Could a BBC Radio gardening show actually be part of an elaborate scheme to covertly send racist messages to white nationalists?
If that sounds like a parody or spoof of political correctness gone mad, join the club. Many in the UK today are absolutely stunned to learn these allegations have been made with a straight face.
First leveled on Thinking Allowed, a program also heard on BBC Radio 4 along with Gardeners’ Question Time, it has been quickly blasted by those associated with the latter. Dr Ben Pitcher, a University of Westminster sociology lecturer, began this kerfuffle but it has since been defended by others in his field.
The popular show has aired on BBC since 1947.
From the Daily Telegraph’s coverage, note the absolutely bonkers comparison between rhododendrons and Pakistanis made by a fellow academic. If this doesn’t have you in stitches, nothing will:
Speaking on another Radio 4 programme, Thinking Allowed, the academic said: “Gardeners’ Question Time is not the most controversial show on Radio 4, and yet it is layered with, saturated with, racial meanings.
“The context here is the rise of nationalism. The rise of racist and fascist parties across Europe. Nationalism is about shoring up a fantasy of national integrity. My question is, what feeds nationalism? What makes nationalism powerful?”
Dr Pitcher said the “crisis in white identity in multicultural Britain” meant people felt unable to express their views for fear of being called racist, so expressed their racial identity in other ways, such as talking about gardening.
Speaking on the same programme, Lola Young, a crossbench peer and former professor of cultural studies, backed Dr Pitcher’s analysis.
She added: “I remember back in the late 80s-early 90s when rhododendrons were seen as this huge problem, and people were talking about going out rhododendron-bashing.
“That was at a time when Paki-bashing was something that was all too prevalent on our streets.”
The show, which airs every Friday, is innocuously described by the BBC as: “a panel of horticultural experts answer[ing] gardening questions from a live audience.”
However, its unassuming exterior is concealing more sinister intentions, Dr Ben Pitcher says.
“Gardeners’ Question Time is not the most controversial show on Radio 4, yet it is layered, saturated with racial meanings,” Dr Pitcher, a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Westminster claimed.
According to the Daily Mail, he said people were vicariously living out their nationalist and fascist fantasies through horticultural chatter on plant species.
And the Daily Mail:
It is not the first time Gardeners’ Question Time has been embroiled in a race row.
In 2008, listeners complained after a plant known as a ‘black man’s willy’ was mentioned. The BBC was accused of ‘pandering to political correctness’ after it apologised.
Last night horticulturalist Stefan Buczacki, who was on the programme for 13 years, said Dr Pitcher’s claims were ‘utterly absurd’.
‘Many things have been said about Gardeners’ Question Time, but you can’t say it is racist,’ he said. ‘His comments show a complete lack of understanding of the natural world.
And today, the Daily Mail ran a full rebuttal piece by Buczacki:
To a sociology lecturer, though, it probably seems akin to apartheid that white currants and blackcurrants don’t grow on the same bushes. From now on, no gardener should ever refer to a spade in case we are accused of racial slurs — the more neutral ‘digging implement’ is preferable. And blackfly is a derogatory term that must never be used, except between one blackfly and another.
The truth is that plants don’t know about man-made national borders. Such things don’t exist in their world.
The glory of the British garden is that it is an eclectic mixture of plants from all corners of the globe, for which we can partly thank the good old British Empire — whether that was a racist entity or not.
So what’s the real issue with gardening, the fact that many of its biggest enthusiasts happen to be white? When will this madness end?