The World at One is usually one of the less contentious of BBC Radio 4's news programmes. It does offer the standard BBC world view of most matters but as far as I'm aware has rarely featured on blog sites as a source of some of the most outrageous examples of media bias presented as impartial reporting.
The only riposte to Renouf's proclamation of the Holocaust as "legend" came from a subsequent telephone interview with Lord Janner, presumably on the grounds of his being Chairman of the Holocaust Trust, who also proceeded to discuss Holocaust denial primarily in terms of its offensiveness to survivors and to assert that he knew the Holocaust had happened because members of his own family had been murdered. Lord Janner has a long and mostly distinguished history on representing various Jewish community concerns, but he is not now at the centre of dealing with Holocaust denial propagandists. His answer here was utterly inadequate.
Why did the World at One team choose to give such a front line Holocaust denier as Michele Renouf a platform? Why did they choose to conceal her background and activism in this field and in promoting anti-semitism?
Who on the World at One team decided that the issue of Williamson's Holocaust denial was to be handled as one of actual or potential offence? Why did they not call one of the impeccably reputed historians who would have been able to show that her claims that the Holocaust is "legend" and that Williamson seeks "debate" are pernicious nonsense?
Quite apart from the outrageousness of giving a platform for Holocaust denial, this particular news treatment is most concerning because it suggests that truth of the Holocaust is coming to be relativised in public debate by being seen as one related to "offence", for the reason that it is seen as needing to be treated as an analogue of Muslim offence over portrayals of Mohammed and of Islam in general. It is another instance of something in British political discourse relating to Jews, and particularly to anti-semitism and Israel needing by definition to be "balanced" by being analogised explicitly or inexplicitly to Muslim concerns. Indeed, one of the reports in the Daily Telegraph to which I've linked refers to "Bishop" Williamson and his fellow Holocaust sceptics, an apparently innocuous terminological shift which reduces the reality of the most documented events in history to a matter of political opinion, analogous with membership of the European Community.
It's interesting that "Bishop" Williamson himself has now issued an apology for "offending" people by his stance on the Holocaust. But as has been widely recognised, not least by the Vatican, this does not deal with his actual denial that Jews were gassed by the Nazi, or that more than two or three hundred thousand were actually murdered.
The image above appeared in this week's edition of "The Jewish Chronicle". It shows a Mardi Gras carnival float in Germany last week. It's a particularly vivid representation of how today's Germany may understand much more acutely that "Bishop" Williamson may represent not just some bizarre sideshow of the backwoods of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but shaking hands with the devil of anti-semitism.
Will the World at One team recognise they've gone beyond shaking hands with the devil when, without acknowledgement, they put the voice of Holocaust denial in front of the microphone to send its message to the worldwide BBC audience?