JOHN REITH v. SIEPMANN
C.C.M. Shows Danger Of Left-ish
Tendencies At B.B. C.
By Father Martindale
Invited some time ago, by the Herald, to write a couple of articles on broadcasting, we hesitated for two reasons. First, the B.B.C. has shown hospitality and courtesy to ourselves personally; and again, a Committee to deal with Catholic broadcasts within the Westminster archdiocese is being set up. It seemed, therefore, difficult to say anything. The general Press, however, has recently been discussing a conflict of ideal within the B.B.C. itself, and on that anyone can express an opinion.
One party, associated in the Press with the name of Sir John Reith, is said to wish almost every subject, indeed, to be spoken about over the wireless, but in a calm, unprovocative way, not calculated to arouse acrimonious controversy.
Thi Rii?ciated with the name of Mr. Siepmann, wishes for the maximum of controversy; our minds are to be shaken up; our conventional framework of thought is to be challenged; the B.B.C. is in fact to be Agitator in Chief to our somnolent intelligence.
Now it is true that sometimes the bland voice and discoloured statements of the ordinary announcer may irritate us. The Press itself, which gave publicity to so many who howled against the Pope for not denouncing Italian atrocities in Abyssinia, has on the whole been so " dispassionate " about the un doubted abominations in Spain that it is hard to believe it is not, in reality, biassed against the insurgents. Some time ago it admitted that some buildings (churches), in reality, had been burnt in a moment of " over-enthusiasm." What we need to be told now, in plain terms, that he future will Le e41„r a Twit_ tarian State, or, a murderous atheist Red tyranny. Listeners may decide which they prefer.
Hence, while we wholly disagree with the policy connected, rightly or wrongly, with the name of Mr. Siepmann, we con fess to finding the B.B.C. very °hen so " gentlemanly " as to be deadly dull.
" Left-ish " Propaganda But why do we disagree with the rival policy? Because we think it, if sincere, a dangerously silly one. We ought to be 'WV Coto about Kir mooching Chit it i insincere, and wishes to break up our customary ideas because it thinks them wrong and wishes to introduce a different, definite view of life : but the policy, if that be not its unavowed aim, plays directly into the hands of those that do, which implies a purblindiuniffltvalrnoh put belief. Only the other day, four' quite " balanced" people—two of them Australian, quite able to form opinion over there, asked me why so much, said by the B.B.C., was quietly propagandist " Left-ism."
Why, then, silly if sincere? Because
Menial asitaiton Iii/1 IA yokes mere confusion, and then an impotent all-round scepticism : and then an apathy most useful to an Absolute State. Assuming that the B.B.C. has a mandate to 'educate the country (which I denr), education is not the upshot of a mere challenging of received ideas. To tell a child that perhaps after all its parent has no claim on its obedience; that perhaps the " word of honour" after all has no special value; to tell a would-be athlete that the way he is being trained is as likely as not all wrong; ,& ha11nHigin MA hl Af fAUPRment, principles as to the use of sex, and so forth, is merely to demolish without substituting anything better.
Of course we assume that the Agitators for Agitation's sake mean what they say, and do not possess new systems up their sleeves which they mean to impose upon the ruins they have made.
Mere Puzzling the Masses
But does not this imply that we disbelieve in the power of the masses (among whom we include all the young) to detect and lay hold on the truth among the welter of clashing ideas offered to them?
Most certainly we disbelieve in it. That will be called un-democratic. All the same,-it is true. To think logically is very difficult indeed. It cannot be done without training. And the very last thing that our popular education is now implement ta5 frtv tretrfr thfrth Again, when what is true, or even normal, is unpalatable (such as the value of sexual self-restraint in or out of marriage), the suggestion that a palatable novelty experience. Third, because " character" is slow in building; and till character is built, which is done by means of firm principles and in no other way, they cannot but be easily swayed, led, and fooled.
Two thotil Argun. To thc village near where I am staying, came a group of earnest persons equipped with modern-art pictures which they exhibited. They used all those phrases" We must break up their conventions! We must destroy their preferences! We must just show these poor bucolics what the artistic intelligenzia is producing!" (That was a give-away : they wanted indeed to break up the existing, because they thought they had something better to give, and the bucolics were dam' well going to get it.) Well, the villagers grinned, and were slightly shocked by the nuditica — but not very, because most of these were painted bright yellow and had limbs like balloons or bolsters. The invaders retired discomfited.
Again, a party of 200 school-teachers, very Bolshie at first, came to see this house. It has a priests " What was he put in there for?" " Because if he had been caught I would have been killed." "Killed? Why?" They had no idea that priests, or even Catholics, had ever been persecuted, let alone martyred. They literally knew nothing ahout the lleformatun meaning. What their text-books con tained, heaven knows! Yet they were teachers.
The Cockle and the Wheat
What the .world is suffering from—our country not least—is fear due to uncer tainty. To increase the uncertainty is a cruel and even murderous method and a rotten psychology.
It is sure to issue, at best, into the jettisoning of all good things along with reputedly bad ones. The parable of the Cockle and the Wheat is not without its point.
If Major Attlee was correctly reported on August 3, he offered a perfect example of slipshod thinking, ignorance of history, and reckless recommendation.
He is alleged to have assumed a period when the family was the unit, and everything else "the enemy." (No such period ever existed.) We then rose to a period when the nation was the unit. (This suggests the • abolition of the family, an ideal nearly always acclaimed by revolutionaries till
thi IUllIIlli RON
any case, it assumes that the formation of the national unit causes the family to be no more a unit. Not only the baby, but the parents, are emptied out with the bath! Anyway, the process of the argument ought to involve a period when each nation was a unit, every other national unit being " the enemy.11 When Christendom existed, this was not so: now that the Catholic Faith has been defied, it is much more nearly so.) Finally, the nations are to " get together "—oh! that jargon!—and the Race, I suppose, becomes the unit, no nal;ons 1exi's1Mg any more.
Indeed, a lady talking about " If Women Ruled," charmingly announced that they would periodically cause a percentage of young men to marry women of nations not their own, so everyone would soon be everyone else's tiffolm and auntc. WI may hate your uncle, but you don't want to shoot him. Oh, well . . .
Are They Sincere?
No. The difficulty is that it is very hard indeed to believe in the sincerity of those who want to break up all our mental fur (d--(1 impertinence, anyway!): we have to do violence to ourselves not to feel sure that they do possess a definite, different system (on the whole, a Russian