Greek, Latin; Homer, Ovid, Cicero, Aristophanes; Anabasis, The Aeneid; The Iliad…
If there was one area of learning guaranteed never to be hijacked by the forces of ignorance, political correctness, identity politics, social justice and dumbing down, you might have thought, it would be Classics.
But you’d be wrong, unfortunately, as we learn from a distressing piece in Quillette titled: How I Was Kicked Out of the Society of Classical Studies Annual General Meeting.
Mary Frances Williams, an independent scholar from California, with a Classics PhD from University of Austin, Texas, who decided to attend the 150th anniversary AGM of the Society of Classical Studies (formerly the American Philological Association) in San Diego.
Williams went for the San Diego weather, the chance to see the USS Midway, the intellectual stimulation and, she hoped, the opportunity of making a contribution to the debate on the future of Classics.
She left accused of “racism”, her professional reputation in tatters, and subsequently lost her editing job at the Association of Ancient Historians.
But the BBC has decided the era of the middle-aged male presenter is over, which is why the only thing I can bear to watch is Bondi Rescue.
All the good non-fiction things that were ever on TV — from Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth(the bits where he’s not proselytising about climate doom, I mean), from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s arty jaunts to Italy to Jonathan Meades’s bizarro forays into architecture, from The World at War to all those more recent war porn documentaries narrated by Sam West, from Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs To Fly to Louis Theroux doing a number on Jimmy Savile — have one thing in common: they were all made by middle-aged men.
Middle-aged men are the business. They’re comfortable in their skin; they’ve got hinterland and character; they’ve put in the hard yards and the long hours getting to know their stuff in that obsessive way only men really do; they’ve replaced the glibness and flashiness and irritating bumptiousness of youth with sly wit and bruised wisdom; they’ve mastered their craft, they know their shit — and now they’re giving the rest of us the benefit of their expertise, as middle-aged men have been doing since time immemorial.
Student activists at Manchester University have defaced a large-scale copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” in their Student Union building and replaced it with a poem by Maya Angelou. Kipling, they claim, is ‘racist’.
Not so long ago, this would have been called by its proper name: vandalism. And the student activists would have been appropriately disciplined.
Today, in pretty much every news report I’ve read on the subject, the students just get free, largely uncritical publicity for their toxic identity politics virtue-signalling.
On Facebook, Liberation and Access Officer at the University of Manchester Students Union Sara Khan, wrote: “A failure to consult students during the process of adding art to the newly renovated SU building resulted in Rudyard Kipling’s work being painted on the first floor last week.
“We, as an exec team, believe that Kipling stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights – the things that we, as an SU, stand for. “Well-known as author of the racist poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’, and a plethora of other work that sought to legitimate the British Empire’s presence in India and de-humanise people of colour, it is deeply inappropriate to promote the work of Kipling in our SU, which is named after prominent South African anti-Apartheid activist, Steve Biko.”
Fatima Abid, the general secretary of Manchester’s SU, added on Twitter: “Today, as a team we removed an imperialist’s work from the walls of our union and replaced them with the words of Maya Angelou- God knows black and brown voices have been written out of history enough, and it’s time we try to reverse that, at the very least in our union.”
A tiny bunch of left-wing loons with no lives, shrivelled penises, and the collective IQ of a pickled herring is trying to ban a screening of the classic 60s movie Zulu at an armed forces fund-raising event in Kent.
Before I go on can I absolutely stress that while it has been widely reported – e.g. here and here – this is NOT a news story? The only reason I am writing about it is because it’s an excuse to say what a marvellous film Zulu is: one of those character-building experiences that every boy should have on his route to manhood.
It teaches the important virtue of keeping a stiff upper lip even as your small, thinly-manned outpost is surrounded by Zulus – farsands of ’em – and you are in grave danger of being disembowelled by one of their fearsome assegais. You learn that if you keep your head, suppress your urge to flee and stand with your comrades you may yet prevail, just like the 150 or so British and colonial troops did at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 when they successfully held out against a vastly superior of perhaps 3,000 Zulus whose spears were still bloody from the 1,300 imperial troops they’d helped slaughter the day before at Isandlwana.
It’s also the film where Michael Caine really established himself as one of the greats, playing against type as an upper class English officer (Lt Gonville Bromhead). Plus Stanley Baker and sundry other fine actors are in it. It has a fine score by John Barry. And the Zulu king Cetshwayo is famously played by his great grandson chief Buthelezi.
If you want more on why Zulu is so wonderful, here’s a piece I wrote on the subject earlier this year.
This story — involving some inspired detective work from Twitter’s resident crazed genius threadmeister Thomas Wictor — is probably the best thing you’ll find anywhere on the internet all day.
The reason it’s so deliciously satisfying is that it’s one of those rare moments when the regressive left is caught red-handed engaging in one of its favorite tricks: lying through its teeth in order to make conservatives look bad.
In this case, the conservative being victimized is Candace Owens.
And the victimizer — posing as just a concerned ordinary member of the public — is a liberal activist who works for none other than George Soros.
Owens’s initial tweet, as you’ll see, was provocative and undoubtedly designed to annoy liberals. Had they responded in kind that would have been entirely legit.
If you haven’t already, you absolutely must watch the encounter between SJW media maven Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News and free-speech-defending Canadian academic Jordan Peterson.
“I don’t think I have ever witnessed an interview that is more catastrophic for the interviewer,” says Douglas Murray.
If you loathe the cant, self-righteousness, and stupidity of the regressive left, then you’ll love this train wreck of an interview. It’s the most satisfying piece of poetic justice since the Comet came unstuck in that tunnel in Atlas Shrugged.
But this interview, I believe, is much more than just a conservative “lol and share” moment. I think it marks a pivotal victory in the culture wars — an incident in which the weaknesses of the regressive left have never been more cruelly or damningly exposed. So I want to examine in more detail why.
Gender studies is a fake academic industry populated by charlatans, deranged activists and gullible idiots.
Now, a pair of enterprising hoaxers has proved it scientifically by persuading an academic journal to peer-review and publish their paper claiming that the penis is not really a male genital organ but a social construct.
The paper, published by Cogent Social Sciences – “a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences” – also claims that penises are responsible for causing climate change.
The two hoaxers are Peter Boghossian, a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy department at Portland State University, and James Lindsay, who has a doctorate in math and a background in physics.
They were hoping to emulate probably the most famous academic hoax in recent years: the Sokal Hoax – named after NYU and UCL physics professor Alan Sokal – who in 1996 persuaded an academic journal called Social Text to accept a paper titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.
Sokal’s paper – comprising pages of impressive-sounding but meaningless pseudo-academic jargon – was written in part to demonstrate that humanities journals will publish pretty much anything so long as it sounds like “proper leftist thought;” and partly in order to send up the absurdity of so much post-modernist social science.
So, for this new spoof, Boghossian and Lindsay were careful to throw in lots of signifier phrases to indicate fashionable anti-male bias:
We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.
They also took care to make it completely incomprehensible.
We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.
Some of it was written with the help of the Postmodern Generator – “a website coded in the 1990s by Andrew Bulhak featuring an algorithm, based on NYU physicist Alan Sokal’s method of hoaxing a cultural studies journal called Social Text, that returns a different fake postmodern ‘paper’ every time the page is reloaded.”
This paragraph, for example, looks impressive but is literally meaningless:
Inasmuch as masculinity is essentially performative, so too is the conceptual penis. The penis, in the words of Judith Butler, “can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier within the domain of corporeal legibility” (Butler, 1993). The penis should not be understood as an honest expression of the performer’s intent should it be presented in a performance of masculinity or hypermasculinity. Thus, the isomorphism between the conceptual penis and what’s referred to throughout discursive feminist literature as “toxic hypermasculinity,” is one defined upon a vector of male cultural machismo braggadocio, with the conceptual penis playing the roles of subject, object, and verb of action. The result of this trichotomy of roles is to place hypermasculine men both within and outside of competing discourses whose dynamics, as seen via post-structuralist discourse analysis, enact a systematic interplay of power in which hypermasculine men use the conceptual penis to move themselves from powerless subject positions to powerful ones (confer: Foucault, 1972).
None of it should have survived more than a moment’s scrutiny by serious academics. But it was peer-reviewed by two experts in the field who, after suggesting only a few changes, passed it for publication:
A thing I like to do when I’m bored on Twitter is tweet random pop-cultural references.
Sometimes it will be a line from a movie:
Sometimes it will be a line from one of my favourite albums. Say:
Just someone to keep my house clean, fix my meals and go away.
I’m glad that you’re older than me. It makes me feel important and free.
Usually, when people get the reference, they’ll tweet me the answer. It’s a symbiotic pleasure: they get the satisfaction of having won my impromptu pop quiz; I get the joy of knowing that I’m not alone – that there are other people out there who share at least some of my cultural heritage, who may even once have skinned up on the same gatefold album sleeve as they listened to Country Girl or Almost Cut My Hair…
But it doesn’t work with everything, as I discovered last night when I tweeted the line:
Pictures of dogs having sex.
…and suddenly found myself in the midst of a confected hate storm, orchestrated by some of the vilest SJW types on Twitter.
It’s the punchline to a hilarious sketch on a British-made comedy show I hadn’t seen before called Bad Robots. Though I thought it was new when I watched it on Comedy Central last night, I’ve subsequently realised I’m way behind the times and that actually the first series came out in the UK on E4 in 2014.
Anyway, it’s worth catching, even belatedly, because it’s very, very funny.
It’s a hidden camera show in which unwitting members of the public are embarrassed by carefully staged practical jokes. In this case, the devices used to fool them are bits of electronic equipment, which they are led to believe are voice activated.
So, in one sketch, what claims to be a machine that can recharge your phone in one minute is positioned on a pier at a tourist resort. Once the unsuspecting members of the public have put their phones in the charging box, the box locks and a voice informs them that they must back up all their data because the process will erase everything on their phone. As they wrestle frantically to retrieve their phone, the computer warns them that there has been a malfunction and smoke appears from the box holding their phones.
In another, a couple of innocents enter what they are led to believe is an automatic sun tanning booth. They tell the machine they want the lightest tan, but the machine informs them that they have requested the blackest tone — “dark ebony” — and as they strive unsuccessfully to escape from the dark spray spurting on their bodies, the computer’s voice helpfully advises them that the tan will last four months.
Well, I laughed, anyway. A lot.
But for me, the funniest one of all was the one in which a respectable looking old-ish man goes shopping with his wife in a garden store. A giant machine in the middle of the store asks him to say aloud which department he is looking for. “Water features.” he says into the machine. The machine asks him to repeat himself. “WATER FEATURES,” he says. The computerised voice has apparently misheard him. It announces: “You requested: PICTURES OF DOGS HAVING SEX. PICTURES OF DOGS HAVING SEX. YOU WANTED TO SEE PICTURES OF DOGS HAVING SEX!!!” Naturally, the mortified customer blushes furiously as everyone else in the shop looks to see who it is who has asked a machine to show him “Pictures of dogs having sex.”
It was so funny I just had to tweet it, right there and then.
Did you hear about theMuslim security guard called Zouheir at the Stade de France in Paris who, like, singlehandedly foiled what would have been the worst terrorist incident of Friday night?
Of course you did!
Perhaps you even felt as strongly as the Tweeter below did that it was so important the story deserved to go viral. As indeed it duly did. Among those who eagerly repeated it was that much-loved disseminator of truth, Piers Morgan, in a Mail on Sunday piece which since mysteriously appears to have been taken down.
Why did it go viral? Because, as we know, quite the most important thing after any new terrorist atrocity committed by the Religion of Peace is for all right thinking people — renowned anti-gun campaigner and human rights crusader Piers Morgan, for example — to demonstrate how totally and utterly “nothing to do with Islam” they know the incident to have been.
Hence, for example, the #illridewithyou hashtag which emerged in 2014 when a deranged Islamist murdered two hostages in a Sydney cafe. Never mind the dead (cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson): the real victims of the incident, as all sensitive people understood, were all those Muslims in Australia who might now feel they were being given funny looks and somehow held responsible for this inexplicable act by one of their co-religionists which, of course, had “nothing to do with Islam”™.