These are worrying times for our national broadcaster: the BBC once more stands accused of giving a platform to the far-right, and the criticism seems entirely justified. Last night, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was, for the 33rd time, given a seat on the Question Time panel. He proceeded to monopolise the broadcast, with host Fiona Bruce totally ineffective, even dismissing Farage’s racist “Breaking Point” poster as “ancient history”.
Ben Shapiro ...
... and his host for today's appearance
Worse was to come this morning, as it was revealed that today’s edition of Politics Live will feature Ben Shapiro. Who he? Well, Shapiro is a Conservative commentator, with a very big C indeed. Moreover, his disdain for Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular is infamous. One skim through his Wikipedia entry gives a flavour of his views.
“In a 2014 YouTube video titled ‘The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority’, Shapiro said ‘We're above 800 million Muslims who are radicalised - more than half the Muslims on earth. That's not a minority... the myth of the tiny radical Muslim minority is just that: it's a myth’ … In 2016, Shapiro promoted an article written on The Daily Wire, which described the Muslim presence in Europe as a ‘disease’ and Muslim men as ‘uncivilized’”.
Nice chap, eh? There was more. “Vox describes Shapiro as a polarizing figure, in part due to statements such as ‘Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage’ … In 2007, Shapiro argued that ‘the Palestinian-Arab population is rotten to the core’, and as ‘an entire population [is] corrupted by bloodthirsty anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism,’ punishing Palestinian leaders is insufficient: ‘Collective choices require collective treatment’”. An Islamophobic bigot who approves of collective punishment.
So the Beeb should not be surprised at the reaction to news of his presence. Ross McCafferty’s reaction - “Ben Shapiro. Really? really?” was typical. Richard James Conway was on the same page. “Wow! The BBC are having a far right homophobic theocratic racist bigot like Ben Shapiro on Politics Live. Just Wow!”
Rudi Abdallah mused “BBC rightly bins Danny Baker for awful tweet then shows its commitment to fighting racism by ... inviting Nigel Farage on Question Time and *Ben Shapiro* on today's Politics Live”, while the Guardian’s Peter Walker added “I'm really not one for BBC-bashing, but having someone as openly, proudly prejudiced as Ben Shapiro on Politics Live is a terrible error of judgement”. And there was more.
Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain concluded “Truly unbelievable Ben Shapiro is on BBC's Politics Live. He believes most Muslims are radical, is a vile racist about Arabs & his Twitter was visited by the far-right Quebec terrorist 93 times in the month before the shooting … Vile Islamophobia clearly not a barrier for being on”.
And Omar Khan had a disturbing thought to add: “I wish I could say wow, but it's obvious producers at the BBC are sympathetic with the far right”. It’s not about balance. It’s about knowing we have a febrile and combustible political climate right now, and still going ahead with giving a platform to someone about to chuck petrol on the fire.
What’s going on with the BBC right now? We’ll find out, whoever doesn’t want us to know.
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