By Richard Dickenson
I am intrinsically anti-confrontational. I got that way after a youth and adolescence that contained more than enough violence both in uniform and out of it. Nowadays, unless there are reasons a sane person cannot deny or ignore, I’d rather walk round antagonists than use up valuable energy confronting one. The current atmosphere of double-think, group-speak, misguided lies and malicious spite is straining that concept to the limit.
Years ago I loved the comment that explained everything about why Sir Humphrey, the Parliamentary Secretary to Jim Hacker in Yes, Minister, lived, breathed, thought and acted as he did. Roughly quoted, his killer line was to the effect that ‘We must protect our universities, both of them.’ For the first three quarters of my thinking life I was of a similar opinion.
Not any more.
For our universities have become hotbeds of something worse by far than booze, drugs, hot air and communism. They are all ‘woke’ to a degree that goes far beyond the understandable and appropriate display of typical and eternal student bullshit. They have become supporters of not merely silly claptrap but of a belief in the pseudo-fascism of the woke generation of short-sighted, chopsy drivel that considers only itself competent to select and insist upon who even has the right to speak. This erodes the very foundation of human rights principles.
Just one example has been the adoption of dramatically silly gestures like footballers kneeling down on the grass with arm raised to emulate the Roman ‘We who are about to die’ salute. All this after an unfortunate looking black gent was shot by police.
There is another sequel to this kneel down gesture. A very important soccer match is, they tell me, shortly to be played in a nice new stadium in Qatar though there are fundamental questions left unanswered as to exactly how this unlikely venue was selected. Cypriot skullduggery is outclassed, one hears. Now Qatar is a place where migrant workers can have their passports seized in order to get a job. Many are underpaid while they live in shocking accommodation and where they have no human rights to speak of. Far too many of these unlucky souls are reported to have died during the construction of the huge new stadium. Of course a UK soccer team should make a stand against this state of affairs. To agree to play there in next year’s World Cup should be ranked as little short of felonious. To refuse to play there would be a far more powerful statement than just kneeling down on the grass. In fact, I wonder whether, if they get to play there, the English team will have the duplicity to kneel down on the field in Doha. I don’t believe I could hustle up the chutzpah to kneel to ‘Black Lives Matter’ while knowing they was doing so in the very stadium that saw numerous foreign labourers’ deaths.
Closer to home however is the thing that bugs me most. How dare these vociferous kids try to silence our ‘no-platform’ intelligent and educated scientists and thinkers. Or they want to smash the statues of alleged slavers-of-the-past, of right wing politicians, or of more or less anyone whose views did not or do not comply with their own.
Britons’ forebears fought long and hard to win the justly famed British freedoms of speech, religion and the basic human rights. Blair and Cameron and his like scrapped all that with scarce a thought for the long term and non-political consequences of what they were doing.
Between them the kneelers and the ‘wokers’ are struggling to re-write history and to redefine human freedoms.
Doubtless they will eventually seek to cancel God himself.
Now that would be a contest, wouldn’t it?