Ed Driscoll

The Protocols of the Elders of the BBC

Pop quiz by Walter Russell Mead, who asks:

“American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel.”

Who made this statement this past week?

(a) A disgruntled fringe neo-Nazi
(b) Some poor soul ranting on their Facebook page
(c) The BBC

Sadly, as you can see in the clip above, the answer is C. This ugly assertion is the host’s opening line in an episode of this past week’s BBC HARDtalk program. This vicious garbage isn’t “sort of” or “almost” anti-Semitic; it is the real thing: vivid, unapologetic, odious and wrong.

Mead hopes that the BBC presenter is “just reading a script that some fool of a writer threw up on the teleprompter” — but in any case, veering into Protocols of Elders of Zion territory is a reminder of hard left bias and “powerfully corrosive internal culture,” as a former BBC journalist described it to me in 2007, which has seeped into the network over the past 15 years or so. Mead writes that his blog “spends quite a bit of time calling attention to the ominous rise of anti-Semitism around the world:”

It isn’t because we think that anti-Semitism is the only form of hate and bigotry in the world, or that we think that it is more important to fight prejudice against Jews than prejudice against other people. But anti-Semitism, besides being on the ascent at times when many other forms of hatred are mostly on the back foot, is particularly dangerous, and not just because of what anti-Semitism can do and has done to the Jews.

The rise of anti-Semitism is a sign of widespread social and cultural failure. It is a leading indicator of a loss of faith in liberal values and of a diminished capacity to understand the modern world and to thrive in it. Societies that tolerate anti-Semitism take a fateful step toward the loss of both freedom and prosperity. People who think “the Jews” run the banks lose the ability to understand, much less to operate financial systems. People who think “the Jews” dominate business through hidden structures can’t build or long maintain a successful modern economy. People who think “the Jews” dominate politics lose their ability to interpret political events, to diagnose social evils and to organize effectively for positive change. People who think “the Jews” run the media and control the news lose the ability to grasp what is happening around them. And people who think “the Jews” control America’s Middle Eastern policy lose the ability to understand, much less to influence, American policy in this vital part of the world. Emancipation from anti-Semitism is thus one of the necessary steps that many individuals and cultures have to take before they are able to act effectively and participate meaningfully in contemporary life.

Jew hatred isn’t more stupid or more wicked than other forms of racial and religious hatred. The anti-black bigot is as delusional as the Jew hater; hatred and prejudice of all kinds corrode the intelligence and degrade the spirit of everyone who suffers from them. But Jew hatred is more disempowering and self-defeating than most other kinds of hate because it involves not only negative emotions about a group of people but a deeply false set of ideas about how the world works.

Read the whole thing. And then click over to National Review Online, where John Fund and Boris Johnson, London’s newly reelected conservative mayor (besting “Red Ken” Livingstone) have a couple of solutions to the bias of the BBC. Ultimately, Fund believes the best answer is to starve the beast:

Critics such as Mayor Johnson beg to differ. “I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC News,” Johnson says of the reelection campaign he just fought. “The prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, [and] Europhile.” He finds it curious that BBC London ignores the 75 percent of London’s economy that is driven by the private sector.

The way to fight this, Johnson claims, is to appoint a Conservative-party supporter to replace Thompson as director general — “and no mucking around.” The new BBC head must be someone who is “free-market [and] pro-business and [who] understands the depths of the problems this country faces,” he insists. “If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.”

I understand his frustration, but I worry about his methods. Of course the BBC is biased, but appointing someone to run it based on their political allegiance smacks of how the heads of French, German, Italian, and Austrian television are now chosen. The jobs have tended to go to hacks, and the programming has been unimaginative at best. Putting in a Tory is also unlikely to lead to permanent reforms. As Anne McEvoy of the London Evening Standard has noted, “Follow Boris’s disastrous recipe and when the government eventually changes, the cry would surely be to turf out the chief broadcaster and put in a political clone of the other party.”

There is a better way. Vladimir Bukovsky, the former Soviet dissident who spent a decade in the Gulag before being released in 1976, has fought a long-running battle with the BBC since he settled in Britain. Although it once spoke for the entire nation and had high standards, it now “unfairly competes with private channels and has sunk to juvenile levels in much of its programming,” Bukovsky has observed.

So he has joined the estimated 5 percent of Britons who simply refuse to pay the annual BBC license fee. He is not surprised that he and most other refuseniks haven’t been pursued. “I wanted people to see images of me being handcuffed and dragged into court,” he wistfully told the London Times in 2008. “But instead, the BBC retreated quietly.”

That seems in contradistinction to the BBC’s advertising on this topic — recall this creepy Orwellian ad the BBC produced four or five years ago to gin up its license fee renewals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uIpbpSU3XA