The British politician Tony Benn led such a worthy life at the forefront of progressive causes that he is being remembered over here too on the occasion of his death at 88 three days ago.
“It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”
Above, watch a wonderful confrontation on BBC during the Gaza onslaught of ’08-’09, when the BBC had refused to air the address of a humanitarian organization folks could send money to. Benn twice read the address on air, defying the anchor and the Israeli government.
“I’m sorry, I’m a human being… The Israelis have killed 1330 people… We are human beings. I know you work for the BBC and I’m a pensioner. We’re people. If you saw people children dying as they are today in Gaza, because there’s no food, wouldn’t you want to send it?”
Then: “People will die as a result of the BBC decision… It has capitulated to Israeli pressure.”
And thanks to Teddy Sayeed, here is Benn destroying John Bolton during the Iraq war. At 4:00, he takes Bolton apart by describing his own service in World War II and then noting that Bolton refused to serve in Vietnam. The RAF veteran notes that the London blitz killed his brother, and that as he was flying home from the war, he heard the United Nations charter read.
“That was the pledge my generation gave to the younger generation, and [the U.S.] tore it up. And it’s a war crime that’s been committed in Iraq. Because there’s no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. Both kill innocent people for political reasons…. You’re a declining empire, as we were, and you’ll learn the truth…. You were beaten in Vietnam… That’s why you didn’t want to serve there. And you’ll be beaten in Iraq.'”
And here is Tony Benn completely deflecting the wit of Sacha Baron Cohen playing Ali G. “Possibly the only celebrity who managed to get the better of the master troll,” Sayeed says. Benn wrote about how he did it here.
Thanks to Terry Weber for the BBC clip.