Cancelling history: Red Guards and philistines are running riot across the Western world – The Times of India Blog

Posted: July 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm


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Western societies seem bent on committing suicide. The best lack all conviction, wrote WB Yeats, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. With no moral core to hold them together, societies are falling apart. The cancel culture virus originated in the US, is already firmly implanted in the UK and strains have been found in Australia. Its highly infectious, has no known vaccine or cure and is extremely lethal to the careers of actors, athletes, authors, celebrities, comedians, commentators, editors, journalists and professors. In the drive to cancel history, statues of perceived racists and slave traders Mahatma Gandhi (in Ghana, Washington, London), Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes and even sons of slave traders are toppled and vandalised. But Rhodes scholars are reluctant to renounce their scholarship and the role of Africans and Arabs in the slave trade seems curiously neglected. Literary, childrens, movie and TV classics are given the chop.

Like its close chronological cousin the Wuhan virus, initially its main targets were the elderly with mental comorbidities, but now its also infecting the young. The main carriers of the virus are, in the words of Free Speech Union founder Toby Young, offence archaeologists: people who trawl through past pronouncements hunting any objectionable phrase and mobilise an online posse that swarms into action to shame cowering victims and have them fired. Truth is secondary to narrative, facts to feelings and biology to ideology. Innocent kids subjected to massive amounts of harassment because theyve been incorrectly identified are just roadkill on the moral highway of vicious teenage bullies.Theres been a fierce backlash to a Washington Post story about warmed over vindictive behaviour bytwo women of colour, whose 54-year-old Caucasian target was fired from her job.

During my college years in Kolkata, I fell in love with the beauty, solitude and serenity of Victoria Memorial. Should that symbol of the Raj be destroyed? In an article for the International Herald Tribune, I condemned Talibans destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues. A comparable act of vandalism would be to destroy the Taj Mahal. Taliban are owed an apology. Far from atavistic, they were decades ahead of their time in cancelling history. Universities were once bastions of critical inquiry. Operating behind impregnable ramparts of intellectual freedom, they interrogated every kernel of religious dogma. Todays campuses are hotbeds of enforced right-think. In the name of tolerance and enlightenment they promote bigoted intolerance. Offensive speech is literally violence, but literal violence is speech by other means. David Shor, a data analyst for the Democratic Party, was fired for retweeting a scholarlypaper that non-violent protests are more politically effective.

Like the reign of terror after the French Revolution, mobs are caught in a vicious purity death spiral. Indifferent to context, rejecting human fallibility with the possibility of contrition and redemption in favour of ritualistic confessions and self-abasement as during Chinas Cultural Revolution, policed by wrong-think lynch mobs as the current avatars of the Red Guards: thats a vision of dystopia.The philistines want to cancel history, art, literature and humour. We can be certain that some words and acts of the presently ascendant self-righteous will cause deep moral offence to future generations. Perhaps they should cancel themselves instantly. If nuance is banished because it can become a booby-trapped offence tomorrow, most people will be frightened off from entering the public arena for the contest of ideas on difficult societal challenges.

The Western world has entered a perfect social justice storm with a heady brew of every form of real and confected identity grievance. If you believe all lives matter, there is only one race, the human race, women deserve to be safe in women-only spaces, climate alarmism needs fact-checking: Out! People not personally responsible for past injustice must take the knee but those personally responsible for current violence and looting are celebrated as heroes. The blood-dimmed tide is indeed being loosed upon the world.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Cancelling history: Red Guards and philistines are running riot across the Western world - The Times of India Blog

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July 3rd, 2020 at 5:47 pm

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