Silence speaks louder than words. Nonchalantly, Peter Hitchens strolled through the cobbled streets of Oxford University, pursued by a baying mob. Dozens of students, a multicultural mix, were led by a young black woman hollering with menace through a megaphone. A cinematic production would have looked down from high, showing the honey-stone quads and dreaming spires, and the man who walked between them without wasting a breath on his taunting assailants. Someone on Twitter set his strut to the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin Alive’ from Saturday Night Fever.
The video has been viewed nearly a million times, by people on either side of the culture war. Those with the students perceive a bigoted old white male being swept away by the tide of progressivism. Salisbury Review readers, no doubt, would see Hitchens as the hero of this scene, a titan of independent mindedness who withstands oppressive group-think. He is like an anthropologist of a hundred years ago in a remote tribal village, ignoring the risks to himself in his detached enquiry; certainly Hitchens was gathering good material for his Mail on Sunday column.
The context for this near lynch-mobbing was the Black Lives Matter campaign, which suddenly came to the fore following an instance of police brutality in the USA. Look closely at the video and you will see that among some of the shrillest students are white. The large demonstrations across the UK have attracted a large contingent of white middle-class sympathisers, who have taken the opportunity for zealous virtue-signalling.
Scratch the surface of Black Lives Matter and you will find the same radical agenda filling the comment pages of the Guardian: climate change alarmism, gender fluidity and singling out of Israel as an Apartheid state. For middle-class activists, BLM is a natural extension of their pro-Palestinian stance, but the latter borders on anti-Semitism. Thugs on BLM marches have let their masks slip, alternating between ‘f*** da police’ and ‘kill the Jews’.
A pioneer of the British chapter of BLM is ex-Guardian writer Ewa Josiewicz, who notoriously daubed ‘Free Gaza’ on the Jewish ghetto wall in Warsaw. She was among a group who blocked the road access to Heathrow Airport in 2016. In a similar stunt at London City Airport, the nine demonstrators, who were all white, claimed that climate change was disproportionately affecting blameless black people.
Black Lives Matter gets an astonishingly free pass in the mainstream media, given its declared aims of ending capitalism, abolishing the police and prisons and dismantling the supposedly white patriarchal structure of the family. That’s quite a leap from protesting against the death of an unarmed suspect in Minneapolis. BLM is just the latest incarnation of cultural Marxism, which has been preying on young minds since the 1960s.
Decades of postmodern subversive ideology has created a political and cultural establishment that despises its own country and its rich heritage. Tony Blair wanted 50% of school-leavers in university not to develop their intellectual talents but to nurture foot-soldiers against the forces of conservatism. From the Russell Group to former polytechnics, universities became madrassas of progressive dogma. Previous generations have bucked against their teachers and parents, but current students and graduates of progressive education have taken the baton onwards. They are uncompromising in their emancipatory zeal, and seem enraged by the alleged systemic racism in society.
Anger by proxy is a distinctly intense emotion. It is not tempered by the corrective of reality, because the angered-by-proxies’ view of injustice lacks the more complicated experience of those who they claim to represent. While many black people have encountered discrimination, they won’t overlook the mostly harmonious relations they have with white Britons. The frequency of mixed-race couples refutes pervasive racism.
For the fieriest of white anti-racist campaigners, it is too awkward to consider this complexity. Instead, they throw themselves into battle, defacing monuments, toppling statues and denouncing conservatives on social media. Their anger is not easily traced to their own upbringing, typically of relative privilege with liberal parents. Gripped by delusion, they fan the flames of moral panic. Hitchens is immune to their hysteria.
Niall McCrae is co-author, with Robert Oulds, of Moralitis: a Cultural Virus http://www.brugesgroup.com/shop/books/moralitis-a-cultural-virus