Tales From The Safe Space, Part 55 – Lena Dunham And Toxic Left Wing Call-Out Culture

Lena Dunham - social justice call out culture

The Regressive Left applauds when an overwhelmingly privileged “woke” celebrity shames and reports two off-duty service employees after taking offence at their private conversation

Lena Dunham, creator and star of the execrable television series Girls – and now seemingly a full-time social justice warrior – has form when it comes to policing both the internet and the real world for any instances of conservative thoughtcrime or failure to subscribe to the new progressive orthodoxy on various social justice issues.

To summarise: Lena Dunham was walking through the arrivals hall at JFK airport in New York when she allegedly overheard two off-duty American Airlines flight attendants having a private conversation about their views on the issue of transgenderism. During the course of this conversation, the flight attendants apparently agreed with one another that transgenderism is “gross” and that they would “never accept a trans child”.

(Note: Lena Dunham also has form when it comes to telling outright falsehoods, making her account of this supposed conversation immediately questionable).

And so naturally Lena Dunham did what any self-respecting, censorious young social justice warrior with a huge social media presence is honour-bound to do – she tweeted her shock at having heard opinions expressed which contradicted her own, shamed the unknown flight attendants and demanded that American Airlines re-educate their employees to ensure that such spontaneous acts of independent thought never again occur during the course of a private conversation between off-duty employees.

Specifically, Dunham wrote in a direct message to the airline:

“I heard two female attendants walking talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross. I think it reflects badly on uniformed employees of your company to have that kind of dialogue going on. What if a trans teen was walking behind them? Awareness starts at home but jobs can set standards of practice. Thanks for your consideration!”

First off, this is as blatant an invasion of privacy as one can imagine. While a reasonable person might expect the possibility of being overheard while having a conversation in a public place, there is no reasonable expectation that a sanctimonious “woke” celebrity would rebroadcast their conversation – which again, took place while off duty if it even happened at all – to millions of followers on social media, contact their employer to trigger an investigation and quite possibly precipitate disciplinary action including the loss of their jobs.

Assuming that Lena Dunham isn’t simply lying again, there are multiple ways that she could have handled the situation better, rather than resorting to social media shaming combined with self-aggrandisement and virtue-signalling. The simplest option would have been for Dunham herself to intervene directly and voice her disagreement with the two flight attendants. This was a public place with very little risk of a physical altercation or any of the other reasons which might discourage direct action, so there was no good reason for Dunham not to take up the issue directly with the people allegedly involved, if she was sufficiently offended.

If Dunham lacked the courage to tackle this alleged intolerance in person (which would be a bit rich given that she co-founded Lenny, a website and newsletter almost exclusively dedicated to stridently advancing social justice issues), she could also have taken the matter up with American Airlines management staff while still at JFK airport rather than airily tweeting her allegations from the comfort of home, hours later. And if she was time-pressed and unable to do so, she could still have raised the matter privately with AA and written a more considered take on the situation once the investigation had run its course rather than tweeting about it in real time.

But of course none of these options would have been remotely satisfactory for Lena Dunham, because (more than) half the point of being a social justice warrior is the thrill of wielding power over others by policing language and behaviour, and enforcing your own worldview and etiquette onto other people. Directly confronting the people with whom she had a conflict or raising the issue privately would not have given Dunham the opportunity to flaunt her right-on credentials or display her conspicuous compassion; far better to raise the issue on social media, ostensibly so that it might serve as a “teachable moment” for other corporations and service workers (but really just to maintain her SJW credentials).

Robert Tracinski of The Federalist gets to the heart of the matter:

Saying “I overheard a conversation” but giving no specifics might prompt American Airlines to send out a general notice to its employees to watch what they say while in the terminal—which is a little unsettling in itself. But giving specific information only has one purpose: to help the airline locate, identify, and punish these specific employees for holding politically incorrect views.

It’s the hashtag #acrossfromthewinebar that sent chills down my spine. Dunham is acting like an informant working for a totalitarian police state—but boastfully, in public, on social media. With a hashtag.

Undoubtedly, someone will point out that this isn’t really totalitarianism because these are all voluntary actions by private citizens and organizations, not the government. Dunham isn’t a paid stooge of the police, but a citizen acting on her own initiative. American Airlines isn’t doing this because the government told them to, but because they’re terrified of bad press. (Which they are still going to get, but from the other side.)

Yet somehow this makes it all worse, because it implies we are being trained to internalize the ethos of the police state—and to enact it voluntarily, on our own initiative, without having to be coerced. We’re building a self-enforcing police state.

Equally concerning is the fact that Lena Dunham and her SJW colleagues feel it is in any way appropriate for corporations to take it upon themselves to “train” their employees in matters outside the skills required to successfully perform the job, particularly hot-button social issues. Whereas a decade ago one could reliably find leftists railing against the power of corporations and the supposedly unfair, coercive power balance between employer and employee, now those very same leftists are screeching that big corporations are not doing enough to indoctrinate their employees with the new social justice dogma.

Of course, vesting corporations with such power is in fact highly dangerous and quite likely unconstitutional, particularly when lawsuits start to emerge where employees allege that their employer has pressured them to violate their own conscience when it comes to matters outside the workplace. Already we see this coercive behaviour taking place in some large organisations, most recently the UK’s National Trust charity and the latest scandal to envelope Google.

Conor Friedersdorf also makes this point very eloquently in The Atlantic:

I suppose it was theoretically conceivable that Dunham’s public complaint about insensitivity by low-level staffers would prompt the multinational airline to put the offending employees—or all employees—through training in “awareness” or “love and inclusivity.” But I am doubtful that it would be a good thing, on the whole, if corporations began punishing workers for what they say off-duty, or aggressively regulating or engineering not just how employees treat colleagues and customers, but their every belief. Corporations are institutions driven by profit, not moral rectitude; many often do what is good for shareholders and bad for employees or the public. Trusting them as a reliable mechanism for positive social change is short-sighted.

Not that I presume that even earnest, right-thinking corporate altruism would necessarily bear fruit. Think of your attitudes toward trans people. Would your employer be able to fundamentally change your views, whatever they are, with  compulsory education? I suspect the very people with animus of a sort that does harm would be least likely to be swayed and most likely to double down on their beliefs.

And in response to this incident, or a rising tide of working-class people being reported to corporate employers for expressing beliefs that a lurking celebrity or journalist calls out, I can imagine the imposition of new, onerous, generally applied restrictions on where uniformed flight attendants can socialize with one another in airports, or whether uniformed retail employees are allowed a quick cell-phone conversation inside the mall while on break. Asking myself who that new regime would most harm, the answer is marginalized people; pondering who would find it easiest to navigate, the answer is creative professionals like Lena Dunham and me; we attended colleges that prepared us to navigate the elite’s social norms, and we don’t wear uniforms in public that identify our corporate bosses to eavesdropping strangers.

Ultimately this speaks to the paternalistic role that the progressive Left envisage for government and anyone else in positions of authority. First, these key institutions are to be fully captured by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, and then they are to be leveraged to enforce the same uniform dogma relating to sexuality, gender theory and everything else.

Rod Dreher has also sounded the alarm about this phenomenon:

I know a man who is a senior manager at a major corporation. He is also a Christian. Every year during Pride Month, for the past few years, the human resources department at the firm has been after employees to declare themselves “allies” of the LGBT cause. This man has never done so, because he would consider it a violation of his conscience. He is scrupulously fair in his dealings with his employees, both gay and straight, and would also consider it a violation of his conscience to discriminate in the workplace against his gay employees. He is afraid that the day will come when his refusal to declare himself on the LGBT issue will be viewed negatively within the corporation, and it will damage or end his career there.

This is not paranoia. McCarthyism did not end with McCarthy.

The very real danger is that within a relatively short space of time, it may become impossible for people to avoid withholding their most deeply held personal and religious beliefs from their employer, precisely because people like Lena Dunham insist that corporations act as a co-equal auxiliary parent, together with the state, to both educate their employees in the ways of progressive dogma and then to secure their active participation in advancing the agenda.

If you think that this is ridiculous conservative scaremongering, just take a quick peek inside the mind of someone who occupies a senior position in the entrepreneurial-tech world:

Fortunately, Joshua McKenty’s vision of a “directory of known misogynists and racists, used to avoid hiring or contracting” would likely fall foul of the US constitution. But you can be sure that McKenty’s fellow ideologues will push in that direction as far as the law will possibly allow, given half the chance. And what of those of us who do not live in the United States under the protection of the US Constitution? What is to stop multinational firms with offices in Britain, where there is no written constitution, from demanding positive affirmation of progressive social policies from their employees?

And so what starts as just another Twitter-based hissy fit from Lena Dunham is in fact only the tip of the iceberg. It certainly doesn’t help when “woke” celebrities abuse their vast social media platforms to shame working and middle class service workers who dare to express outdated or unfashionable opinions, but that is not the real threat.

The real danger comes when corporations and private citizens no longer have to be bullied by the likes of Lena Dunham into acting as enforcers of the social justice movement, because they choose to do so willingly.


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Separate But Equal, Part 1

Instituting a new series to examine disturbing cases of deliberate self-segregation of “marginalised” communities carried out in the name of social justice

Forget “the only gay in the village” – Manchester City Council is putting forward plans for a majority-LGBT housing community for people aged over 50. In this socially engineered ghetto, eligibility to live would depend not on one’s ability to afford the rent but one’s ability to satisfy the diversity checklist of a local government busybody.

Once again, the best intentions of the social justice community result in the most extreme and counterproductive of solutions.

From the Guardian’s report:

Manchester city council has announced plans to create the UK’s first retirement community aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to the local authority, the city is home to the country’s largest number of LGBT people outside of London and is due to see a rapid growth in the number of LGBT residents over 65 in the next two decades. More than 7,000 over-50s living in Manchester identify as LGBT.

A recent report by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation, commissioned by the council, revealed that older LGBT people experience higher levels of loneliness and isolation.

Many were fearful of discrimination in existing accommodation and there was a desire for affordable LGBT-specific housing where people could be open about their identity in later life.

The extra care scheme – a targeted development for older people – will house a minimum of 51% LGBT residents, but heterosexual people will also be welcome to apply to live in the accommodation.

The housing will have specially trained staff based on site and pets will be welcome. As well as the LGBT Foundation, the project is being supported by Stonewall Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency.

As one sceptical interviewee in the BBC report wisely asks:

The issue we are going to come up against along the way is that we’ve fought for equality. Do we need a separate space?


Of course, the gimlet-eyed do-gooder at Manchester City Council responds, patronisingly:

It’s not necessarily about ghettoising particular communities. It’s offering people who want it that opportunity to spend their time with people who they know will understand them.

Ah well, that’s fine then. If people want to withdraw from wider society into strongholds (weakholds?) where fragility is pandered to rather than resilience developed, of course it is the sacred and noble duty of local government to assist them in their folly at every turn. Who are the guardians of the public purse to question the latest social justice orthodoxy?

Some may say that this is a local decision for local communities, and ask what standing a writer from London possibly has to weigh in on a decision made by Manchester City Council? And I would be amendable to that argument if it were actually the people of Manchester on the hook for this experiment in social divisiveness. But of course they are not.

In overcentralised Britain, the dominant single source of local authority funds – 40% in the case of Manchester – are disbursed by central government after having been raised through general national taxation. And besides the obvious social folly inherent in creating fragile, unresilient and homogenous minority communities in the name of social justice, the fact that all British taxpayers are funding this folly makes it directly my concern, and that of everyone else.

If a private developer wants to create an ethnically, gender or sexuality-based homogeneous environment for private tenants or homebuyers then that is a separate discussion fraught with its own parallel legal questions about discrimination and equality. But in the case of a public initiative and social housing, the government has absolutely no business discriminating along these lines, setting quotas or engaging in any other form of naked social engineering.

We should not be unsympathetic to some of the stories of older LGBT people featured in the BBC News report – being ostracised by friends and family of one’s own generation after coming out must be incredibly hard, particularly in older age. But it should be for institutions of civil society to step in to address these real social problems, and we must get out of the habit of immediately pivoting to local and national government for a solution to each and every problem – especially where the mitigation involves the use of general taxpayer funds.

Heavy-handed governmental interventions such as this only serve to crowd out independent solutions from civil society, and reinforce the expectation that government must play an active, watchful part in nearly every area of our lives. And no matter how well-intentioned individual schemes may be, British taxpayers should not be left on the hook for implementing a social justice revolution in Manchester or anywhere else.


Separate is NOT equal - Stonewall - segregation - LGBT

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 20 – Segregated Accommodation For Ohio University LGBT Students

LGBT - Segregation - Ohio University - Identity Politics - Safe Space

Students seeking to cocoon themselves in safe spaces and segregated accommodation are being selfish – society can only grow in understanding and acceptance when people of different backgrounds and ideas are thrown together and forced to interact with one another

More depressing news of the return of segregation on American university campuses.

Latest to capitulate to the cult of Identity Politics is Ohio University, which is now introducing an LGBT-only housing community (or “living community”) for self-identifying gay, lesbian and transgender students, as well as their relatives and “allies”.

From the Athens Messenger:

Next year, Ohio University freshmen and sophomores who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans will have the option to reside in a new LGBT living community on the Athens campus. This new living community will be in addition to gender-neutral housing already offered by the university.

According to Delfin Bautista, director of the OU LGBT Center, next year will mark the fourth year for gender-neutral housing options for students. Bautista said the gender neutral housing was made available for not only transsexual students who wanted a safe space, but also siblings, other forms of relatives or even co-ed best friends.

In addition to the gender-neutral housing, Bautista said the university is rolling out a new living community catered to those who identify as LGBT. The living community will be located in Smith House on the South Green, which also is the location for the gender-neutral dorm options.

Bautista said the resident assistant overseeing the new living community will be “developing intentional experiences” for the LGBT members. Those who live in the community will have the opportunity to participate in LGBT-centered programming and will be connected to LGBT resources.

In other words, as soon as they set foot on campus at Ohio University, freshmen students will have the option to immediately find other people who look and think the same way as them, and then live and socialise exclusively with those like-minded people to the exclusion of all others.

This is utterly antithetical to what should be any university’s mission – to turn out resilient, well-rounded and intellectually capable students who are able to flourish in the world, overcoming adversity and achieving success on their own merits. This gender-neutral housing may do many things, but one thing it will absolutely not do is help those who choose to live in it to become more resilient people.

Rather, students living in Ohio University’s segregated LGBT accommodation will be overseen by an RA (resident assistant) who develops “intentional experiences” for the community. In other words, their time at college will be curated for them in such a way that makes this one aspect of their personhood – their sexuality or gender – seem like the overriding and defining feature of their lives. How could it not? Because of this one facet of their identity, these students will be told that they are so different from the wider university community (or so at risk from a malevolent, unsafe outside world) that they need to study, socialise and dwell in seclusion from other students.

But there is another side to this.

How do those from minority groups who choose to hide themselves away in micro-communities of similar people ever hope to bring about a more tolerant and understanding society, when at every turn they seek to shun debate, shut down free speech and even voluntarily segregate themselves away from the wider community?

Nearly all of the positive steps forward our societies have taken to overcome racism, xenophobia and every manner of intolerance were made possible by engagement – by people from minority groups standing up and being an unapologetic, highly visible presence in their communities. That’s why antipathy to immigration is often highest in areas with the lowest number of immigrants, for example. As soon as the immigrants appear in larger numbers (provided they come in good faith and attempt to assimilate) the fears of the original community tend to subside.

Do those early, conspicuous arrivals sometimes face hostility, and even violence? Regrettably, yes. But how much longer would the process of desegregation in America (for example) taken if black students in the 1960s had insisted on living in segregated accommodation?

Ohio University LGBT Center

Civil rights trailblazers like Vivian Malone Jones, one of the first black students to enrol at the University of Alabama back in 1963, faced unprecedented hostility from the governor of the state on downwards – yet Jones did not demand a safe space, despite her physical safety at times being under very real threat.

By contrast, today’s student activists seek refuge in designated Safe Spaces despite never having to experience anything like the genuine lack of safety faced by Jones, and with the benefit of overwhelmingly supportive university administrations falling over themselves to adopt every diversity policy asked of them. With ninety percent of the battle for equality already won, suddenly the social justice warriors are growing thin skins.

Worse still, those students today who want to tell the whole world about their pain and have endless discussions about their own emotions are shamefully neglecting their duty to the next generation of LGBT, queer and ethnic minority students. They are prioritising their own tremulous fear of encountering bigotry or disagreement over the duty which they should feel toward those who will follow in their footsteps.

If minority students cloister themselves away in segregated accommodation and socialise in ethnic-based safe spaces and societies, they fail to help the wider community grow in acceptance. Sure, they may counter that racist and bigoted students should simply mend their ways and change their retrograde opinions without needing to be shown that black, Hispanic, gay, lesbian or trans students are just like them. But human nature is often such that acceptance only comes when something is familiar.

Whether this is fair or not, at some point these students will leave university and enter the real world. Surely, then, living as part of the general community and slogging through any difficult or painful situations which may arise as a result is good for the minority students as well as for the wider community.

But sadly, the social justice warriors of Generation Me Me Me tend not to see things that way. The millennial generation – my generation – is far more interested in talking about what the world owes us (jobs, houses, material possessions) rather than what we owe our communities and our country. Many would rather talk endlessly about their pain and the wrongs which have been inflicted on them than comport themselves with dignity (like previous generations of civil rights heroes) and, through their stoic presence on campus, forge a smoother path for those who come after them.

Many of these student activists would be hugely offended by this accusation – they do not realise that their sit-ins and hunger strikes are inherently selfish acts designed to rectify perceived wrongs against themselves (at best) or to simply signal their own virtue (at worst). Their activism is inwardly focused either on winning perks and concessions for themselves, or seeking to punish those who have caused them offence – in other words, it is a plain old fashioned power play by student activists against the university administrators (who, ironically, were themselves once activist students fighting their own university hierarchies).

The trouble with Safe Space theory – and with Ohio University’s new segregated campus accommodation for LGBT students – is that it focused entirely on the now, with no thought to the future. There is no recognition of the fact that coddling students today both fails to prepare them for life after graduation, and also hinders society’s progress in becoming more accepting of different people. As our hedonistic, therapeutic culture dictates, it is all about feeling better in the here and now, with no thought given to tomorrow.

This is what happens when toxic Identity Politics culture meets a uniquely self-entitled generation concerned with their own personal self-realisation above all else. You can fully expect to see lots more segregated university accommodation springing up in America, with Britain following along in a couple of years.

Not because it will do anything to bring about a more just or equal society – it won’t – but because it makes people feel good in the here and now.


Postscript: It is worth pointing out that Ohio University actively encourages transgender students to live in this segregated accommodation.


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Now Even Peter Tatchell Is A “Racist”

Moscow Gay Pride Parade Attacked

In the accusatory minds of the new PC Left, a lifetime spent fighting for LGBT and racial equality counts for nothing if one also supports the free speech rights of those who disagree

Ask anyone to write down their top twenty racists in Britain, and very few people would put Peter Tatchell anywhere on their list. After all, the man’s life has been dedicated to overcoming prejudice and fighting for racial, sexual and LGBT equality.

While others now wear their progressivism as a virtue-signalling badge of honour, something to be ostentatiously flaunted on social media, Tatchell has put his body in harms way to protest what he sees as real injustices taking place against persecuted minorities. And whether you agree with Tatchell on every single one of his causes or not, one can certainly admire the way that he has lived his public life by the credo “actions and words”.

Unless, that is, you happen to be a member of the activist student PC Left, part of that spoiled and coddled generation of today’s young people whose freedoms were won by the likes of Tatchell, and whose own meagre campaigns perch precariously on the far greater and more noble endeavours of those who came before them. They have now turned on Tatchell, accusing him – hilariously – of being both racist and “transphobic” in a blatant and supremely ungrateful move to destroy his reputation and credibility.

Tatchell himself responds in the Telegraph:

Free speech and enlightenment values are under attack in our universities. In the worthy name of defending the weak and marginalised, many student activists are now adopting the unworthy tactic of seeking to close down open debate. They want to censor people they disagree with. I am their latest victim.

This is not quite the Star Chamber, but it is the same intolerant mentality. Student leader Fran Cowling has denounced me as racist and transphobic, even though I’ve supported every anti-racist and pro-transgender campaign during my 49 years of human rights work.

Fran is the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Officer of the National Union of Students (NUS). She refused to speak at an LGBT event at Canterbury Christ Church University tonight unless I was dropped from the line-up. This is a variation of the NUS “no-platform” policy; instead of blocking me from speaking, Fran is refusing to share a platform with me.

While the Guardian explains the context:

In the emails, sent to the organisers of a talk at Canterbury Christ Church University on Monday on the topic of “re-radicalising queers”, Cowling refuses an invitation to speak unless Tatchell, who has also been invited, does not attend. In the emails she cites Tatchell’s signing of an open letter in the Observer last year in support of free speech and against the growing trend of universities to “no-platform” people, such as Germaine Greer, for holding views with which they disagree.

Cowling claims the letter supports the incitement of violence against transgender people. She also made an allegation against him of racism or of using racist language. Tatchell told the Observer that the incident was yet another example of “a witch-hunting, accusatory atmosphere” symptomatic of a decline in “open debate on some university campuses”.

Because campaigning is no longer about securing freedoms and liberties for marginalised people. It is about not just holding the “correct” opinion on any given issue, but crucially also being seen to hold the correct opinion, and orchestrating various situations whereby one’s own bien pensant opinions can be shown off to greatest effect.

It is about making oneself look good by jumping on the slightest deviation from prevailing PC orthodoxy by someone else – often a friend and erstwhile ally – and seeking to destroy them with it, hysterically declaring it to be evidence of moral turpitude, even when the target is someone as respected in the field as Peter Tatchell.

Some on the PC Left, recognising that this particular smear by the NUS may stretch credibility too far, are trying to spin Tatchell’s naturally outraged reaction as yet more evidence of racism. In an eye-rollingly titled piece called “Problematic Proximities, Or why Critiques of Gay Imperialism Matter”, Sara Ahmed tries to argue:

I do want to question here how Mr Tatchell is responding to the critique.

[..] Critiques of racism are reduced and misheard as personal attacks, which is what blocks a hearing of the critique. In the end, the situation becomes re-coded as a question of individual reputation and good will: we lose the chance to attend to the politics of the original critique.

We need to reflect on what we are talking about when we are talking about racism. Racism in speech does not simply depend on the explicit articulation of ideas of racial superiority but often works given that such associations do not need to be made explicit. So for example politicians might use a qualifier ‘this is not a war against Islam’ and then use repeatedly terms like ‘Islamic terrorists’ which work to associate Islam with terror through the mere proximity of the words: the repetition of that proximity makes the association ‘essential’.

[..] It is my view that Mr Tatchell’s writings on Islam and multiculturalism repeat and reproduce many ‘problematic proximities’ between Islam and violence, and thus participate in the culture of Islamaphobia.

Ahmed is trying to advance a semi-cogent (though still wrong) argument here. She is effectively saying “Wait a minute! We may have called Peter Tatchell a racist, but it wasn’t a personal attack. Heavens, no. It was simply pointing out that some of the things that he says are problematic for us because we believe they help to reinforce negative stereotypes about religious minorities”.

This would at least have the makings of a cogent argument – that we all have good and bad within us, that we all have our own prejudices which we should seek to recognise and overcome, and that any of us might say something which might be construed as “racist”, but with no malice whatsoever.

But if this is what the NUS and Fran Cowling actually believe, why refuse to take the stage with Tatchell? If indeed their intention was not to launch a “personal attack”, why on earth refuse to admit all the good which Peter Tatchell has done for their causes, and why refuse to share a stage with him now?

The answer, of course, is that this was fully meant to be a personal attack. Vicious personal attacks conducted through social media and the press are the chief modus operandi for today’s youthful practitioners of Identity Politics, and if their self-advancement involves a.few instances of friendly fire – even the destruction of someone like Peter Tatchell – so be it.

Some people tell me that I am being too hard on the students involved; that they are well-intentioned young people simply trying to navigate difficult issues as best they can. Well I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Obviously we are only talking about a minority of students here – the ones drawn to take an active role in student governance, social affairs and campus life. But these students are behaving in an utterly reprehensible way, completely without justification and to be opposed by lovers of liberty at all costs.

This is an attempted power grab, plain and simple. Just like it was at Mizzou, and Yale, and Oxford, and countless more universities every year. This is an attempted coup by an utterly coddled and spoiled generation of students who know almost nothing of hardship, deprivation or prejudice compared to their predecessors even just a few decades ago.

These tinpot student dictators arrive on campus at the age of eighteen to find most of the really hard battles already won for them – ironically, by genuinely brave radicals like Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell. But these students must find some outlet for their youthful “idealism”, and so they latch on to the growing Politics of Identity, assimilating its intricacies and genuinely persuading themselves of its core message – that what matters is not the content of one’s character, but rather one’s arbitrary lived experience as a member of a defined and segregated subgroup.

And so rather than simply accepting that they have it rather good, even compared to their parents and grandparents, these student snowflakes go on the march. They find ever-smaller slights or “microaggressions” and protest them ever-more loudly and hysterically in an attempt to assert power over university administrations – many of which meekly submit without so much as putting up a fight.

Throw in the fact that their social hierarchy is based on a purist adherence to the Politics of Identity – with members gaining social currency for flaunting their own tolerant nature or identifying and persecuting anyone whose behaviour happens to violate one of the many invisible lines restricting our speech and behaviour – and you have a potent and deadly combination.

Viewed in this context, it is obvious that NUS LGBT officer Fran Cowling is attempting to gain a vast amount of social currency and standing from her peers by trying to take down Peter Tatchell, an A-lister in activist circles. By refusing to share a stage with him, Cowling is effectively declaring to the world that she is morally superior to Tatchell, he having failed the latest racism and transphobia tests. Thus, she can bank all of Tatchell’s personal accomplishments for herself, add the fact that unlike him she is not a “transphobe”, and Win the Game.

And that’s the rotten core of today’s student identity politics movement. A constant, bitchy, backbiting game of snakes and ladders, with one insufferable petty tyrant rising to the top of the Moral Virtue Pyramid only to be brought down by their jealous rivals, either for no reason at all, or for having unknowingly violated one of the many red lines that they themselves helped to draw across our political discourse.

I can’t say any better than Brendan O’Neill on this occasion, so I will give him the last word:

This Veruca Salt-style revolt against late 20th-century liberators, this sullen, thankless turn by radical young women, gay people and black people against those who devoted their lives to fighting for women, gay people and black people, reveals how poisonous the politics of identity has become.

Where late 20th-century warriors for civil rights basically argued for the right of people to be free and equal regardless of their gender, sexuality or race — that is, they wanted identity demoted — today’s identitarians prefer to obsess over people’s natural characteristics and sexual habits. They instinctively loathe King’s claim that character is more important than colour. They hate Greer’s insistence that women are as capable as men (and that a man can’t become a woman at the click of his fingers). They have disappeared so far up the fundament of identity politics that they bristle at any argument that smacks of universalism, which emphasises the sameness and the shared capacity for autonomy of all human beings.

They seem hellbent on reversing the social gains of the late 20th century, preferring to shove people back into the biological, racial boxes from which mankind spent so long trying to escape. It is they, not Tatchell, who are racialist (if not racist), and a threat to what most of us consider to be the decent civilisational value of treating people as people rather than as colours or genders.

Amen to that. And shame – yet more ignominious shame – on the NUS.

Peter Tatchell attacked

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