War with the Left
Bigots, bullies, liars & haters are all the same regardless of which 'side' they're on
Words from Ecclesiastes — “Be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (xii.12) — must occasionally spring to the mind of those who inflict “opinion pieces” upon innocent readers! But we are engaged in a mostly cold war against those who denigrate the achievements of the Western tradition, and words (when they can be heard) are our best weapon. One of our greatest warriors in Australia is Kevin Donnelly, who wrote a piece about our stoush with Jane Franklin Hall over the hosting of our Colloquium.
Many years ago, as an undergraduate member of our Union board, it fell to me to chair a meeting at my university. After all those years I can’t honestly recall what the meeting was about, but it must have been provocative because the “rads” (as we used to call our leftie fellow students in those days) decided to break it up. The verb no-platform wasn’t in use then, but the effect was the same. They filled the front row carrying red flags and shouted me down, so that nobody sitting behind them could hear a word from the platform. The meeting, naturally, was a washout.
That was during the Vietnam War, and I was a bit of a “rad” myself in those days, but the events of that evening changed me forever. I looked into the eyes of people, some of whom I had thought of as friends, and saw — what? A sort of blankness, a vacancy in most, but a kind of mocking hatred in some. Those lefties certainly knew how to hate, we discovered, just as intensely as the pro-war activists on the extreme right.
Well, that war is history. I suppose in a sense the left won it. But the ground has shifted to the social fabric of Western societies, a much easier target now that the traditional religious and moral underpinning has been weakened. Will they win this round, or have they chanced their arm too far? In the matter of gender the world really has lost its wits. It’s one thing to honor any person’s wish to use particular pronouns, but it’s quite another matter to demand (on pain even of dismissal) that employees of universities and big corporations nominate their preferred pronouns in every item of correspondence. This is beyond stupid. It is actually abusive bullying.
Nowadays anybody the manic left disagrees with is labelled a fascist. That word has been bandied about with such feckless abandon that it has almost been evacuated of meaning. Worse still, its overuse insults and trivializes the sufferings of those who really endure misery and even death at the hands of tyrants.
Let’s be clear: there are tyrants (fascists, if you will) at both ends of the political spectrum. Politics are often viewed as a sort of linear polarity ranging from left to right, but a circle offers more useful imagery: If you wander far enough to the left you’ll end up in a heap at the bottom with all those nasty types who strayed to the right. Bigots, abusers, bullies, liars, haters — they’re all the same, really, regardless of which side of the spectrum first spawned them.
Returning for a moment to the Colloquium, we were contacted by the Human Rights Law Alliance, a group closely associated with the Australian Christian Lobby, offering us assistance and advice. It is a great comfort to have their encouragement, to know that we have good friends who would go to the barricades for us, but in this particular matter, because of my former connection with the college, I prefer to yield.
The Dawson Centre’s 2023 Colloquium has a new home. The eighth annual Colloquium will be held at the St. Mary’s Cathedral Centre, Harrington Street, Hobart.
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