The god-awful Guardian newspaper is at the forefront of the current ‘woke’ and self-loathing obsession with running down every aspect of British history. It was therefore rather entertaining to read this article by Zoe Strimpel in the Telegraph recently:
Where does wokery end? With The Guardian accused of ‘colourism’
It is always grimly amusing to hear the anti-Britain intelligentsia rail at how this rotten country pretends it has an exclusively glorious past and refuses to reckon with the darkness of empire, crimes like the Amritsar massacre of 1919, or involvement in the slave trade. That because of its commitment to a bombastic, racist, Brexiteering jingoism, Britain insists on “hiding” its true history and raising generations to believe our role in the world was all glory and the moral leadership of gentlemen.
I tend to snicker because of how patently false the assertions are. Contrary to the insistence that we have a denial problem, most institutions in the country seem dedicated to doing little other than seeking out and broadcasting the very worst of our past, a project that has been so successful that it has become almost impossible to query the totalising horror of the empire – even though, as anyone who has ever talked, for instance, to Indians in India will know, it is far more complicated than that.
But little things called evidence or complexity or even decency are nothing to those with the woke bit stuck between their teeth. They are on a mission to destroy and have made excellent inroads, scything their way through the educational and cultural landscape so that many schools, universities and arts institutions, to say nothing of workplaces, resemble ideological re-education camps more than anything else.
But now – perhaps inevitably – they are beginning to chew through … themselves.
Last week an extraordinary story emerged concerning The Guardian newspaper, in which the producers of a podcast, part of an investigation into the paper’s possible historical associations with the slave trade, stomped away from the project, accusing the newspaper of racism.
Having been brought on to look for any involvement of Manchester Guardian founder John Edward Taylor in transatlantic slavery – for which little evidence has been found to date – the producers accused the paper in an email obtained by US media outlet Deadline to UK Audio Network members, of “institutional racism, editorial whiteness and ignorance”, saying that it tried to “whitewash” history during the making of the podcast. The producers, who are black, complained of being silenced, insisting that their experiences are “often buried, and production companies are able to continue as though nothing has happened and repeat the same harm whilst using our labour for kudos”. Righty-ho.
So, to recap. The Scott Trust, which owns the nation’s wokest newspaper, many of whose writers have signed up wholesale to the agenda of critical-race theory, intersectionality and all the nooks and crannies of social justice, commissioned a massive independent investigation into any possible slavery links in its past. In pursuing that investigation, they are being accused of neglecting the experiences of black people.
Of the investigation, Alex Graham, chairman of the Scott Trust, intoned with five-star correctness: “All organisations must understand and discuss their histories, and it is particularly incumbent on media organisations to do so, reflecting on their past and current positions with openness, highlighting mistakes, and facing the future with humility.”
It’s hard to imagine more zeal for self-discovery – or “humility” – than The Guardian’s. For this zeal, the media group has been repaid with accusations straight out of its worst nightmares.
As well as being “undermined, unsupported and deeply frustrated by the absence of journalistic rigour and critical attention to history from a global news organisation” the podcast producers insisted that “the issue was the lack of any serious desire from The Guardian to face and interrogate its own historic role”.
Guardian producers were accused of “microaggressions, colourism, bullying and passive-aggressive and obstructive management styles, which have caused frustration and stress for members of the production team”.
There really is no escape in this system. It has thought of everything. Thus, rather than being a question of editorial disagreement, it was a case of the producers’ concerns being “dismissed as ‘trauma’ and ‘baggage’”.
Back to the statement of Graham, who seemed almost apologetic for the lack of evidence of bloodcurdling racism in The Guardian’s past. As he suggested hopefully, the only way to correct a lack of evidence is to dredge some up.
“Were such evidence to exist, we would want to be open about it,” he said. “In any event, we must acknowledge that as cotton and textile merchants, some of Taylor and his funders’ family businesses would almost certainly have traded with cotton plantations that used enslaved labour.”
He needn’t have bothered. The Guardian, having painstakingly helped to construct the all-encompassing snare of woke logic, is now being gobbled up by it. It is finding out for itself what the sharp end of social-justice ideology and critical-race theory feels like: harsh, totalising, nasty and counterproductive nonsense.
I wish it well picking its way out of this one. But the affair offers a potent reminder to us all of the way that the horrible age of Twitter-mediated curtain twitching and virtue-signalling – bolstered by the hashtags of MeToo and Black Lives Matter – cannot but end up cannibalising itself. That’s how totalitarian regimes work. Eventually, even the most committed party men end up in the gulag. The world the wokesters are constructing is not Stalinist Russia, but The Guardian has had its own first modest taste of where an all-consuming ideology gets you.