Wednesday 13 January 2016

Not worth the wait after all

So Woman's Hour finally got round to covering the attacks on women in Germany and Sweden this morning, devoting the first 18 minutes of the programme to the subject.

It was, however, much as might have been expected - a group of people sharing the same similar, narrow, left-liberal, feminist outlook agreeing with each other and uniting in condemnation of 'right-wing' people who don't think like them, put centre stage and stage-managed by the BBC.

The guests consisted of two left-leaning journalists, Joan Smith of The Independent and Imke Henkel of Die Zeit (last heard on Sunday's Broadcasting House), plus Egyptian journalist and activist Sarah El-Rashidi and Dr Andrea Den Boer of Kent University (last heard on Saturday's Today).

Here's how Dame Jenni Murray framed the discussion:
Given the reports that the attacks in both Sweden and Germany are said to have been carried out in crowds and by men of mostly North African backgrounds, how should the Women's Movement be reacting? How do you make a complaint about behaviour that may well have a racial source without being racist and causing the kind of backlash against migrants that's already being reported in Germany?
Her own left-liberal angst was soon matched by the rest of the participants.

Imke Henkel began by characterising the debate in Germany and saying that feminists and the Women's Movement didn't want to hush it up, as "conservatives" claim, but were saying 'we need to talk about it as violence against women, whether by foreigners or Germans'.

Joan Smith said the initial reluctance to talk was "understandable". The way the news leaked out meant that many didn't want to "rush to judgement". It is "very difficult for feminists" though. Yes, to defending women's right obviously, she continued, but "we don't want to play into the hands of people who are simply anti-immigrant". Now a non-racist analysis is emerging, she went on: The refugee entrance system in Europe is discriminating against women.

Sarah El-Rashidi compared events in Tahrir Square and Cologne. She was describing "taharrush" without using the word. (She sounded as if she might be sensible, but later events proved otherwise).

Andrea Den Boer then repeated her theories about marginalised men and population bulges and "hesitated" to say this is a migrant issue. The phenomenon of "crowd gathering and sexual assaults" isn't confined to one culture or religion, she said. It even happens around Canada Day, apparently. 

Jenni Murray then moved onto the backlash, making a startlingly hyperbolic analogy: 
Imke, there have been newspaper reports this morning making the right-wing response look I have to say rather like Kristallnacht - you know [a chorus of 'yeses' from the other guests], shop windows smashed, very frightening images, posters with 'Rape refugees not welcome'. How much has this fuelled a dangerous backlash?
Imke replied "I think it has fuelled a dangerous backlash", though she distanced herself slightly from the Kristallnacht analogy. ("These events are not as bad"). It is "frightening" though, she said. "I agree with everything that's been said before", she continued, saying that the feminist angle is important. The Right are trying to hush up feminists but feminists should talk about the issue, she went on. We should also distinguish between Algerian men and Syrians. Algerian men has a record of this kind of thing; Syrians are "unlikely" to do that sort of thing. [That's not what the recent rapes of a 14 and 15 year old girl in Southern Germany by Syrians necessarily suggest though].

Dame Jenni's next question was: 
So Sarah, what we've heard from Andrea is this can happen anywhere where there are a lot of young men without purpose who are in a crowd. How possible would you say it is to talk about a particular form of misogyny and emphasize the relevance of the North African backgrounds of these men? Or that not really relevant?
Egyptian journalist Sarah didn't directly answer that, saying instead that she was "in total agreement" with Andrea about the 'crowd gathering' point before going on to 'do a Hugh Sykes':
Now I think that we shouldn't totally being the conspiracy theorist I might be accused of being...We should disregard the point that there is a possibility this could also be linked to a political agenda from the right party...from the national party leader.....Now I think there's a possibility of that. I think we should also look at these sort of issues.
Astonishingly, no one - and certainly not Jenni Murray - even batted an eyelid at that. The conversation went straight on.

Jenni did mention Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford though. Joan Smith criticised the Right for saying that "white women" were attacked there [girls actually]. ("I think that's completely wrong"). It's about "all women" being attacked. The opportunity now is to teach universal rights to migrants and refugees "if we can ignore all this kind of right-wing clamour", she went on.

Imke said the liberal immigration policies of Mrs Merkel and Sweden "are not to blame at all". Such policies are "absolutely right". She then agreed with Joan that refugees and migrants need to be taught Western human rights and that it's an "opportunity" that should be taken, repeating that point several times.

And there you have it - the much-delayed Woman's Hour discussion on the NYE attacks.

It would be a very unbalanced listener who found that a 'balanced' discussion.

It's this sort of thing that ought to give the BBC a very bad name.


  1. A million non-Western immigrants each year would need around 10,000 'human rights' trainers I reckon.

    But who would do the 'training'? Obviously not white women.

    1. I don't know why not, as long as they wore suitable workplace attire. In this case this would be some sort of all-over body garment that hid from view any potentially attractive body part - in a non-provocative colour (black for instance) of course. A small slit for the eyes may need to be retained for pragmatic reasons, although that might result in some neglible risk. Possibly to be on the safe side a "guardian" (male, obviously) could be provide at all times.

  2. Thanks for an excellent analysis of a particularly annoying and redundant programme.

    I think your analysis just about says it all.

    But here are my thoughts:

    1. There was the inevitable inability to join the dots. During 18 minutes the words Islam, Muslim, Sharia, Kaffir and Madrassas were all avoided despite being highly relevant to any analysis of what went on. Religion got one brief mention. But mostly the participants resorted to non-specific references to "culture".

    2. There seemed to be a nasty undertow of racism against Africans pervading the dicussion. I will be surprised if we find any African Christians among these gangs of migrants causing such suffering on NYE. The truth is that anyone who sincerely believes in what the Koran says and what they have been taught in Madrassas will find it extremely difficult to adapt to the idea that Kaffir women with uncovered head, legs and arms should be treated respectfully - wherever they come from.

    3. The German sociologist was especially annoying with her statements of the bleedin' obvious - such as "crowds can get out of hand". Yes, but they can also be very well behaved on balance, as were most NYE crowds in Europe until recently.

    4. The point about the Rotheram-style gangs was that they were overwhelmingly drawn from followers of Islam, and were overwhelmingly targetting vulnerable kaffir girls. The race element may have been an added incentive but it wasn't the key driver.

    5. As long as the BBC puts on this staged discussions, more reminiscent of the sort of thing Communist regimes used to put on back in the the days of the Iron Curtain (where everyone ends up agreeing with each other, particularly that the ruling ideology is correct in all respects), then women will be kept unsafe. How many women for instance have entered marriages with men who live by Sharia, not realising they would be subject to domestic violence or lose their children following divorce - because they have been kept in ignorance about Islamic ideology?

    6. There seemed to be a complete lack of genuine empathy for the horrible experiences endured by the victims on NYE. It was a technical issue, a bit like getting the carburretor in your car fixed. A couple of sessions of cultural education and these migrants will be "ready to go".

    7. Was Ms El-Rashidi possibly the SOURCE of Sykes' bonkers theory? She made it sound like she'd thought it all up herself.

  3. Well, t's not as if getting a bad name would actually make a whit of tangible difference to the BBC, but I guess it may cause a frisson of concern in a log that they all read each evening, by all accounts.

  4. I still haven’t forgotten the sycophantic Woman’s Hour interview with Angela Davies, a woman who amongst other things supported the imprisonment of Soviet dissidents. Nothing would surprise me from that disgraceful bunch of hypocrites.

  5. The producers of Woman's Hour were so unbelievably highly insensitive to the murder of Israelis by discussing the justification of suicide bombings on the day when 15 were murdered this way that it put me off listening to Woman's Hour ever since. See


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