UK gov’t scheme flags Shakespeare, LOTR as ‘key texts’ for ‘white supremacists’

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The British government’s safeguarding programme Prevent has released a guide flagging some of the UK’s most popular films, television series and literature as possible signs of far-right extremism. Among those referenced were The Lord Of The Rings, The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare, and war film The Dam Busters.

Popular British satirical television series Yes Minister and The Thick of It were named by the counter-terrorism scheme Prevent for “encouraging far-right sympathies”.

It said the works of fiction were ‘key texts’ for “white nationalists/supremacists”.

A report by Prevent’s Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU) asserted that far-Right extremists promote ‘reading lists’ on online forums.

Pieces from some of the world’s greatest writers were put forward as possible red flags of extremism, including Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Tennyson, Kipling and Edmund Burke.

Prevent also noted a variety of popular British series including BBC’s 1990s political thriller House Of Cards, spy trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Sharpe.

Some of the most notable films, series and books to have been flagged by Prevent also include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, The Four Feathers, Lady Hamilton, The Dam Busters, The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Great Escape, Zulu, Civilisation, Ray Mears’ Bushcraft Survival and David Starkey’s Monarchy.

Furthermore, they labeled BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys, presented by former Conservative minister Michael Portillo, as being viewed favorably by the far-Right.

Author and journalist Douglas Murray, on discovering that one his books had been referenced in the report, wrote in the publication The Spectator: “A number of books are singled out, the possession or reading of which could point to severe wrongthink and therefore potential radicalisation... It seems that RICU [Research, Information and Communications Unit] is so far off-track that it believes that books identifying the problem that it was itself set up to tackle are in fact a part of the problem.”

The list was produced after a major review of Prevent by William Shawcross.

He published a report this month detailing an assortment of failings in Prevent, stating that it applies a ‘double standard’ to Islamist and far-Right threats. He accused Prevent, a GPB 49 million per year tax-funded scheme, of prioritizing far-Right activity over tackling the prime Islamist threat.

A Home Office spokesman responded, by saying: “The Home Secretary made clear that Prevent will now ensure it focuses on the key threat of Islamist terrorism, as well as remaining vigilant on emerging threats.”