Holocaust denial was one of the accusations against me when the Labour Party accused This Writer of anti-Semitism.
And I have clashed with David Baddiel on Twitter. He came across as a man with an agenda who was not interested in reasoned arguments.
So it is hard to adequately describe my disappointment when I heard that he had made a documentary on Holocaust denial for the BBC.
I have long since been exonerated of the Holocaust denial charge – by press regulator IPSO – and am currently engaged in a court battle with Labour over its use of false information to expel me from membership.
But Labour is currently embroiled in a leadership election and the vexed issue of alleged anti-Semitism in the party has again reared its ugly head.
In this context, don’t you find the timing of a documentary on the subject questionable?
And as for the presenter – well, my brother Beastrabban raises a very interesting point about his own past, which is arguably racist itself:
Baddiel used to appear in blackface wearing a pineapple and dreadlocks in order to mock the appearance of the Black footballer, Jason Lee, who was then playing for Nottingham Forest. He was taking the mick out of Lee’s hairstyle, which was a mixture of the corn rows and dreads. But this led to ‘pineapple head’ being used as a racist insult against Blacks with a similar hairstyle.
Maybe Baddiel would say it isn’t his fault that others picked up his characterisation and used it in a racist way – but the mere use of blackface is taken to be racist these days; and would racists have picked up on his character if they didn’t see racism in it already?
Note that the programme where this appeared
The Beast also points out that Baddiel’s arguments about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party aren’t very strong. Consider this attack on Jeremy Corbyn:
He also wrote a piece in the Guardian claiming that Corbyn was a terrible anti-Semite because he pronounced Jeffrey Epstein’s name ‘Epshtein’. This was supposed to be an attempt to make the deceased magnate and paedophile less English or, rather, American, by stressing his non-English-speaking origins.
It’s a rubbish argument. Unless you’re aware that Epstein, or others with the same name, are Jewish and pronounce it differently, the name looks German. And Corbyn gave it the German pronunciation. There’s nothing inherently racist in that. Consider the number of gentile Brits with foreign names, like the Eurosceptic politico Mark Francois. Presumably his surname is given the French pronunciation, but this is not taken to mean that Francois is less British.
So the documentary – Confronting Holocaust Denial with David Baddiel, February 17, 9pm, BBC2 – has questionable timing, a questionable presenter with a questionable past, and may expose its audience to questionable ideas.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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