preferred coq au vin to fish and chips. Churchill’s mother was no more English than Genghis Khan. The formidable cultural critique and playwright, Bonnie Greer even reiterated the rumor that Churchill’s mum was part American Indian. Yet it doesn’t matter. The symbolism of Winston Churchill remains intact. Despite Churchill’s decision to annihilate German cities and fry hundreds of thousands of civilians, he remains a potent signifier of ‘Britain under siege’. Though, given New Labor’s credentials it’s easy to see why they want him back.
Griffin may be a despicable biological determinist who will only be content when the population of Britain looks as if it has been bleached, but for the disgruntled, dispossessed patriots who vote BNP, there is genuine longing to preserve something, a consolidated sense of who they are, a unity, a feeling of belonging.
What that might mean in real terms is hard to pin down. While America is cheered by its imaginary notion of freedom, and France prides itself on its pragmatic model of socialism, the British love to see themselves as a tolerant nation. Tolerance is something we think we do well. Yet the word ‘tolerance’ betrays the opposite of what it aspires to. It means ‘to endure’, to ‘put up with’. It is not exactly loving. Tolerance is cultivated precisely as a repost to animosity and tribalism. It is a lovely, utopian concept that evolved like a pearl around the invasive grit of globalization and surging Diasporas. But really it means ‘putting up’ with something you cannot understand. Westerners might try to accept Muslims but they fail and get stuck with the tricky job of pretending they do.
Subsequently Liberals are engaged in charade of pseudo acceptance. No one demonstrates this hypocrisy better than the delightful Jack Straw who famously advocates stripping Muslim Women of their right to wear a veil. In reality, to enshrine this in law would create an entire generation of agoraphobic Muslim British women who would be loathed to step outside their front door. Jack doesn’t particularly care about this. He just wants Muslims to be more like him. I would suggest that, should the day arrive when Muslim women are denied their veil, Jack Straw should be forced to attend Parliament wearing nothing but his Marks and Spencer’s knickers. It is precisely because Straw is a practicing bigot that he requires our ‘Nazi de jour’ as his punch bag.
Bizarrely enough Griffin has come out as a die-hard Zionist. So he has something in common with New Labor after all. Griffin thinks that if, like George Galloway, he makes a few philo-semitic statements, then mainstream voters will come running. Pro-Israeli pandering is vital for any party’s electability. Obama needed AIPAC and Labor needed ‘Labor Friends of Israel’. However, for parties on the fringe, it does not guarantee a seat in public office. Indeed British Jews don’t buy Griffin’s Zionism and neither do British gentiles (aka indigenous Britons). It is clear his pro Jewish stance is a ‘fig-leaf’. It would seem likely that Griffin prefers Jews out of Britain. He certainly seems keen to secure the ‘Islamaphobic vote’ but it is safe to assume that for Griffin, Zionism is just another word for repatriation.
The only pertinent form of prejudice in Britain today centers not on biology but ideology. The recent riots that erupted across England were carried out by new groups (English Defense League and Stop the Islamification of Europe) who’s only mission is to stamp out ‘Islamification’. These groups don’t have a problem with Asians, blacks or any kind of Semite. They are not driven by ethnic divide. They just don’t like Islam. They are worried about the implementation of Sharia law. They are worried that British Muslims cannot fight in a British army against their brothers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq. They are worried that multiculturalism, pluralism and tolerance has created a breeding ground for jihad on their soil.
For Liberals it is extremely problematic to contemplate sovereignty while routinely obliterating the sovereignty of others. Still, as a BBC Radio 4 addict, I had hoped and expected the BBC would have used this opportunity to perform a master-class in real tolerance and openness. If there was a reason behind the invitation of Griffin, the BBC should have had made sure that the case in favor of the ‘indigenous British’, was presented by some leading intellectuals who can present an argument. As it is, the voice of unemployed, pissed-off John Smith from Hartlepool was not allowed to be heard. We can only guess what he has in his mind. Instead, Question Time jettisoned their established format of reasoned debate and disintegrated into a shallow spectacle of hysteria and verbal abuse. In a week that saw the most debilitating industrial action Britain has had for a over decade, in a week that saw war criminal Tony Blair preening himself to become President of the EU, it would have been nice to have some real questions on Question Time, but there were none. And there were certainly no answers. There was just a parody of free speech. What could have been a genuine celebration of tolerance proved nothing more than a demonstration of hypocrisy. We the British have blood on our hands. Let us look at it. Let us beg forgiveness. Let us have the insight to take responsibility. Maybe then we can let Nick Griffin speak.
Sarah Gillespie is an Anglo-American singer/songwriter living and working in London. For more information, visit