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Saturday 23 December 2017

Oxford - Daily Mail Loses It

When the Mail puts out a hatchet job under the by-line of Guy Adams, that is the signal telling readers that this has been personally directed by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, and directed in order to tell those readers (a) what to think, and (b) make sure there is no problem in telling which are the good guys, and which the bad ones.
Why the f*** shouldn't I denounce leftist c***s as f***ing foul-mouthed, c*** features?!?!?

So it was with today’s Zhdanov-style denunciation of more of those Enemies Of The People, as the headline thundersRevealed: How Oxford University is 'home to loud mouthed, Tory-loathing, anti-Israel academics who believe only they should have freedom of expression’”. So who is the poor victim here?

The Reverend Canon Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, is a gifted orator who has published eight books during the five decades of his career … A leading authority on religious ethics and an Anglican priest, he is also a senior adviser to the Vatican”. And what happened to poor Nige?

Professor Biggar has become the target of a hysterical social media mob for expressing his views on the British Empire … he attracted an avalanche of odium on Facebook and Twitter … some of his fellow Oxford academics were also vehement critics, and this week it emerged that 58 of them had signed an open letter declaring their 'firm rejection' of his ‘agenda’”. Sinister quote marks! Guess what’s coming next?

So far as we can tell, almost all the 58 Oxford academics who signed the letter appear to be card-carrying members of the Left”. You didn’t bother finding out. “A vast proportion are fully paid-up Labour activists and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn”. How many is vast? “20 have endorsed or campaigned for the Labour Party and two are Labour members”. Fewer than half. “Thirteen are anti-Brexit campaigners”. Fewer than a quarter.
But Adams did find one supporter of Momentum. And some critics of Israel, which for the Mail is truly taking the biscuit: nudge-nudge Labour-means-anti-Semitism after the paper carried an attack on Lord Leveson which gratuitously described him as “a Liverpool-born, Oxford-educated Orthodox Jewish lawyer”. The Mail’s bizarre assault on the memory of Ralph Miliband also generated concern over at the Jewish Chronicle.

Moreover, Biggar has form for running to the Mail: earlier this month, it carried a sob story telling “Oxford students have branded an eminent professor ‘bigoted’ after he suggested feelings of guilt around British colonialism may have gone too far”. In 2016 it wasNigel Biggar, professor of moral pastoral theology at Christ Church, criticised students calling for the removal of a memorial to Cecil Rhodes, during a debate yesterday”.

And Biggar should not be surprised to find some of his colleagues opposed to his stance - he has, after all, authoredOuting yourself as a rightist isn’t easy” for The Conservative Online. Earlier this year he delivered a lecture to right-wing think tank Policy Exchange. Right-winger finds views challenged by a few left-wingers no shock horror.

Worse, Adams’ hatchet job has gratuitously smeared many Oxford academics whose colleagues clearly feel his article has been deeply unfair. Jonathan Healey is one who has shared his thoughts, which you can see HERE. As usual, the Mail selectively trashes those of whom it disapproves in order to burnish the image of its favourites. No change there.


Allan D said...

Mr Fenton resorts to the same technique in criticising the Mail's article that he accuses the Mail of using - picking comments on unrelated issues and using them to disparage any credibility the Mail might hold - which is clearly none in his view. Whilst Mr Fenton is right that we do not know the partisan allegiances of all those that signed the letter we do at least know some of their wider political views, assuming that those who signed it read it thoroughly and agreed unreservedly with what it said.

They are opposed to foreign military intervention for example: "

"His own call for British “pride to temper shame” in the assessment of empire is similarly intended to fortify support for overseas military interventions today." (though that requires some mind-reading on their part).


That would presumably include the present military intervention against ISIS in Syria and Iraq even though it has been authorised by a UNSCR and can be justified on ethical grounds that ISIS is not only a threat to the West but also a barbarous genocidal organisation wishing to wipe out the Kurds, Yazidis and also, of course, the Jews and establish their own form of empire or caliphate stretching from the Philippines to the Pyrenees. The signatories would presumably argue that such ethical arguments should be dismissed on account of Britain's troubling & dubious imperialist past.

However the sentence in the letter that I have the most difficulty with, both in interpretation and import, is this:

"...they also reinforce a pervasive sense that contemporary inequalities in access to and experience at our university are underpinned by a complacent, even celebratory, attitude towards its imperial past."

I'm not sure how the 2 are related and whether or not they are accusing the University of a celebratory attitude towards its imperial past. I have seen no evidence of it nor am I sure what role the University played in our imperial past apart from educating those who administered it although the traffic was not just one way. Oxford has been educating non-white students from what was then the Empire since 1873:


Jawaharlal Nehru, the 1st Prime Minister of India after independence in 1947, was a product of Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. Mahatma Gandhi was trained as a barrister at Middle Temple, Mohammed Ali Jinnah at Lincoln's Inn. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the first President of the African National Congress, came to read law at Jesus College in the Michaelmas Term of 1906 - the supposed apogee of the British Empire:


Even the successors of these first anti-colonialists continued to come to Oxford. Both Zulfiqar & Benazir Bhutto were educated there, Benazir becoming President of the Union, the first Asian woman elected to that post. I don't recall any of them saying anything about having unequal access to or experience at Oxford even at a time that not only our imperial past but also our imperial present was being celebrated. I can't see that the University has anything to apologise for, or be ashamed of in that regard.

ashie said...

It was indeed a strange article. Both badly written and badly edited. I particularly enjoyed the sentence (or was it a paragraph): "And so on, and so on". That summed up the article for me.

Anonymous said...

"I can't see that the University has anything to apologise for, or be ashamed of in that regard."

I can't see the bit where it says the university should be ashamed.

Any particular reason why you gloss over the untruths printed in the Mail? These were, after all, the reason for the article.

Rudolph said...

The Mail increasingly becomes a parody of itself. Dacre seems to have lost whatever touch he once had at tickling the Great British Public in the right places.
Why Allan D should go to such contorted lengths to try to defend such a dim-witted article can only be guessed at.

Anonymous said...

"...nor am I sure what role the University played in our imperial past apart from educating those who administered it although the traffic was not just one way."

Well, that's you nailed then Allan D.

Looks like "educating administrators" of slavery and genocide is acceptable then. Plus riding roughshod over the established rights of the Palestinian people. Plus looting natural resources of invaded nations. Plus destroying indigenous economies in the name of "free trade". Plus "educating administrators" who are "educating" and "civilising" in religions which make indigenous peoples out to be "savages". Plus spreading the word that the British, like contemporary Yanks, are "exceptional" and "indispensable" people.

Gandhi was once asked what he thought of "Western Civilisation". He answered, "It would be a good idea". You missed that bit.

Looking through the sheer pomposity and willful ignorance in your comment only confirms the impression that your views are typical of a far right apologist for Britain's disgusting colonial past. Which by implication clears all the other European empires of their common racist guilt, theft and mass murder - including the current US version.

Your apologia wouldn't be out of place in the Daily Mail or the Sun. Both of which have their roots in the propaganda churned out by those well known objective publications Volkischer Beobachter and Der Sturmer.

In short, your "contribution" is a load of excuse-making sophist claptrap that shames what's left - and it isn't much - of democratic truth in Britain 2017.

Dacre would be proud of you. And given his twisted far right view of the world that's all the company your weasel words comment deserves.

Allan D said...

Looks like you think Oxford University shouldn't really exist at all, so compromised is it by involvement in genocide and third world exploitation. Maybe we should close it down and turn it into a refuge for the homeless and asylum seekers whilst forcing the redundant lecturers to be reeducated at various Sports Direct warehouses around the country. I think you and Mr Dacre and, possibly, even myself, might have a point of agreement there.

Anonymous said...

A strange one-dimensional world you live in Allan D. Sounds more than a bit far right racist too.

The point, and you keep squirming away from it, is that Oxford University was not only compliant with the very worst of this country's international criminality it actively encouraged it. It "educated" (read: indoctrinated) generations toward that end, generations at all levels of political power. It is a university - and not the only one - riddled with moral corruption and arcane practices. You can find the details in Carroll Quigley's The Anglo American Establishment. I can't be arsed repeating them here.

None of this is to say Oxford has not produced significant praiseworthy and honest individuals. But then it could hardly claim intellectual honesty and avoid the inevitable in a notional democracy. Many other universities have also produced similar individuals. True intelligence is not limited by a geographical location.

The truth is, in the 21st century Oxford has only its age to commend it. Where important information was formerly limited it is now relatively quickly available. The days of "super star intellectuals" are almost over, as is their controlling influence. Which is why far right individuals have retreated to "institutes" and "think tanks" which are nothing more than propaganda units, themselves relatively quickly exposed for their true nature.

So......Oxford University? An outdated centre for the deluded and self important, a soap opera of ageing bullshit and cowardly lies besieged by a changing world, not a centre of excellence but a node of fading privilege and paranoid politics. There's more common sense and intelligence in the averagely honest sixth former anywhere in the country.

It's ideally suited for the disgusting likes of Dacre. And you, it seems.