Why are many university students these days so opposed to freedom of speech? Why are authoritative speakers as diverse as David Starkey and Germaine Greer being perceived as intellectual pariahs? What has convinced so many that the best argument against the views of Donald Trump is to refuse him access to the UK, to stop him speaking? Why has the ‘gag’ become the new argument of choice on our campuses?
For a society that has defined itself, to a large extent, in terms of freedom of expression these are questions that needs answers; not least because the current curtailment of free speech is selective. It has not been applied, for example, to the likes of Moazzam Begg. He is the leader of CAGE, an organisation that aims “to highlight and campaign against state policies developed as part of the War on Terror”.This includes describing Jihadi John as, more or less, a ‘right on’ nice bloke – “a beautiful young man”who is “extremely kind, gentle and soft-spoken, the most humble young person I knew.”
“What you sow, you reap.” This is as true of education as it of much else in our society. For many years, now, schools have been promoting empathy for those whom the educational establishment, the ‘Blob’, consider to the ‘oppressed’. This is quite a large group: slaves, gays, women, workers, immigrants, subjects of empire, trans-sexuals, religious minorities and so on. On the whole, of course, empathy for our fellow human beings is a good thing. It only becomes a bad thing when it is leads to a distortion of truth, demonises that majority of us who make fewer claims to victimhood and when it restricts free speech.
The presentation of ‘slavery’ is illustrative. In school history lessons, it is seen fairly exclusively in terms of whites enslaving blacks via the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Barbary coast and the Turkish trade in white slaves rarely get a look in. The arrival of Africans off the coast of Cornwall to enslave the locals does not quite fit the required PC picture. Children are rarely taught that enslavement of others is a vile characteristic of human behavior, regardless of racial background, and that it has afflicted all racial groups. Instead, too often, they are taught that slavery is all about the sins of white people. For this, white children are encouraged to feel guilty and black children, in particular, a sense of victimhood.
In fact, the majority of slaves through history have not been black. In the 1860s, for example, as most pupils are taught, 4 million black slaves were emancipated in the USA. Around the same time, however, 23 million Russian ‘slaves’ in the form of serfs were, also, emancipated. This complementary narrative – part of the story of white slavery – is too often over looked in the classroom.
Russian serfdom, it is true, was, in legal terms, a different form of slavery to that operating in the southern US states. Serfs were not, technically, chattels. They were, however, not free to leave the land they worked for their lord without that lord’s permission. In reality, the status and life experience of the US slave and the Russian serf were not so different.
White slavery was the foundation stone of the Russia depicted in Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace currently being serialised by the BBC. Such a glamorous depiction of the ruling class in the southern states of early 19th century America, however, is unlikely to be hitting our screens any time soon. Such a notion would be blown away by the wind of political correctness! Do not expect a re-filming of “12 years a slave” to tell the Russian version.
The educational burden inflicted by the ‘Blob’ on our children is to present the world through a guilt-inducing mirror of distortion that closes down any worthwhile debate. Never allow the facts to get in the way of the strong PC message. Never allow the whole picture to be seen. Never allow freedom of speech. Such are the underlying roots of the liberal fascism that are growing ever stronger on our university campuses.