Universal Guilt

I know this has nothing to do with the heading, but I must further comment on my rant yesterday and the cricket that followed. England won a nail biting match by one wicket, thanks almost entirely to an innings by Ben Stokes that must surely rank with some of the great innings’ through cricketing history.

Stokes is very much a modern cricketer and he used a few shots toward the end of his innings that won’t be found in any text book, but he did not try to smite his way out of trouble like so many of his colleagues. His technique was solid and he batted with sound common sense and no urgency, even when wickets were tumbling around him. He had luck on his side and should have been given out when England only needed one run to draw level, but overall he batted with gritty, old-fashioned fortitude.

I am sure the Australian cricketers will be emotionally flattened today, but they can console themselves with the thought that they were part of a fantastic Test Match that embodied all the virtues of old-fashioned international cricket. Two Tests to go and anything could happen!

Back in the ‘real’ world (is it?) common sense seems to have given way to politically correct cowardice. Take universities for example. In recent years they have faced repeated protests by students over their past associations with imperialism and slavery. Surely these students should be concentrating on study rather than protests?

In 2016, Jesus College which is part of Cambridge University removed from its main hall a bronze statue depicting a cockerel that came from the West African kingdom of Benin in the 19th century. Commendable I am sure but it will now be languishing in a store room somewhere, just gathering dust. What good does that do for anyone?

Around the same time, Oxford University faced an angry but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to remove a statue of 19th-century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. No matter what else he might have done, Rhodes did wonders for this country and for Oxford University. That particular campaign was led by a South African who was studying under a Rhodes’ Scholarship. If that is not rank hypocrisy, what is?

Now I read that Glasgow University are to pay twenty million quid to the University of the West Indies as reparation for slavery. What world do these academics actually inhabit? Surely that money could be used to help their own students?

One celebrated author and academic, Joanna Williams seems to agree with me, at least to a limited extent. She told the BBC, ‘For me, the number one problem with this is that it suggests people who are alive today bear some historical responsibility for what their ancestors did in the past.

‘These were truly barbaric and criminal acts, but to suggest that people alive today are responsible for the sins of their ancestors is a step too far.’

Of course it ruddy well is and Dr Williams added, ‘It also suggests that other people who are alive today are victims of what happened to their ancestors. There comes a point where we all need to move on from that and say that the past is the past.’

The money will apparently be made up mainly of gifts and research grants.  Keep those at home for God’s sake. University tuition fees are putting many youngsters into debt long before they get out into the big bad world as it is.

But Sir Hilary Beckles, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, hailed the move as a ‘bold, moral, historic step.’

Of course he did. He must have been rubbing his hands in glee damnit.

Anton Muscatelli, the principal of Glasgow University, said: ‘Talking about any institution or country’s historical links to slavery can be a difficult conversation, but we felt it was a necessary one for our university to have.’ 

Graham Campbell, a Scottish National party councillor, spoke about the agreement and told the Guardian newspaper, ‘Our mutual recognition of the appalling consequences of that past – an indictment of Scottish inhumanity over centuries towards enslaved Africans – are the justifications that are at the root of the modern-day racism that we fight now,’ he said.

Poppycock Sir. Those were different times and to try and put modern values into the past is idiotic. You are merely trying to jump on the populist bandwagon.

Earlier this year Cambridge University announced a two-year investigation into its own historic links to slavery, looking at bequests from traders and how its academics might have influenced ‘race-based thinking.’ It is also reportedly looking into potential reparations.  

Meanwhile we learn that there is a thriving market for university essays in Nairobi of all places. Latest estimates suggest that no fewer than 115,000 British students buy their essays every year, with the true number believed to be far higher.

‘Everything to do with academic cheating is more widespread than we know,’ said Dr Thomas Lancaster, a computer scientist and expert in contract cheating. ‘From my research, Kenya rules the world in this type of work.’ 

Most British students give little thought to whose work they are appropriating. Even if they did, the company websites are opaque, often falsely claiming to be based in the UK or the United States. Every student’s essay commission is filtered into an system of major writing factories, smaller independents, eBay-style websites, brokers and individuals advertising on Facebook.

The process is dominated by middlemen, each of whom take a sizable cut. There is even a secondary market in selling access to the most lucrative essay opportunities. 

Methinks it is high time that Academics did something about repairing their own house rather than worrying about incidents that might have occurred three centuries or so ago.

One thought on “Universal Guilt

  1. Utter stupidity – how the hell can some one today be responsible for what happened even sixty years ago? I, for one refuse to be told it’s my fault that my great grandfather killed people in the Boer war or something along those lines. How have people become such copycats – why must one college ( or student body) do something more outrageous than the college in the next county . Another thing – I do admire all the efforts and time put into it but how many” Olympics “will we be having each year? i see there is a “skills” one now.

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