Sir Roger Scruton is England’s greatest living philosopher. He also happens to be a very outspoken, articulate conservative — so it comes as no surprise whatsoever to see the left playing the faux outrage game in order to oust him from his position as a government advisor.
Scruton has been appointed as unpaid chairman of the UK government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful housing commission. As Oliver Lane argues elsewhere, there may be reasons to be cynical about the way Britain’s leading conservative thinker has been co-opted into a project which involves carpeting the British landscape with more houses. Nonetheless, as an aesthete and an intellectual with a sound grasp of architectural and social history, and a track record of campaigning, Scruton is undeniably well suited to the task of ensuring that if these buildings have to built then at least they must be attractive and of enduring quality.
But the leftist whinge brigade wants him out for no better reason than that it hungers for another Tory scalp.
So, to get rid of him, it is employing the same tactics it successfully used earlier this year to force conservative journalist and educationalist Toby Young out of his job on the board of a university watchdog. The process is known as “offence archaeology” (or “offense archaeology” if you prefer, the phrase having been invented by an American).
Depressing to see the social media cops trawl through everything Roger Scruton’s ever written in the hope of finding things to be offended by. As Freddie de Boer said, “That’s what liberalism is now – the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists."
— Toby Young (@toadmeister) November 6, 2018
What happened to Toby Young — as he recounts here — is that, in order to destroy him, leftists went through pretty much every article and tweet he had ever written in order to find something “offensive”. Given that Young’s schtick is being a provocative, sometimes puerile, near-the-knuckle journalist this was hardly difficult — especially for people with no qualms about ripping words out of context or feigning outrage over articles clearly written in jest or with tongue-in-cheek or simply to provoke a reaction.
Now, on the Leninist principle — “Probe with a bayonet: if you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push” — the leftists are trying it on again.
According to BuzzFeed:
Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne told BuzzFeed News: “Nobody holding those views has a place in modern democracy. The prime minister needs to finally show some leadership and sack Scruton with an investigation into how he was appointed in the first place.”
Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Wera Hobhouse added: “Someone with these views has no place in advising the government on anything, and it is deeply concerning that the Conservatives have associated themselves with offensive views like this. Roger Scruton should never have been employed and the PM should ask him to resign.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting joined the calls for him to go, telling BuzzFeed News: “With every passing hour it becomes clear that Roger Scruton has a history of making offensive comments. It beggars belief that he passed a vetting process. This is an appalling error of judgment from the Secretary of State and the prime minister should sack him immediately and ask James Brokenshire how this appointment was ever made in the first place”.
So what, pray, are these views Scruton holds that are so offensive he deserves to be sacked?
Well, so far, it would appear that the best they’ve got is that Scruton thinks that “Islamophobia” and “homophobia” are #fakenews; that he thinks homosexuality is not “normal”; that he knows the Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán.
Here, courtesy of BuzzFeed, are some examples of Scruton being “offensive”:
In a 2007 article for the Telegraph, Scruton said homosexuality was not “normal” and outlined his opposition to gay adoption.
“Every now and then,” he wrote, “we wake up to the fact that, although homosexuality has been normalised, it is not normal. Our acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, of same-sex couples, and of the gay scene has not eliminated our sense that these are alternatives to something, and that it is the other thing that is normal.”
On gay adoption, Scruton wrote: “It is no more an act of discrimination to exclude gay couples than it is to exclude incestuous liaisons or communes of promiscuous swingers.”
He added: “We are being asked to overlook all that we know about the fragility of homosexual partnerships, about the psychological needs of children, and about the norms that still prevail in our schools and communities, for the sake of an ideological fantasy.”
Scruton returned to the theme of Islamophobia in an article for the Spectator in March 2016. He wrote that those who criticise Islam “have to put up with every kind of nasty label — racist, fascist, sexist, and whatever imagined ‘phobia’ serves the agenda of the day — and will be hard pushed to hold on to a job as a policeman, a teacher, or a government official”.
He added: “It is this fear in response to fear that is now leading the authorities all across Europe to hide the truth about the sexual crimes of Muslim immigrants.”
Well yes, perhaps from the point of view of an SJW milquetoast, these are naughty, reactionary, hurty words.
But they also happen to be words with which the majority of the British population likely agree.
What we have here, then, is another classic example of what Vox Day calls SJW “point and shriek” tactics, whereby a shrill, fascistic minority feign noisy outrage in order to bully the majority into acting against its own interests.
If the government caves in on Scruton as, quite inexcusably and pusillanimously it did with Toby Young, then the left will be encouraged to use these noisome tactics again and again. And every government advisory body in the land will be composed of achingly right-on, career-safe, liberal leftists with opinions not remotely representative of where the people of Britain really stand.
Scruton, as Guido notes here in this handsome tribute, is a hero — with strong claims to the title of Greatest Living Englishman.
And if you’ve any doubts as to why he’s so great, listen to his magnificent wisdom in this podcast we recorded last year.
If the government throws Scruton to the wolves, it will be a huge triumphant for the forces of the left and a terrible loss for the nation.