Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Kathy’s TCW week in review


MY EASTER Week began with Mel Gibson’s masterpiece The Passion of the Christ (made 20 years ago) which I started watching on Mark Steyn’s recommendation. You can read Mark’s review of it here. Gibson’s portrayal of Jesus, the Redeemer who died violently for our sins, is not for the faint-hearted and perhaps not to everyone’s taste. I found the brutal depiction of Christ’s suffering so unbearable I had to stop watching about halfway through. But it stayed with me, the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation, all week. I will face the second half this weekend. 

It left me thinking about the modern parallel – ‘deplatforming’ and ‘cancellation’ and how effective it is in repressing truth, and how few there are today who have the strength to withstand it to defy deceit and lies, let alone sacrifice themselves. And finally how those few who do are mainly men, not women, and what a problem modern women and feminism has proved to be. Laura’s sending me a Times article prompted this last thought. The strapline read ‘Education and a more feminised culture are causing female voters aged 18 to 29 to identify as liberal, while male resentment pushes them to conservative views’. ‘Predictable’, I emailed her, ‘as men become ever more marginalised and emasculated? Women are the problem! Who can blame the men?’ ‘Yes’, she winged back, ‘the piece says that. It is good to see some push back from them. It’s a wonder how any of them would be liberal. The numbers in the US are crazy – 30 per cent of American women aged 25-44 have no children (and) overwhelmingly vote Democrat. However, as the liberal childless women all run the HR departments they will have problems.’  

They will. The problem with feminised women is not just their childlessness but their woke conformism. Dim Dames and all that.

That’s why my review this week is unashamedly in praise of the men who’ve defied this trend and dared stick their heads above the parapet.

Standing out this week are the band of scientists who’ve refused to buy into the lies and deceit of the climate alarmism Net Zero cult at risk of their careers. Climate the Movie (which we featured all last week on TCW) can hardly be compared with The Passion of the Christ but it did make me think about ‘the one against the many’. I counted fifteen scientists who’ve made this their life mission. All men. It is possible that there are many more sceptics out there, but how many have dedicated their time and energy to publicly exposing the hoax – to, metaphorically, turning over the tables in the temple? Not many more, I’d hazard.

Standing out against ‘the culture’ takes great courage. One man who did just this for the benefit – indeed for the salvation – of a cohort of ‘deprived’ truanting and out-of-hand black boys was Ray Lewis, the founder of Eastside Young Leaders Academy who died, aged 61, on Good Friday. The email I got from his long-time colleague and EYLA co-founder, Anne Collard, shook me up. I met Ray in 2005 and just ‘fell for him’. I wrote about my admiration of him and my limited involvement in his project six years ago in these pages. He had at last received the acknowledgment he deserved. Despite his charismatic personality and his huge organisational skills (making the impossible happen), unlike Katharine Birbalsingh, for example, he just didn’t/couldn’t do PR for himself. So he has never received full credit for his defiance of liberal left culture and education.

You can read some obituary coverage here and a deserved personal tribute by Guto Harri here. 

But they still don’t get quite what he asserted or how he was targeted by the left and one of first victims of cancel culture and its vicious discrediting. He was hated not just because he worked with Boris Johnson as Deputy Mayor of London for a while (until he quit). He was hated for everything about his moral code, which was anathema to the state feminised left. He stood for everything the left deplored – family, marriage, faith, commitment, tradition, responsibility, hard work, self-discipline. And he showed, indeed proved, that it was his ‘boot camp’ methods – instilling a sense of manhood, a work ethic, self-discipline and sense of male responsibility – that worked with the most difficult and intransigent of boys. 

I first visited his highly structured after-school and Saturday programme in a former primary school building in Newham when the Centre for Policy Studies sent me there to get his philosophy and success story out of him. We clicked from the start. He made me laugh. I made him tell me his story. There was no ‘messing’ for parents or children. They were under contract. He would castigate both alike. Breaking rules had consequences. Called on to troubleshoot in schools where truancy had taken over, he’d send out teams to round up the parents into school where they got both barrels on their neglect. He took no prisoners with the children either. And they adored and respected him. I saw. He and his black male mentors and teachers were the fathers they didn’t have. 

I wrote up his methods with him in a pamphlet, From Latchkey to Leadership, as a blueprint. It followed several visits to meet him and see his charges in action at school or performing at the big events he put on, whether in the huge auditorium in the Canary Wharf HQ of a big bank, a Methodist church or the Millbank Media Centre. All were packed with the eager East End community that Ray had invigorated. Lights down and marching music up, and stepping in time they came in, the oldest around 12, the youngest six or seven, in the EYLA uniform of trousers, blazers, white shirts and ties. Trained to declaim and recite by heart in spoken English better than many private school pupils, these standards imbuing them confidence.

With their first cohort of boys reaching 13 and 14, Ray and Anne initiated a public school scholarship programme with Rugby, educating selected boys for Common Entrance. Against all expectations it worked and expanded to other schools, thanks to their personal support for the boys and their families. At the EYLA tenth anniversary at City Hall, a 16-year-old alumnus, by then at Rugby, entirely eclipsed Boris Johnson with the brilliance of his speech.

Of course the Tories could not wait to ‘own’ this project and Ray himself, first Cameron and then Johnson. The tragedy is that they were too selfish and irresponsible themselves to get the fact that it was their own lax liberal culture that was these kids’ undoing and society’s undoing. They couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the lesson for policy generally whether on marriage, drugs or concomitant child neglect – a veiled disaster for the moneyed middle classes but an overt one for anyone at the bottom of the social heap.  

As with contemporary climate culture, the Tory political class have never defied the feminist left orthodoxies or stood for the male moral code that was the foundation of Ray’s academy. When the left turned on him and did all they could to discredit him, the Conservatives were as Peter was to Jesus. They were not prepared to fully stand by the one true conservative (and far better man than they) in their ranks. 

Perhaps that in the long run will be Ray’s epitaph: a truth-teller who in the end stood alone. May he rest in peace and be rewarded in heaven.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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