Saturday 21 June 2014

Less from Alibhai-Brown would be Welcome

The other week I was watching the BBC World programme, the one that for better or worse dominates hotel-room TV listings all over the globe.  The topic was Ukraine, and the panel was (a) a polite Russian "journalist" (= official Russian POV); (b) a polite Ukrainian-American academic; and (c) Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

A short while into the discussion, after Russia's contribution to WW2 had tangentially and fleetingly been dropped in by the Russian, suddenly YAL pipes up.  "Wait a minute!", she says, "I learned last week, for the first time in my life, that Russia sacrificed 20 million people in WW2!".  Quick as a flash the Russian says "Soviet people, actually" and YAL goes on "OK, Soviet people: but I only learned this last week: it is not being taught in schools!  I had a good British education and no-one is teaching this!"  The Ukrainian is completely stunned: "Excuse me?" but she is not to be stopped and repeats it all again.

Now my kids' history lessons comprised: The Nazis and WW2, most definitely including the 20 million.  The Tudors.  More Nazis / WW2 / 20 mm; and I'm sure yours did too.  What ought to have happened, of course, is that the chair should have stepped in and said: YAL, if that's your level of general knowledge, we obviously got the wrong person and we don't want to be hearing from you again today.  Needless to say, (i) she was allowed to prate on; (ii) I switched off. 

And I expect they paid her for being there. Gah !  Put the soccer and the rugby out of your mind and have a nice weekend.



Bill Quango MP said...

I suppose that if she has no knowledge of the Great patriotic war, she has no knowledge of The Great Purges either. The'37-'39 alone had around 1.5 million killed.

I can't remember learning much about WW2, so she may have missed it.

. And Mizz Quango , aged 11, does not know who Churchill was. Except in relation to insurance ads.
I notice neither of my children has heard a word about WW1 yet.
Surprising really as the 100 year start day is just weeks away.
And WW1 changed European society and its social behaviour and traditions for ever.

I find Yaswhinge to be a bit dim. For an 'intellectual' she does seem to lack basic understanding of how society works.

Reminds me of Hattie Harman. brought out as a big hitter but trips over the simplest of issues. Such as what is the VAT rate? 'Single' couples maximising their incomes. Private education through house prices and so on.

Yet she's never off the air?

Y Ddraig Goch said...

It's actually quite revealing that YA-B was on there at all. When the topic is Ukraine then a Russian journalist and a Ukrainian-American journalist both make some sort of sense. But why have YA-B? Even someone with average general knowledge of the area (by British standards) would be questionable. A buffoon like YA-B is incomprehensible.

I wonder what the BBC were thinking when they opted for a left-feminist, ethnic minority woman like Alibhai-Brown?

john miller said...

You bet she got paid.

I used to act for an ex-Met CPO in the late Seventies and he got £350 for a TV show spot.

Given 35 years of inflation and the tons more money sloshing around in TV, I would expect even YABer would get a couple of grand easily.

K said...

I definitely learned about Russian losses in WWII. Even the first couple of Call of Duty games had you playing at Russians. So I'd say the Russian losses are hardly unknown.

On the other hand a lot of Russians don't seem to know about the lend lease program.

It still makes me take a step back when I realise how ignorant or naive some people are.

Currently I have to deal with:

* A maths genius programmer that was home schooled (by far left hippies) who once you get away from maths knows absolutely nothing about science or history.

* A "well read" "cosmopolitan" woman who can pretty much only locate England and France on a map.

* Another genius programmer from America who seems to have a massive anti-Christian bent and believes he has translated the bible from original Greek better than anyone else has in the past.

And there's been more in the past.

These people are very frustrating to deal with because in their line of work they're used to people looking up to them. Thus in their personal life they usually dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as an idiot.

A Wandering Minstrel said...

Oh dear, poor you!

In the words of their delightful,if repetitive ads: "Next time you travel, stay in a CNN Partner hotel" (wherein, usually, the BBC is banned).

There fixed it for you.

Steven_L said...

I learned the USSR lost 20 million in WW2 doing history GCSE in a state school. This was during the cold war topic, as we didn't actually do WW2 as a topic.

History was optional (pick one of history and geography) so some people might not have learned this. And it probably went in one ear and out of the other with some other students.

I'd imagine YAB probably falls into the latter category. She was probably too busy complaining the suffragette movement wasn't being covered in excruciating detail or something.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder what the BBC were thinking when they opted for a left-feminist, ethnic minority woman like Alibhai-Brown?"

Ukrane...? Isn't that somewhere near Pakistan?

Woman on a Raft said...

Not much of an excuse, I know, but Yasmin is 65 and was educated in Uganda, only coming to Britain in 1972.

It is difficult to remember now, but older readers will be aware that until the mid-1970s, formal WWII teaching was not done at school level because the war was still so recent that it was highly controversial. Nor would teaching about the Soviet role in victory have been particularly easy against the background of the Cold War.

It was not until 1973 that the World At War series made a sweeping and accessible history - of which this would only be a part. However, by the 1970s there was also a subtle push to put all this away, to declare it history, as if it had not happened to people we knew.

Basil Fawlty's 'Don't Mention The War' (1975) riffed on how being mindful of the war was used as short-hand for obsessive behaviour. It was funny, and still is, but Yasmin would not have been aware of the sub-texts in both that episode and all of the Alf Garnett character, which was to discredit their traditionalist point of view.

It does not explain why in the last 40 years Yasmin has not bothered to leaf through a copy of the accompanying book - or any book - or even got the DVDs out, but it is entirely possibly she has simply forgotten being told about this. And yes, she has always been too busy shouting to bother listening.

CityUnslicker said...

I get upset just hearing about YAB, let alone watching her. Her voice is like nails down a blackboard to me.

L fairfax said...

If she grew up in Uganda, how did she have a British education?
Also why can't she read books on history? Schools can't teach children everything about the world, if people want to be well educated, they can always do it themselves.

Jer said...

I was educated in the 70's and early 80's and was specifically told that at no point from 1942 was less than 75% of the German army on the eastern front.
I don't recall the specific 20m losses though.

What is less well known in the west is the Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis. Certainly this is a sore point (still) with modern Russians, I suppose Ukrainians might have something to say about the famine too.

I don't mind YAB being stupid, I'm much more upset with Hague and Cameron. Either they and their advisors know next to nothing, or they are slavishly following American instructions, from Americans who know nothing.
Neither prospect appeals.

Nick Drew said...

as we've all said - not much of an excuse! - for someone who commands a fee as a pundit on current affairs

(the teaching-in-school thing is a red-herring, really: we are talking about absolutely fundamental geo-political general knowledge, never mind the needed before opining on Russia / Ukraine in public)