Books

Don’t blame the Frankfurt School

Today's students are seen as 'easily offended and alarmingly belligerent'

What Are They Teaching The Children?
Edited by Lynda Rose, Wilberforce, £12

Not a day seems to pass these days without a story in the newspapers about students or universities banning books or speakers for being “offensive”. Invariably, the offending text or person has said something taboo about someone’s gender or ethnicity, something which contemporary students find unbearably hurtful.

Modern higher education appears awash with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” designed to protect today’s students who are at once easily offended and yet alarmingly belligerent in their perceived defence of minorities and the oppressed.

This 21st-century development shouldn’t surprise us, considering the schooling these students would have experienced. For decades now, the doctrines of race and gender equality and non-discrimination have been relentlessly instilled into pupils in secondary schools.

To transgress these articles of faith is deemed to inflict severe mental anguish on the oppressed. The only surprise about our bellicose “snowflake” generation is that it didn’t emerge earlier.

As this collection of essays edited by Lynda Rose elaborates, this cultural revolution – the emergence of equality as a new dogma – materialised in the 1960s. This was a decade that witnessed a sustained attack on Christian and traditional values, with the emergence of socialism as an ersatz, substitute religion.

The associated revolution in education was but one symptom of this cultural shift. As Rose writes: “Education thus became a tool for re-education and indoctrination, ruthlessly replacing the old values with socialist dogma, aimed at emancipating the individual from perceived social pathologies and transferring allegiance to the state.”

“Fairness” has since become the unspoken guiding ideology, which is why in schools it’s deemed important to enlighten children about “equality” and “tolerance” – whether it be towards gays, the transgendered or Muslims.

Yet little comparable generosity of spirit is accorded to Christians, who, quite the reverse, have become objects of hostility. As Edmund Matyjaszek writes here: “The most ironic aspect is that increasingly – in employment, in education, in public pronouncements – it is the expression of Christian belief that is in danger of being criminalised.” This is because today’s creed of “fairness” only applies to those who are identified or identify themselves as victims – the new dogma excludes those that don’t fit this criteria.

This book is well intentioned, and many will sympathise with the motives of the authors. But while there is much here to inform the reader, What Are They Teaching The Children? suffers from overstatement, and it lapses all too often into the shrill language of conspiracy theory.

“The LGBT movement despises biblical Christianity, following the teaching of Karl Marx and Engels … and the Church today needs to recognise that the media and government campaigns for the populace to embrace a new morality are just carrying out the mission of radical atheists,” writes Anthony Busk in one chapter. “Their aim is the abolition of the Christian church … as one more stage on the journey towards fascist and communist totalitarianism.”

Rose herself believes this cultural shift was actually “orchestrated” and “consciously planned” by communists and the Frankfurt School: “The cult of political correctness that we see today is a direct consequence of the organised but covert manipulation devised in post-revolution Russia – and the goal is still the creation of chaos in order to allow the imposition of totalitarian control.”

The book reaches its nadir in the chapter “Indoctrination in Scientism”, where Dr Alastair Noble laments that “evolution is always taught as ‘a fact’.” This is the ironic thing about today’s creationists: they employ the language of relativism that Christians are supposed to deplore – that all narratives can be equally valid.

Hitler and the spectre of the Nazis are invoked more than once in What Are They Teaching The Children? and, as goes one principle of modern-day discourse – Godwin’s Law – as soon as you’ve done this, you’ve lost the argument.

Patrick West is a columnist for spiked-online.com. His new book Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche For Our Times (Societas) is published in August