I’ve been wondering lately, what is all this blogging for? It’s time-consuming, and the effectiveness is disproportionate to the effort expended. However, someone's got to do it, and it might as well be us.
Firstly, how many of us force ourselves to stay awake for Newsnight these days? It hasn’t been worth the sleep deprivation for quite a while, has it?
I started preparing a couple of half-hearted pieces about Newsnight recently, but they didn’t get very far.
One was about a Newsnight scoop about David Cameron and Paul Dacre, which roughly amounted to the BBC acknowledging, disapprovingly, that the press has a considerable influence on events. However it hadn’t occurred to Emily Maitlis as she strolled along the Embankment delivering her piece-to-camera in a mini skirt and fetching military style pea-coat that the BBC too has considerable influence on opinions (and therefore events.)
Another embryonic article, which I aborted and abandoned was about Evan Davis’s chairmanship of a discussion between an extremely belligerent Stella Creasy and Oliver Letwin. (whom Evan certainly didn’t ‘let win’.)
I wrote: “Evan’s wispy beard makes him look more unkempt and spectral than ever. If I’m not mistaken I’ve seen him sitting on the pavement with a dog, a sleeping bag and a few empty cans.”
Not very nice of me, was it, but I can understand why he succeeded Paxo. However, LBC’s James O’Brien’s appointment is a different kettle of fish altogether.
The mystery is, did Ian Katz pluck O’Brien from relative obscurity to the harsh glare of ’national T.V.’ simply to be as objectionable on Newsnight as he is on LBC? What does he have going for him? He is argumentative - maybe that’s it? He’s also partisan, potato-faced and petulant. His LBC interview with Haneen Zoabi made me think of David Brent surreptitiously scuttling off into his office to quickly Google “Israel and the Palestinians” .
Much more unprofessional than any of the above was / were the now infamous John Sweeney interview(s) with Geert Wilders. The BBC and Sweeney himself must have known how bad this looked because the BBC virtually gave him the right-of-reply-by-stealth, with that creepy FOOC.
|Bear of very little brain|
“We sent our bear in a duffle coat John Sweeney in hot pursuit.” was how Emily Maitlis introduced the item when it went out on Newsnight.
The bear in a duffle-coat looked absurdly inappropriate riding a bike in pursuit of typical Dutchmen to use as selective ‘vox-pops’ before confronting “the great man” with that mischievous “Some say you’re a bit of a fascist”.
He opened with the Mishal Husain manoeuvre, adapted to fit. Not quite “How many Israelis have been killed by those homemade contraptions?” but “What’s the biggest cause, by terror, of the loss of Dutch lives?”
Same trap, different location.
With this approach, Sweeney is inferring that you can’t justify opposing the Islamisation of Holland until sufficient Dutch lives have been lost.
All this was the lead-up to a massive ‘whataboutery’ - the allegedly Russian-inspired downing of a passenger aircraft which killed hundreds of Dutch nationals, and Sweeney's accusation that “Myopic concentration on one thing (Islam) blinds you (Wilders) to ‘another’.
To add insult to injury, in his subsequent FOOC, he falsely claimed that Wilders hastily “changed the subject’ when this was put to him. In fact it was Sweeney who ignored, (rather than changed the subject) Wilders’s patient explanation as to why all religions and cultures do not merit moral equivalence.
Sweeney and his fellow defenders of Islam face a huge conundrum. How to condemn Islamic terrorism without condemning Islam? The favoured get-out strategy is to assert that ‘good’ Islam has nothing to do with ‘bad” (perverted) Islam. The same contortion is used to avoid appearing antisemitic. ‘Good’ Jews - some of my best friends - have nothing to do with ‘bad’ (Zionist) Jews.
Hugh Sykes squirmed to avoid being seen to be Islamophobic as Craig showed earlier .
The most offensive argument being used to denigrate opponents and critics of Islam like Geert Wilders who've been conveniently labelled 'far-right' and who seek to defend their country’s values, (democracy, liberalism, freedom of expression etc etc) against Islamisation is that they are Nationalists or white supremacists, and are behaving like Nazis. If Muslims are their victims then Muslims are the new Jews and the ‘nationalists’ and the Zionists are the new Nazis.
John Sweeney firmly elevated this twisted non sequitur into the headlights when one of his interviewees elaborated on his opposition to Wilders, ending with a cryptic “I’ve been to Auschwitz….” So the implication is that Geert Wilders’s political fulfilment will culminate in mass government sponsored extermination of the world’s Muslims, will it? All 1.6 billion of them?
Sweeney’s loaded postscript confirmed what we already know. The world has been turned upside down.
And finally, Sweeney’s closing op ed demonstrates a staggering moral inversion :
“Many Dutch find his views not just repellant but dangerous. So will Geert Wilders take power? This man is changing what was once the most liberal country in Europe into something different. “
No, it’s not ‘this man’ who’s changing liberal countries into something different. It’s Islam, stupid.
Not that John Sweeney will read this unless he spends his life Googling himself. We bloggers are renowned for preaching to the converted. Sad but true.