One thing that’s been common in the wake of Nick Griffin’s infamous appearance on Question Time has been to ridicule him for his far right beliefs. Many liberals have been patting themselves on the back and celebrating a witty remix of Griffin’s appearance on the show making him out to be an absolute buffoon. Satire can be a powerful political tool where the truth can’t be told but what’s happened to Griffin and his supporters isn’t so much satire as ridicule and humiliation.
This is very dangerous. It may be considered harmless fun but the effect of it is to whip-up even more hatred on the right who perceive – correctly so – their problems are being laughed at by the liberal elite. In fact, I wonder if this ridiculing doesn’t create more racial tensions than actually giving the far right a platform as some people argue. Judging by some of the comments following the YouTube clip in question, it has certainly flared-up more hatred than any of the unedited clips from the show.
Noam Chomsky will address the annual Amnesty International lecture tonight (unfortunately I don’t think you can watch it online but a video and transcript should be released shortly afterwards) and an excerpt from his forthcoming speech is very telling:
In the US, inequality has soared to unprecedented heights. There is now a mass of people with real grievances, who want answers but are not receiving them. The far-right is providing answers that are completely crazy: that rich liberals are giving their hard-earned money away to illegal immigrants and the shiftless poor.
A common reaction in elite educated circles and much of the left is to ridicule the right-wing protesters, but that is a serious error. The correct reaction is to examine our own failures. The grievances are quite real and should be taken seriously.
It’s growing inequality in the UK that has created the racial tensions that have given rise to the BNP. And ridiculing them is a convenient way for those on the left to avoid “examining their own failings” as Chomsky says. The failings are of course, allowing things to get to this stage. It’s very easy to blame Blair, Brown, big business and the mainstream media for creating this state of affairs but too many on the liberal-left have gone along with their agendas while turning their back on the social and economic problems that are right in front of their eyes.
The answer, is not ridicule, but for the public to reject these agendas, and organize locally to deal with these problems. Chomsky adds:
In South America, there are at last serious steps to confront poverty and other severe human rights abuses. The driving force is mass popular movements. They are beginning to address what Amnesty calls ‘the unheard truth’: that ‘poverty is the world’s worst human rights crisis, this generation’s greatest struggle.
If as Chomsky adds, that the poverty stricken in South American have overcome death squads and worse to create a better society, the same is surely true in a rich society like the UK.