The battle against racism is one which has plagued institutions worldwide over the last few years and decades. They are caught in a perpetual conflict between pseudo-liberal views, the law, and cold hard logic.
Just this week, a Cambridge academic, Dr Priyamvada Gopal, tweeted “White lives don’t matter” and that we should “abolish whiteness”. One simply needs to replace “whiteness” with other ethnicities and races to see the blatant racism in that statement. There were numerous calls and petitions for her to be fired, yet Cambridge issued a statement of support for her right to free speech and, merely days after her very public display of racist sentiment, promoted her to a Professorship. This will have left her students, studying English, very aware of her political leanings, her racist sentiment and the fact that their University has backed her up on them. Moving forward, they will likely have to pander to this political outlook as, even implicitly, the success of their University career may rely on their work being marked by a bigot who sees criticism of her blatant racism as “ludicrous”.
The argument could be made, that in today’s world, it would have been impossible for Cambridge to take any other stance. If, as Burnley Football Club demonstrated, the words “white lives matter” are worthy of a police referral, then that leads to the obvious conclusion that the opposite must be true. This is a deeply offensive and racist sentiment that Cambridge have, likely unwittingly, endorsed. If the University had expressed opposition to Ms Gopal’s tweet, they would likely have been accused of an implicit endorsement of white supremacy amongst a multitude of other heinous, yet inapplicable crimes. Individuals such as Ms Gopal seem to endorse the school of thought that dictates that racism can only be fought with more racism. This is not a thesis that anyone should stand by, let alone a now-Professor at one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions.
This is not an isolated issue, but one which has become increasingly more culturally acceptable. The capitalist west is almost entirely reliant on the fundamental ideal of a meritocracy: that your success is proportionate on the amount of effort you put in. That equality of opportunity is king and that social and personal responsibility are core facets of success. This is the ideal of true equality. That race, gender and sexuality should be irrelevant in the workplace (and this be enshrined in statute), and one’s ability to succeed should come from one’s own predilection for hard work and innate skill. The civil rights movements fought for this ideal, that there would no longer be legal discrimination against any person because of their colour. The sad, yet ironic reality is that we are beginning to move further and further away from this. The academic Melz Owusu has launched a project this week, to establish a “free black university”, a university based on a fundamentally racist premise as “payback”. That is not the example of progressive politics it markets itself as, it is a modern example of a racist tit-for-tat that has plagued human history.
Our esteemed academic institutions must do more to battle racism on all fronts, whoever it is directed towards. Just as it would be fundamentally unacceptable for a student or academic to declare on twitter that “black lives don’t matter” or set up a “Free White University”, the opposite must also be true; else, the pseudo-liberal left will be exposed as the hypocritical “useful idiots” that Marx and Lenin described. We are in a dangerous age, the scales of debate and reason are at a tipping point on which we may be plunged into an abyss where
“woke apartheid” and “post-colonial institutional positive racism” are not contradictions, but socially acceptable policy ideas.