Jane Kelly is puzzled by a lot of white vegetarian liberals tucking into halal food

On Sunday I saw a notice on my church door saying: ‘Join us for Iftar. The People’s Festival. Halal food stalls.’ I was not happy; who are ‘The People’ I wondered, and were a lot of white liberal vegetarians going along to tuck into halal food? I didn’t join them, but lots did, filling Trafalgar Square, Canterbury Cathedral, Wembley Stadium and the British Library forecourt.

Good luck to them. They are no doubt much nicer, sweeter people than I am. I am too suspicious to enjoy such festivities and already in a bad mood, after hearing Turner Prize winner, Lubaina Himid, on Desert Island discs saying she’s glad that artists often no longer work alone, preferring groups. The word ‘group’ make grumps like me shudder, being one of those rarely invited to join them. I am wedded to the image of the lonely genius toiling in the attic rather than a culture where the individual counts for less than the group and its inclusivity.

Individual thought, cherished in the West since the Enlightenment, seems to be under attack and a resulting lack of ability to think independently is having a desultory effect in many areas of our national life. We often hear sad stories about older people being duped by phone fraudsters, but it seems that even extremely bright younger people are surprisingly credulous too.

Four major Assurance firms, accountants employed to solve complex issues faced by management and boards, have decided to send their highly paid staff to compulsory classes, to ‘foster scepticism.’ They need to be taught how to challenge their stock exchange bosses. At the moment, apparently, they believe everything authority tells them.

This need is so urgent that such companies are prepared to hire five hundred extra staff to provide face to face tuition, costing £30m a year, about five percent of their audit profits, on them. Without this training even highflyers are open to corrupting influences and meekly unable to question what is true and what is not.

An increasing number of topics seem to demand acceptance without question; the peacefulness of Islam, the evils of Trump, the need for #Me Too, British responsibility for slavery, the validity of transgenderism, even the future of the NHS. Discussion is not allowed.

Most worrying of all, fear of independent thought is evident among the bright people at our top universities. Last year, Professor Nigel Biggar, Anglican theologian and priest was ostracised at Oxford for defending the British Empire. More than fifty of his colleagues condemned his research into the legacy of colonialism.  Nearly two hundred academics from the UK, US, India, South Africa criticised Oxford for even allowing his project.

It’s tough and lonely being a sceptic. It takes guts to stand against the crowd, easier if you already feel like an outsider, or more happily, are powerful enough to be immune to attack. Celebrities recently bold enough to put two fingers up at the current virtue signalling include Meryl Streep. In 2015 she rejected the label ‘feminist’ in favour of, ‘humanist’ and decries feminist terms such as ‘toxic masculinity’ which she says are ‘harmful’ to men. Mamata Banerjee, from India Today, bravely challenges group think from Hindu and Muslim. John Cleese recently, recklessly caused a stir by saying London is no longer an ‘English city.’ And good old Andrew Neil has been side-lined by the BBC for being as well prepared as a top QC as he ruthlessly interrogated left and right in pursuit of that increasingly contested, vexed and vanishing commodity; the truth.

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17 Comments on Jane Kelly is puzzled by a lot of white vegetarian liberals tucking into halal food

  1. All sadly true. But why? And was it ever thus without our noticing? I can’t believe so, but the present anti-rational atmosphere is so unbelievable it makes one wonder if one is awake or living in another universe. Do kids still read 1984 and Brave New World in school, and if they do, what possible sense can they make of them given those fantasies are fantasies no longer?

    • Mr. MCManus, I have long thought that Brave New World and the Woody allen film “Sleeper” were actually prophecies and have often wondered if thy were intended to be so.

  2. Vegan liberals will happily attend a halal food show even if they won’t actually eat anything. If cruelty toward animals is exhibited by a non-Western culture it is something to be celebrated! There is nowt so queer as liberal folk.

  3. Having just read Anne Applbaum’s excellent book ‘Iron Curtain: the crushing of Eastern Europe 1944 – 1956’ the methods used by Moscow-trained social engineers have an eerie echo of aspects of indoctrination within our own country since the cultural revolution began in the late 1960s. The aim of the communists was to expunge all thoughts or doubts from Marxist-Leninist doctrine and to make t impossible to think beyond that system for society. The lessons learned from the evils of such narrowing of intellectual thought are amply described in George Orwell’s IngSoc party in ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ and in Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Tyrants are always waiting in the wings to impress their will on others and recognising them today by the young is not as easy as it was in the 1930s. No uniforms, just a gradual nudge constantly applied is all it takes to push the impressionable into an unquestioning mindset.

    • No uniforms? Hipsters with big beards? Men and women dressed Taliban style. There’s a 1937 law on things like that but it’s not enforced by our police who are told their job is confronting wrongthink.

  4. Craig Brown was quite good about Group Think in his Daily Mail column. He used the phrase then went on to say how there is way too much “chuminess” in society these days. I don’t think I am being facetious as he gave the example of reading where, instead of borrowing a book from the Library and perhaps struggling with it, people join Book Clubs to discuss it. I personally offer the example of Cop shows from the USA where instead of a detective grappling with a crime and how to solve it, you get a group of people,including the Cleaner, going “so whadda you think?” Regarding the loneliness of the Outsider it can be even worse if you have made a sincere attempt to “join in” instead of sneering from outside.

  5. Liberals are virtue signalling when they eat halal. I had to laugh while watching the BBC’s Springwatch programme earlier this evening. It showed a twitcher going out at night to record the song of a nightingale … with a packed lunch containing a samosa. You can just image the BBC producer saying: ‘Okay, we got no chance of including any minority ethnics in this story. But I know, in a nod to multiculturalism we can film Mr Twitcher scoffing a samosa!’ Please excuse my cynicism.

    But the funniest lot are the ones who rail against religious slaughter without ever mentioning shechita. God forbid if that word were ever mentioned during an LBC phone-in!

  6. Jane says: “On Sunday I saw a notice on my church door saying: ‘Join us for Iftar’.”

    I feel your pain. I once drove by a Presbyterian Church with a lawn sign that read: “ATM inside”.

  7. I wonder if emphasis on the body – gyms, running, food fads – has anything to do with the decline in mental life, the prevalence of groupthink, and the morphing of debate into infantile abuse. My old PE teacher spoke of the Greek ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body but I’ve never found any Greek saying that. There’s this, from Democritus: Men should value their souls more than their bodies: a perfect soul corrects wickedness in the body, but perfect body without reasoning makes the soul no better at all.

    • Mr. McManus, regarding body obsesseion fitness Cosmetic surgery etc. To use your phrase I wonder if this has anything to do with the turning of the back on ugly architecture?

      • Thank you. I’ve since found that it is also, in a varied form, attributed to Thales. However, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that the emphasis on the body and the self-infatuation deriving therefrom is why our political, moral and intellectual discussion is in the juvenile (but not Juvenal) state it is.
        I trust we are all fat and breathless on this site.

  8. Sorry Jane, but Mamata Banerjee of India Today attacking Hindu and Muslim groupthink? The Mamata Banerjee we know is an appeasement champion.

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