Thursday, 5 July 2012

Scandal at Cambridge. 'Racism is natural and feminism harms women'

A scandal at dear old Cambridge. Caused by a researcher in Land Economy (I remember this as the refuge of younger sons of the aristocracy, usually at Magdalene) giving vent, unwisely on the net not the Magdalene bar, to some old-fashioned saloon bar opinions on subjects far from drainage and soil erosion, such as:

"Men must work hard, compete and take risks throughout their lives if they want any life at all, whilst women need only to look youthful and behave selfishly."

The Students Union is outraged.

"Cambridge is a diverse, multicultural community which stands against - and, indeed, refutes -everything he stands for," a spokesperson told The Cambridge Student.
"Obviously, an individual who expresses such deeply racist views, such deeply sexist views and who explicitly endorses national socialism cannot remain as a supervisor for Cambridge students.
"This raises further worrying issues regarding how the university could employ such an individual - the university must give its community concrete assurances that its recruitment procedures will become sufficiently robust to prevent such an unacceptable individual from being employed in future."

If Cambridge is a diverse community it should welcome diverse opinions, I suppose. Isn't that what universities are meant to be for? Still I am young enough to know one can disregard what is said by the students' union, a sad invisible institution. Yet I do expect undergraduates at my alma mater, even left-wing ones, to know the meaning of the word 'refute'.

Is Cambridge diverse these days? When I was there Cambridge contained two or three  types: public school men and some women (a tiny subgroup were homosexual and read History of Art) and state school men and some women.  Almost never the twain did meet - not very diverse but I don't think I much like diversity, personally. 
Natural scientists, mathematicians and engineers passed for state school even if they went to famous schools but, being estranged from the arts students who never spoke to them, were perhaps a third category. 

Is racism human nature? Human nature is certainly terribly right-wing. It should not be described but altered, according to ideas based on the latest research.

Eugenics, which began as a progressive idea like feminism, is, by the way, a fact of life in Great Britain - babies are aborted because of congenital defects or even their sex all the time, but I doubt if the Students' Union wants to limit abortions.

Perhaps being a Cambridge don is not always the dream job I think it is.

How Romanian his opinions sound, although he forgot to mention rape victims asking for it, as many Romanian women believe, or to make the remarks Romanians make about people who are  'handicapat'. 

Romania has all this to look forward to, but not too soon. It is no longer the 1950s here but we are now in the 1970s.

The last word goes to Bertrand Russell, from his Sceptical Essays (1928): 

It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to earn a living.

I hope it doesn't come to that for poor Sewell.

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