What We’ve Been Up To
The Academics Group recently held a discussion on the concept of ‘microaggressions’, which was introduced by Carole Sherwood. The theme had been in the news in the context of the University of Cambridge, where some academics had pushed back against the imposition of guidance and a reporting tool. Among the ideas discussed was whether by policing microaggressions we also limit the opportunity for ‘microkindnesses’.
Don’t Divide Us supporter Adrian Hart took Brighton and Hove City Council to task around the motion that lead to it declaring itself an ‘anti-racist council’, reports Brighton and Hove News. He told the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee that critical race theory – which informed the original motion – created confusion, distress and division instead of fostering good relations. Instead, he argued for a secular universalist approach, and for teaching children ‘how to think rather than what to think’.
Meanwhile, for reasons which will be all-too-evident, we have been forced to change the date of the screening of Martin Durkin’s The Great American Race Game from Thursday 1st July to Wednesday 11th August, 7pm. If you make the new date, you don’t need to do anything, and your ticket remains valid. And some tickets are still available (see below). We are pleased to announce that, after the screening, Martin will be interviewed by architecture critic and former parliamentary candidate Ike Ijeh.
The American Psychoanalytic Association appears to have lost its collective brain. That, or all those rumours about Martin Bormann having escaped to America were true. “Having whiteness”, a paper in its journal cited by the Daily Mail claims, “is voracious, insatiable, and perverse, with no permanent cure”. Apparently, “whiteness is a malignant, parasitic-like condition”. Well, we all know where that line of thinking leads.
As the row about the real significance of “taking the knee” continues to rage, an article in The Times points out that performative symbols may do more harm than good and that “[a] paper by Stanford University researchers found that those who publicly proclaim their anti-racist credentials are more likely to behave in a racist way”. Maybe we should send the research from Stanford to Dr Donald Moss, author of the claptrap about parasitic whiteness?
It is good news that Mr Justice Choudhury has overturned the previous ruling in the Maya Forstater case and has found “that gender-critical beliefs are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.” That comes as a relief to many millions of people who believe the same thing, especially those who found themselves struggling with re-writing the whole canon of English Literature to accommodate the view that it was all just a social construct. “Dead and never called me a birthing person!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, however maybe Mrs Henry Wood could be repurposed as an early example of cross-gender? It wouldn’t be true, but who bothers about that nowadays?
This decision may have gone down particularly badly at Oxfam which is pursuing a full-on agenda of blaming white women with guidance that states, amongst other things, that “Mainstream feminism centres on privileged white women and demands that ‘bad men’ be fired or imprisoned”. It is not clear whether white women are required to lie back and think of England or whether Oxfam, believes that the men involved are not ‘bad’ is unclear.
A coterie of Oxford dons is refusing to teach Oriel students as the college has refused to take down the statue of Cecil Rhodes. Whilst punishing students is a strange way of demonstrating what tolerant and inclusive values you hold, there are a few who have additionally demonstrated how hypocritical they are as they draw part of their pelf from other sources of ill-gotten gains. Normally, those who withdraw their services don’t get paid for them, but this is Oxford where privilege has not been abandoned, but merely shuffled in a new direction.
According to material seen by the Telegraph, the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has produced curriculum guidance that children aged 8-11 should be introduced to the ‘key concept’ of white privilege, and a glossary of key ideas including that of ‘microaggressions”, which can “reinforce white power”. Trying to bring some reality to the situation, the former Bishop of Rochester asks what it means to teach white working-class boys, who are often ‘at the bottom of the pile’, that they are privileged. Over at the Free Speech Union, Toby Young asks what this means when Britain is one of the least racist countries in the world.
Dummy of the week award goes to the North Tyneside council official who has decreed that a display of union flag bunting in the Conservative Group room “risks becoming an overtly political matter in an apolitical venue”. He has also described the flags as ‘inappropriate’. The only apolitical element of this story is the flag!
In an essay, ‘It Is Obscene’, penned in response to attacks on her by people she had supported professionally and who exploited her celebrity, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie exposes much of the hypocrisy of modern culture, particularly around social media. She talks about ‘monomaniacal obsession with whatever is the prevailing ideological orthodoxy’, the tendency to ‘demand that you denounce your friends for flimsy reasons’; ‘people who ask you to “educate” yourself while not having actually read any books themselves’ and ‘who have no compassion for anybody genuinely curious or confused’. She concludes ‘we have a generation of young people on social media terrified of having the wrong opinions’. The Guardian offers some background to the essay.
Quote of the week come from the (black) American academic Glenn Loury, speaking with with US political commentator and TV host Tucker Carlson, critiquing the idea that we need to ‘see ourselves’ in culture:
“We still have to make a script for our lives, to fashion a vision for ourselves, to be in the world…. That is a challenge that everybody faces. The reason I can read and be enriched by the great Russian novelists of the nineteenth century is not because I see my life in their narrative, but because their narrative is in the service of this existential challenge that all of us face which is how to grow out from where all of us start into the fullness of our humanity.”
This coming week we have a regular Monday meeting (Monday 21st) at which we will be discussing unconscious bias training at work, and will hear about responses from Brighton & Hove council (see What We’ve Been Up To). Drop us a line if you would like to attend.