Photo credit: The Spectator
By Mick Hume
In 1793, on the eve of the Terror in France, the royalist journalist Mallet du Pan coined the adage ‘The Revolution devours its children.’ Today, on the left, history is repeating itself as farce. In universities, childish pseudo-revolutionaries are devouring their elders and self-styled radical betters.
Last week, student activists at Columbia University in New York mounted a concerted campaign against that notorious neo-fascist puppet Pinocchio. A big blow-up Pinocchio doll had starred in a display by Students Supporting Israel, staged as a counter demo to a fun-sounding campus festival called ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’.
Presumably his role was to suggest that the pro-Palestinian students were telling porkies and their noses should grow. After these opponents protested, the university authorities removed Pinocchio — purely, of course, as a ‘safety’ measure, the new all-purpose excuse for political censorship.
But why pick on Pinocchio? Because, the anti-Israeli lobby insisted, the inflatable constituted ‘an explicitly and overtly anti-Semitic image’. A group of Jewish American students was censored because they were accused of, er, anti-Semitism.
Barely a week goes by without similar student-eat-student lunacy. Campuses are becoming ‘intersectional’ war zones, where identity zealots compete to see who can appear the most offended and victimised and so silence the rest.
In British universities, a rising ride of intolerance sweeps away anything that might make students feel uncomfortable. A leading anti-fascist campaigner has been ‘no-platformed’ by the NUS black students’ group, who branded him ‘Islamophobic’. The NUS lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual officer refused to share a platform with Peter Tatchell, doyen of LGBT lobbyists, because he had opposed bans on Terfs (‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’). After standing up for free speech, it seems, the likes of Tatchell must be denied the right to speak on -campus.
Over a year ago, Brendan O’Neill introduced Spectator readers to this new breed of super-squeamish, censorious student. The Stepford students, as Brendan called them, might ‘look like students, dress like students, smell like students. But their student brains have been replaced by brains bereft of critical faculties and programmed to conform.’
Since Brendan’s piece came out, things have got worse. Some Cambridge undergraduates set up a website ironically called the Stepford Student, intending to show that they didn’t fit the stereotype. Before too long they surrendered and closed it down — because of protests from real Stepford students outraged by tongue-in-cheek articles such as ‘Am I only a feminist to get laid?’ which showed a ‘flippant and harmful attitude towards feminism’. Feminism is never a laughing matter and flippancy equals heresy.
The ‘Rhodes must fall’ campaign, demanding the removal of the Victorian imperialist’s statue from an Oxford college because it made students feel ‘unsafe’, has been reportedly superseded by a move to bring down a statue of Queen Victoria at Royal Holloway, in London, because she was ‘implicitly involved in colonial exploits’. The reports were later denied – but it was widely reported in the press because it was so believable. It fits a relentlessly depressing trend.