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Conservative Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton Stands Firm Against Leftist Witch-Hunt

Scruton
John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Britain’s pre-eminent conservative philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, has come out fighting in response to a left-wing campaign to drive him from public life.

The celebrated writer, who has been decorated in multiple ex-Communist countries where he helped to support the underground universities during the Cold War — with the Soviet puppet regime in Czechoslovakia arresting and expelling him and before placing him on their ‘Index of Undesirable Persons’ for his troubles — has fallen victim to an online outrage mob.

The attacks started after the government announced Scruton’s appointment to the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ commission, which will look at improving new building developments in Britain’s towns and cities, which have been terribly degraded by socialistic central planners and modern architects since the end of the Second World War.

Left-wing commentators have dredged up a number of comments the philosopher has made concerning George Soros, gay adoption, and the emergence of ‘Islamophobia’ in the political discourse over a long academic career in order to smear him as harbouring various species of bigotry, with little support from the nominally ‘conservative’ political class and media establishment — but, so far, he is standing firm.

“Following my appointment as unpaid chair of the commission on Building More, Building Beautiful, there has been a rash of out-of-context quotations designed to suggest that I am anti-Semitic, and also tarred with the brush of “Islamophobia”. It even counts against my appointment that I once defended the Catholic Church’s attitude to gay adoption. So let me confess,” he began in a column for The Telegraph.

Directly addressing the most serious charge of anti-Semitism, based on the statement “Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire,” he provided the full context of the quote, which came from a speech in which he highlighted the very real problems of anti-Sentimism, and why it might help to explain a distrust of “nationalism” among many Jewish intellectuals:

The remnant of territory that [Hungarians] still enjoy is shared with a substantial minority of Roma, whose unsettled ways are often resented by their neighbours, but whose cause inevitably gathers support in the wider world. The Jewish minority that survived the Nazi occupation suffered further persecution under the Communists, but nevertheless is active in making its presence known. Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire. People in these networks include many who are rightly suspicious of nationalism, regard nationalism as the major cause of the tragedy of Central Europe in the 20th century, and do not distinguish nationalism from the kind of national loyalty that I have defended in this talk. Moreover, as the world knows, indigenous anti-Semitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.

Those are only some of the factors that stand in the way of a collective pre-political attachment in this part of the world…

Turning to the subject of ‘Islamophobia’, which he was condemned for describing as a “propaganda word”, he held his ground steadfastly.

“I deplore the invention of this word, and all that it has meant by way of silencing one side to a much-needed debate. It belongs to the new politics, based in ‘the art of taking offence’, among people who could not care less whether real offence has been given,” he confirmed.

“Those who wish to know my views on Islam might like to read what I write in The West and the Rest on the Muslim way of life. How this is relevant to my views on building beautiful is of course another question, though it should be said that I have learned a lot about the topic from my close association with Marwa al-Sabouni,” he said, praising the noted female scholar on Islamic architecture.

“As for the assertion in my lecture in Hungary that Islamic states often fail to be nations, I would say that the facts speak for themselves,” he concluded.

“The matter is not a simple one, which makes it all the more sad that half-educated journalists think that it suffices to tweet a few words from a speech that they have never read in order to make a contribution to what is, in fact, the most important political debate in the world today.”

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