Saturday 12 December 2020

Gardening is racist

Ethnobotanist James Wong does well out of the BBC. They gave him his big presenting break with a BBC Two show called Grow Your Own Drugs (very BBC!). And he's accepted the invitation to present several other programmes for the corporation. And he appears on Countryfile and is a regular panellist on Gardeners' Question Time

He likes to play to a certain gallery though. His name recently cropped up in several papers mocking BBC DG's Tim Davie's calls for BBC presenters to behave and not compromise BBC impartiality on social media. 

And he's really going for it today. 

Here's how his later Twitter foray began, naturally with a Guardian person teeing things up: 
Ed Wall, Guardian: Gardens are denied their political agency because they too often reveal uncomfortable politics of individual ownership, spatial inequity and unsustainable practices. There needs to be more honest conversations about gardens.
James Wong: Absolutely U.K. gardening culture has racism baked into its DNA. It’s so integral that when you point out it’s existence, people assume you are against gardening, not racism. Epitomised, for example, by the fetishisation (and wild misuse) of words like ‘heritage’ and ‘native’.
What to make of this?

Well, (a) I'm not for censoring people, and I want the BBC to represent all views in some sort of rough proportion to the actual views of the population - something the BBC fails at very badly. 

(b) James's views aren't under-represented, but massively over-represented by the BBC. 

And (c) I don't think that saying silly, extreme, divisive things should necessarily bar you from being a regular BBC guest presenter.

But (d) it's the one-sidedness of it all that's the problem. 

James Wong's career will keep on flowering and blossoming at the BBC, despite his daft, extreme views, while others will be suffocated, and wither and die. 

(David Bellamy was an early, very clear example of that). 

In fact, it's a dead cert that James Wong's career will keep on flowering and blossoming at the BBC, despite his extreme, silly views, precisely because they appeal to the BBC's many box-tickers. 

Like a court jester, he's a licenced fool who gardens. But should his biting of the hand that feeds him be given free rein?

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