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BBC’s Big Questions or Big Contradictions?


By Garibaldi

There have been several debates on threads here regarding whether or not Jews are a race or religion or both. It’s a complicated question, further complicated by the fact that differences exist among Jews in how they answer that question, though a great many see being Jewish as both race/ethnicity and religion.

I’m not interested in rehashing that debate here but wanted to highlight a blatant contradiction and tension between two shows from this year on the BBC program, “The Big Questions.”

BBC’s, “The Big Questions,” hosted by Nicky Campbell claims to delve into questions relating to “moral, ethical and religious debates.” However, quite often the show is simply an exercise in which guest can deliver the best soundbite and applause line.

Unresolved contradictions abound in the program, such as the one displayed in the video below. Self-styled “counter-extremism” guru, Maajid Nawaz implies that the difference between Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is the issue of racism, though he doesn’t explain how this makes it a lesser form of bigotry and xenophobia.

Nawaz claims one can be racist against Jews but not Muslims because Jews are a “race.” This is contradicted on another show by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner who states explicitly that, “Jews are not a race” but a “religious civilization.”

The contradiction and lack of nuance remains, and goes to a point we (and others) have made quite often: racism against, and racialization of, religious groups whether in the guise of Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism is not only conceivable but a well documented fact.

When a Sikh or an Arab Christian is mistaken for Muslim because of their “look” this points to racism and racialization. When an Indian man is shoved off a train platform to his death or a Sikh man is repeatedly stabbed because of the perpetrator’s conflation of Brownness with Islam it points to racism and racialization.

Clearly then, at the heart of much of both Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is an undeniably virulent racism, which talking heads such as Maajid Nawaz and Douglas Murray unfortunately are all too happy to undermine with short soundbites.

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  • Ilisha

    With “friends” who spew terms like “Islamo-Nazi,” we don’t need enemies.

    The site owner is more agreeable, but I can say I couldn’t possibly care any less whether or not you and your friends support this site. Absolutely indifferent. This is a FREE site. We’re not making any money off of this NICHE blog. If you like what we write, visit, and if you don’t, you’re free to leave.

    I have no idea what you’re on about with “Islamic totalitarian fanaticism.” I find this accusation laughable, though it is refreshing, since we’re usually denounced as liberal collaborators.

    By all means, please recommend us as a “hate site.” Unless you’re referring visitors from Jihad Watch, I think they’re going to have a hard time seeing evidence to support your claim.

  • Ilisha

    From the link you referenced:

    …The term Nowruz in writing first appeared in historical Persian records in the 2nd century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids (c. 550–330 BCE), where kings from different nations under the Persian Empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz. The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid Empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II’s appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz)….

    And here is another interesting source:

    It seems reasonable to me to say it’s of Babylonian origin. Certainly not worthy of a nasty scolding.Why are you so hostile and rude?

    Please show me where a LW contributor said or even implied people should be persecuted for celebrating this holiday. I know for certain I’ve said NO SUCH THING.

    What possible justification can you have for calling me an “Islamo-Nazi”? A “racist monger” against people of your ethnicity and culture? I don’t even know your ethnicity and culture, apart from the fact you said your Iranian.

    Again, your angry rants seem untethered from the people and comments you’re supposedly responding to. The only time I remember discussing anything Persian/Iranian, it was to (1) expose war propaganda against Iran (2) Praise the beauty of the Persian language. I have a special love for Farsi, which I’ve expressed more than once here.

    So where is all this racist hatred against Persians? Please provide examples.

  • Awesome

    Technically there are only three racial classification. Caucasian, Negro
    and Mongolian. Each of these racial identities have several
    ethnicities. Caucasians are Slavic, Germanic, Celtic etc., Negro have
    Huti, Aborigine, Sinhalese and the Mongolian are Chinese, Turkic and
    Native American.

    Some include “Australoid” as a 4th racial classification, but these classifications are only based on anthropometry. Some who try to define “race” based more on genetics come up with several more classifications. The whole concept seems very arbitrary, while the complexities of genetics and anthropometry have no intrinsic importance for human interaction. Thus, for all intents and purposes the concept of “race” is an arbitrary human construction, which is only meant to appease tribalism – a concept that is entirely a human construction and is far less ambiguous than the concept of “race”. At the end of the day, regardless of what “race” or “tribe” a man belongs to or a woman belongs to, they are only ever going to produce 1 type of offspring: human.

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