The Sunday Telegraph
The modern culture war runs far too deep to ignore
There is a view, which occasionally gets an airing, that the current culture wars are a big fuss over nothing. This idea, which tends to be expressed by heads who would wish to be wise, claims that it will all go away soon. It often goes on to say that all this is nothing new and that we have seen it all before. Like Frank Drebin of Police Squad! such people stand in front of a burning fireworks factory, shouting “Nothing to see here”, and urging the public to disperse.
But just look at the fireworks in the last week alone. In fact, take just one part of life in the last week: sport. At the start of the week the issue of whether young Ollie Robinson should be suspended for a set of decade-old tweets ripped through cricket. Solemn faces talked about appropriate penalties and much more. Then, amazingly, most of the England cricket team turned out to have also made off-colour jokes in the past. If this was to be the new standard for eligibility for the 1st XI then England was soon going to have to put up a squad of pre-pubescents, before firing them in turn.
Football, meanwhile, was rocked again by its overpaid players meeting their overpaying fans. The players started to take the knee and the terraces started erupting. Soon the England manager was writing a long, earnest and off-point letter to the fans trying to make them modify their behaviour. The showdown is likely to rear its head again today when England play Croatia.
So in one week, two of our national sides were rocked by culture wars controversies. And you could see the same if you looked at almost any other area of our national life. Much attention has been paid lately to various lunacies at the increasingly badly run Cambridge university. But this week it was Oxford that started displaying the signs of the times. A fair amount of attention was paid to the decision of Magdalen College’s Middle Common Room to remove a picture of the Queen due to her alleged links with Colonialism.
It also emerged that 150 Oxford academics have said that they will refuse to teach students at Oriel College because the statue of a benefactor, Cecil Rhodes, has not been removed. If I were applying to Oxford now I would take a long look at the list of names and make sure to avoid those tutors at all costs. Could anything be less in the spirit of pedagogy than to charge students thousands of pounds to attend a university that is barely open, only to then boycott teaching because of a statue on one of the college buildings?
In sector after sector the same phenomena can be found. And yet that is not why the people who poohpooh the culture wars are wrong. That is simply a question of volume. The thing that proves them wrong is that the issues in this war are so very deep-seated in a way that makes our current convulsions different from anything that came before.
The current culture war is raging because what the farLeftists who initiated it want to do is all but impossible. They want to “decolonise” our society. Which means to strip away anything connected with a long period of British history, including our reigning monarch. They want to make all white people feel guilty and feel ashamed of their skin colour. In a white majority country. They want to turn respect for the individual into respect dependent on the individual’s sex or ethnic background.
They want to trash everything in our history, and make every element of life, from sport to academia, gardening to politics, submit to the same ideological agenda. In this sense, it is more like the theological ruptures of old than the political debates of the recent past.
It is not surprising that this causes unhappiness. It is practically designed to do so. For it comes from people who want to punish our society. You may say that they should be ignored, but they cannot be. The noise they make is too severe and the claims they make are too obnoxious to go unopposed.
It might well be sensible to wish to duck the conflict. But that doesn’t make the explosions going off all around us, and beneath us, any less real.