British Colonialist Broadcasting Service

Three things about BBC coverage of the North African uprisings have really disappointed and angered me…

1) The implicit assumption that Arab peoples (and probably most non-white people generally) cannot exist without a charismatic leader. In the reporting of each of the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan uprisings, a question that BBC journalists came back to again and again was along the following lines: ‘the people have legitimate grievances, but if Dictator X were to go, who would replace him!?’ The most obvious answer is ‘none of your goddam neo-colonialist business’. But that lets them off the hook, because what that question really says is: ‘we think one of two things: either you are not sufficiently mature as a society to be treated to this thing we call democracy unless you have a charismatic broker to explain it to you’ or – and I think it’s much more a case of this – ‘a democratic expression of your discontent with hundreds of years of exploitation by us and our proxy thugs might turn out not to preserve our significant material interests in your country’. Whether this is simply ingrained ideologically from an early age in most of us (probably), or whether there is an implied party line at the BBC (possibly), I don’t know. Either way it is pretty sickening.

2) Last night, on The World Tonight, the presenter asked whether Libya might turn into a failed state because of the popular uprising. Please excuse my doubting its current status as a paradigm of successful statehood. This is another meme which pervades all the BBC coverage: that a power vacuum is much worse than a grossly repressive dictatorship. A power vacuum is precisely what most of these popular uprisings want – a period uninfluenced by corrupt kleptocrats or the threat of army violence to decide how they want to proceed. Worries about future ‘failed states’ are entirely fatuous: these states have completely failed already. Of course, this merely exposes the fact that the West views a ‘failed state’ as one which does not work for supranational elite interests, rather than one which does not work for its people. As we know, this applies as much at home as abroad.

3) This morning, in an interview about Gaddafi’s stockpiled weapons, the Today programme interviewer raised concerns that mustard gas stocks could fall into the ‘wrong hands’. This completely exposes the fact that the BBC has to share the views of the ‘Great Powers’ (a horrible colonialist term which sadly is being shown to have ongoing relevance). To my mind, and surely this is rather obvious, they are in the wrong hands now – those of Gaddafi. They were in the wrong hands when we  (broadly-speaking) sold them to him. To worry about them falling into the hands of a more legitimate (though potentially less Western-friendly) government is entirely pernicious.

Now, I’m not saying this is unique to the BBC; rather that I expected much better. But now I know not to.

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Published in: on March 1, 2011 at 9:01 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. How refreshing to find views which echo my own – although I already knew I was right!

  2. Nice one! Very well expressed.


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