Cambridge University, formerly a distinguished seat of learning, is funding two grievance archaeologists to go through its archives in order to discover how guilty it needs to feel about slavery — and how much it owes in compensation. Glasgow University, also formerly a distinguished seat of learning, has already done this. It has decided that it has benefited from slavery to the tune of £200 million — a debt it now plans to repay in a programme of “reparative justice” which includes setting up a centre for the study of slavery.
Who knows what evidence those Cambridge-funded grievance archaeologists might find?
FAR too often when I open the papers it’s as if I’ve been transported to a parallel universe in which all the rules of common sense and logic have been suspended, where shrill, bullying minorities tyrannise normal folk.
Let me list some of the stories that have caused me to drop my marmalade recently and see whether you’re as mystified as I am by this bizarre new world we inhabit.
A lesbian comedian has been vilified for choosing to dance with a man rather than another woman on Strictly Come Dancing.
A gay vicar on the same show has said it’s about time men were allowed to ballroom dance with men too.
A Christian couple are trying to sue their child’s primary school because it now allows boys to turn up in a dress, meanwhile across Britain more and more schools are – at considerable expense – replacing single sex toilets with gender neutral ones.
Read the rest in the Express.
LADIES and Gentlemen… was there ever a phrase more redolent of the qualities that make us such a civilised nation?
It’s good-mannered, it’s old fashioned and it’s generous in spirit. Of course not many of us really qualify to be called a “lady” or a “gentleman” any more – at least not in the sense that we are rich, leisured, landowning folk.
But the phrase charmingly conspires to pretend that no matter how lowly we are we’re all deserving of the same respect.
Often it’s a phrase that precedes one of those formal events we do so well: the Loyal Toast, school speech day, weddings.
And it’s also used in the context of safety announcements whether on aeroplanes, at train stations or on the London Underground.
Or rather it was: London Underground has decreed that from henceforward it will no longer be addressing its passengers as “ladies and gentlemen” on the tannoy.
Why? Because apparently it might be offensive to those customers who don’t identify as either a man or a woman and so prefer not to be called anything so gender-specific.
Read the rest in the Express.
Attempts to broaden the social mix at Oxford and Cambridge have instead created a sterile PC monoculture
‘Should I just have done with it and tell them they’re a bunch of tossers?’
I was on my way to speak at the Durham Union. The motion was ‘This House believes the NHS is out of date’. And, as usual, I was on the ‘wrong’ side of the debate — so why should I even bother? You know beforehand which way the vote is going to go at any university debate these days: the one which enables the snowflakes most easily to signal their virtue.
But, on the spur of the moment, I decided to give Durham the benefit of the doubt. ‘I was going to be incredibly rude to you,’ I began. ‘Which you totally deserve for being a bunch of snowflakes who are going to vote against the motion because hashtag “I heart the NHS”. But instead I’m going to make a case by appealing to your intellects…’
I could scarcely believe what happened next. The audience listened. They laughed at my jokes. When I made eye contact, they didn’t look away nervously like I was some snarling right-wing pariah with whom they wanted nothing to do. Then, perhaps most amazingly of all, they voted by 75 to 50 in favour of the motion.
Now I accept that this was partly thanks to the brilliance of my co-speaker, Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who was eloquent, reasonable and fearsomely well-briefed. Our opponents, with their ‘envy of the world’ pabulum, just didn’t have a prayer.
Except at both the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, I know, the other side would still definitely have won. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating, just to annoy him: the last time I debated at Oxford, the ex-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger gave a boilerplate speech of such unutterably predictable, dreary, fatuous lefty tosh that I honestly thought the undergraduates would feel insulted by its glib platitudinousness. Instead, they just couldn’t get enough of it. Bizarre, I thought at the time.
No, worse, I realise after my Durham experience: tragic. I know some of you think I bang on about Oxford so infatuatedly I sound like Withnail’s Uncle Monty recalling his first love Norman ‘and his poetry book stained with the butter drips from crumpets’. But I care because it’s my alma mater, because it really did shape my intellect in a way for which I’ll be eternally grateful and because I want it to go on being the amazing, liberating playground of ideas that it was in my butter-stained youth. These days, I fear, in order to recreate that echt Oxbridge experience, you need to apply, not to Oxford or Cambridge, but to one of those establishments such as Durham which we used to scoff at for being filled with Oxbridge rejects.
They still are filled with Oxbridge rejects, of course, but of such a high calibre that they would once have been a shoo-in. Quite a hefty portion come from the private schools against which, anecdotal evidence suggests, Oxbridge admissions tutors are becoming increasingly prejudiced. If you’re someone like the radical-left politician Michael ‘soak the rich’ Gove, who recently argued for public schools to be stung for VAT so that they can be punished even more than they are already, you’ll no doubt consider this anti-elitism a healthy thing. But after my own — admittedly brief — recent trips I’d say that in its eagerness to purge itself of students from a certain kind of background, Oxbridge is in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Read the rest at the Spectator.
The uniformity of thought required by the establishment today is reminiscent of the old Eastern Bloc.
Because we’re all so obsessed with what it was that made the Nazis tick, we tend to overlook the bigger mystery of how hundreds of millions of people, for a period considerably longer than the lifespan of Hitler’s Germany, remained under the spell of communism.
This is a question that Czeslaw Milosz set out to answer in his 1953 classic The Captive Mind. Milosz was a Polish poet, prominent in the underground during the Nazi occupation, who served as a cultural attaché with Poland’s post-war communist regime before quitting in disgust and fleeing to the US, where he taught at Berkeley and achieved eminence as a Nobel-prize-winning dissident exile.
What Milosz particularly wanted to know was how so many of his literary and intellectual contemporaries embraced dialectical materialism — the only permitted way of thinking in the ‘imperium of the East’ — when, being intelligent and cultured and sensitive, they ought to have seen it was a nonsense that bore no relation to observed reality.
He came up with a number of explanations, one of which captures perfectly that preening sense of entitlement you found then and still find now among luvvie types. Under communism, Milosz explains, artists prepared to endorse the regime are given enormous privileges and power, while simultaneously being freed from having to engage in the kind of struggle or suffer the insecurity that traditionally besets their profession. This appeals to their amour-propre, and gratifies their instinct that they are far more important than the ‘businessmen, aristocrats and tradespeople’ who have previously looked down on them as effete outsiders.
Milosz was writing in the 1950s about life behind an Iron Curtain now so remote and ill-understood as almost to have been airbrushed from history. (Why else would so many kids today find the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Occupy movement so fresh and exciting?) But what may strike you as you read his book is how relevant his insights are to the supposedly liberated culture we now inhabit.
Read the rest at the Spectator.
Check out these arses. Not just any old arses, either, but proper, educated Cambridge University arses. On a miserable, cold day in which I have been laid low with man flu, these pert buttocks have restored my faith in the future of Britain. (Especially – though I do not wish to prejudice your voting – the splendid pair belonging to Katie from Sidney Sussex.)
Can naked bottoms really be that socio-politically significant? Oh very much so, I’d say. Especially to anyone who has just read the quite monumentally depressing cover story from this week’s Spectator by Brendan O’Neill. His argument is that political correctness has become so heavily entrenched in academe that our seats of learning are in serious danger of abandoning perhaps their most important function: opening up developing minds to new ideas and experiences.
If your go-to image of a student is someone who’s free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind’s picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation.
This was certainly the impression I got the other day from the mostly university-age audience on that car-crash BBC debate programme Free Speech. What struck me forcibly was that these young people had given up on the ability to “think” in any useful or meaningful way. Not only did they lack the core knowledge base (history, current affairs) which might have informed their identikit, off-the-shelf opinions.
But they all appeared reluctant to offer any view that wasn’t “safe” – ie one that hadn’t been extensively pre-validated by the groupthink herd. No one, for example, was prepared to question the premise that Muslims were blameless victims of “Islamophobia” nor that Britain, nay the world, is currently in the grip of something called “rape culture.”
Brendan O’Neill, who speaks on university campuses more often than I do, has noticed similar problems.
I’ve been jeered at by students at the University of Cork for criticising gay marriage; cornered and branded a ‘denier’ by students at University College London for suggesting industrial development in Africa should take precedence over combating climate change; lambasted by students at Cambridge (again) for saying it’s bad to boycott Israeli goods. In each case, it wasn’t the fact the students disagreed with me that I found alarming — disagreement is great! — it was that they were so plainly shocked that I could have uttered such things, that I had failed to conform to what they assume to be right, that I had sought to contaminate their campuses and their fragile grey matter with offensive ideas.
Where once students might have allowed their eyes and ears to be bombarded by everything from risqué political propaganda to raunchy rock, now they insulate themselves from anything that might dent their self-esteem and, crime of crimes, make them feel ‘uncomfortable’. Student groups insist that online articles should have ‘trigger warnings’ in case their subject matter might cause offence. The ‘no platform’ policy of various student unions is forever being expanded to keep off campus pretty much anyone whose views don’t chime perfectly with the prevailing groupthink.
Where once it was only far-right rabble-rousers who were no-platformed, now everyone from Zionists to feminists who hold the wrong opinions on transgender issues to ‘rape deniers’ (anyone who questions the idea that modern Britain is in the grip of a ‘rape culture’) has found themselves shunned from the uni-sphere. My Oxford experience suggests pro-life societies could be next. In September the students’ union at Dundee banned the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from the freshers’ fair on the basis that its campaign material is ‘highly offensive’.
This is what is so great about those Cambridge arse photos. Yes, it’s quite true: one of the reasons I chose to write about them is because I wanted to run a photograph of Katie from Sidney Sussex’s bottom and this seemed like a half-way decent excuse.
But it’s also true that I believe that news features like this, run in Britain’s most popular online student newspaper The Tab, may be all that stands between today’s student generation and the eradication of the Western intellectual tradition by the kill-joy forces of cultural Marxism.
Read the rest at Breitbart London
- Twitter wars: another proxy battleground for the future of Western civilisation
- How pathetically useless of Cambridge Union to ban Michael Savage
- Leo DiCaprio wages war on Western Civilisation
- Why I’m getting my PhD from the ‘University’ of Manitoba
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Do you care as little as I do about the paucity of Asian players at high levels in English football?
I care about this issue even less than I care about what happens to my nose hairs after I’ve trimmed them and sent them down the plughole; even less than I care about the family relations of the slugs in my strawberry patch; even less than I care about what the temperature is going to be in Bogota at 3am next Tuesday.
Why do I care so little that there hardly any Asians – none, really – at high levels in English football? Because it doesn’t matter a damn, is why. No more am I bothered by it than I am by, say, the absence of white women in sumo wrestling, or the domination of Mah Jong by Chinese, or the woeful lack West Indians on the professional darts circuit.
For any number of cultural, historical and social reasons, certain sports just happen to attract particular racial groups. No one is being “discriminated” against. (No one’s stopping white people competing against East Africans in long distance running; or Nigerians from competing against Orientals at ping-pong). It’s simply a question of people making choices, based on tradition and culture and differing physical characteristics, as people are wont to do in a free society. What it definitely is not is any kind of problem.
Unless, of course, you’re former BBC Director General Greg Dyke who took over last year as chairman of the Football Association and appears to be on a holy mission to make it as politically correct as he did the BBC. At the BBC he once infamously complained that the organisation was “hideously white” and set about enforcing quota systems for black and ethnic minorities. Now he is trying to do the same for English football by launching a recruitment drive for Asian talent.
Read more at Breitbart London