Historians will never cease arguing about when it was that Western Civilization began – Sumer? Salamis? After the Fall of Rome? But not one of them will be in the slightest doubt from this week onwards as to when it was that Western Civilization ended.
Indeed, they will be able to pinpoint its demise down not just to the day but to the very hour the announcement was made. I refer, of course, to the extraordinary Gavrilo-Princip-style moment when some very dangerous and out-of-control mad person somehow got their shaking, sweating hands on the controls and decided it would be a good idea to award an OBE to someone called Caroline Criado Perez.
To help future historians I thought I’d provide a contemporary record of this momentous event using the traditional early 21st century medium of an internet Q & A.
Q: So we’re all very clear now, we historians here in your future, that Western Civilization definitely ended when Caroline Criado Perez was awarded an OBE. But though we’ve searched our extensive archives, which includes every article written or published, and every tweet ever tweeted – including the deleted ones by Johann Hari claiming to have personally transcribed all Shakespeare’s plays as they were dictated to him by the author – we seem quite unable to find anyone by that name of any significance. The only Caroline Criado Perez in our records appears to be some kind of desperate, attention-seeking, political activist cum low-rent blogger.
A: Yes. That’s the one.
Q: Then we can only assume that her OBE wasn’t the OBE but some similarly-named bauble of no significance.
A: Er, no. It’s the OBE. As in Order of the British Empire.
Q: Quite impossible! We’ve studied the history of the British Empire and it was kind of a big deal. We’ve read about Queen Victoria and Clive of India and the Charge of the Light Brigade and Scott of the Antarctic and Rorke’s Drift and the White Man’s Burden and all the incredible economic and scientific and intellectual advances that were made as a result of the money, power and influence which accrued from the Empire where the sun never set. So when you award one of your Queen’s subjects a medal named the Order of the British Empire that’s got to be a pretty big deal right? You’re not going to just hand it over willy nilly, to some hysterical, twittering, publicity-grubbing nobody?
A: So the more old-fashioned among us would have hoped, certainly.
Q: No. No! You have GOT TO BE JOKING. We know our history, we historians of the future, and one of things we know is that the Beatles – who are, only, like, the most famous pop band in the history of the universe – when they got their awards they weren’t even OBEs. They were MBEs. Which is one notch below. You’re not seriously telling us that between 1965 – when John, Paul, George and Ringo got their MBEs – and 2015, when Caroline Criado Perez got her OBE, that your culture became so grotesquely debased that some jumped up feminist troll was deemed superior in value and achievement to the creators of Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields Forever, Helter Skelter and (our personal favourite in the future) Octopus’s Garden? Really?
A: Now you’re beginning to grasp this End of Western Civilization thing.
Q: OK. OK. Just to recap, so that we’re SURE we’re talking about the same woman. This Caroline Criado Perez’s most memorable achievement was launching a campaign to get the head of Jane Austen on a banknote. Not because Jane Austen was maybe the greatest novelist in the English language – which we could understand – but just to make the cheapshot feminist point that Jane Austen had a vagina whereas Dickens and Trollope didn’t?
A: You do sound refreshing un-PC in the future, I must say.
Q: Yeah well. We had to change. It was the only way we could start trying to recreate Western Civilization once this Caroline Criado Perez person had killed it. But look, we’re asking the questions here. We’re future historians. We NEED TO KNOW because there’s something about this whole banknote think that has been troubling us. Are we right in thinking that the person on the other side of the banknote was also female?
A: Yes. The Queen.
Q: But this Caroline Criado Perez felt, what, that was “sexist” or something? That only total domination of your banknotes by the female sex would do?
A: “Gender”. She would have preferred the term “gender.”
Q: Crikey, she sounds tiresome.
A: I think she would have considered that kind of language patriarchal, phallocentric and dismissive.
Q: I bet she would, the minx.
A: Wow! I’m loving this future of ours already.
Q: You say that. But you have no idea the horror the planet has to go through in order to get where we are. Fireships off the shoulder of Orion, my arse. We are talking ugly, ugly, ugly. Mind you, having said that, nothing quite as ugly as the awarding of the OBE to this annoying uber-talentless rabblerousing flibbertigibbet. Which is why I’ve got one more important question for you.
A: Go on.
Q: Well, it’s like this. Our records show that when the Beatles got their MBEs many earlier recipients of the award were so disgusted that they handed their gongs back in protest. Yet, we seem to have no evidence that Caroline Criado Perez’s OBE provoked a similar outbreak of high principle.
A: So your question is what exactly?
Q: Well it’s more of a rhetorical one, really. What can have happened to your culture that it became so vapid, spineless and worthless so quickly? Since when did you become so obsessed with this “equality” crap that it was allowed to trump all the things that once made Western Civilization great: your history, your traditions, your values, your heroic achievements, your quest for truth, beauty, wisdom, excellence?