Sunday 15 February 2015

The provocative Mark Mardell

In the light on events in Denmark, I'd just like to  spotlight a comment on the previous thread with which I completely agree:
On the World this Weekend Mark Mardell twice asked interviewees whether they thought that having the meeting was likely to cause offence. Think about the mental proceeds that gave rise to such a question. A meeting in a European country discussing free speech .... and there are those that now consider whether even that might be going too far. By even floating the question as though it was perfectly reasonable, the debate can now begin to be developed until we reach the point where it will become legitimate to claim that meetings are themselves offensive.
Here's what Mark Mardell said.
To Hans Engell, editor-in-chief of tabloid Elkstra Bladet: But what about the idea that this meeting was provocative? That a number of issues in Denmark have been deliberately designed to offend Muslims?
To Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen: I suppose there would be some who would say that the meeting was deliberately provocative.
"Provocative" was very much the word on the BBC man's mind. He'd already used in during his initial commentary:  
The target appears to have been the event's organiser, Swedish artist Lars Vilks - under constant police protection since he draw a provocative cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as a dog. 
As well as using the Muslim form of words "the Prophet Mohammad" rather than, say, the more neutral "the Muslim prophet Mohammad", he also managed to inject a disapproving tone of voice into the way he said "as a dog" - a tone obviously intended to make clear his own distaste for some provocative behaviour.

If anyone was going to exemplify the BBC's mindset in action it was always going to be Mark Mardell. 


  1. And what provocative act might the Jewish gentleman have been guilty of committing one wonders?

  2. Even by the low standards of the BBC, Mardell is a repulsive creature.

  3. This is the same Mardell who refused to believe there was any substance to the Benghazi story because websites which ran provocative things about Islam were talking about it. This is the same Mardell who believes that racism is the driving factor behind all criticism of the President. This is the same Mardell who said there's no evidence that the Ft. Hood shooting had anything to do with Muslims even after quotes of the murderer shouting "Allahu Akbar" had made the news rounds.

    As bad as he is, the bosses who keep hiring him and thinking he's great are the ones in need of examination.

  4. The Times editorial on this is pertinent and, I think, needs lifting from behind the paywall:

    Baruch Spinoza began his Theologico-Political Treatise by remarking on the good fortune of his fellow Jews to be living in the Dutch republic, where freedom of judgment and worship was granted. Some 350 years later, the great rationalist thinker’s judgment looks premature. In the heart of civilised, democratic and tolerant western Europe, Jews are under lethal assault. They need not just sympathy but solidarity and support.

    A month after the terrorist attacks in Paris, a gunman in Copenhagen fired shots at an event discussing freedom of speech and then at a synagogue on Saturday night. He killed two men and wounded five police officers, and was himself shot dead as he began firing on police who were trying to apprehend him.

    These barbarous murders exemplify a sickness and a stubborn social pathology whose virulence is easy to overlook. Faced with such barbarism, there is a serious risk that European governments will underreact. They must not; not this time.

    It is not enough to condemn them as savagery, bigotry and barbarism, though they are all of those things. Antisemitism, it has been often remarked, is a light sleeper. Western democracies have a moral obligation and a pragmatic interest in declaring their solidarity and not only sympathy with Danish Jews. Western leaders should have no hesitation in declaring: Vi er jøder (We are Jews).

  5. The threat of violence by Islamist extremists has been a part of western politics for a generation. It is some 25 years since Sir Salman Rushdie was forced for years into a clandestine existence under police guard for the “crime” of writing a novel satirising Islam. Shamefully, a current of opinion maintained then that he had brought this state upon himself by being provocative.

    The same bogus charge was levelled against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last month before its murdered journalists had turned cold in their graves. It came from ostensibly sophisticated commentators (the magazine had been “stupid” and lacking in common sense, wrote a prominent British journalist) as well as reliably buffoonish demagogues (George Galloway, MP, condemned the magazine’s “obscene provocations”).

    It is worse than pusillanimous, it is downright indecent, to insinuate that those who exercise their right of comment, of satire and derision get what is coming to them when their lives and liberties are targeted. The stupidity of that notion can be illustrated by referring to the lethal violence that followed, respectively the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the attempted murder on Saturday of a Swedish cartoonist. The targets that gunmen then turned to were a kosher supermarket and a synagogue. The victims were killed not for anything they had said or done but for who they were. They were Jews. And they met their fate on a continent that, within living memory, was the site of a determined effort to destroy Jewry in its entirety.

    Rabbi Jair Melchior, the chief rabbi of Denmark, observed yesterday that Jews move to Israel because they love Israel, not because they will be driven out by terrorism. He was responding to comments by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, urging European Jews to emigrate.

    The chief rabbi’s comments were wise, temperate and right. It is absolutely incumbent on European governments to demonstrate also that they were justified. Jews are an integral part of European societies. They are now suffering not only direct threats to their lives and welfare but continual casual insults and calumnies in public debate.

    The egregious campaigns for a cultural boycott of Israel are stoking ugly, atavistic movements in Europe. These need to be confronted by civilised opinion. Israeli governments are fallible but the Jewish state is a force for democracy in a region that is short of it. Europe’s Jews need to know that Israel is not their only refuge and defence.



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