Do you realise that the UK government is conditioning its citizens to support a war-based foreign policy and is enticing our children into the military? Furthermore, do you know that it is targeting the education system and promoting public support for its war machine?
This pernicious fantasy is being promoted by the Society of Friends (the Quakers), a religious group whose admirable qualities have usually outweighed accusations of fanaticism.
Sadly, self-delusion and conceit now seem to have taken over. As we approach November 11, the pacifist Quakers have decided to go to war. With the backing of other pacifist groups it is promoting an anti-Remembrance film, War School. The Quaker website announces:
Timed to coincide with the centenary of the end of World War I, War School tells the story of another battle. This one for the hearts and minds of Britain’s children in an increasingly militarised society . . . War School records the efforts of Quakers in Britain, ForcesWatch and Veterans for Peace UK to challenge the government about militarism, particularly in classrooms.
Most of all, the Society of Friends wants us to know that the intention of the film is to ‘challenge the British government’s attempt to entice children into support for war’.
Virtue-signalling has rarely come in a purer form. The voice of Quakerism these days is the voice of self-satisfaction and moral superiority. Disregarding and disrespectful of the sacrifice made by so many of our servicemen and women, it purports to know better. Its tone has become worldly-wise and censorious. Quakers have forgotten the warning of their greatest proponent, John Bunyan. In his Pilgrim’s Progress he warned:
Mr Worldly Wiseman is not an ancient relic of the past. He is everywhere today, disguising his heresy and error by proclaiming the gospel of contentment and peace achieved by self-satisfaction . . .
The Quaker claim that children are being militarised in our schools by a warmongering government is utterly and dangerously delusional. The latest version of the national curriculum for history, of which I was a dissenting author, is about as pacifist as it is possible to be. Not a single military event or military leader from British history is required teaching and, certainly, there is no requirement to teach about the two world wars. The closest to a mention of warfare is on a list of ‘Examples (non-statutory)’ that teachers ‘could include’ in their teaching. These do mention the World Wars but not Nelson, Wellington or the Napoleonic wars.
Most schools are, in reality, likely to include an element of teaching about the World Wars even if some will give higher priority to the suffragettes. In all likelihood, though, they will focus on the horror of war through fake empathy exercises on conditions in the trenches in World War I or living though the Blitz in World War II. Having taught history in schools for 35 years I have noticed amongst history teachers much less interest in political and military events. Do not expect pupils to be too clued-up on the military significance of the 1918 Ludendorff Offensive or the Battle of Amiens. As for the significance of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk – forget it!
In 1995 the Conservative government sent to every school in the country a 40-minute video to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day. It allocated 14 seconds to Winston Churchill to inform children that he lost the 1945 general election. What children were told in no uncertain terms, though, was that the war was ‘sexist’.
In those days the World Wars were at least a prescribed part of the National Curriculum. Mrs Thatcher had been appalled at the exclusion of the World War I from the first version of the document in the late 1980s. I well recall a conversation with her one evening which resulted in myself and a colleague being ordered to Downing Street the next morning to sort out the mess. Needless to say, we inserted World War I. She was a prime minister who was not prepared to preside over a country which did not teach its young people about the enormous sacrifice of previous generations.
The teaching profession has moved decisively to the Left since those days. Before the last general election only 8 per cent of teachers and 15 per cent of pupils expressed support for the Tories, according to Tes, formerly the Times Educational Supplement. Pacifist Jeremy Corbyn is overwhelmingly popular in schools.
Militarisation in the classroom? The Quakers’ ignorance is breathtaking! Yes, there is an issue in our schools with regard to the military. Children are insufficiently aware of the debt they owe to them and continue to owe. As Lord Tebbit has pointed out:
Lest we forget has become ‘lest we remember’.