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Bernie's Downfall?

NEWS STORY
05/07/2009

In April 2007, singer Bryan Ferry caused (media) outrage when he lauded the work of Nazi-era German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and architect Albert Speer. Within days, his lucrative modelling contract with the British chain store Marks and Spencer, a company of Jewish origin, was cancelled.

Over sixty years after the Second World War, the whole subject of the Nazi Party and, in particular, its last leader, Adolf Hitler, is regarded as taboo. Not for nothing did Basil Fawlty, aka John Cleese, famously say, "don't mention the war".

Then, in 2008 came the Max Mosley sex orgy and claims that the FIA's President's romp with five prostitutes had Nazi overtones. While many could forgive the sado-masochism, after all, among the upper classes such behaviour is considered de rigueur, it was the allegations of a Nazi overtone that caused the headlines and the real furore.

Among the first to express their outrage were BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and Mosley wasted no time in ignoring Basil Fawlty's advice, just about stopping short of repeating the hapless hotel owner's other claim that "you started it".

Bernie Ecclestone has a history of putting his size fours in it, whether it be comments about women racers or his summing up of the racism Lewis Hamilton was subjected to at Barcelona last year, which the F1 supremo referred to as a bit of a joke.

While there is no real malice in what the Englishman says or means, what he has to remember is that times have changed and that, whether one likes it or not, one cannot be as forthright in one's opinion these days.

That said, there is a difference between being forthright and actually going on record as saying that Hitler wasn't all bad, misunderstood even. Furthermore, to suggest that the Austrian was only obeying orders (his own?) is downright ludicrous.

Earlier this year, Carole Thatcher, daughter of the former British Prime Minister, Margaret, lost her job with the BBC's One Show - even though it is utter populist garbage - for a remark made in private and not on air. Although there were only two or three people present, her comment that a tennis player's haircut made him look like a 'Gollywog' caused (media) outrage.

In these times while some might see such a comment for what it really is, and how it is really intended, nobody can be perceived as agreeing with it, for then, despite the intended innocence of the comment you are guilty by association.

We will not repeat Ecclestone's comments here, there is no point. However, the words of a senior Formula 1 insider are certainly worth heeding.

"I gather that Jewish groups have already expressed their disapproval of Ecclestone's remarks, and understandably so," the source told Pitpass. "Personally, though, having known him for many years, I don't think he's racist or anti-Semitic at all. No, the sad truth is that he's an old man who's lost the plot. In fact, most of what he says these days is plain stupid, I'm sorry to say."

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