Yesterday Jane Kelly in a brilliantly observed article on TCW described the culture of mass accommodation that’s overtaken us. She showed how, and where, the demand for inclusiveness is increasingly trumping knowledge.
It was a relief to read it and know that I was not alone in feeling that in our upside-down world, enlightenment and objectivity are the losers. Last week was particularly discombobulating. From the Royal Wedding onwards, truth and objective fact seemed in particularly short supply, not least in the mainstream media.
Reporters at the wedding hyperventilated over an institution that couldn’t have been more devalued in recent decades, gushing – not too strong a word – over the beautifully staged and managed charade that indeed it was. From the divorced Meghan walking up the aisle in virginal white, sans father, sans family, sans all but mother, to the American bishop who preached not Christianity but a modern paganism, blind indifference to cognitive dissonance was the order of the day.
How long it will be before the reported £32million spent to mark the end of the second Elizabethan age is rubbed in new as well as old royal faces is anyone’s guess. How long will it take the once-sycophantic media to drag the newly-wed royal virtue-signallers off their pedestal? That’s the price of of the rise of subjectivism.
Monday brought emoting of a different sort with the start of the Grenfell Tower inquiry. Top of the news. Every bereaved family would have an opportunity to pay tribute to their loved ones, we learned. For nine days. The new State-approved, if not compulsory, method of remembrance on full display. Sir Martin Moore-Bick can never have run an inquiry like this before. My heart went out to him. Instead of pursuing the grim truth he has been bullied into accommodating sentiment to placate anger. Needless to say it won’t. He seems barred from saying this is no way to pursue proper justice, and that anger, emotion, victimhood is misdirected and risks the worst outcome. Amanda Platell pointed out yesterday that the inquiry into the 1966 Aberfan disaster, when a landslide of colliery waste engulfed a primary school and claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults, concentrated on the causes of the slippage.
She wrote: ‘A degree of solace for the distraught [Grenfell] families will ultimately come not from public grieving but from knowing why their loved ones died unnecessarily and who is to blame.’
She is right.
The BBC, the public face of our new subjective ‘I feel, therefore I am’ culture, pulled out all the stops. Sad though it was, Today did not need to add its tribute to the baby who was stillborn after the fire that the inquiry in full emote mode opened with. Who would dare ‘misspeak’ by criticising this? In this way criticism is silenced before it is even voiced.
Emoting segues all too easily into agitprop and incitement. That is the dangers of ‘my feelings count’-land. Before the programme had come to an end Diane Abbott was given her opportunity to lay the blame for the blaze at the door of institutional racism. The inquiry had barely begun.
If Monday left me with an unpleasant taste in my mouth, worse was to come on Tuesday. The anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing provided another non-stop media-driven emote and sentimentality carnival. No stones were left unturned, no candle unlit. The Prime Minister and Prince William were leading actors in the performance. Where was the anger, asked Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill. Nowhere when it came to terrorist carnage, not even anger at MI5 or the local authority this time. It featured absolutely nowhere in Nick Robinson’s sickly interviewing round of grateful-to-be-alive survivors. I am sure they are. But to suggest, as they almost did, that the carnage was a necessary sacrifice to teach us to appreciate each day of life more, was a descent into the realms of madness. When did we begin thanking killers?
Instead of the BBC’s dedicating the Today programme that morning to an examination of where we are with the terrorist threat a year on, or conducting a forensic analysis of Lord Kerslake’s report on the holding back of the firemen, and the culture that has paralysed them, we got candles and teddy bears and goo. It was a prime example of the institutionalised misappropriation of others’ grief, as explained here by Mark Steyn.
What I wanted to know – and what we all deserve to know – was what are the chances that another Manchester attack could happen? What will it take for MI5 to stop missing clues, as it did with the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi and the Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan? Fat chance when fact comes second to feeling.
Finally in this troubling week we had David Lammy’s incontinent attack on Oxford University’s considerable progress in achieving the ‘diversity’ representation demanded of it. In the face of quite categorical evidence to the contrary – Oxford has bent over backwards to find every possible eligible black child – Mr Lammy still declares Oxford to be in a state of social apartheid.
On Thursday Today (which I keep on only to monitor its next distortion of the truth) first gave Mr Lammy free rein and an eternal podcast to boot. No such treatment for the rather impressive Oxford Professor in charge of diversity compliance admission, Samina Khan, who gave a clear account of the figures. She was just harangued and bullied by the no longer sentimental Nick Robinson.
When did opinion become sacred? At what point did Left-liberal group-think become the only opinion allowed? These were the questions I was asking this week when I came across a brilliant lecture by Melanie Phillips.
She traces the abandonment of fact in favour of opinion back to the advent of post-modernism in the 1960s and 1970s. You can watch it here.
Truly a week to forget.