White supremacist Jonathan Jennings was arrested in April for threatening Muslims, Jews and ‘leftists’ over Twitter, only a few months after being picked to ask a question on the BBC flagship political debate program Question Time.
Jennings, who hails from the village of Brynamman in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales, threatened to ‘kill Jeremy Corbyn like Jo Cox’, ‘burn Muslims on a bombfire’ and stated that ‘Hitler was born 100 years too soon’ on Twitter and its ‘free speech alternative’ Gab.
In a Question Time episode from 07/12/2017 David Dimbleby asks Jennings by name to read out his pre-prepared question. The incel-Voldemort facial features of Jennings in the BBC audience quite clearly match those of @BZNTweets, who is charged with six counts of publishing threatening written material to stir up religious hatred, a further three of sending an electronic communication conveying a threatening message, and one of sending an electronic communication of an offensive nature.
Embedded video starts at Jennings’ appearance on 16:00
The question he asked was pretty benign – ‘might a no-deal Brexit be the best result for Britain?’ However, it’s deeply concerning that Question Time production staff were drawn to this man in particular as someone who had a point of view that might resonate.
The website Resisting Hate documented a huge catalogue of threats and slurs aimed at their readers with screenshots. I haven’t been able to recover his now deleted Youtube videos but he repeatedly linked to his Youtube series called White Genocide Podcast; not leaving much to the imagination about its subject matter. One episode was titled ‘Jo Coxsucker’, another reference to the Labour MP who was slaughtered by an ideological comrade of Jennings with a machete in broad daylight.
The BBC have been accused of amplifying far-right voices, most notably that of Nigel Farage, who despite having never been elected in his life is on BBC current affairs programming so frequently he may crash in the dressing rooms some nights. This revelation hardly answers critics who believe that the BBC are taking a pretty laissez-faire attitude to helping galvanise facist discourse.
The BBC, being a national broadcaster, have a duty to disseminate a wide range of views, but not the overtly racist opinions of someone who sincerely believes it is his duty to ‘bomb a mosque one day’ and ‘forcibly sterilise’ Muslims.
I’m not suggesting that they aggressively vet their guests, but at the very least they can stop actively handpicking contributors who give the impression that they’re two minutes away from breaking into a verse of Faccetta Nera and giving a Roman salute.
More importantly, the BBC can stop giving oxygen to ringleaders of far-right movements who birth never-ending hordes of mouth breathers like Jennings: Nick Griffin, Nigel Farage and the rest of the Trump apologencia. Then they could at least conceivably state with conviction that their hands are clean regarding the very significant spike in racist hate crimes in the UK over the last two years.
As it stands the BBC are using state funds to push rather than stifle a political mode which should have died in Europe back in 1945.