Yesterday, the gutless Tory government sacked Sir Roger Scruton as an unpaid advisor on architectural matters, after a deeply unfair, malicious article about him in New Statesman. Today, Sir Roger responds, clarifying matters and showing his NS interviewer to be a true villain. Excerpts:
I recently gave an interview to the New Statesman, on the assumption that, as the magazine’s former wine critic I would be treated with respect, and that the journalist, George Eaton, was sincere in wanting to talk to me about my intellectual life. Not for the first time I am forced to acknowledge what a mistake it is to address young leftists as though they were responsible human beings. Here is my brief response to an unscrupulous collection of out of context remarks, some of them merely words designed to accuse me of thought-crimes, and to persuade the government that I am not fit to be chairman of the commission recently entrusted to me.
Do read Scruton’s explanation of the out-of-context remarks, especially the paragraph about China and the Uighur Muslims. He concludes:
We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes. We are being cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of official doctrines and told to adopt a world view that we cannot examine for fear of being publicly humiliated by the censors. This world view might lead to a new and liberated social order; or it might lead to the social and spiritual destruction of our country. How shall we know, if we are too afraid to discuss it?
It’s short — read all of it.
Scruton’s point in that final paragraph is vitally important. It is exactly what a leading British academic, an emigré from a communist country, told me several years ago. And it has a lot to do with the theme of my next book, news about which I expect to announce in the coming days. How will we resist this soft totalitarianism? We had better start talking about it, and not in the usual way, either.