ROGER Scruton is not the Messiah. But contrary to the media outrage mob and the government who have rushed to portray him as an unreconstructed bigot who gives respectability to racism (as claimed by that authoritarian arbiter of modern thought, Jonathan Portes) following George Eaton’s New Statesman hit job, he is an awful lot nearer to sanctity than they are.
His reaction – forgiveness, not anger – gives us new insight into the power of Christ to overcome evil with good. Sir Roger is, unsurprisingly, profoundly Christian (albeit somewhat unconventional in some of his beliefs).
Christ was an innocent teacher of truth who willingly submitted himself to the powers of darkness in order to confound and disarm them and emerge victorious. This is also a metaphor for 75-year-old Sir Roger’s own life even before his disgraceful treatment by the New Statesman, into which Friday’s interview by Justin Webb, one of the BBC bullies of the Today programme, offered a glimpse. I am talking about the deep power of good to triumph in unexpected ways over evil by reversing apparent defeat into at least a moral victory.
This is not Sir Roger’s first brush with the forces of the Left. He was slowly but surely hounded out of academia (he became Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College in the 1980s) for openly professing that supreme intellectual heresy: traditionalism. A book he wrote called The Meaning of Conservatism ‘blighted what remained of my academic career’, he later explained in an interview. He was so vilified by his colleagues at Birkbeck and elsewhere that he concluded that a ‘socialist conscience was the one requirement for success in the only spheres where I could aspire to it’.
Scruton, like Christ, despite his intellectual prowess, despite distinguishing himself not only as a critic of the modern Left but also as a constant antagonist of successive Tory governments from Thatcher onward, is an innocent. Like Christ, he is controversial in challenging conventional wisdom. Like Christ, he is very highly regarded by his followers, who are not, in the main, part of the establishment elite.
Christ in his ministry taught openly to all, ultimately allowing himself to be captured by the hostile authorities, not shrinking from the possible consequences. Scruton has also sought to set forth his views to all, including to those who disagreed with him, and so allowed himself to be interrogated by a major organ of Left-wing opinion, careless of the consequences.
After egregious misrepresentation, Scruton suffered the ignominious fate of a Twitter storm and the mob justice of a public execution of character and reputation as described by Laura Perrins here. Those who should have defended him disowned and repudiated him. George Eaton on behalf of all vindictive Leftists gleefully celebrated his victory over the darling of the traditional and thinking Right, just as Satan celebrated his apparent victory over the Son of God. Scruton was dispatched and it looked as if yet again evil had won.
And then came the vindication, as if it were needed. The total proof of his innocence appeared. Those who had celebrated his destruction were confounded and dismayed. Their own reputation in tatters, they stood discredited for their wretched deed, their sin exposed for all to see, their power at least temporarily disarmed. The extraordinarily reasonable and reasoning Scruton had suffered in effect on behalf of all those victimised for their conservative views by the hostile Left-liberal culture. By doing so, and emerging victorious, he exposed the powers that sought to destroy him for a sham and disarmed them.
The big question is whether the analogy will hold. We know with the benefit of hindsight that Christ’s victory and vindication was complete and for all time. Only time will tell how much difference Scruton’s vindication will make in the long term to the standing of conservatives in our culture. The BBC wasted no time in doubling down on the accusations, ignoring the gross misrepresentation of one of our finest philosophers to try to prove guilt after all. Their one-sided coverage continued by inviting hostile journalist Zoe Williams to reinforce the smear, as though any opinions not approved of by Guardian readers must be utterly beyond the pale and deserving of public condemnation.
We have to hope that this will mark the beginning of a sea change in the treatment of conservatives in public life. But as Caroline ffiske noted in TCW yesterday, there is no sign so far of the Conservative Party treating their own better in future.
We can still rejoice this Eastertide however that just as Christ is risen, Sir Roger Scruton is vindicated, his enemies publicly shamed by their appalling conduct and that more attention than ever before will now paid to his words and works.