Insensitivity Training

is what I sometimes think the BBC needs but there are limits. On today’s six-o-clock news, a BBC reporter spoke of the ‘insensitivity’ of the school teacher in Sudan who allowed her class to name their teddy bear ‘Mohamed’.

The reporter’s words contrast with the carefully neutral tone in which he (like all other BBC coverage I’ve seen) described Sudanese actions. They could, of course, say that comment is needless. And I could say the same about their calling the teacher’s action ‘insensitive’.

Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Insensitivity Training

  1. Ben Hur says:

    Yet they have no problem saying that liberal, western Israel is the root of all evil.


  2. Matthew says:

    Note that the BBC has run a very different line on the Sudan protests against Mrs Gibbons than almost every other news agency. Bizarrely, the news report this afternoon had Adam Mynott telling us that the crowd was ‘relatively small’ and ‘well behaved’ as pictures of a huge mob waving sticks appeared in the background. The website also disguised the calls for her killing – just describing it as a ‘call for a tougher sentence’.

    The attempt to put a positive spin on this by the BBC is astonishing – there is no length to which they will not go to appease the Islamists.


  3. Gareth says:

    The BBC broadcasts far and wide. They might be stepping on eggshells as, with protestors calling for her to be shot, the teacher is still in considerable danger.

    I sincerely hope that is the only reason for such measured reporting.


  4. Bryan says:

    Muslim taxi drivers refuse to transport blind people with guide dogs. Could be that this distaste for dogs extends to bears – which could explain why naming a teddy bear ‘Mohammed’ was considered so offensive.

    It’s not surprising that the BBC is behaving like a good, respectful dhimmi in this case. If it can turn a blind eye to the genocide of black Muslims by Arab Muslims in Darfur, then why would it get agitated over the jailing and deportation of one woman? And the fact that she is British obviously means nothing to the multi-culti BBC.

    But the BBC appears to be seriously split on this issue, on the one hand being the good dhimmi, and on the other allowing comments disrespectful of Islam and Sudan to flood the HYS on the teddy bear topic:

    Strange, that. HYS would never allow similar disparaging comments on Iran or Pakistan.


  5. George R says:

    As the BBC should realise by now, the days of being deferential and appeasing towards Islamic intolerance, threats and violence are over.

    Miliband found that his early dhimmi attitude towards Sudan didn’t work.


  6. George R says:

    Is the BBC prepared to ban its use of the word ‘women’ when reporting on the Islamic Republic of Iran?

    Not to do so may upset Muslims, which, I understand, is the last thing which the BBC would ever consider doing.

    ” Iran: Use of word women ‘banned from state TV'”


  7. JG says:

    “But the BBC appears to be seriously split on this issue, on the one hand being the good dhimmi, and on the other allowing comments disrespectful of Islam and Sudan to flood the HYS on the teddy bear topic:”
    Bryan | 30.11.07 – 10:11 pm |

    yes there are some that criticise Islam, but there were a lot more on there, much more critical. The top few recommended, with hundreds of recommends went something like “Once again the religion of peace shows it’s true colours. We need to judge Islam not by its words but by its actions”. There were three or four like this, but strangle they have all disappeared. The BBC PC thought police have hit this DHYS hard.


  8. gharqad says:

    In failing to qualify the use of the word ‘insensitivity’ – in simply echoing the islamist narrative of events, while a woman who has done nothing wrong languishes in jail (I have to keep reminding myself – OVER THE NAME SOME CHILDREN GAVE TO A TEDDY BEAR) and crowds calling for her execution are whitewashed as being “good-natured” by their reporter, the BBC has ceased to represent anything or believe in anything that the average citizen of the UK stands for or believes in.

    This is really, really shameful. Not one more penny of my money will pay the wages of this sorry lot, ever again. I would literally sooner go to prison.

    It’s offensive and repulsive. An embarrassment.


  9. deegee says:

    There is some dispute from scholars and commentators of Islam whether the violent, intolerant, hostile, etc. elements are intrinsic to the religion cf. Hirsaan Ali and Robert Spencer, or typical only of a minority, leaving millions of less extreme or even moderate Muslims silenced cf. Daniel Pipes.

    That, however, is not really a question for this blog. What is relevant, is why the BBC, as a rule of thumb, always treats the extremists as the authentic therefore acceptable voice of Islam?

    BTW World Service is giving the case major coverage. The Arabic Service (sorry I don’t read Arabic) also seems to be covering it at least according to the teddy bear link on the front page.

    Can anyone help with the translation?


  10. Rob says:

    The BBC distorting the truth to paint Islam in a better light? Well, I never!


  11. Bryan says:

    JG | 01.12.07 – 1:33 am

    Well, the BBC thought police haven’t got around to this most recent comment yet:

    Added: Saturday, 1 December, 2007, 10:08 GMT 10:08 UK

    The biggest mistake this poor woman made was going to this
    stinking hellhole to help people who are only looking for an excuse to kill and maime non muslims,if they cant do it in their
    poor excuse for a country they then make trouble in the country
    they are shipped to in the guise of refugees,if they did a days work
    instead of praying all day things would change.Surely the UN can
    sort them out or what are we paying them for?,its all down to oil
    and the oil companies run the world!!

    Alan Edwards, Sydney

    Recommended by 32 people

    Maybe the PC police don’t work on Saturdays.


  12. John Reith says:

    Bryan | 30.11.07 – 10:11 pm

    the genocide of black Muslims by Arab Muslims in Darfur

    Still peddling the false Arab/Black distinction are you, Bryan?

    Can’t get it into your head that the Janjaweed are black too?

    Look at the pictures –


  13. The Fat Contractor says:

    deegee | 01.12.07 – 8:31 am |
    That, however, is not really a question for this blog. What is relevant, is why the BBC, as a rule of thumb, always treats the extremists as the authentic therefore acceptable voice of Islam?

    Could the Yazzmonster be right then? Are the BBC following the Governments lead to portray muslims as monsters in order to perpetuate the War on Terror. By saying that these monsters are ‘acceptable’ to muslims as a whole are they creating a fear of muslims in the non-muslim communities? Is this a manifestation of the ‘State of Fear’ that Western governments use to misdirect the population away from their own misdeeds?

    Oh, hang on. Aren’t the BBC supposed to be pro-muslim?


  14. George R says:

    Bryan and John Reith

    The Janjaweed of Sudan:

    ” Those who’ve interviewed refugees from Darfur also allege that Janjaweed commanders are using racism as a rallying point, encouraging their charges to rape the dark-skinned villagers they encounter during their raids.” (Bernard Koerner)

    In a different context, Hugh Fitzgerald has this, relating to the Janjaweed:


  15. Susan says:

    Why would it be surprising that al-Beeb tried to put a positive spin on these awful mouth-foaming protests? They tried to put a positive spin on the BESLAN children’s massacre, for god’s sake! There is no level too low for al-Beeb to scrunch under when it comes to protecting its one and only sacred cow, Islam.


  16. Susan says:

    Can’t get it into your head that the Janjaweed are black too?

    The Janjaweed may be black but they don’t consider themselves to be. They consider themselves to be “Arab.”


  17. Bryan says:

    John Reith | 01.12.07 – 12:23 pm,

    “Peddling” is an interesting choice of a word by one who works for an organisation that guzzles at the public trough by means of an enforced tax. No, Reith, I don’t get paid for what I write here.

    Now in the light of what George R has kindly provided above, will you finally concede that the Khartoum government has been engaged in the past four years in Arab Muslim genocide of black Muslims in Darfur? I didn’t learn about this from the BBC. I had to go elsewhere to find out what was really going on. But as I pointed out in a comment on another thread, which has mysteriously disappeared, the BBC has a halfway decent article on Sudan here, albeit written from outside the country:

    Now if the BBC starts to produce more journalism like this, I’ll happily praise it. Produce biased crap, and I’ll continue to expose it.

    I don’t claim to know the exact racial breakdown of the Jangaweed, but people are pretty dark around that part of the world, Reith. I suppose that’s what fooled you into thinking that the Jangaweed were blacks. But have a closer look at the photos you yourself have so generously provided, of a dozen or so people. Are you sure that they are not Arabs? Hell, I even see one coffee-coloured guy sitting there.


  18. John Reith says:

    Bryan | 01.12.07 – 5:01 pm
    George R | 01.12.07 – 1:16 pm
    Susan | 01.12.07 – 4:44 pm

    in the light of what George R has kindly provided above, will you finally concede…

    No, Bryan. George’s links prove nothing except that there are other ignoramuses out there apart from you.

    By contrast, Alex de Waal has written a number of books about Darfur and spends a good deal of time there.

    Darfurian Arabs, are “Arabs” in the ancient sense of “Bedouin,” meaning desert nomad…… Darfurian Arabs, too, are indigenous, black, and African. In fact there are no discernible racial or religious differences between the two: all have lived there for centuries; all are Muslims (Darfur’s non-Arabs are arguably more devout than the Arabs)…

    Darfur’s Arabs are just as black, indigenous, Muslim and African as their non-Arab neighbors

    So there we have it, the Darfurian Arabs are arabs in the sense that they are nomadic herdsmen as opposed to settled farmers. Not Arabs in the sense of sharing common genes with Yasser Arafat.

    Between the Janjaweed and the ‘African’ farmers they kill there is ‘no discernible racial…difference.


  19. Susan says:


    That may be how SOMEONE feels about it, but it’s obviously NOT how the Janjaweed feel about it. They believe they are superior to the “blacks” because they are “Arabs”. Just like Mexican mestizos who have some Spanish blood feel superior to their compatriots who are 100 percent Native Mexican, despite the fact that both groups of people are “brown”.

    I’m embarassed that I have to explain these kindegarten facts to you. To Arabs, blacks are “abed” — slaves — and have been for centuries. End of story.


  20. John Reith says:

    Susan | 01.12.07 – 7:08 pm

    You are continuing to make the same category mistake.

    These ‘Arabs’ are not genealogically linked to tribes originating in the Arabian peninsular…. they are not even related to the Arabs of the North African litoral.

    They are ‘Arabs’ only in a slang-sense, in that nomads got termed ‘Arabs’.

    It’s a lifestyle thing, not racial.


  21. Bryan says:

    Thanks for those links John Reith. It’s refreshing to read some real, knowledgeable stuff – unlike the garbage that comes out of the BBC.

    But don’t just jump at the first bit of evidence you find in your eagerness to prove me wrong. Read your own links and you will find such concepts as pan-Arab ambitions extending to Sudan of the one and only Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.

    Now, of course I have to believe Alex de Waal when he says that, “The Arab–African dichotomy is historically and anthropologically bogus.” However, he adds, “But that doesn’t make the distinction unreal, as long as the perpetrators subscribe to it.”

    And here’s your Kathryn Milani:

    Darfur’s neighbors, especially Libya, have played a meddlesome role in Darfur. In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi dreamed of establishing an Arab belt across the Sahelian Africa. Gaddafi planned to gain political influence over Chad, which would aid in the eventual ‘Arabization’ of the region. In an attempt to spread his pan-Arab agenda, Gaddafi launched a succession of military adventures in Chad. Gaddafi organized and armed discontented Sahelian Arabs; these Arabs formed the Islamic Legion which conducted Gaddafi’s offenses in the region (de Waal 2004). From 1987 to 1989, Chadian factions backed by Libya used Darfur for refuge and as a base of operation; the factions resided in Darfur and relied heavily on the crops and cattle of the native Darfuri tribes (de Waal 2004). Gaddafi’s influence had two destabilizing effects in Darfur: 1) many of the guns in Darfur today came from Gaddafi’s factions and 2) Gaddafi’s pan-Arabism created an artificial Arab and Africa racial dichotomy. Pan-Arab sentiment led to the racial polarization of Darfur’s tribes along Arab and Black African lines. Arabism and Africanism continued to be used a political tool to mobilize people around a particular cause.

    Now what about the Khartoum government and the security cabal who have been identified as engineering the genocide? What’s the racial breakdown there? Some of them (like the one guy in the photos you provided of the Jangaweed) don’t look black at all. Here’s Omar al Bashir:

    And apart from the racial breakdown, how do they align themselves in terms of pan-Arabism? What are their ambitions re Arab hegemony in the area?

    So tone down the withering scorn a bit Reith. The jury is still out. Take more than your average 35 seconds (yeah, right) to post a comment here and you might learn something.


  22. George R says:

    Bryan, John Reith, Susan.

    I think that the main issue of discussion/argument here is over the BBC’s portrayal of the Sudan Government, relative to Darfur and the Khartoum ‘teddy bear’ case.

    None of us claims to be an expert on the Sudan, so we are inclined to refer to more expert opinion.

    In this respect, I’m impressed with much of what Baroness Cox has to say about Sudan. Between 1989 and 2004 she made 27 visits to ‘no-go’ areas of Sudan.She said this in the House of Lords about the situation in the Sudan:

    “…the response of the Government of Sudan has been brutal, involving support from the infamous Janjaweed, which has been a major force in the widespread attacks on civilians and the appalling catalogue of death, destruction and atrocities. Forces of the Government of Sudan have been heavily involved themselves in offences against civilians, and the infamous aerial attacks by low flying helicopters and bombardment by higher flying Antonovs. There is indeed a strong case for indictment of the Government of Sudan for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
    ( House of Lords, 1 Nov. 2004).

    I know Baroness Cox has appeared on BBC, e.g. last Friday’s ‘World at One’; but given the evidence about the Sudan Government, why does the BBC adopt a predominant stance of ‘moral equivalence’ in the case of British schoolteacher, Ms. Gibbons, rather than a position of full support for Ms. Gibbons, and moral condemnation of the Sudan Government?


  23. deegee says:

    Anonymous | 01.12.07 – 8:43 am
    Thank you for the translation link. If the translation is correct the staff at have no idea about what a panda looks like. The pure white teddy bear used to illustrate the story is described as a model of a panda for sale in Khartoum.

    Intriguingly I can’t find an equivalent story on the Beeb about whether Islam forbids naming pets and toys, Mohammed.


  24. deegee says:

    The Fat Contractor | 01.12.07 – 12:43 pm
    Oh, hang on. Aren’t the BBC supposed to be pro-muslim?

    Not a contradiction. The BBC is pro Muslim AND chooses the most vicious versions to present as mainstream.


  25. John Reith says:

    Bryan | 01.12.07 – 8:02 pm

    Same old technique, eh Bryan: when some piece of utter crap you’ve written is refuted, you then start raising irrelevant facts.

    We weren’t talking about the racial make up of the Khartoum government, nor Gaddafi’s ideology in the 80s.

    We were concerned only with whether the Janjaweed were genealogically ethnic Arabs or black Africans.

    The convention at the moment in pretty well all media is to label the Janjaweed ‘Arab’ and the others ‘African’.

    This works in terms of political ideology.

    Arab and BLACK (as you insist on putting it) makes no sense at all.

    Perhaps this fixation has something to do with your experiences in SA?


  26. Michele Keighley says:

    John Reith – actually you have not addressed the main focus of this thread – so I ask it of you now. Why IS (emphasis) the BBC reporting this incident as if the teacher concerned is the problem by being ‘insensitive’; and the extreme position of a political-religion over not considered to be factor or a fault?

    And would you mind not indulging in personal abuse at this post, I find that insulting and …er…. insensitive.


  27. Matthew says:

    Michele – thanks for bringing the thread back to topic.

    My own suspicions are along the following lines:

    i) Mynott, and many other BBC journalists of a similar stripe (such as Barbara Plett and Patrick Seale), are terrified that their reporting will be restricted by the militant governments of the Islamic world. They know that they can get away with being critical of Europe and the USA without facing impositions, but know that by contrast governments in the Islamic world are hyper-senstitive.

    On the home front, as the Archbishop of York has noted, the BBC is aware that violent reprisals are threatened most often by hardline Muslims, and so the corporation is terrified of criticising them for fear of inflaming opinion. Look at the disgusting way the MCB and MPAC savaged and smeared the admirable John Ware when he dared criticise Muslim denial about extremism in Britain. Since then they have gone out of their way not to offend Islamic opinion (which means the hardline opinion since this will be the sector that does the shouting).

    ii) The BBC in their smugness now believe that they are a World news organisation much more than a British one. This means that in any story, even in one so patently absurd as this one, they feel they have to present two sides on every issue, and at the same time highlight the criticisms of the Western or European position. Since these howls of disgust with the West are loudest in the Islamic world, theirs are the noises that are presented more than any other. Hence thrusting down our throats the need to sympathise with the Sudanese position.

    iii) The BBC knows that conservative opinion is much more sceptical of the need to retain a licence fee than the liberal/left parties, and so tries to appease what they believe is liberal opinion (that Islam is a religion of peace). Hence their unmitigated praise for Lord Ahmed’s mission to Sudan all day without acknowledging his belief in punishing those who insult Islam (viz. Rushdie).

    To be fair, I think the licence fee is a curse for the BBC: it encourages timidity in reporting, and insipid journalism through fear of being labelled partial.


  28. Bryan says:

    John Reith | 02.12.07 – 12:57 am

    when some piece of utter crap you’ve written is refuted, you then start raising irrelevant facts.

    Good bit of projection there Reith – labelling others with what you yourself are so consistently guilty of. The most recent example of your deviousness was your spectacular shifting of goalposts re the deaths at the UN post. On that topic, you actually owe me and gharqad and David S. an apology for your gross insult in calling us “apologists for murder”:

    But I guess since you weren’t even big enough to accept my apology for misjudging David Gregory and yourself re his reaction to a request from JBH for input into JBH’s research

    then you wont be big enough to offer an apology. And one is certainly warranted in this case, as gharqad pointed out in his comprehensive rebuttal of your vicious attack on myself and others here simply because we objected to Paul Adams’ gross bias against Israel:

    We weren’t talking about the racial make up of the Khartoum government…

    I was. The whole point is to identify the engineers of the genocide. And if they are Arab, and aligned to pan-Arab ambitions to disposses, enslave and slaughter blacks, then the BBC should be energetically exposing them. Why does it shy away from its obligations to inform us?

    Interestingly, the best bit of Journalism from the BBC on Darfur is from Johah Fisher. It seems that now that he is no longer restrained and has been kicked out of Sudan

    he is able to tell us a few powerful truths about the government there:

    Now we need BBC people like Fisher to explore the link – if indeed there is one – between the Sudanese government and pan-Arab ambitions in the light of the genocide. Any link found should be trumpeted to the heavens. If the BBC can expose the ugly veiled face behind the genocide, it may help bring it to an end. How about it Reith?

    Oh and Reith, blacks I met and befriended in Africa don’t object to the term. They are proud of being black, whatever guilt-ridden and poorly educated white “liberal” ex-colonial types might insist on calling them.


  29. Matthew says:

    Bryan: the evidence is almost certainly on your side: the Darfur conflict does have a racial dimension, even if it doesn’t explain the whole problem. You certainly didn’t deserve abuse from this Reith character.

    See Makau Matua, Professor of Law at New York State University:

    And Moses Ochonu, Professor of History at Vanderbilt University:

    Your point about Johah Fisher is most interesting: fear of upsetting the authorities may explain why Mynott presented such a biased and inaccurate report.


  30. Bryan says:

    Thanks for that, Matthew. No time to read your links right now but I certainly will.

    Michele Keighley, Reith needs a bit of time to get into the swing of abusing people so I guess you’ll be spared for now.

    He also tends to avoid answering direct allegations of bias, so he may be disinclined to take up your challenge. The only “insensitivity” the teacher showed was to live and teach in Sudan while not being a Muslim.


  31. George R says:

    Bryan, John Reith.

    A knowledgeable writer on Sudan, Hugh Fitzgerald, says this:

    “…black African Muslims of Darfur have been on the receiving end of Arab Muslim supremacism.”

    ‘Darfur and Sudan’


  32. gharqad says:

    No, John Reith is absolutely right – and we should insist that the slaughter in Darfur is suspended until he has completed his genetic testing of those involved. Then he can tell them who they really are and why are doing what they are doing.

    And once he’s done that, he can give us the link in which the BBC correspondent gives us Israel’s version of events re the UN post in Lebanon, or retract his disgusting and moronic accusation. If he does neither, he is a worthless little coward who doesn’t deserve to be debated with.


  33. John Reith says:

    gharqad | 02.12.07 – 12:32 pm

    he can give us the link in which the BBC correspondent gives us Israel’s version of events re the UN post in Lebanon

    I have given you nothing but Israel’s side of the story about the UN post.

    Israel’s side is that it was :

    a. A mistake (Livni + Olmert+ Mark Regev)
    b. Caused by ‘serious professional errors’ (The IDF’s own inquiry).

    What Israel’s story is NOT is what you and Bryan were trying to defend: a cold-blooded and deliberate attack supposedly ‘justified’ by some piece of casuistry about human shields.

    Bryan | 02.12.07 – 8:50 am

    I think you will find the regime in Khartoum is not ‘pan-Arabist’ so much as Islamist.

    Pan-Arabism has tended to be secular and often socialist.


  34. John Reith says:

    Michele Keighley | 02.12.07 – 3:33 am

    I do not believe the BBC is generally running the line that the teacher was culpably insensitive.

    I personally don’t believe she was.

    I have heard the question debated by people on the BBC quite often this week.

    I gather the Archbishop of Canterbury said something along ‘disproportionate response to a faux pas’- which is much the same as saying she was insensitive.

    Many (e.g. Matthew Parris on Any Questions on Friday) have taken issue with this.

    In my view, Mynott should not have alluded to insensitivity as if it were an uncontested fact. He should have qualified it with ‘alleged’.


  35. Reg Hammer says:

    “If he does neither, he is a worthless little coward who doesn’t deserve to be debated with.”

    I’ll drink to that.

    Since both Nick Reynolds and David Gregory seem to have abandoned this board we are left with this slippery anonymous character, who doesn’t have the decency or the courage to admit who he really is and possesses no knowledge or understanding – of the subjects he opposes – outside of Google.

    He dishes out personal insults by the mile, yet takes grave offense at an inch of insult dished back. A personified embodiment of the BBC ethos if ever there was one.

    Reith’s adulation for the Beeb is predictably fanatical, unshakeably bigoted and intentionally contrary.

    He’s a one-trick-pony, and once you’ve read one Reithean reply (Sponsored by Google TM) you’ve read them all.

    I certainly won’t waste my time reading them any further.

    Come back David Gregory and Nick Reynolds!


  36. George R says:

    Bryan, John Reith.

    Re: Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism –

    “…Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism overlap so much that to set them in opposition is to mislead.” (H.Fitzgerald):
    ‘Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism’

    ” And since Islam is a vehicle for Arab imperialism, pan-Arabism means, necessarily promotion of Islam, and vice versa.” (H.Fitzgerald):
    ‘Saint Sadat’s Egypt’


  37. Susan says:

    Fom your second link, Matthew:

    Arab racism is so deep it is inscribed in the fundamental semantic structure of the Arabic language. Till this day, the generic word or for a black person is the preface “abd,” which translates as “slave,” as in “Abd”-allah (slave or servant of God). This linguistic norm, among many other racially-charged ones, is an expressive constant which holds true for the entire Arab-speaking world regardless of dialect and orthography.

    Exactly as I said, Arabs have long held that their “abed” brothers are inferior. Ibn Battuta (the “Arab Marco Polo” wrote in his famous travel diaries that black Africans are “naturally suited” to be slaves.) They were at the African slave trade three times longer than the Europeans. Saudi Arabia and some of the other Arab states did not abolish slavery until the mid-20th-Century, and then only under pressure from Western powers. The Janjaweed shout “abed, abed” when they raid black villages. This has long been reported by more honest sources than al-Beeb.


  38. The Fat Contractor says:

    John Reith | 01.12.07 – 6:19 pm |
    Shouldn’t that be ‘ignoramii’?

    John Reith | 02.12.07 – 12:57 am |
    Arab and BLACK (as you insist on putting it) makes no sense at all.

    Why? Arabs are a cultural group far more than a racial one. Perhaps you are mixing up ‘black’ with negro.


  39. The Fat Contractor says:

    deegee | 01.12.07 – 11:53 pm |
    Not a contradiction. The BBC is pro Muslim AND chooses the most vicious versions to present as mainstream.

    Ah, so you agree with the Yazzmonster then?


  40. Matthew says:

    Fat Contractor:

    This discussion has moved forwards since Reith posted his insults. If you are going to make a constructive contribution, try bothering to read the evidence presented since then.

    As Professor Moses Ochonu of Vanderbilt University explains:

    Professor Harik is only half right about the Arab-speaking Northern Sudanese. They are a dark-skinned people, although most of them are of mixed Arab and African ancestry. But these folks, by virtue of the aggressive Arab penetration of the Sudan (from the 13th century), a politically-implicated process of strategic intermarriages, and the adoption of the Arabic language and many aspects of Arab and Bedoiun culture, no longer perceive themselves as blacks, or African in any functional way. Indeed, they have long become Arabized. So deep is this new sense of the Northern Sudanese self that the region’s meta-narrative of origin and social evolution bears the imprint of an Arab antiquity more than it does that of African origins. This is the construction of racial and social memory par excellence. While Harik and I, as historically conscious people, may recognize them only as cultural and linguistic Arabs, the Northern Sudanese people and their ideologues and rulers have since, for good or ill, racialized their identity and their distinction from the people of Darfur (Western Sudan).

    This important point, frequently made by African historians and political scientists, is that Arab identity has dimensions which are cultural, linguistic, and racial: in the great majority of cases, as witnessed in Sudan, these elements are not mutually exclusive.


  41. The Fat Contractor says:

    Matthew | 02.12.07 – 10:29 pm |
    Try reading my post before you jump to conclusions. I made exactly the same point.

    Reith posted a syllogism – I rebutted it. He hasn’t posted on the subject since the quote I responded to. KUATB!


  42. Susan says:

    Matthew — excellent work in refuting the pointless and ludicrous contributions of “John Reith” on the topic of the racial ideology of the Janjaweed. It should be noted that all societies that are Islamized are ultimately also “Arabized.” V.S. Naipaul made this point clear in his books on the Islamization of the Indian sub-continent and so did the recently deceased apostate Muslim author Anwar Shaikh.


  43. Bryan says:

    Hardtalk, as part of a review of 2004, showed part of an interview with a member of the Sudanese government and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. People here knowledgeable on these matters might be interested in comparing the two. The clip starts at 14 minutes in:

    I’ve had trouble with the link. If it doesn’t work, search the BBC for Tim Sebastian. The programme is on the first page of results.


  44. George R says:

    Unlike the Labour Government’s and the BBC’s dhimmi attitude to the Islamic Sudan Government, Melanie Phillips is scathing of ‘the rogue state’ of Sudan:

    “The teddy-bear teacher and Labour’s spineless response to a rogue state.”


  45. watcher says:

    There are times when John Reith’s tone shifts a little – or at least times when he isn’t quite so aggressive or rude – which suggests that “he” is in fact more than one person. I would be interested to know if “he” really is one or many.

    Even if it was one, there would have to be coverage for the weeks when JR is on holiday (or even on approved multi-cultural training or at a sensitivity-crisis event, cheerfully paid for by the taxpayers so we can better understand our Dear Leader’s plans)


  46. George R says:

    That sensible BBC man, Mr Fisher, speaks some sense again on Sudan, after the event:

    ” Red faces in Sudan over Teddy row ”

    But would the BBC allow jokes, and stronger criticisms of Sudan and Islam to be aired, like this from Robert Spencer? Or would the BBC censor it as too ‘culturally insensitive’.?


  47. Reg Hammer says:

    “There are times when John Reith’s tone shifts a little – or at least times when he isn’t quite so aggressive or rude – which suggests that “he” is in fact more than one person. I would be interested to know if “he” really is one or many.”

    I agree.

    I’ve notice a few shifts in ‘personality’ from Reith (if that term could be applied to him).

    He mostly is the arrogant Oxford schoolie begining each of his posts with “Nonsense” or “Rubbish”.

    Occasionally he plumps for the faux ‘working man’ stance using expressions like ‘geezer’.

    And then rarely he tries a gentle, considered tone – wanting to give the impression that he has absorbed your point – when he’s just trying to sound magnanimous before he flatly opposes it.

    Undoubtedly this site has flagged the interest of those at BBC Monitoring and a collective of BBC employees have been ‘asked’ to monitor this site on a daily basis.

    Only the mods would know the true monitoring that goes on up here what with all the BBC IP addresses that must appear.


  48. Matthew says:


    If the BBC is monitoring the reporting of their bias here, isn’t that is a good thing? It should encourage posters here to be even more vigilant in flagging up occasions when BBC editorial policy departs from mainstream British opinion.


  49. Bryan says:

    I think Reith is one person. His tone changes to mild when he sees that he is confronted by people who know what they are talking about. Have a look at how he responded to Susan’s comment:

    Note the restrained, almost polite response. But if he senses uncertainty or weakness in an argument he reverts to his aggressive, mean nature and he goes in boots and all.

    That’s the real Reith.