Last week, Nick Griffin — the head of the racist and fascist ‘British National’ Party — was given some air time on BBC’s “Question Period.” There were protests, and a lot of controversy.
Here is some selected coverage and commentary -
“Lenin” on the Lenin’s Tomb blog -
“Springboard for Griffin”
An article on the BBC web site -
“BNP support in poll sparks anger”
(Anti-BNP bias actually isn’t a problem that anyone should complain about.)
Brian Wheeler on the BBC web site -
“What did voters make of Griffin?”
(I’m not exactly recommending that article. I’m just pointing it out because I think it captures how the BBC airtime has tended to feed into the BNP.)
“Lenin” (in this post) -
“It has been pointed out that the arguments over Griffin’s appearance are analogous to those that erupted over Le Pen’s television appearance in 1984, after which support for the Front national doubled. Now Jim Wolfreys has explained in more detail the similarities between the tactics of the BNP and FN. These involve precisely the strategy of normalisation, distancing themselves from the explicit symbols, regalia and language of the traditional far right, and tapping into more socially accepted forms of right-wing politics, such as anti-immigrant racism.
We have to take note of such tactics, and make sure as many people understand them as possible.”
“Lenin” on the Lenin’s Tomb blog -
“Protest outside BBC”
Caroline Davies and James Robinson in The Guardian -
“Nick Griffin arrives for BBC debate despite mass protest outside TV centre”
[via Waging Nonviolence]
Brendan Montague on his site (the-sauce.org) -
“A Question of Support (BNP and Question Time)” (in late September)
“Eight students were attacked with what is believed to be pepper spray by police at the gates of the BBC head quarters.”
Another individual “was left with a 3cm gash to his head after being struck with a truncheon.”
This blog post suggests that denying the BNP a platform would feed in to them (to some extent) because “a core element of their propaganda is a persecution complex where the BNP are victimised by powerful forces for daring to tell the ‘truth.’ ” (The author also presents other points — including statements about how common Brits should know better than to support the BNP. But I’m just going to respond to the point that I had quoted.)
Regarding that statement about “persecution” and supposed victimization -
It’s true that shutting the BNP out of the mainstream press wouldn’t be enough to make them go away, and it’s also true that the BNP would try to re-frame their marginalization as some form of greatness, but I also think it’s now clear that casting any spotlight on the BNP — and a ‘respectable,’ ‘legitimate’ BBC spotlight at that — easily can help them to draw in more supporters. Although the BNP are bound to get official or otherwise mainstream platforms at times, for as long as they have elected officials in office, they still haven’t had much access to major outlets (like the mainstream press). The BNP have been around the fringes of British society; so just landing a place on the mainstream agenda easily can leave them with some more support — from a proportion of the audiences that they gain. Amidst the controversies before, during, and after the recent BBC/BNP broadcast, more people have come to the BNP with sympathy, curiosity, and other openness or support. The BNP also have provoked more opposition, at the same time — but not effective opposition (so far).
It’s very difficult to confront a party that veils their views, and their goals, and their ties to a wider range of racism and fascism (including racist assault in the streets); so BNP marketing and spin must be exposed and challenged. If they won’t be forthcoming about who they are and what they are trying to do, then they shouldn’t be given platforms, and room on prominent agendas; they simply should be condemned and shut out.
Brits should hear about what the BNP is, but the BNP tends to avoid blunt and accurate accounts themselves (in public). And, regardless of how open they are about their views and goals, they are bound to try to cultivate an air of up-standing ‘democratic’ officialdom (as a veneer over their racist fascism). Obviously they’re not the only party spinsters out there though. I don’t think we should take any party politics for granted — whereas allowing the BNP to enter into the mix of established parties extends the scope of party politics, by adding in their neo-Nazi approach (that is, their support for hate crimes, their WWII fascist holocaust denial, etc).
Outsiders generally will have to outline BNP’s stances more clearly than the BNP will. Since it wouldn’t do to just ignore them, others should be calling attention to the BNP’s approach — without reproducing their sinister subterfuges, or their pretensions about supporting democratic nationalism. I hope that this video is shown on television — repeatedly. I also think that people should be questioning the name “British National Party,” which suggests that the BNP is standing up for “British National” interests (in a country that obviously does include coloured immigrant populations — who certainly should be just as welcome to participate as citizens, and as members of communities). The name “British Nazi Party” would be more fitting, but that term is just a form of name-calling, rather than a more substantial critique. BNP/Nazi interconnections certainly are among the issues that people should be highlighting though (in part, because of how the Nazis actually shelled the British nation during WWII air raids).
But we shouldn’t be debating questions like whether or not immigrants are human, or whether mass murder is OK. The BNP also shouldn’t be allowed to dance around their positions on such issues, if they’re given or allowed to have platforms — if not an air of legitimate acceptance on platforms like the BBC.