The furore surrounding James Brokenshire’s appointment of Roger Scruton to chair the commission “to champion beauty in the built environment” has brought forth more examples of the latter’s lack of suitability for this role, and indeed any public role. It has also provided an excellent example of how our media class is totally detached from reality, and apparently in denial at Scruton’s back catalogue of appalling bigotry.
That denial manifested itself in suggesting that Scruton’s intellectual stature meant that he was somehow above criticism by those ghastly lower orders. This also, it seems, excused the bigotry. But the defence went wrong from the start, being led by the loathsome Toby Young: “‘These commissars of political correctness aren’t fit to tie his boots.’ My defence of Roger Scruton for tomorrow’s @spectator”. Political correctness. Wow! Zap! Dull!
Dawn Foster was not persuaded by this weapons grade drivel. “Roger Scruton claims there’s ‘no such thing’ as date rape or sexual harassment - only ‘advances made by the unattractive’. Completely beyond the pale”. She also figured out his defenders. “All day long I have seen white straight men wail and lament he is getting attacked for his racist, sexist, homophobic comments. No firm argument”. Correctamundo.
The less savoury aspects of Scruton the intellectual titan were also hinted at by Ash Sarkar. “Little story about Roger Scruton. Some years ago I went to a debate between him & Terry Eagleton. When a South Asian academic in front of me challenged Scruton on his views about the virtues of colonialism, he shot back at her: ‘Well, *we* stopped *you* from burning brides.’” Got the hint? Paul Embery had, sadly, not.
“If Roger Scruton, one of our most esteemed thinkers and writers, is drummed out of public life by the offence-taking zealots, we may as well pack up and go home”. Niall Ferguson agreed. “.@Roger_Scruton is the greatest living Englishman. If only he could be prime minister”. So did the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines. “Ignorant people who know little of him except what they read on twitter yesterday should know the truth. He is a moral giant being attacked by midgets”. Moral? With his views? Whatever.
The whining continued, and not just on the right. Tim Stanley chipped in “If Roger Scruton is barred from the public sphere, then it will hardly be worth engaging with”. David Aaronovitch sneered “I love that Dawn Foster appears to think that Roger Scruton is Katie Hopkins with a knighthood. When did knowing what you’re talking about go so completely out of fashion?”. And Staggers editor Jason Cowley put the lid on it.
“Scruton is a terrific writer. His book on aesthetics is first rate. I like his short history of western philosophy. And he writes well about Kant. Plus, his late critique of libertarianism is persuasive”. Er, hello Jason? He’s an intercoursing bigot. I don’t want to look over there.
The extent of that bigotry was summarised by Stuart Millar. “Toby Young on Today says Roger Scruton shouldn’t be questioned just because views don’t align with ‘prevailing progresssive orthodoxy’. To recap, those views: - no such crime as date rape - sexual harassment is ‘impoliteness’ - Islamophobia ‘invented’ - homosexuality not normal”.
In other words, this has Jack Shit to do with “prevailing progressive orthodoxy”. Small wonder Jay Rayner concluded “If you're being defended by Toby Young it's pretty obvious the game is up, isn't it?” To which Zoe Williams had a conclusion on similar lines.
“At the risk of sounding one-note, I don't understand the editorial logic behind … getting Toby Young on to talk about why it was fine for Roger Scruton to be a frothing homophobe. It's true he brings a special insight into what it's like for your views to render you unsuitable for a public role that requires maturity. But what value does this insight bring? ‘It's fine for this bigot to be a bigot, because I am also a bigot’? It's just peculiar”.
And as for that great intellect, Dan Davies had news for us. “My favourite Roger Scruton moment is when he wrote a (pretty bad) book all about wine, which was substantially leavened by the fact he thought ‘wino’ meant ‘a lover and connoisseur of wine’ and used it accordingly to describe himself, his friends and various viticulturists”. Ouch!
It is not about how Scruton is regarded by those in their hermetically sealed media bubble. His oeuvre is of no relevance whatsoever without addressing the fact of the matter - that his pronouncements on subjects such as Date Rape, sexual harassment, Islamophobia, homosexuality, and rather a lot more, place him beyond the pale.
But good of the media establishment to once again show the world how out of touch they are. Sad, really.
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