At last, I’ve found kindred spirits – and in a most unexpected place: University of London or, to be precise, its School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
The student union at this world-renowned institution has demanded that most white philosophers be dropped from their curriculum, unless really required. And even then they ought to be studied solely from “a critical standpoint”, as distinct from philosophers of other hues who presumably ought to be studied uncritically.
The union has issued a paper entitled Decolonising SOAS: Confronting the White Institution, in which they demand “acknowledging the colonial context in which so-called ‘Enlightenment’ philosophers wrote within.”
Judging by the paper’s style, the study of grammar must already have been abolished long ago, but I refuse to criticise my soul mates. I shan’t even mention that most notable philosophy was written in the pre-colonial age, and nor shall I describe the paper as racist, which some may.
I’m prepared to overlook such minor glitches for the elation I felt when seeing the modifier “so-called” before “Enlightenment philosophers”. Moreover, the word Enlightenment was in quotation marks, which transformed my joy into sheer ecstasy.
At last! Who could have thought! A student union at our venerable university implicitly refuses to accept that the Enlightenment really enlightened. Moreover, they question whether the philosophers of that period are really worthy of the name!
Perhaps refusing to regard, say, Hegel and Kant as philosophers goes a bit too far, but I’m prepared to put that down to the impetuosity of youth. It’s the underlying sentiment that counts, and obviously the students reject out of hand Enlightenment rationalism – as do I!
They clearly share my sentiments that the – so-called! – Age of Reason dealt our Judaeo-Christian civilisation a mortal blow by compromising real reason. They’re obviously striving to return to the patristic roots of Western thought embedded into our cultural soil by the great black theologians.
Tertullian! Augustine! Origen! They were all black or at least off-white. As probably was St Athanasius – I mean they didn’t call him ‘black dwarf’ for nothing. And they, especially Augustine, defined Western thought for centuries to come.
Ever since Augustine declared “I’s not no Manichean no more” (I assume he spoke jive Latin), he uttered all sorts of wise thoughts, certainly more than all those Rousseaus and Voltaires put together.
For example, “dis da sin, not da sinner”, “our heart don’t chill till it chills in Yo” and “an unjust law ain’t no law at all”. Respect!
All of us who construct our thought along Christian lines should applaud this brave, if romantic, attempt to return modern higher education to its Christian roots by jumping backwards to leapfrog the so called Enlightenment, both French and German…
Hold on a moment. My wife is trying to say something… What? I should read the whole article, not just the first couple of paragraphs?
All right, give me a minute… Well, I’ve read it now, and I have to take back regretfully everything I’ve said so far. Apparently, SOAS students weren’t really inspired by Tertullian, Augustine and Origen. Nor did they learn their creed from St Athanasius who may or may not have been black racially.
The seminal statement was actually produced by Ali Habib, the democracy and education union officer, and don’t you just love his title. One wonders if the University of Paris had such a post at the time Aquinas studied there and, if it didn’t, why not. This oversight would explain their shoddy output, wouldn’t it?
Mr Habib cites an altogether different source of inspiration: Frantz Fanon (d. 1961), the Martinique-born trouble-maker who provided the ideological basis for the most radical anti-colonialism in the Third World, and also for Malcolm X and the Black Panthers in the USA.
The name vaguely rings a bell, although I can’t in all honesty claim that I’m familiar with Mr Fanon’s work as intimately as I am with the opera of some of the thinkers destined for the dustbin of SOAS.
However, taking a wild stab in the dark, I just can’t believe that Mr Fanon’s educational value quite compares with that of Plato, Aristotle, Kant or other whitey “philosophers”. Granted, none of those defunct thinkers produced a unique blend of post-colonial and post-coital studies, something for which Mr Fanon is so justly famous, but they’ve been around long enough to have acquired a patina of – respect!
One wonders what’s next on the agenda. The literature produced by Dead White Males was dismissed a long time ago. Now it’s white philosophers, dead or alive, biting the dust. May I suggest that the Royal Academy of Music replace Bach and Beethoven with N**gaz With Attitude, other rap groups and reggae bands?
And – while I’m on a roll – perhaps paintings produced by dead white artists should be taken out of the National Gallery and replaced with… well, nothing much. Perhaps the Trafalgar Square building could be converted into a combination of black community centre and mosque – with the square itself renamed after Franz Fanon or Malcolm X.
I also have a less facetious suggestion: the SOAS student union should be disbanded, all its activists, including the redoubtable Mr Habib, summarily expelled and the rest told to strain their underdeveloped mental faculties to a point where they understand the difference between philosophy and rabble-rousing.