A piece by Douglas Murray in yesterday’s Telegraph:
Conservatives underestimated a lot of things about the woke wave. Not the least of these was the presumption that the country’s elite institutions, such as higher education, might be protected from it, that while the lower-ranking universities might fester in a soup of “peace studies” and feminist dance courses, the jewels in our crown would remain sparkling and unblemished.
Not so. Under the leadership of an undistinguished Canadian lawyer called Stephen Toope, Cambridge University has become a home of politically correct censoriousness and absurdity. It harbours invidious and unqualified academics of the radical left and censors or publicly humiliates academics identified as being on the political right.
In the last year the regime of Vice Chancellor Toope suffered one of its first challenges. Academics and students were due to be forced to sign up to a new charter of values which included the demand that they “respect” all views, by which, of course, the woke authorities meant all views except conservative ones. A collection of dons rebelled and successfully reworded the motion to turn “respect” into “tolerance”. There are still some smart people in Toope’s Cambridge.
Toope went away to lick his wounds and has now come back with an even more insidious proposal. This is the publication of a new list of potential offences that academics and students can use as the basis to anonymously report on each other.
These new offences are intended to hound out “inappropriate” behaviour. There is also a list of policies and resources which all form part of a “Change the Culture” initiative, including a register of so-called micro-aggressions (aggressions so small that they can hardly be seen, and may indeed be imaginary). Mr Toope’s guidance warns that micro-aggressions might include the question “where are you really from?” and may also include behaviours such as “a change in body language when responding to those of a particular characteristic, for example, raising eyebrows when a black member of staff or student is speaking”. Also “dismissing a staff or student who brings up race and/or racism in teaching and learning or work setting.”
The idea of a Cambridge where no eyebrows can be raised is a Cambridge that few would recognise.
But some of us who are not in academia still have the right to twitch our facial muscles, so permit me to commit a macro-aggression against the Canadian lawyer currently trying to run one of our great universities into the ground. I would like to ask him – and think more people should join in doing so – “Who do you think you are? What right do you think you have to tell people which facial muscles to move? This is a great university, not a playpen filled with your lurid and bizarre phantasms.”
All donations to Cambridge should be withheld all long as this menace of a man is in place. Faculty members may soon no longer have the right to raise an eyebrow about their Vice Chancellor, but the university´s alumni still do.
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