God Save the King will no longer be played at Bristol University’s graduation ceremonies. After some students complained it’s “old-fashioned”, “irrelevant” and “offensive to some”, the administration promptly complied.
Now, I don’t think Britons are any less patriotic than Americans, but they are certainly less demonstrative about it. Britons see hand-over-heart professions of loyalty as a bit embarrassing, some would say borderline vulgar. Nor does God Save the King get as much airing as The Star-Spangled Banner does in the US. And if our politicians shouted “God bless Great Britain” at the end of their speeches, they’d be laughed out of Westminster.
But less demonstrative doesn’t mean less real. In their own understated, quietly assured way the British people are as patriotic as anyone. Now, British academics are a different story, and it’s not a good read. (The same, incidentally, goes for American academics – many of them like nothing more than denigrating their own country.)
As far as university dons are concerned, the British have nothing to be proud of and much to be ashamed for. Our universities, whose mission is to forge a national intellectual elite out of the raw cerebral material of our youth, are busily churning out deracinated ignoramuses who insist on treating the entire British history as an uninterrupted sequence of evil deeds.
They wouldn’t be able to put forth anything resembling a sound argument in favour of that interpretation but, thanks to their teachers, they don’t have to. The grown-ups who run our universities insist on taking any idiocy springing from the students’ immature minds as gospel truth and a call to action.
That bothers me more than the understated patriotism of our academics. Dr Johnson did say “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, though he didn’t mean that as a general statement. He was talking specifically about one man, William Pitt, whom Dr Johnson considered a scoundrel wearing his patriotism on his sleeve.
Even so, patriotism is rather low down on my list of virtues, although it does appear on that list. To exhaust the daily ration of quotations I allow myself, another great man, Edmund Burke, put it in a nutshell: “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely”.
Burke didn’t object to patriotism as such, but he despised blind devotion along the lines of “my country, right or wrong”. (There, I’ve just exceeded my quota of borrowed phrases.) The greater the number of people who feel that way, the more likely the country will be to go wrong more often.
And if a country is an evil tyranny, like Russia, China or Iran, then it forfeits all claims to love and allegiance. However, I don’t think that even students of Bristol University would put Britain next to those states.
So the problem is not their lack of patriotism but their ideological idiocy, and one has to blame the university for not doing something about it. To wit, one student, who at 21 is still hovering on the edge of post-pubescence, explained: “The monarchy isn’t really relevant to my generation, so it wouldn’t be missed.”
First, God Save the King is the national anthem, and we have no other. Thus, if even a committed republican refuses to listen to it, he offends not just the monarchy but the whole nation.
Second, the UK is a constitutional monarchy that has evolved over many centuries. Hence saying that the monarchy isn’t relevant is tantamount to saying that the constitution isn’t relevant.
Does that student know that the monarchy is the crossroads where all constitutional paths converge? That, even with the worst of wills, it’s legally impossible to get rid of the king without plunging the country into anarchy at best, civil war at worst?
Thus, the monarchy isn’t just ‘relevant’ (whatever that means), but absolutely indispensable. That student would be well-advised to study English history between 1640 and 1660, to learn what happens when the monarch is removed.
Judging from her age, she is close to graduation. Now, her excuse is that, at 21, a person’s brain isn’t even wired properly. But what’s her professors’ excuse for not having taught that silly twit the fundamentals of her country’s history and constitution?
In fact, our academe is in the grips of paedocracy, which is a much greater social danger than the more popular word of the same root. If our universities are asylums, then students are the lunatics running them.
They wield the kind of power they are ill-equipped to wield, psychologically, intellectually and institutionally. Unlike the Chinese Hongweibings, the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution, our students can’t kill or maim their professors – yet. But they can silence and ‘cancel’ them. They can also force university administrations to go along with any subversive idiocy that crosses their underdeveloped minds.
Thus, the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol during a Black Lives Matter protest, with students of Bristol University marching in the front row of the rioters. Now they’ve forced the university to remove the dolphin (Colston’s emblem) from its logo.
Now, Colston was involved in the slave trade in the late 17th, early 18th centuries. That occupation wasn’t illegal in Britain at the time, although it was already widely regarded as immoral. On the plus side, however, Colston left his whole fortune to endow schools, universities and alms houses in Bristol.
Bristol University was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1909, long after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and slavery in 1833, and almost 200 years after Colston’s death. But without the foundation he bequeathed to the city, the university would probably not even exist. In acknowledgement of that fact, the Colston dolphin has featured in the logo of the grateful institution ever since – before it came into conflict with the flaming conscience of the young dimwits.
I wonder if their conscience prevailed over their education or was informed by it. Looking at some of the university’s professors, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter.
Thus Harriet Bradley, Bristol University’s Emeritus Professor of sociology, was aghast when the premises were offered to the Jewish Labour Movement to hold its annual conference. In her tweet she called for “someone to blow up the venue”.
Now that sort of thing could be regarded in some quarters as incitement to terrorism, but I wondered what upset the good professor so much. At first, I thought she was averse to socialism, but then I found she used to be a Labour Councillor. So she was averse to something else, or rather some people else.
After a public outcry, the academic had her Honorary status withdrawn. But I wonder how much venom she had injected into her students’ brains – and how much more comes from her colleagues. Bucketfuls, would be my guess.
None of this would be worth mentioning if our ideologised, moron-spewing education were confined to a single rogue university. Alas, it isn’t. All this is indicative of the general dismal state of our universities. The groves of academe? The graves, more like it.