Hitchens On The Scruton Scandal
Regular readers will remember my story of the UK academic friend — a 1960s defector from a communist country — who told me a few years back that Western culture is starting to remind him and his wife (who defected with him) of their youth in communist Eastern Europe. He told me that the eagerness of left-wing people to lie for the sake of destroying the careers and lives of ideological opponents is the chief characteristic of this new soft totalitarianism. This is exactly how it started back home, he said.
We’ve seen this happen again and again here in recent years. The Covington Catholic boys were the latest and most prominent American example. In the UK, it was the disgusting smearing of Sir Roger Scruton by a smart-ass young left-wing journalist, George Eaton, aided and abetted by cowardly Tory politicians. Peter Hitchens commented on this in his Sunday column. Excerpts:
The case of Sir Roger Scruton, a guileless academic driven from public life by the twisting of his words and the howling of the electronic mob, is a warning to us all of a fast-approaching future.
The Left will win in the end because it recognises no limit on how wicked it can be to get its way. It will also win because the ‘Conservative’ Party is a rabble of cowards, which is so afraid of the Left it runs away from a fight before it has even been attacked.
Interestingly, two of the worst poltroons in the Scruton case were Tory MPs who certainly don’t keep quiet about their military careers – Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer. I’ve seen much braver pacifists. But the proper Right, you see, still has morals. It cannot do what the Leftist journalist George Eaton and the New Statesman magazine did to Sir Roger Scruton. Take Mr Eaton’s glee after Sir Roger had been disowned by the Tory Government.
He posted a portrait of himself swigging champagne, accompanied by the words: ‘The feeling when you get Right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked.’
He has since grovelled a bit about this, but I don’t doubt that it is a better picture of his true feelings and nature than the pretend-civilised withdrawal and apology he later made.
Hitchens explains how he could take Eaton out by employing the same methods of lying and twisting words that Eaton used against Sir Roger. But he won’t, because it’s cruel and dishonorable. Even Sir Roger has said that he does not want revenge on Eaton.
Nor do I believe he should be sacked, or chased by a mob, or have people celebrate his humiliation by swilling champagne. And that, disgustingly, is why his side will win and mine will lose. Because I and my allies are not like him.
The frequent commenter in these parts Matt from VA often argues that this is what is wrong with the Right today: that the Left is willing to fight dirty, and we aren’t. I can’t see any moral justification for embracing the degraded standards of George Eaton and New Statesman, nor of the lying liars of the media and activist mob who tried to destroy innocent high school boys for the high crime of wearing MAGA hats. I favor using every legal measure to compel them to answer for their libels, but never can we stoop to their level. Alas, as Hitchens says, this is probably why they will win and we will lose.
But what will they win? They will tear each other to shreds, having proved that they are nothing but a pack of hyenas. And they will lose the consent of the rest of us to be governed by them, with consequences that cannot be predicted.
Sir Roger went on Britain’s Today program to defend himself — and got more of the same. Read the transcript. It’s remarkable how dishonest so many journalists are. I don’t know what’s worse: the possibility that they are malicious, or the possibility that they really are as willfully ignorant as they sound. For what it’s worth, Sir Roger has acquired the audio tape of his interview with George Eaton, and posted it to his YouTube channel.
Anyway, I’m off later today to Bratislava, Slovakia, for the rest of the week, where I’ll be giving a couple of speeches at the Hanus Days Christian ideas festival. I’ll also be meeting with some anti-communist dissidents from the old days, and starting interviews for my next book, which will be about learning from those dissidents strategies for identifying and defying the new totalitarianism arising in the West. The book is now under contract; I’ll tell you more about that when I can.