Those di- words are clashing all over the place.
As we know, DIVERSITY is a social virtue than which nothing greater can possibly be conceived. Conversely, DISCRIMINATION and DIVISIVENESS are the gravest of sins because they undermine DIVERSITY.
If you accept this premise, then you’ll be ready to overlook the sheer inanity of Rachel Sylvester’s diatribe in The Times. She argues against Boris Johnson’s plan to create state-funded faith schools.
The plan isn’t sacrosanct. One could easily come up with several valid arguments against it, starting with ‘faith’ being so inclusive as to be nebulous.
Valid, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean correct. It only means sound enough not to engender serious concerns about the enunciator’s mental health.
Miss Sylvester’s arguments, however, fail even such a rudimentary test. Faith schools, she writes, are DIVISIVE. For our society to be properly integrated, all schools should be the same for everybody.
After all, “Nobody would dream of setting up a hospital that catered only to Christians, Muslims, Jews or Hindus…” That’s right, nobody would. Yet many people would, upon reading that sentence, be tempted to call for the men in white coats.
Most humans, regardless of their faith, are born with one head, the same internal organs and the requisite number of limbs. Therefore segregating hospitals on the basis of faith would be pointless – therapies and surgical procedures are blind to the contents of people’s heads.
Education, however, isn’t. The Christian view of the world is as different from Muslim, Judaic or Hindu as they are different among themselves. Such differences may affect the teaching of certain subjects, such as history, literature, philosophy, politics, biology and so on.
This distinction escapes Miss Sylvester, which is worrying. For the sake of the august paper that employs her, I hope her problem is psychiatric and therefore treatable. It’s unfathomable that a compos mentis writer would come up with statements that could be instantly debunked by an average pupil of a faith school.
While we’re on the subject of The Times’s hiring practices, its sports columnist Matthew Syed generously allows that Margaret Court shouldn’t be banished from attending the Australian Open.
Mrs Court (an aptonym if I ever saw one) won more Grand Slams than any other tennis player, male or female. However, her views on homosexuality have poured a pot of black paint on that feat.
In broad strokes, Mrs Court, who’s a Christian, believes that homosexuality is a sin, and marriage is a union of one man and one woman, rather than any other combination of mammals.
While laudably insisting that Mrs Court’s achievements should still be acknowledged in spite of her “antediluvian views”, Mr Syed, less laudably, puts forth a narrative of moral relativity that again treads the fine line between inanity and insanity.
Morality, opines Mr Syed, is shifting sands, and a good job too. What was considered moral five minutes ago is seen as bestial now, and we must all march (more appropriately, run) in step with this race towards amorality.
Alas, “One of the ironies of moral education is that many children are taught to consider ethical norms as absolutes.” Perish the thought. Moral absolutes accepted by a whole civilisation as inviolable are anathema to Mr Syed and the vandal counterculture called modernity.
“It is possible, for example,” he writes, “that eating meat will be considered the genocide of our time.” I’d suggest it’s not just possible but guaranteed. What’s merely possible, though perhaps not guaranteed, is that heterosexuality will be considered the sin of our time.
Margaret Court, who dares enunciate views that went unchallenged for millennia and have only become “antediluvian” within the latter part of Mr Syed’s not particularly long lifetime, is to be pitied, not ostracised, as far as he’s concerned.
Mr Syed is prepared to treat her with compassionate understanding. You see, there are “the psychological ironies at play when the moral sensibilities of a society evolve faster than the moral sensibilities of its (ageing) members.”
Hence Mrs Court is allowed to get off with her head. Her fault isn’t inherent evil, as many would aver, but only a lamentable inability to keep pace with the minute-by-minute changes in public morality.
Mr Syed doesn’t answer, nor even ask, the question of what happens when my relative morality is different from yours, ours is in conflict with his, and his with theirs.
How do we settle such disagreements in the absence of absolute moral norms? Brute force seems the only realistic option, but that doesn’t occur to Mr Syed, for reasons either intellectual or psychiatric, I’ll let you decide which.
When I get on my hobby horse of modern insanity, there’s no dismounting. In that vein, a history textbook produced for France’s Grandes Ecoles has this to say about 9/11: “This world event was undoubtedly orchestrated by the CIA (secret services) to impose American influence on the Middle East…”
I especially like the “undoubtedly” part, appearing as the word does not on a madcap conspiracy website but in a textbook to be used by Science Po, l’Ecole d’Administration and other top universities acting as hatcheries of the French elite.
I wonder if their students are also taught to hail every overnight change in morality, while regarding faith schools as a threat to society. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.