I don’t understand. If the English Defence League are, as described on BBC news, an “ultra-nationalist” group, what does that make Sinn Fein/IRA, who killed more than two thousand people over 25 years for such crimes as holding a dying soldier or shopping in Warrington ? I don’t think I ever heard the BBC talk about anything but ‘Irish nationalists’.
I’m not an EDL expert, but I understand they were founded as a protest against radical Islamism – the sort of activity that manifests itself in insulting soldiers in Luton or beating up veterans in Manchester (a story you’re unlikely to hear on Today). In other words, they were ‘anti-extremist’, albeit a very narrowly-focused anti-extremism. Whether that declared aim is in practice maintained, or whether on the street it merges into a more general anti-Islam sentiment, is certainly a topic for debate. But at the same time as the EDL are described as “ultras”, the organisation Hope Not Hate is described on Today as ‘anti-extremist’, when in practice their ‘anti-extremism’ is very narrowly focused on one political party. You won’t find HnH protesting against ‘preachers of hate’ in mosques.
One other stick used to beat the EDL is that, in the presenter’s words “the English Defence League is associated in people’s minds with demonstrations that turn violent“. So is the National Union of Students, but the BBC haven’t exactly gone out of their way to investigate the many left extremist groups associated with the protests – perhaps because so many of their staff were members of those groups in their student days. In BBC-speak “activist” = “left-wing activist”, “extremist” = “right-wing activist”. And to be fair, much of the trouble at EDL demonstrations is caused by counter-protesters – whereas the violence and vandalism at student protests is all self-generated.
And while we’re on “activists”, I didn’t realise the rehabilitation of the Sydney Street killers was under way. BBC correspondent Sanchia Berg tells us how “after the failed Russian Revolution in 1905, many activists came to Britain“. “Activist” seems a mild word to describe revolutionary killers like Jacob Peters, controversially acquitted of the Sydney Street killings, who went on to increase his body-count exponentially as a senior member of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police who “policed labor camps, ran the Gulag system, conducted requisitions of food, subjected political opponents (on both the right and the left) to torture and summary execution, put down (peasant) rebellions, riots by workers, and mutinies in the Red Army“.
The hypocrisy of the BBC is in the language used to describe those they disagree with as against those they agree with. Anyone expecting balance from the BBC in their coverage of the political left and the political right would be sadly disappointed. But should it be really too much to expect?