Saturday 10 January 2015

The Paris attacks and 'Dateline London'

That edition of Dateline London was a good deal stronger than might have been expected. 

It brought out, doubtless much more powerfully than it ever intended, the absolute gulf in outlook between even the most liberal of the Dateline panelists and the sole Muslim in the studio. 

Everyone except Nabila Ramdani took the side of the cartoonists and freedom of speech. She, in contrast, insulted the dead, made excuses for the killers, played the 'backlash' card and expressed the belief that freedom of speech ought to be curtailed. 

Agnes Poirier began by talking very movingly about the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo. 

Nabila Ramdani then said that the recent attacks were unprecedented in France, forgetting (for some reason) the victims of the Toulouse massacre (where a Jewish teacher and three Jewish children were massacred by a Muslim gunman). She quickly brought in the point that Islam is a "very decent" and "peaceful" religion before moving straight on to the alleged 'backlash' against Muslims.

Gavin Esler began by going along with her, describing the terrorists as "fringe figures in French society" - "two orphans" in "dead end jobs" - and asking, "Are they easy prey?" (Oh, boo-hoo Gavin!)

Nabila Ramdani agreed that they were "very easy prey" and talked about their backgrounds and about the racism faced by French Muslims.

Alex Deane began the move to put a halt to this BBC sort of consensus. He said these atrocities were an attack on two things: (1) free speech and (2) France's Jews. He said defending popular speech is easy. The need is to defend unpopular speech. He reminded his fellow panelists that there wasn't just an attack on journalists, there was also a deliberate anti-Semitic attack - an angle just as important as the free speech angle, but one that is being under-reported. There needs to be a greater media focus on the hatred of Jews in France.

Michael Goldfarb noted that President Hollande said it was an anti-Semitic attack and reminded people of Toulouse. He then said that people "can't make excuses", in response to Nabila Ramdani (and, perhaps, Gavin Esler). He said that attacks on free speech happen every day in the Middle East and Pakistan, and have been doing so for 40 years. Gavin Esler said that governments do that too, citing the Saudi flogging of a blogger.

Michael Goldfarb then began sounding a liberal note on Islam, and was challenged by Alex Deane.

Nabila Ramdani said that she was not making "a liberal excuse" and that she condemned the attacks, but this was swiftly followed by a "but"..the but being that the killers were "impressionable, vulnerable" young men and, thus, easy prey for radicalisation.

Gavin Esler chimed in that such radicalisation comes from hate preachers who are mostly "middle-aged men".

Nabila Ramdani said that it's not about free speech. It's about al-Qaeda-linked "criminals".

Michael Goldfarb and Alex Deane protested, recalling the Danish cartoons, the death threats against Salman Rushdie, etc.

Given Esler brought up the anti-Islam demos in Germany and quoted Nigel Farage, inviting Agnes Poirier to comment on those (as predicted).

Agnes Poirier stuck to her guns and declined that invitation. She said that the French Republic has become too complacent in recent years, that it has undermined its own values by giving concessions to certain groups, allowing them to become 'more equal' than others. Instead of everyone being enjoined to be French and adhere to French values, the Republic has allowed the growth of 'French-plus' groups, French-hyphenated groups. For her, this week's atrocities should be seen principally as an attack on democracy itself.

Alex Deane recalled the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn's distinction between multiracialism (which is good) and multiculturalism (which is not). (Mr Fortuyn was murdered by an 'aggrieved' Muslim). He worried about the news 'soldier' types who fight on, as these did, instead of just committing their atrocity and either turning their guns on themselves or going out in 'a blaze of glory'.

Michael Goldfarb agreed, noting the men's training in Yemen. He disagreed with Nabila Ramdani, saying it's not just about vulnerable "young men". These were trained terrorists. He also disagreed with Gavin Esler's point about "middle-aged men" radicalising them, noting that many of them are now radicalising themselves.

Gavin Esler then raised the issue of whether the Snowden revelations have harmed our intelligence services' fight against terrorist. He wondered whether "those of us" who agreed with what Edward Snowden did (speak for yourself, Gavin), should think again.

Neither left-liberal Michael Goldfarb nor libertarian Alex Deane agreed with Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (who Gavin was citing) about that. Michael Goldfarb said they only have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky every time and criticised the civil liberty restrictions imposed post 9/11. Alex agreed, wearing his old Big Brother Watch hat.

Nabila Ramdani praised President Hollande before launching into a very nasty verbal attack on the journalists at Charlie Hebdo, who she called "very nasty". She ranted about them "pursuing a crusade" to suppress Muslim freedoms. She said there is no absolute freedom of speech.

Agnes Poirier said, "I have to disagree very strongly." She recalled another BBC discussion they'd had yesterday where Nabila Radmani had called the victims "racists". Agnes said that's "a lie". "You're defaming their memory", she said.

Nabila repeated that the victims were "racists", publishing "hateful, vindictive and prejudiced cartoons".

Michael Goldfarb and Alex Deane argued with her. "You do seem to blame the victims", said Alex. "You like freedom of speech up to the point where they say things you don't like".

Gavin Esler also seemed to be getting angry with her, making a quick counterpoint and then moving on swiftly to another guest. She was evidently going too far even for him. (He must also have realised the atrocious impression she was making, especially as she was the sole Muslim in the studio). 

His liberal instincts soon returned as he asked about the 'backlash'.

Nabila Ramdani said the backlash is underway. Agnes Poirier disagreed, saying there's been no backlash yet. Alex Deane said those with most to fear from a backlash are France's Jews. Michael Goldfarb said that there will be many backlashes, against all manner of groups.

And the discussion then ended.

P.S. The split in that studio rather mirrors something National Review had revealed from a leaked email exchange at Al Jazeera, where Western journalists (including BBC types) have been falling out with local, Muslim reporters over the station's attempts to undermine support for Charlie Hebdo (h/t Guest Who at Biased BBC).

P.S. There's a comment beneath an article in the Guardian by Tariq Ramadan that reflects my experience of listening to Nabila Ramdani and her use of the word 'but' here:
sambeckett2 GeorgeSherban09....January 2015 7:19pm 
No. not well said
They said they were avenging the prophet. That was wrong. In fact, it is the message of Islam, our principles and values, that have been betrayed and tainted. They refer to Islam to justify what they did. From a religious viewpoint, I feel it is my responsibility to say that this has nothing to do with the message of our religion.
Tell that to the swathes of the Muslim world that would have censored these cartoons. And imprisoned the cartoonist. Or executed them.
Tell it to the significant Muslim population that would have rioted over these cartoons, and demanded the death of the cartoonists. 
That said, there is also a wider political side to this equation.
Here it comes...
We condemn what happened in France.
Getting there!
We condemn the violent extremism that is targeting westerners.
Keep going!
But ...
[copyright Gardian 2014] 
Ah...thats the one. I'm off for a fag.


  1. Ha, ha! idiots. I bet this came as a shock to Esler and the producers. The CH guys wanted to suppress Muslim freedoms? I bet even a few extremist Progressive Beeboids raised an eyebrow at that one.

    Did Poirier say anything about the dangers of the far-Right gaining traction over this, like she did on the Daily Brillo the other day?

    And what was Godlfarb doing there? He's usually good for only Left-wing US opinions. Maybe he's a regular and I haven't paid attention.

  2. I am getting so fed up with the Beeb's plea to avoid a backlash against Muslims. It is constant. Even if there was, what form might this backlash take? On present form it might be some bacon spread around the mosques' gates but as this has happened at our Shul I am not that sympathetic. There was the Somali centre in East Finchley that was burnt down. But I know a neighbour from there and there is a suspicion it was self inflicted and they did get a super duper new centre paid for by the tax payer.
    The attacks by Muslims have resulted in deaths and in very nasty circumstances, the backlash so far has in the majority of cases been a bit of name calling. In my eyes there is no comparison and this constant bleat by the Beeb makes a violent backlash more rather than less likely as listeners get angry at the excuses put forward.

  3. Just read a comment over at Guido's from someone who heard Tony Livesey tell a guest that the attack on the kosher shop was not related to anti-Semitism.

    They really are quite insane over there. They see racism where none exists, and don't see anti-Semitism anywhere it does.

  4. Nabila Ramdani, who appears frequently on the Sky News press review has been on my suspects list for a while...she's managed to contain herself on Sky but clearly these latest events have led her to flip out. I had always suspected there was simmering away below the surface smile - or attempt at a smile.

    I saw her interviewed on Newsnight and her hatred of the Hebdo cartoonists' free expression was plain for all to see.

    We have now seen her in her true colours.

  5. Really small pool of gasbags that the BBC choose to use at times like these.
    Usual trusties...imagine that if Abu Hamza can get Skype reception( and if Gareth, Phil, Cherie or Geoffrey, Michael ,Imran or Clive aren`t already hooking up with Greenwald or Sharpton, then I`ll be surprised)-the BBC will be asking HIM for his views on the anti-Muslim backlash we all keep hearing out.
    F888in Millennium Bug hoopla and scamming-but fifteen years later.
    This Nablus houri of Islam has been all over the liberal media these last few days...there`s another nasty called Butthairy or such-a bloke-who has also had a good Charlie Hebdo war.
    If HE`s not Gavin Eslers roladex already I`ll be surprised-again.
    Still-it`s not as if we don`t know what the liberals are up to...Sharia Blair-Booth requires a living, and would prefer that we draw a dotted line around our necks to make it easier for Islam compliance in future.

    1. He used to be a regular on Newsnight! I've no problem with that. We should hear from the people who want to kill us or make us bend the knee.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.