Watching Millennials trying to ‘own’ the debate about racism today is commendable and tragic at the same time. Of course they own the problem now, but the futility of re-inventing positions that ignore all historical antecedents is saddening, particularly when some vociferous voices are so plainly ignorant of history, philosophy, and political thought. They bypass ‘knowledge’ to reach directly for a stalemate of completely unrealisable demands. Moreover, they are demands they seem unaware of standing against in all they do as civic troglodytes who have abandoned the idea of activism, political process, and effective citizenship.
Anger I can understand. If I were black and living below the poverty line in some American ghetto contemplating being murdered by state employees, or spending 30 to life in a private gaol, I would be pretty pissed off too. But would I be so pissed off that I’d stop at merely blaming all white people as the cause of my immiseration and alienation? That’s just impotent rage leading nowhere, and possibly worsening the situation by alienating potential political and social allies.
Trust an old Bolshie friend of mine to beat me about the head with a perfect example of the Stalinist political correctness that has so devastated the Western academy for the past 40 years: we must be tolerant of intolerance in order to be morally righteous people.
I am well aware of the embarrassing ideological-ethical cowardice within the academy, but something about Michael Brull’s sanctimonious defence of Islam in the University of NSW online Overland magazine wouldn’t quite let go of me.
It wasn’t the overbearingly self-righteous tone. That’s almost de rigeur from the university literary set. Dull and doctrinaire writers apparently obsessed with lost causes, and competing for some imaginary prize awarded to whoever can demonstrate the furthest remove from social or economic practicalities, let alone worthy ethical positions.
It wasn’t the credulous, politically correct, abhorrent defence of misogynistic mediaevalism either; it strikes me as an almost obligatory sideline for humanities academics to defend the indefensible ever since they made a kind of fetish cult of supporting Stalinism and all its brutal horrors just to give the finger to American imperialism. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.