Sunday 31 January 2010

Would the real liberals please stand up?

Might I make a small request to the BBC? When it comes to reporting foreign politics, particularly in the U.S, could they try for a little more balance? I like Obama as much as the next person, I listened to his victory speech in full (thank you BBC iPlayer), but the love-in of the last few weeks to ‘celebrate’ his one year anniversary is a little over the top; as was the ‘flags at half mast’ response four years earlier when Bush won his second term in office.

In your shoes cartoon
The BBC would do well to avoid the simplistic ‘Republican equals bad, Democrat equals good’ message that it’s been pumping out, but since this has been going on for years I imagine that’s a forlorn hope. It reminds me a little of an idiotic article I read many years ago in The Guardian newspaper, in which they gave over a whole page to a portrait of the ‘typical’ Conservative-voting woman. You can probably guess the tenor of the piece, full of stereo-types more likely to be found in an airport novel than the real world. I wonder who the journalist was, I have no idea but I bet they’re now in politics or writing 'working class' drama for Auntie.

Likewise I’ve no idea what happened to the earnest young socialist who visited my school and whose only memorable comment was to question Margaret Thatcher’s femininity. It’s a common theme I’ve encountered all too often; when some liberals talk about the opposition, be they Republican, Conservative or anyone who dare hold an opposing view, the gloves come off. Women who don’t toe the line have something wrong with them, non-whites are portrayed as betraying their race and whites are inherently racist. So many labels; I’ve lost count of the number of times the BBC has used the term “black Americans” or “white Americans” – are they kidding me?

I really shouldn’t have been surprised therefore to read another crude ‘news’ report on U.S healthcare reform; Why do people often vote against their own interests? Reform seems eminently sensible to me, but I know several Americans who oppose these measures. I respect their opinion, they’re not idiots, they just happen to have a different outlook that no-one, least of all the BBC, can be bothered to explore properly. In the same report Drew Weston, an ‘exasperated Democrat’ is quoted as saying:
Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed.
It’s an extraordinary statement with not an opposing view to be found. Indeed the story is so sloppily written it's not always easy to tell where the quote stops and the journalism begins. A balanced report might have pointed out that it wasn’t Bush who deregulated the banks, a measure widely held responsible for the start of our current economic mess, but his cigar loving predecessor Bill Clinton. If memory serves me correct, wasn’t he a Democrat?

Of course greed and countless other unpleasant attributes can be found all too easily in politics, but to be na├»ve enough to believe, and irresponsible enough to suggest that they reside solely on one side of the political spectrum serves no purpose. It's playing to the home crowd, it’s lazy but more than that it’s wrong. Just as conservatives need to stop throwing around ‘socialist’ as a form of insult, there are some liberals who need to be little more… liberal.


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