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Sunday 28 February 2021

Decolonising Drivel Deceives No-One

Once again, it is the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph that is trying its best to instil in readers’ minds the idea of a non-existent “Culture War”, this time claiming that unnamed Universities are behaving as if the Soviet Union were still extant. And once again, the mother of this particular invention is the Tel’s reality recreator supreme Christopher “No” Hope, who has been talking to Universities minister Michelle Donelan.

The discussion has been promoted to front page status today, readers being told “‘Soviet’ Universities are fictionalising history”. Here, Ms Donelan tells Hope “The so-called decolonisation of the curriculum is, in effect, censoring history. As a history student, I’m a vehement protector and champion of safeguarding our history. It otherwise becomes fiction, if you start editing it, taking bits out that we view as stains”. And there is more.

Michelle Donelan

A fundamental part of our history is about learning from it, not repeating the mistakes … if we’re going down this road of taking bits out … it’s a very dangerous and odd road to go down, and certainly it has no place in our universities, I would argue, and it has no place in academic study”. Then comes the Soviet Union metaphor.

Still no Hope, sorry

And it just doesn’t work when Governments try to remove elements of history. Look at the Soviet Union, look at China. There are multiple examples where it’s been tried. It doesn’t work. I’m in favour of adding stuff in to enrich our understanding of history … But most of the narrative is about removing elements, about whitewashing it and pretending it never happened, which is naive and almost irresponsible”. She certainly is.

Alex Stevens from the University of Kent had some advice for Ms Donelan. “Dear [Michelle Donelan] 'Adding stuff in to enrich our understanding' is *exactly* what decolonising the curriculum is doing at my university”. Edward Anderson from Northumbria Uni agreed.

When we decolonise curricula, it's almost always ADDING more stuff in: scholarship & perspectives from the Global South, source material of the colonised not just coloniser, etc. [Michelle Donelan] must know this, but chooses to peddle a straw man, fictitious idea of what uni's do”. So did Andrew Jowett from Coventry Uni. “She has no idea what she's talking about. It's not about 'taking things out' of the curriculum, it's about contextualising what is taught and ensuring other cultures and indigenous peoples are represented in the curriculum. Maybe she should attend a webinar on it”. Well, quite.

Priyamvada Gopal from the University of Cambridge, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, put her response to Ms Donelan directly. “Let's break this down for [Michelle Donelan]. When we 'decolonise', we put the 'offensive' bits BACK IN. To give a random example, we tell [the] story of Winston Churchill not just as unimpeachable war hero--but as a man of empire & race science. We don't pander to white snowflakery”.

Once again, we have a Government minister apparently not in command of their brief, with their ignorance amplified by a shameless propagandist for the sole purpose of riling up his paper’s base and demonising purveyors of inconvenient thought.

Michelle Donelan referred to the USSR. What she seems to have missed is that that is where she and our Government are heading. What you will not read in the papers.

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Steve Woods said...

For a history graduate, Ms Donelan shows remarkable ignorance of the fact that history is a dynamic process.

After graduating, she worked in marketing, so has first-hand experience of churning out bullshit.

Anonymous said...

The year 2021 demonstrates there is little change in the worst of human nature.

Donelan is the kind of establishment stooge-stenographer that has always existed. If you think she's bad you ought to see Britain's answer to Otto Winnaker, Niall Ferguson. Then there's David Starkey.....

Donelan is just another tory off the Oxbridge conveyor belt.