Jon Gaunt, opinionated columnist, broadcaster and bigot, has been sacked from Talksport after calling Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi.
Stark went on Jon Gaunt’s Talksport phone-in the other week to defend Redbridge Council’s decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents. Gaunt called him a Nazi. This followed a piece in The Sun in which he referred to Social Services as the “SS” and attempted to rally his readers against the “health and safety Nazis”. Gaunt did apologise – apparently “Health nazi” is what Gaunt meant to call Stark, he pleaded unconvincingly – he has simply omitted the “health” bit because he had “lost his rag”.
Despite opposition from Stark – the object of the insult – Talksport first suspended Gaunt citing “a number of complaints” pending an investigation and, having conducted said investigation, opted for the tin tack.
Why might this have been?
The thing about the Nazis is not that they prioritised health and safety over a loving family but that they systematically attempt to liquidate entire groups of people based on their identity. Attempting to convince us that Redbridge Social Services are awful by telling us they are Nazis, as well as being a huge exaggeration and a nasty insult, has the side effect of making Nazis seem like Captain Mainwaring.
Not only do such comparisons demonstrate trivial thinking, in the mass media they are, as Michael Stark commented, “dangerous” because in making light of a genocidal political party they erode our collective memory of genocide, and with it our ability to respond to future or ongoing genocide.
Gaunt’s Nazi analogy was a disturbing mainstreaming of genocide trivialisation. But if it were a sacking offence to term somebody a Nazi who isn’t anything like a Nazi, surely somebody should have axed Tony Greenstein from one of his scores of positions by now. People talk about “green fascism” and “health fascism” quite openly. I’ve been called such things even though I don’t peddle my values.
OK, there was the fact – and I reckon this is what probably did for Gaunt – that it happened on 7th, two days before Remembrance Sunday. Whom were British soldiers conscripted to fight in World War 2 with a loss of over a quarter of a million lives? Anti-smokers in Redbridge Social Services? No, Gaunty you utter moron.
Two points to get this into perspective.
Gaunt’s crass outburst is nothing compared to Suzanne Weiss’ efforts to make her readers view ‘Zionists’ (assume this to mean anybody who thinks Israel should exist – and Jews, because they care more) as analogous to Nazi killers. Gaunt threw the worst epithet he could think of at Redbridge Council officers in opposition to what Stark reasonably described as prioritising the welfare of young children before the needs of foster carers. Weiss, on the other hand, constructs an elaborate analogy to advance her political project of undermining Israel’s existence. When applied to Israeli Jews, most of whom are descended from refugees, the Nazi analogy serves, by appealing to historical logic, to instate the once-persecuted as persecuters. In cancelling out a sense that Jews were the object of a genocide, this serves to distort Zionism and negate its rationale.
The second point is that in today’s Sun Gaunt tries quite seriously to put political distance between himself and the BNP:
“I know how they feel. After I had a go at the master race supremo Nick Griffin (what a perfect specimen he is) on Newsnight my address was publicised and I was accused of being a, wait for it . . . a Commie and a Trot!”
“… the BNP are subtly trying to position their party as non-racist and the only ones in touch with the mood of the country.
But they don’t represent me and they shouldn’t represent you. I appeared on the Titchmarsh show with deputy leader Simon Darby, Dumber to Griffin’s Dumb, and he even managed to elicit a couple of rounds of applause from the crowd by playing on their fears.
All of a sudden he and the party appear to be cuddly and in touch. But scratch just slightly beneath their ill-fitting suits and the bovver-boots politics are still clearly on show.
As we face recession they are trying — like all fascists — to blame all our woes on anyone who doesn’t look like them.”
And then, irrelevantly, because he kept getting sidetracked about how unpleasant-looking the BNP are:
“But who would want to look like Griffin or Darby?
The party will only ever become a real threat to our democracy if politicians remain detached from reality and are afraid of discussing the real politics of living in 21st Century Britain.”
And then a rallying cry:
“Banning them will only drive them underground. Instead let us know exactly who belongs to and believes in the BNP.
Let’s defeat them by debate and by our mainstream parties dealing with the issues that really matter to us all.”
I found this quite inspiring, very interesting and also difficult to figure out in the light of the recent Trade Union campaign which I’m very confused about. It’s a campaign to reinstate a section of the Employment Bill allowing Unions to summarily expel BNP members as entryists anathema to Union values with whom there’s no point having a debate. UCU activist and libertarian Mike Holmes regards this as fascist zealotry on the part of the anti-fascist left. I’m now so disorientated I worry I may end up, seduced by its clarity, toppling into the clutches of the BNP myself.
What are “those issues that really matter to us all”? What is Gaunty’s final word?
“That’s immigration, law and order and the rights of the decent, hard-working majority coming first over the feral, the feckless and the long-term useless”
A bid for the BNP’s constituency. In the language of the BNP. The bungee cord contracts.
So, what did his readers think of that? Not too much activity on the discussion board but there is a strong (though not overwhelming) sense of insult and abused hospitality.
Country as private members club:
“i AGREE with Nick Griffin! i’m neither a member of the BNP or racist. enough is enough! immigrants are coming over screwing the benefits system, automatically receiving maximum points in council housing. and they have never paid a penny into the country! if we emigrate to Australian for example: you need £2k in the bank, accomodation sorted before you land (there government is ensuring there is no loungers)…Enough is Enough!! the BNP is totally about putting British People first. i can’t see the problem with that ‘if’ your British!!!”
Joblessness as the fault of a high population rather than an economic downturn:
“just think of 1 thing they say there will be 3,000,000 jobless ppl in the country soon would there be so many if we didnt let so many ppl in to this country!!! lets be honest”
Immigrants as useless mouths; groundless belief that “native Brits” will happily do manual jobs for minimum wage:
“… its always the same line that we need some migrants . Why apart from a few specialist skills do we need large numbers from outside the EU. We are one of the most densly populated places on the planet far more so then most of Europe, China , India or Africa. All these millions of migrants Labour has imported are only then adding to our energy and food imports and our huge trade deficit.”
British National Party as quintessentially British; Britain as a place immigrants should feel reverent, rather than practical, about:
“I have considered voting for the BNP in the past. Not because I approve of their policies! In fact I don’t really know what most of them are. Merely because I am tired of the constant influx of immigrants and asylum seekers(economic migrants in disguise)
The very nature of Britain has already changed to the point where it’s hard to discern what being British really means anymore.
If people wan’t to come here and experience the British way of life then great. If they wan’t to come here because they can make a few extra pounds and turn a corner of Britain into a mini version of their own country – please don’t bother.”
“IF the bnp only accept WHITES then they are racist!”
BNP as renewed and untarnished:
“I am not a member at the moment but after looking at their website and reading various other material, I will be soon. I agree with all of their policies and believe a vote for the BNP is the only way for our country to get back on its feet again and move forward. All the other politcal parties have failed us and we owe it to both past and future generations of our country to get things right. It is obvious that BNP members are not jackbooted skinheads from the 1970’s as shown by the left wing press, but normal decent hard working British people, just like you and me”
“I,and a lot of my confused FRIENDS,will vote for the BNP,as the PC brigade have nade us sick and tired,of the mainstream parties.they just argue amongst themselves collecting BIG salaries,and producing nothing for the hardworking populatian.”
“Jon, you’re right in saying it could be a mistake voting for the BNP, but they are legalised, surely if they are offensive they wouldn’t even be where they are now. You have a point that the ‘fascist’ resurgence as it were, IS a lot down to our mainstream politicians failing our own people (That being the essential word). but then that’s why people are voting BNP. It may be misguided, but something’s gotta break.”
Conspiracy theory debunking:
“A few years ago a leaflet came through the letterbox during the local elections and while most of the points on the front were valid as soon as you took a look inside it was the same of BNP. Stating that the government were secretly building an underground city the size of Birmingham to house the Immigrants. Sure they were! This Government couldn’t keep anything secret. They basically prey on peoples fears simple as that. Not a political party but a party of spreading fear.”
Miss Whiplash was good, I thought, until she proposed UKIP as an alternative. Scrumbow acknowledged racism against white people, noted the absence of exchange between different communities, and equated the BNP with Bin Laden. And yet he’s no New Labour fan. So where’s he got to go?
For me the key post:
“I am not a supporter of the BNP and personally think they are racist scum, but I do understand why they get the support that they do. I am rapidly starting to feel like, as a white, single male in my 20’s I have no rights in this country.
I have been turned down for jobs, only to find out that a less qualified person got the job, simply because they are an ethnic and the company has to keep to a certain percentage. I have been racially abused by non-whites, only to be told when I complained that it isn’t racist because they are black and I am white. I have a fairly good job, but what with looking after my disabled father and the current economic climate, I struggle financially, yet I can get no help off the government, whereas I have asian friends in a better position than me who get certain benefits with ease.
There are many more examples I could give you, but it would take too long.
I ask you, is any of this right?”
It’s this sense of slight and the capriciousness of the authorities which will do for us in the end.