Tyrant TV in the UK

Rod Liddle:

It takes a certain nerve and chutzpah to invoke the messiah approvingly when Christ’s followers are relentlessly persecuted at home in Iran by, er, Mahmoud himself. Christians who have been unable to get the hell out of Ahmadinejad’s Islamist hellhole are routinely arrested, have their property confiscated and their churches closed; at least one evangelical preacher faces the death penalty for “proselytising” and “apostasy”. Ahmadinejad didn’t disclose what he thought Christ would have to say about that. Maybe he thinks he wouldn’t mind too much, all things considered.

Channel 4 presumably thought this was provocative and cutting-edge television – “edgy”, I believe, is the adjective they strive for these days. Pointing the camera at a random madman and letting him rant is thus “edgy”, although it requires nothing in the way of wit or thought on the part of the broadcaster. It is instead broadcasting of the most unchallenging nature.

I suppose that if this were 1937, Channel 4 would hand over the Christmas Day airwaves to Hitler for a burst of free propaganda (“If Christ were alive today he’d annex the Sudetenland, round up the Jews and invade Czechoslovakia. Happy Christmas.”). And when the outraged complaints flooded in, a Channel 4 executive would then defend it thus: “Hitler is the leader of a very large and politically significant nation, and it is important that the British people hear his views.” Absurd, you might think – but this is almost precisely how Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, defended their Only Fools and Jihadis Christmas Special. Yes, Dot, love, it is important to hear what deranged tyrants like Mahmoud have to say – but it would be nice to ask him a question here or there, wouldn’t it?

Can you imagine, for even the briefest glimmering of a nanosecond, Channel 4 issuing a similar invitation to President George W Bush? It is unthinkable; it would not remotely occur to the executives. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if the entire Channel 4 schedule next Christmas were handed over to President Barack Obama for a 24-hour love-in, with cameo appearances from Jesse Jackson, the relatives of Rosa Parks and so on.


As appalling as the Ahmadinejad moment was, even more appalling was the historical ignorance he expressed about Christ that was never corrected as far as I can tell. Recall, that Christ was born during the height of the Roman Empire which suffered no insubordination from its captive nations. Yet, Christ never challenged that empire, but Ahmadinejad suggest he would be upset with the US which uses much less force in persuading people. The historical ignorance boggles the mind for those still using theirs for such things as history.


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