The Night Before

I have just been reading a website called Last Night’s BBC News, a brilliant idea that is the brainchild of one Nicholas Vance. I don’t often have time to watch the news, so a blog devoted to telling me what I have missed is a splendid idea. I hope that in time he will broaden it out to include ITN and Sky, as I rarely see their bulletins either.

Only joking, of course. I was directed there by Biased BBC, a website I vowed not to read again (it’s just getting silly now, more and more like the Daily Mail On-line) but curiosity got the better of me the other day, and it made fascinating reading. In a couple of recent B-BBC posts, while complaining about the BBC’s less than balanced coverage of the Israel-Palestine situation, the comments section started to degenerate into out and out Islamophobia. It is only fair to stress that such statements were made in the comments section, not in the main blog itself, but it was still quite surprising to read some views professing an apparently widespread and paranoid concern about the impending threat of an Islamic dominated world. Very odd.

Anyway; back to Last Night’s BBC News. Biased BBC invited me to read this “great post” where Mr Vance was struck by a comment made by Stephen Sackur on the Ten O’Clock News, so I did. Discussing the events marking the anniversary of the Madrid bomb, Sackur said “Spain’s Muslims also used this day to issue a message: absolute opposition to terrorism.” This seems to have annoyed Nicholas Vance, who was moved to respond by stating “Spanish authorities believe there to be hundreds of Muslims actively plotting further terrorist atrocities”. What? Really? Do you reckon? Well thanks for that revelation.

What has so upset Mr Vance about Sackur’s report? I guess it would have been more accurate to have referred to “some” or “many” of Spain’s Muslims, but I think we can assume that Sackur is not claiming that every single Muslim stands opposed to terrorism; there are the terrorists themselves, for a start. Perhaps when they returned to the studio after the report, the newsreader could have said “And we would like to point out that some Muslims are in favour of terrorism, are willing to blow themselves up for their cause, and consider George Bush to be the great infidel”; but I think we know that already.

Mr Vance goes on “Mr Sackur would do well to avoid making sweeping generalisations about Muslim opposition to terror, just as he would never dream of making sweeping generalisations about Muslim support for terror”. Well yes, sweeping generalisations are certainly to be avoided, but again, I am not convinced Sackur was actually claiming that all Muslims are angels who oppose terrorism; some things can be taken as read. I doubt it occurred to him that there would be some picky sod taking notes and analysing every last word and phrase in order to bolter an argument about the BBC’s leftist bias, although he probably should know better by now.

But Mr Vance is not quite finished; he concludes with a flourish. “Consider also that the Spanish Muslims to which Mr Sackur is referring include a boy interviewed last week by the Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash: “I ask another Muhammad (‘just call me Muhammad’), a voluble 16-year-old, about last year’s bombings just down the road, at the Atocha station. Well, he says, he doesn’t like to see people dying ‘even if they are Christians and Jews.'”

Well there you go, proof if proof be need be; a Muslim boy (a boy, mind) isn’t too fond of Christian’s and Jew’s. I have seen the light. Personally, I suspect that some Muslim’s go further, and say even nastier things about Christian’s and Jew’s. You know what? The feelings are reciprocated; I know some people who have a few choice words to say about Muslims, and Islam in general. Just what point is Mr Vance trying to make here?

Quite baffling. In trying to attack the BBC, has Last Night’s BBC News in fact revealed the author’s own prejudices? Perhaps not, but how else does one explain someone feeling so aggrieved by an innocuous comment in a news report. To me it appears that some people are not qualified to accuse others of bias.