The new Test Acts

Trevor Phillips on wokeism:

It is two centuries since this country abolished the Test Acts under which people were required to make a pledge of religious observance to qualify for public office or the civil service. But once again employees are being required to sign up to statements of belief or face denunciation, demotion and dismissal. Arcane arguments about white privilege and Pythonesque disputes about whether men can be women are no longer confined to warring left-wing sects or social media; they are eating away at the heart of leading institutions, corporations and government itself.

“Say that men can be women or you’re fired.”

Much of this turmoil began with the best of intentions: a long overdue focus on ethical behaviour in corporate and public life. In 2018 more corporate chief executives lost their jobs for misconduct than were fired for poor performance; the #MeToo movement has left its mark. But the drive for decency is steadily being hijacked by extremists, bringing a dark edge of censoriousness to the quest for better workplace behaviour. JK Rowling, infamously, has been threatened with “cancellation” for sardonically pointing out that there is such a thing as a woman. Kevin Price, a Labour councillor, resigned from Cambridge city council and faced pressure to leave his post as a porter at the university because he refused to sign a statement that “trans women are women”.

See also: fish are not chairs, tomatoes are not buses, owls are not bars of soap, planets are not cigarettes.

The intolerant aspect of wokeism has become plainer than ever. Its strictures against “offensive” language brought some of its adherents close to apologising for the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, suggesting that the journalists bore some responsibility for the Islamist attack by declining to censor themselves.

Remember the long exhausting war over that? I sure do. All those woke novelists trying to get PEN to decide not to honor Charlie Hebdo after all…when the bodies were barely cold.

Serious people on both sides of the Atlantic are drinking deep at the well of racial self-abasement. A much-lauded course at the prestigious Duke University in the US teaches that there are 15 characteristics to white supremacy culture, including perfectionism, a sense of urgency, worship of the written word and, amazingly, objectivity, all of which, it is argued, need to be jettisoned.

Yes let’s throw out the written word and objectivity, that would usher in utopia in a heartbeat.

The greatest tragedy in all of this is that the gurus of wokedom have persuaded thousands of idealistic young people who rightly want to change the world into supporting what is actually a deeply reactionary movement. The trans activists can only realise their aim of being able to enter spaces reserved for women by erasing the female sex. Critical race theory remains credible only so long as black and brown people continue to fail. In the end, the woke movement is turning into an echo of the very oppressors it claims to be combating. After all the statues come down, and women’s prisons are opened to all and sundry, the celebrities and social media warriors will move on to the next fashionable cause — and minorities will still be less likely to win the top jobs, and women will still be the victims of violence. The only thing that will have changed is the bitterness of a generation whose idealism was betrayed.

He’s not wrong.

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