Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, where we in th UK commemorate those who died at the hands of the Nazis, and in subsequent genocides. The date was chosen because it was on this day during the last bitterly cold east European winter of World War 2 that the Soviet army liberated the extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Whether the Allies knew what the Nazis had been doing up to that point has been argued for most of the 75 years that have passed since that liberation, but what is certain is that they knew afterwards. That is why we remember, and must never forget. Fascism, and the far right in general, brought the world to that place. Never again.
Perhaps that is why the BBC, or more correctly production company Mentorn Media, chose today’s edition of The Big Questions to ask whether the far right was something to be afraid of. But rather than have a reasoned and factual debate on the subject, someone clearly decided that having a proper far right leader on the show would be A Good Thing.
So it was that Anne Marie Waters of For Britain was there in the audience. She was as loud and uncompromising as ever: her party was a democratic one, she claimed, which meant she could not possibly be a fascist. Her free speech was under attack, so much so that she was given a platform on prime time TV to peddle her views.
Dave (“still laughing at the fascists”) observed “discussing ‘Should Britain be afraid of its far right?’. Fascist Anne Marie Waters is in the audience. She has been recorded saying that she wants to restrict birth rates of Muslims. You don't get more fascist than that”.
Madhav Shankar noted that the Beeb “invited well known Fascist Anne Marie Waters onto their programme; on #HolocaustMemorialDay … Anne Marie Waters said in a secret video recording that if she had her way, Muslim women would be forcibly sterilized”.
Sebastian Payne of the FT was also watching. “Anne Marie Waters was on the BBC’s Big Questions this morning. For anyone worried about the far right in Britain, it was a stark reminder of how dangerously compelling these people are … Her message was simple: the establishment is trying to silence me. Just like Tommy Robinson”.
Another Tweeter opined “More power to the psychologist in the audience, who identifies the powerful exploitative language used by hate preachers like Anne Marie Waters designed to target vulnerable people to a destination of hate!” Quite.
Another observer put it bluntly: “It’s Holocaust Memorial Day and the #bbctbq decides it would be a good idea to have fascist Ann-Marie Waters on there. Stop giving this scum air time, it’s not helping the landscape to ‘hear them out’ - they belong in the gutter”.
At least Majid Sultan had some praise for the programme’s host: “‘Jimmy Saville didn’t come from Karachi’ Ann Marie Waters shut down by Nicky Campbell, quality stuff”.
But others kept coming back to the timing: “Please stop giving these far right hate-mongers a platform! Anne Marie Waters wants to 'reduce birth rates' of a particular group - you air this on #HolocaustMemorialDay - seriously!” Not a good look, BBC.
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