People are accusing the BBC of making a “joke” about Boris Johnson’s Islamophobia. And no one is finding it remotely funny.
BBC Radio 4‘s PM programme reported on Boris Johnson’s attack on women who wear burqas. The Conservative Party chairman has instructed the ex-foreign secretary to apologise after he wrote that the women look like ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’. So far, Johnson has refused.
PM, however, took the idiotic decision to report on the story using a ‘clever’ pun. Its presenter said:
Conservatives urge Boris Johnson to draw a veil over his remarks on Muslims.
The broadcaster’s inappropriate wordplay didn’t amuse its listeners, though:
Boris Johnson urged to 'Draw a veil' over Islamophobia in the Conservative Party #bbcpm? Not a great choice of words. Not really a jokey subject is it?
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Paul Slatter (@paulgslatter) August 7, 2018
#BBCPM headlines state senior Conservatives have asked Boris Johnson to "draw a veil over" his offensive remarks. Like Johnson, PM's editors seem to think racism and Islamophobia are some kind of joke.
— Liz Clements (@LizClements) August 7, 2018
And in light of the media’s coverage of Johnson’s remarks, this extraordinary misjudgement is hardly a surprise.
Following wall-to-wall coverage of accusations lobbed at Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism, the reporting on Johnson has been striking. Because the ex-foreign secretary clearly made dehumanising and demonising statements about these women based on their religious affiliation. By the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s standards [pdf], and the Labour Party’s, that’s racism.
Boris Johnson is of course known for language that can be colourful but often becomes highly controversial. And I think this is fairly firmly one of those occasions.
“Boris Johnson is of course known for language that can be colourful but often becomes highly controversial,” – says our political correspondent, Alex Forsyth.@AlexForsythBBC | #newsnight pic.twitter.com/BQsv5e736n
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) August 6, 2018
Johnson’s remarks, however, aren’t just “controversial”. They’re dangerous. Not only because the racist language may invigorate the already rejuvenated far right further (a far right which Johnson seems to have been courting anyway), but also due to the fact that Islamophobic hate crimes in the UK are surging – against Muslim women in particular.
Despite this, the media is downplaying the problem of Islamophobia in Britain – and its prevalence in the Conservative Party – through its choice of language. It even apparently thinks its okay to have a little “joke” about it from time to time.
– Find out more about Islamophobia in the UK with Tell MAMA.
– Join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?