Our Schools Are Hotbeds Of Anti-Democratic, Anti Free Speech Sentiment, Hostile To Conservative Students

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British schools and universities represent an oppressive and highly unsafe space for young students who believe in free speech or hold pro-Brexit beliefs

If you think that you have been made to feel uncomfortable for holding eurosceptic, pro-Brexit beliefs, spare a thought for those young Brexiteers trapped firmly behind enemy lines in the clutches of Britain’s left-wing educational establishment.

Tanya Kekic, a sixth-form student, writes in Spiked about the post-referendum climate endured by those who supported Brexit:

As they had scarcely met anyone supporting Brexit, they could not understand how this had happened. Their only explanation was that the electorate was misguided, brainwashed, uneducated and motivated only by their hatred of immigrants. They were not at all embarrassed by their disdain for ordinary people. In fact, teachers and pupils openly said that democracy is a sham, that we need ‘experts’ to make the big decisions and that idiot Leavers should not have been able to vote in the first place. I’ve not been around long, but I have never seen anything like it. I knew this kind of loathing of the ‘masses’ existed, but in the past it had been disguised.

The same low opinion of people is shown by my teachers’ and classmates’ rejection of freedom of speech on the grounds that, firstly, the public are too uneducated to hear dangerous views, and, secondly, the public are too weak and vulnerable to hear something that might offend them. Over the past year my freedom-loving friend and I have had ongoing debates at school about whether there should be a limit to freedom of expression. We have not yet found a teacher who believes in unfettered freedom of speech.

The most shocking encounters have been with our philosophy teacher. First of all, she declared that she completely disagrees with freedom of speech and the very idea of a free press. (I am not kidding.) Secondly, she became hysterical when we said that no religion, including Islam, should be above mockery or criticism (this was after we were shown a video ridiculing Christianity). She told us to ‘get out’ of the classroom, while whining that we can’t criticise the prophet Muhammad because it says not to in the Koran. We heard from another teacher that apparently we have ‘extreme’ views. (As far as I know, we haven’t yet been reported to Prevent.)

If believing in freedom and democracy makes you an extremist, we are really in trouble. Schools are encouraged to teach students about British values, such as tolerance and pluralism. But when they don’t know what these principles are, little wonder they fail to uphold them in practice. In particular, the idea of tolerance is very confused. We are not told to allow unpleasant views to be shared and then to challenge and criticise them; rather, we are told either to shut up and respect all beliefs, or to censor and shut them down. To understand why hypersensitive university students are cowering in Safe Spaces and banning ideas they disagree with, you only need to sit in on a Year Eight citizenship lesson.

This is concerning indeed, though not surprising. This blog has previously reported on the plaintive cries for help and/or of frustration from young conservatives, eurosceptics and civil libertarians who found themselves being ruthlessly persecuted at school, often with the full knowledge and participation of their own teachers. And clearly the EU referendum has taken that pre-existing hostile climate for free speech and injected it with steroids.

One marvels in particular at the philosophy teacher who “became hysterical” at the mere idea (not even the act) of criticising Islam, and who pre-emptively ejected Kekic and her friend from class as punishment for daring to suggest that all ideas should be open to debate and criticism. On might have thought that adherence to this view would be a prerequisite for anybody seeking to teach philosophy of all subjects, but apparently there are now schools employing philosophy teachers who actively oppose the idea of critiquing certain ideas and belief systems.

Where teachers lead, impressionable students will often follow. And the clear message being sent by the academic establishment – not only at the university level but at the school level too – is that the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is firmly in charge now. Free speech is even less of an absolute right than it was before, woolly metro-leftism is firmly established as the only acceptable political worldview and ideas should no longer be judged on their own merit, but rather on the identity of their proponent and the position which they occupy in the Hierarchy of Privilege.

When I appeared on the BBC Daily Politics earlier this year to discuss the phenomenon of oversensitive students, I joked that something strange seems to happen in the minds of otherwise sensible young people the moment they first set foot on a university campus, making them suddenly obsessed with their racial and gender identities and utterly incapable of tolerating alternative viewpoints. But of course this facetiousness disguised an important truth, made clear by Kekic: the fact that we are raising our children to be this way from birth, through our therapeutic culture, worshipping of the self, encouraging of a state of constant personal fragility and a starkly authoritarian attitude toward any speech which even remotely contradicts certain established orthodoxies (Islam is above reproach, the EU is fundamentally good, etc.)

There are already whole industries – certainly in academia but elsewhere too – where holding conservative or eurosceptic beliefs amounts to social or professional suicide. The other day I attended a meeting of good people involved in various social enterprises and charities in the third sector. After I brought up the topic of the EU referendum in passing, the speaker proceeded to wax lyrical about just how awful Brexit is, never thinking for a moment that anybody in the room might possibly disagree with her. Though it was amusing, I also felt a pang of awkwardness and discomfort, knowing that I was surrounded by people who would be utterly repelled if I revealed my own true feelings about Brexit (I did anyway).

The point is that as a grown man and a political blogger well used to debate and disagreement, I still paused momentarily before airing a perfectly mainstream and acceptable opinion in front of people who strongly disagreed and who thought that those who supported Britain leaving the EU were stupid at best and malicious at worst. How, then, must those young people with conservative or eurosceptic beliefs feel, who have not yet developed so thick a skin? How are they to feel comfortable expressing their sincerely and legitimately held political views when finger-wagging teachers casually accuse them of “extremism” and conspire to silence them altogether?

There is a cancer in our schools and universities, metastasising throughout the entire educational establishment. It is a tumour which sucks the life out of free speech and academic freedom, and encourages dull, lumpen conformity invigilated by a watchful, censorious, politically correct Taliban.

We need to excise that tumour before it kills off independent thinking, freedom of speech and academic enquiry for good.

 

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The European Union’s Long Game

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The dream of a federal Europe is not dead, or even resting. European political union is a long game – watch closely on a day to day basis and you will notice nothing moving. Only when viewed at a distance of years and decades does the direction of travel become crystal clear

Pete North warns people against complacency:

One political meme travelling around academia at the moment is that the vision of the EUs founding fathers has stalled and will never become a reality so it’s ok to remain in the EU because there is a different destination of concentric circles bound under a loose alliance. It’s actually a convincing argument when you look at the reality on the ground, but it’s a piece of creative writing which ultimately ignores the nature of the beast.

The founding fathers were savvy in their design of le grande project. They always knew it could never be done all at once because the central vision would never secure a mandate. Integration by deception has always been the modus operandi. It salami slices powers little by little, so gradually that few ever notice. And you’d never see it unless you know what the game plan is. They were long term thinkers. They knew it would take a generation or so to advance their agenda and they had a roadmap to do it.

It has always used funding of local projects to manufacture consent. It’s why you’ll find EU logos emblazoned on any nature reserve or community hall or obscure museum out in the shires, to convince the plebs that their benevolent EU guardians cared more for them than the London government. It is why it funds universities too. Every strata of civil society has an injection of EU cash. Education, NGOs, you name it. And it works.

It is important to rebut the claim from EU apologists that Brexiteers are somehow exaggerating or indulging in conspiracy theories – often a sneering Remainer will say that eurosceptics have been warning about the coming European superstate for decades, and the fact that it has not yet quite arrived means that we are somehow wrong.

While the EU’s “founding fathers” were not exactly shy about their intentions for the nascent union, they also realised that supranationalism and the various tenets of statehood could not be spoken of too often in relation to the EU for fear of scaring people off. The process of integration would have to take place in stages, inching forward at opportune moments and often using crises as a pretext for the transfer of more powers (as we now see with the euro). Richard North and Christopher Booker’s masterful history of the EU, “The Great Deception”, draws on primary sources to spell this out in clear detail.

Pete continues:

The founding fathers always knew a day would come where the legitimacy of the EU would be questioned. And now you see how well their pernicious scheme worked, with the entirely of the civic establishment coming out in favour of remain. They have made idle supplicants of our institutions, robbing them of their vitality, curiosity and dynamism.

And those who speak up about this are often labelled cranks or conspiracy theorists. Except it is a conspiracy and one they published in full. They even founded an academic institution to promote it: “The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies is an inter-disciplinary research centre at the heart of the European University Institute”. The hellmouth of europhile academics and functionaries.

The modus operandi is encoded into all of the treaties and articles of the EU. It is worked into the philosophy of the institutions and it is designed to resist any kind of reform – especially anything which may introduce democracy. There it lies, dormant in the system, but sufficiently restraining in order to prevent deviation from the path.

It may stall, it may go quiet, but the agenda is always there with the noose ever tightening – engineering for irreversibility. That is why the remains make such an issue of how we leave the EU. It was never meant to be easy. It was always a quicksand trap for democracies. The harder you pull away the more it sucks you in.

And so when we hear the ignorant prattle of cosseted and sinecured LSE academics telling us it’s safe to stay because the dream is dead, they are speaking from a position of naivety and ignorance. The Ghost of Monnet lives on. The ghoulish servants of the ideal still roam the corridors of Brussels and an infest social media spreading their poison, sewing doubts and rewriting history.

The more people learn about the history of the European Union, the more eurosceptic they become – almost every time. And part of that history is a shameful and profoundly undemocratic legacy of integrating slowly and by stealth, patiently overcoming obstacles (like referendum “no” votes) and grinding away to achieve the ultimate objective.

We should certainly not allow a bunch of highly self-interested and fundamentally untrustworthy academics to lull us into a false sense of security at this late stage.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 35 – Conservative Professors In The Closet

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Conservative students and professors have long felt the need to downplay, disguise or hide their true political leanings

We have long known that the university campus and large parts of the academy are a hostile environment – an unsafe space, if you will – for those of a conservative mindset, student and professor alike.

One recent study identified just eight right-leaning academics in the field of social psychology and a ratio of 36 liberal to 1 conservative-leaning professors.

Emma Green at The Atlantic introduces an interesting conversation with the authors of “Passing On The Right”, a book about the difficulties faced by conservative university professors who find themselves very much in the minority on campus:

The assumption that most college campuses lean left is so widespread in American culture that it has almost become a caricature: intellectuals in thick-rimmed glasses preaching Marxism on idyllic grassy quads; students protesting minor infractions against political correctness; raging professors trying to prove that God is, in fact, dead. Studies about professors’ political beliefs and voting behavior suggest this assumption is at least somewhat correct. But Shields and Dunn set out to investigate a more nuanced question: For the minority of professors who are cultural and political conservatives, what’s life actually like?

Finding out wasn’t easy, in part because so many conservative professors are—as they put it—closeted. Some of the people they interviewed explicitly said they identify with the experience of gays and lesbians in having to hide who they are. One tenure-track sociology professor even asked to meet Shields and Dunn in a park a mile away from his university. “When the sound of footsteps intruded on our sanctuary, he stopped talking altogether, his eyes darting about,” they write. “Given the drama of this encounter, one might think that he is concealing something scandalous. In truth, this professor is hiding the fact that he is a Republican.”

These professors – the vanishingly small number of conservatives who even bother pursuing careers in the social sciences – are not only scared of their students. That much is a relatively new development. They are also scared of their peers in academia, and their bosses in university leadership roles.

For example:

A historian at an elite research university, for example, said he was initially denied tenure on account of his political views. He discovered that a colleague had in a letter referred to him as an “appalling Eurocentric conservative” for suggesting to students that North Korea should be blamed for the Korean War. Another extremely productive sociologist was voted down for tenure by his colleagues and dean, only to have the vote reversed by a provost — due in part to some liberal colleagues who cried foul at the process. One such colleague reportedly told the sociologist in question, “Your religion, your politics, entered into the discussion for tenure and basically a lot of extraneous things were not relevant to [your] performance were questioned.” That professor and others with similar experiences said they initially — and perhaps naïvely — thought that their research, teaching and service records would speak for themselves come tenure time, and that writing occasional essays for conservative publications or otherwise “showing” their views wouldn’t matter.

So this is the famous liberal tolerance. And now, compounding this hostile environment, we have the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics to contend with.

The Right cannot afford to continue surrendering the academy to their opponents. Neither it is in the interests of the Left to wield such dominance, for their ability to debate and innovate sensible new policy is already starting to atrophy through lack of a conservative counterpoint.

It’s time for a fightback.

 

More Tales From The Safe Space here.

 

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