As readers will know, I’m a supporter of free speech. I would agree (and indeed, have agreed) to speak against a fascist. However, I would not speak on a platform organised by a racist or fascist outfit. Taking part in an event organised by a racist organisation does go some way to legitimating it. When mainstream speakers participate in such events, it allows fringe organisations to create the utterly false illusion that they are themselves mainstream.
About a year ago, the Iranian Government launched a propaganda television station in the United Kingdom. With a stable full of respectable and semi respectable journalists, it began to broadcast on satellite and on the internet. In particular, PressTV puts on debates, which often pitch obscure conspiracy theorists or Islamists against mainstream political commentators.
I have been asked to appear on PressTV a number of times. Each time, my answer has been the same. If PressTV were broadcast to Iran, I would happily take part in a programme. Iran would certainly censor debate as free as that which takes part on PressTV. I also see little point in taking part in the sort of debates with marginal lunatics that are a staple of PressTV.
A number of commentators have agreed to speak on the PressTV platform, including Oliver Kamm and Martin Bright. They are commentators for whom I have a great deal of respect, and although they reached a different conclusion from me on the value of appearing on PressTV, I don’t think that they were inevitably wrong to do so. PressTV certainly aimed to be “mainstream” and might have lived up to its “vision statement“:
Press TV delivers unbiased reporting of controversial global news, as well as broadcasting cutting-edge documentaries and programs of political, social, and economic importance.
Press TV aims to adduce in-depth and complete analyses of current affairs, portraying viewpoints, which are often ignored by current mainstream media outlets.
Heeding the often neglected voices and perspectives of a great portion of the world;
Embracing and building bridges of cultural understanding;
Encouraging human beings of different nationalities, races and creeds to identify with one another;
Bringing to light untold and overlooked stories of individuals who have experienced the vitality and versatility of political and cultural divides firsthand.
What PressTV forgot to add is that they are also a proud purveyor of utterly shameless Holocaust Denial. Yesterday, PressTV published an essay by the disgraced Holocaust Denier and neo-Nazi, Nicolas Kollerstrom, that concludes “that the alleged massacre of Jewish people by gassing during World War II was scientifically impossible”. PressTV’s introductory comment is as follows:
The distinguished academic was dismissed on April 22, 2008 without any explanation and a Holocaust conference held on 16-18 May in Berlin refused his article and warned that he would be arrested if he attended the conference and presented his essay.
The West punishes people for their scientific research on Holocaust but the same western countries allow insults to prophets and religious beliefs…
It does not surprise me at all that the mouthpiece of the Iranian Government is promoting neo-Nazism on Holocaust denial. This is precisely what one would expect it to do. The commentary that PressTV has inserted as an introduction to Kollerstrom’s piece accurately reflects its editorial perspective.
It is now very clear what sort of outfit PressTV is. Anybody who is invited to appear on PressTV will now know that they are speaking on a fascist platform. Anybody who works for PressTV will now appreciate that they are employed by a fascist organisation.
When the propaganda arm of a foreign government broadcasts neo-Nazi lies, it is probably time for the British government to take action.
Also see the Ministry of Truth blog.