Saturday 9 January 2021

A Twitter Tale, starring Evan Davis

Twitter feeds have become a hot topic today, what with tech giant Twitter's private owners "permanently suspending" the present US president, the famous Donald Trump. 

I don't think that my Twitter feed is anything like an echo chamber. I deliberately try to avoid making it so. I follow leftwingers and rightwingers, pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit people, pro-lockdowners and anti-lockdowners, people who liked Level 42 and people who didn't like Level 42 (like Rob Burley), cat people and dog people, anti-BBC people and pro-BBC people, etc.

Doing so can occasionally raise my blood pressure, but it also keeps me aware of other points of view. 

(I'll confess to breaking down just once. I unfollowed one person last year: Newsnight's hyperactive, intolerably hyper-biased Lewis Goodall. I did so purely for health reasons. He was making me sick. He was much, much too much.) 

Today, on my timeline, has been notable for three people I follow - LBC's Maajid Nawaz (who I mostly agree with), British Future's Sunder Katwala (who I sometimes agree with)  and the BBC's Evan Davis (who I never again with 😜) - getting involved in a discussion.

Actually, I say 'discussion', but it was mainly Sunder and Evan chatting about Maajid behind his back.


Right, so for those new to the Twitter soap opera......

Maajid was the former Islamist radical who abandoned Islamism, became a Lib Dem and then embarked on a successful non-BBC radio career where he said all sorts of things that right-wingers like.

Sunder is a thoughtful, left-leaning blogger and activist of the pro-immigration variety. 

And Evan is a BBC presenter with an especial thing for the Paddington Bear movie.

Sunder has been going after Maajid, pretty much daily - relentlessly - sending out dozens of tweets most days for months, now totally many hundreds at least, slamming Maajid personally for his views on the US election, and, to a lesser extent, coronavirus - because (among other things) Maajid has backed those alleging voter fraud and election rigging in the US election.

Today Evan Davis stepped in, possibly to rescue Sunder from his near 24/7 obsession with the misguided LBC presenter.

(All this Twitter stuff might be boring you rigid, but please hang on for Evan's point of view...)

Sunder had, as is his way, been getting into his quotidian stride this morning (nightgown off, suit on) and posting tweet after tweet after tweet attacking (bullying?) Maajid again, once again, and again some more, over the LBC man's highly sceptical, non-Marianna-approved views on the validity of the US election result.

Evan DavisSunder, there is literally no-one on Twitter I respect more than you... 
I take daily guidance on what to think about things by observing what you say. But I wonder whether you (and many others) give too much attention to cranky views and conspiracies. Can't we just ignore them?

Sunder posted four replies, including a graph, justifying himself, but Evan replied again:

Evan DavisAs always, you are thoughtful and reasonable on this. But when it comes to crazy views, I worry most about the potential for discourse and argument to cement opinions rather than change them

So, stepping back and goggling afresh...

The BBC's Evan Davis (a) says he "respects...literally no-one...more than you" to very possibly the most ultra-mainstream, left-liberal, pro-immigration, 'very BBC' person I follow. (Truth or politeness?). 

He then (b) slurps that he takes "daily guidance on what to think about observing what you say" to the same 'very BBC' pundit. (Truth or politeness?).

It wouldn't surprise me. Sunder's way of thinking is, indeed, very BBC. That Evan hangs on his every word daily would be a very BBC thing to do.

Note, above all, that Evan is advising Sunder to "ignore" the likes of Maajid Nawaz. (That's Evan's main point here.) And he's doing so because he, Evan Davis, clearly also disapproves of Maajid's "cranky views and conspiracies".

Like Samira Ahmed, Evan Davis then evidently advances the line that airing and arguing and discussing such "crazy views" as those expressed by Maajid about the US election are something to "worry" about.

"Discourse" and "argument" thus become problematic -  things with "the cement opinions rather than change them". 

Evan seems to be calling for the censoring of certain kinds of "discourse" and "argument" here, doesn't he? Shush!!!

Such censorship of people with 'wrong' views has a long BBC pedigree.

As for Sunder Katwala, I suspect he'll ignore Evan. He's a man on a mission to 'Get Maajid'.

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