Laban Tall

has spotted a BBC interviewer (John Pienaar) apparently comparing the Coalition in the recent Iraq war to the Nazis.

To be fair, if Pienaar really has read Anne Frank, he might have intended a more subtle and accurate comparison. I haven’t a copy to hand, but in her diary Anne Frank several times expresses her support and admiration for the Allied bomber crews – even though she was at risk of being bombed herself. So Pienaar might have meant to equate the citizens of Baghdad hiding in cellars from American planes dropping bombs, all the while praying for the bombers to be victorious so that the tyrant Saddam will be overthrown, to the citizens of Amsterdam hiding in cellars (or attics in Anne Frank’s case) from American planes dropping bombs, all the while praying for the bombers to be victorious so that the tyrant Hitler will be overthrown.

He might have meant that.

John Pienaar used to work as a political correspondent for The Independent.

Mike Zom


This is for the “BBC Bias” files. It shows how they rewrite stories

that aren’t sufficiently negative.

This is how the story originally appeared:

Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK

Second wave heads for Iraq

Another 50 British troops have flown to Iraq, taking the total number of reinforcements this weekend to more than 100.

Part of the second battalion light infantry based in Cyprus, they landed

at Basra airport at 0330 local time (1230 BST).

Their duties are likely to include guarding oil pipelines in the south

of Iraq.


The way it appears now – exact same URL:

Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK

Fears over troops’ training

British troops being sent to Iraq may not be getting the training they

need, the commander of UK soldiers during the first Gulf War has warned.

Major General Sir Patrick Cordingley raised his concerns as 50 extra

soldiers were flown to Iraq – taking the total reinforcements dispatched

this weekend to more than 100.

Then it goes on to quote the inimitable Clare Short, railing on about Dr Kelly.

Evidently the first version was not pessimistic enough.

I have the original version, taken from the BBC site, if you’d like to

see it.

Mike Zorn

Santa Ana CA

Anthony Cox

of Black Triangle writes:

“Bush has just given his speech, the BBC report it as: Bush vows to defeat Iraq resistance.

“Given that the majority of Iraqi’s do not want the US to leave and the people in the resistance are disguntled hardline Baath party members, or foreigners with their own agenda, then calling them ‘Iraq resistance’ seems a bit biased.

“Surely the real Iraqi resistance are those working with the Americans to make their country democratic.”

For myself, I would find it slightly artificial to call the pro-democracy Iraqis “the resistance” now that Saddam is gone. (While he was in power it would have been the correct term for them both literally and emotionally.) However the use of the term “resistance” with all its glorious anti-Nazi overtones for a bunch of Ba’ath gangsters and foreign fanatics is typical BBC. Typical in that, sure, it could be defended by recourse to the strict meaning of the word – and you can bet they have such a defence ready – but you know and I know and they know that they get a distinct thrill from using that word to describe groups killing Americans. The BBC proclaims with loud self-righteousness that it must take the greatest care to avoid using any word with negative overtones for those who slaughter busloads of civilians. I think it employs equal care in the selection and use a word with positive overtones for those who kill American soldiers and worshippers at a mosque. By “it”, of course, I mean the aggregate mindset of the BBC community: I do not claim there is a policy document telling staff they must use the word “resistance” to describe the remnants of Saddam’s regime. I mean that, quite unprompted, that is the sort of word the sort of person employed by the BBC will use. As Charles Moore is quoted as saying in the post below, BBC bias is a state of mind.

Big Brother may not be watching you – but the BBC is.

Stephen Lewis of the Sterling Times message board sent this link.

Follow it, please. Now would be a good time.

Mr Lewis has found a report on the Radio Nederlands website stating that the BBC, the BBC, is to monitor message boards for hate speech on behalf of the authorities.

Once upon a time the only official way your home could be searched was by a policeman backed by a warrant issued by the courts. OK, as a libertarian I could raise certain objections even to that, but it was the evolved and generally agreed custom of my country and that counts for a lot. Then the privilege of search spread first to customs officers and then to tax-gatherers, until now practically any parasite of an environmental health officer or social worker can walk in.

Count on it. The same process is happening with restrictions of freedom of speech. Fifty years ago the legal right to impose restrictions was the preserve of the courts. Many of the restrictions were ridiculous: the Lord Chamberlain censored naughty bits out of stage plays until as late as 1968. However, in terms of political speech, freedom fifty years ago was greater than freedom now. Speakers in Hyde Park Corner could and did call for the gutters of Mayfair to run red with the blood of the rich and the copper would just say, “steady on mate, steady on.” Part of the reason for this freedom was that the right to restrict was itself restricted to the justice system.

It’s a sign of a half-way healthy state (half-way being about as good as states get) that it is very clear who is doing the state’s dirty work.

Now, it seems, the job of spying on British citizens has been franchised out to that “much loved” institution, the BBC. As Mr Lewis says, that is not their role. Later on in the post some Radio Nederlands commentary is quoted, saying that it might be better to have “trained journalists” doing the monitoring than others. Not surprising, I suppose, that the trained journalists at Radio Nederlands rate their fellow trained journalists at the BBC as the best people to employ for this task. I must disagree: if I had to choose I’d rather be spied on by professional spies. At least they live in the real world, and in particular have the peril of Islamofascism very much in the forefront of their minds. I’d trust them way above the BBC to be able to tell the difference between clear statements warning against Islamofascism and genuine hate speech 1.

When it comes to judging others – judging us here, for instance – the BBC is very likely to imply that anyone who says out loud that a kind of death-cult has infected to some degree a disturbingly high proportion of the Muslim world is thereby an Islamophobe.

But when it comes to judging themselves, or judging the groups they have a soft spot for, the standard is very different. You can see the double standard in operation by the BBC’s choice of Jew-hating ranter Mahathir as official BBC “expert” on Islam for an upcoming forum. (See this website, here and passim.) Tell you what, Beeb guys, if you want to monitor “hate speech” why don’t you start with him?

  1. I do not make this distinction between real and apparent hate speech in order to say we should forbid one and allow the other. I am a free speech absolutist. That means I must support the political right to make truly hateful hate speech, however vile, while also asserting my right to condemn it. This includes hate speech about Muslims and hate speech by Muslims. But the distinction between real and apparent hate speech is crucial in terms of moral assessment and national security.

(This post also appears on Samizdata and its offshoot dealing with surveillance and privacy issues, White Rose.)


has plenty to say about “Moonbat” Mahathir, premier of Malaysia and believer in every anti-semitic conspiracy theory going, who the BBC bizarrely picked as one of their experts on Islam. (See Toby Blyth’s post of Sep 02 for earlier commentary on Charles Krauthammer’s appearance then disappearance on the same billing.) The BBC’s page called “Mahathir in his own words” is somewhat more honest than I expected, and does include two of his milder anti-Jewish statements.

It’s good they are finally being reported. No, my quarrel this time is with the flattery of his ravings that his appointment as an expert implies.

Can you imagine the outcry if the BBC were to appoint as an “expert” on anything a white BNP member who held the same views about Jews as Mahathir does? For they do hold the same views: Mahathir is a great recycler of the screeds of Western anti-semites, being a particular fan of various writings of Henry Ford.

This on-line forum or whatever it is is supposed to take place on Oct 12th. By now the BBC will already have appointed and briefed some smooth-talking gnome to sit behind Mahathir and respectfully say, “Ah, no, Mr Prime Minister, we can’t really say that here.” I wonder if they’ll pull the plug on him if he really goes ape.

I’d rather he were not censored. Let the world see him for what he is. But the fact that the BBC has appointed him as one of its two designated experts on Islam is odd on several levels. I wish I could say that my objection was he was unrepresentative of Islam as it stands today. He is not. The Islamic world is awash with crude anti-semitic conspiracy theories. I don’t want the BBC to paper over this fact as they usually do. Yet at the same time I feel that it is – and I really mean this – disprespectful of Islam to blandly choose this addled old Alf Garnett figure as one of its two representatives as if that was all there was to it. It’s as if a real Alf Garnett were solemnly instated as an expert on Britain. He might, at certain times have been a fairly representative representative but, well, you’d kind of hope that they’d hunt aroud for someone better than that. Experts are meant to be above average.

I am dumbfounded, actually. Who on earth first thought of ringing up the old git and asking him, hey, you wanna be our expert on Islam? Did he volunteer himself and the Foreign Office were too polite to refuse? It doesn’t seem to advance the BBC agenda at all. Paradoxically someone like Daniel Pipes, who is a hate figure to to the progressive/Muslim nexus, would actually give an account of Islam that would be less likely than Mahathir’s to arouse contempt for the religion.

I can’t see this as ending in anything other than a huge row and considerable embarrassment for the BBC.

Blog comments have a way of mysteriously disappearing

, so I really must take steps to preserve the limericks about the Master of Balliol that were sent in by readers.

Here they are:

There once was a Master of Balliol

Whose writers delighted in onlyoil.

Needing nary a push,

To blame all on Bush,

Will Master throw Gilligan down’t’ hole?

Don Eyres

There was a Master of Balliol, called Graham

Who thought things and knew how to say ’em

When he looked at old Auntie,

He denounced her as slanty

And t’is pity we’re all forced to pay ’em.

David Carr

Graham, old Balliol’s Master,

Knew Beeb was set for disaster

When Gilligan said,

Through a hole in his head,

“I’m sad to report I’m a bastar- “


There once was a Master of Balliol

Who, taking a break from his daily toil,

claimed democracy

needs Aunt BBC

which in turn needs its unquestioned Charter Royal.

Blog Irish

Too cloistered, the Master of Balliol

was blind to the Beeb’s abject failiol

to be aptly fair

‘tween the critics and Blair,

falling in with the anti-war wailiol.

Norman Geras

Laban Tall also comments, but not in rhyme.