Remember when Peter Kosminsky made that drama Warriors about the war in Bosnia, and those public intellectuals took to the newspapers to wail and howl about how it was proof of some kind of anti-Serbian hate campaign?
You don't remember that? What about the uproar after Saviour, Welcome to Sarajevo, Behind Enemy Lines, The Peacemaker or any of the rash of '90s films that featured Serbs as the bad guys? Not ringing any bells?
Well, what about other films about horrible interethnic violence and/or military atrocity - Black Hawk Down, Hotel Rwanda, Shooting Dogs, The Killing Fields, Salvador and so on? You don't remember the uproar about those?
No, neither do I. That's why I'm less than convinced by Howard "Are the people of Britain about to launch a new Kristallnacht*" Jacobson's pretence that a recent Channel Four drama about the foundation of Israel represents some epic, racist affront and incitement.
See, when Melanie Phillips tells the world that the Brits are one angry speech away from genocidal rampages, I can console myself with the thought that she's internationally recognised as a crazy opinion hack who specialises in hysterically overblown alarmism. She has an eager audience of dribbling idiots who are delighted to hear her confirm their prejudices, but not much more than that.
Jacobson is a multi-award winning author and one of the country's leading cultural critics - when he speaks, he's taken seriously, for good reasons. If he's telling the world that major British institutions have been brainwashed with hateful, racist propaganda or when he announces that he personally fears imminent, violent pogroms, that's some serious shit, and it's also pretty offensive stuff to other British people. Me, I'm reasonably sure that my Dad, my brother or my friends will be able to restrain themselves from exterminating any ethnic minorities en masse in the next few decades. I imagine you have similar thoughts about practically every single human being you know.
I offer an alternative thesis to Howard's, here. I contend that the drama he's talking about was considerably less offensive than he's making out and that in fact, OfCom's ruling was entirely correct. I also suggest that Howard has committed yet another ludicrously overblown piece of cynical fearmongering to the ages, to be considered alongside those works of his that aren't filled with wacky, wingnutty politics.
*"The mood of those months inevitably found its way into my novel. I wanted to record what it was like being Jewish in this country then, when it seemed reasonable to ask whether loathing of Israel would spill into loathing of Jews - such a thing is not beyond the bounds of possibility - and whether a new Kristallnacht was in the offing. Since many German Jews doubted they were in serious danger in the 1930s, how wise would it be of us to doubt we were in danger now?" See.
Also see - My review of The Promise - the series Howard is talking about - is here. I thought it was worth looking at because even then, it was attracting some utterly mental commentary.