The BBC seems to think that promoting a racist ideology is acceptable.
Following the broadcasting of BBC’s rural affairs television programme ‘Countryfile’ early last month, there were many who felt the broadcast was insufficiently critical of the racist Anthroposophical cult created by Rudolph Steiner that is behind the supernatural pseudo-system of agriculture known as Biodynamics. The programme was sufficiently unpleasant in its fawning lack of critique to attract a Twitter buzz from bloggers such as Professor David Colquhoun FRS ( http://www.dcscience.net), Andy Lewis of the famous Quackometer blog ( http://www.quackometer.net/), veteran campaigner Melanie Byng (@ThetisMercurio), Horticulture Teacher Graham Strouts (http://skepteco.wordpress.com) and many others.
I too was incensed; not just because of the pseudo-science or ‘woo’ that Biodynamics promotes but because of the racist ‘spiritual’ hierarchy that is the basis of it. My own contribution to this debate was simply to complain to the BBC; firstly through their on-line complaints procedure; secondly direct to Countryfile via their contacts page and, thirdly via Twitter – directing Countryfile and the reporter Julia Bradbury to my blog here at Nagara. (https://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/biodynamics-not-so-amusing-racist-nonsense/)
After a long wait, the BBC has eventually replied:
Thanks for contacting regarding BBC One’s Countryfile.
In response to your complaint I’d like to provide the following reply from the Executive Producer:
“Thank you for your feedback on Countryfile on 10 February.
While I read your comments with interest, I do not believe a discussion of whether or not Rudolph Steiner’s doctrine was racist is relevant territory for a rural affairs programme exploring the farming practices that underpin biodynamics, a recognised agricultural practice.
I do hope you accept my explanation and feel able to continue to support Countryfile.”
We hope this is helpful and thanks again for contacting us.
First it should be noted that the reply was from Stuart Webb, I assume from BBC complaints. The Executive Producer of the show is quoted but none of the staff who work on the show is actually named. It’s as if all the critics have to put their heads above the parapet but none of the BBC’s staff on the show feel sufficiently moved to put their names to their own defence of their editorial or presenting actions. The ‘..we hope this is helpful..’ is surely designed to annoy – how can a total dismissal of concerns about institutional racism be helpful to the complainant?
Clearly, the BBC and the reporter Julia Bradbury do not want to get embroiled in a discussion about racism within Anthroposophy – perhaps their upcoming piece on HRH Charles (lover of woo and of racist Biodynamics) puts popularity ratings way before ethics – especially the ethics of standing up to boring and (for them) inconsequential racism. I’m sure this will delight supporters of Rudolph Steiner’s writings but in my view it just goes to show that institutional racism in one organisation spreads to other organisations unless challenged. That the BBC is unmoved to deal with the issues just shows how memetic are the values of ‘blood and soil’ white supremacy if unchecked. To say that Biodynamics is ‘recognised agricultural practice’ is like saying that believers in a flat earth are recognised geographers or homeopaths are recognised brain surgeons.
But from a non-white person’s perspective, the most upsetting issue is the dismissal –
“…I do not believe a discussion of whether or not Rudolph Steiner’s doctrine was racist is relevant territory for a rural affairs programme…”
For a rural affairs programme not to recognise the extent of rural racism makes one wonder just what they think happens in the UK’s green and pleasant land – particularly when the ‘eco-fascistic’ roots of Anthroposophy and the part Biodynamics played in the ‘blood and soil’ values of Nazism are well documented and much discussed in rural areas where there is a strong Anthroposophical culture around Steiner schools, Camphill Communities and other Steiner businesses and organisations.
As I write, Howard Gooodall’s wonderful ‘Story of Music’ is on the television – unlike Countryfile, he has no problem explaining the racist culture that changed the history, style and performance of music. For Countryfile to think the same exposure of fascistic ‘agriculture’ is innappropriate shows a remarkable disconnect between those wishing to expose racism and those happy to cover it up.
For non-white viewers and listeners who know about Anthroposophy, the tacit acceptance of institutional racism by the BBC’s Countryfile is not just an abstract proposition but a damaging and threatening political position that gives legitimacy to the idea that skin colour is a guide to a person’s worth; an attitude that taints all the good the BBC might say on any other subject because the subtext is always “…. for white people only..” unless expressed otherwise. It’s truly chilling. The contempt shown by the BBC for this issue is echoed by Bradbury herself as the following tweets show.
(Above) To her credit Julia Bradbury replied promptly and looked as if she might ‘look into it’. To that end various tweeters, or is that twitterers, including me, sent Julia some suggested research materials; material that Countryfile’s researchers surely already knew about – given the controversy around (say) Michael Gove’s drive to help set up Steiner ‘Free Schools’? These are issues not limited to rural affairs or agriculture but to education, economics, banking and many other targets of Anthroposophical power and influence.
(Above) A tweet from Margaret Nelson with further information…
(Above) And some more references from me to add to those from Professor Colquhoun and others. But while some tweeters responded with horror to the values expressed by Steiner and his followers, Julia Bradbury’s only comment was…
(Above) Yes, we know what what was said on the programme but what was Julia Bradbury going to do about it? To add insult to injury, or perhaps simply insult to further insult in terms of the BBC’s adoration of racist woo, it so happened that shortly after all this, Newsnight decided to get the low down, from the horses mouth, as it were, on the beef/horse food-chain issue. Who do you think they ask? Not a normal, experienced, and rational expert but..
(Above) Perhaps all this was just too complicated for the Countryfile team or the Newsnight team to deal with. Julia kicks it upstairs to the DG (Director General, I assume) and that’s the last we hear until the official response from the Complaints Department.
Several things spring from this sorry tale. Firstly, the researchers at the BBC don’t seem to have a remit that might flag-up issues such as racism unless in an urban setting and, even then, it might take a death in Police custody to make it ‘important’. Second, institutional racism is alive and well in the BBC as well as in Anthroposophy (my complaint is utterly dismissed in spite of ample evidence). Thirdly, the way in which Anthroposophy is often reported by the BBC and referred to by the BBC makes one wonder if senior BBC staff are in fact either Anthroposophists themselves, Steiner School parents or Steiner School graduates. Lastly, the BBC, as the nation’s foremost and trusted broadcaster has a duty to promote equality – it is not enough to treat institutional racism as if it is unimportant; it effects the lives of millions of people in the most subtle and pernicious ways and keeps us, the non-white people of the United Kingdom in the place so beloved of Steiner and his followers – always several steps behind the power of white supremacy.
I end with the much used but true quote from Sir William Macpherson, institutional racism is:
‘The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping.’
Anthroposophy is founded on the premise that white people are superior and the whole philosophy is built around a racial hierarchy. That is not a matter of conjecture any more than we need discuss if the Earth is flat or spherical. The BBC, by being insufficiently critical of the specific racial claims of Anthroposophy is supporting the idea that such values are either acceptable or not important enough to be dangerous to minority non-white communities. That is why it is fair to say that the BBC is also institutionally racist. I think they should do something about it.
please share, tweet, blog and complain to the BBC via: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/
The Producer of Countryfile is called Teresa Bogan