From the Telegraph and elsewhere.
One of England’s most controversial philosophers has been sacked as the Government’s housing tsar after he questioned the existence of Islamophobia. Sir Roger Scruton was fired from his role as the chairman of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission as he also sparked anger by claiming “each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one”.
The Government said the comments were “completely unacceptable” and Sir Roger had been dismissed with “immediate effect”.
According to the Daily Mail
Sir Roger Scruton was fired as a Government adviser today over a series of 'white supremacist' remarks in a magazine interview. The academic, who advised the Government on housing policy, told the New Statesman that Islamophobia was 'a propaganda word invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue'.
His observations don't sound the sort of thing that I usually think of as "white supremacist'. But even modest English self esteem isn't allowed these days. The New Statesman reports their interview with him thus:-
His sacking was unsuccessfully demanded by Labour MPs and others on account of his past remarks on Hungarian Jews (part of a “Soros empire”), Islamophobia (a “propaganda word”) and homosexuality (“not normal”).
Scruton is unrepentant, however, about the remarks that earned him such opprobrium. “Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” he said, heedless of the anti-Semitic portrayal of the philanthropist George Soros as a Jewish puppet-master. Soros is a wicked man who happens to be of Jewish heritage; all the criticism I hear of him has nothing to do with the faith of his ancestors which so far as I can tell he rejected in 1942.
It was “nonsense”, Scruton continued, to accuse the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán of anti-Semitism (the pair have been friends since meeting in Budapest in 1987). The same applied, he insisted, to charges of Islamophobia. “The Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East.” Islamophobia was, he repeated, a propaganda word “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”.
Perhaps most remarkably, he commented of the rise of China: “They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”
The conformity and uniformity still imposed by the Chinese authorities on the people of China is frightening. That isn't a criticism of the opppressed citizens but of the regime.
On the subject of Brexit (which he favours) ... “What I really think is that David Cameron should not have given us the chance of a referendum if he did not intend to go through with the result. I think that was a major constitutional betrayal and I suspect that most people would feel that...Cameron’s resignation really was the death knell of the Conservative Party as we knew it because that’s something a proper Conservative politician cannot do: renounce leadership at the moment when it’s needed.”
The New Statesman, a very left-wing publication, is accused of editing the interview and manipulating Sir Roger's opinions so as to finally engineer his sacking
Douglas Murray tweeted
The New Statesman’s deputy editor lied about what Roger Scruton said and has now deleted some of these claims after getting Scruton sacked. Perhaps readers might ask
@JasonCowleyNS why invention, misquotation and distortion are not sackable offences at the New Statesman?
He then writes at greater length in the Spectator
Perhaps there are those who think that Scruton should not have agreed to be interviewed by the New Statesman, the left-wing magazine being unlikely to conduct a fair interview. But Scruton was the magazine’s wine columnist for many years, and under the editorship of Jason Cowley the magazine has been a slightly fairer and less battily leftwards publication than it was of old.
But today the magazine’s deputy editor, George Eaton, took to social media to announce the results of what he is parading as a ‘gotcha’ interview. The interview – which Eaton conducted himself – was, he promised, positively crammed full with ‘a series of outrageous remarks’. Earlier this evening, Eaton posted a picture of himself drinking champagne to celebrate the fate of his interviewee, saying he was pleased to have got ‘right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser.’
Note that caption - ‘The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser.’
Eaton says that Scruton said ... I am not confident that this is so. For Eaton – who used to be the Statesman’s political editor – appears to have a somewhat Johann Hari-esque way with quotes. He claims, for instance, that what Scruton said about Soros was in actual fact a quote ‘On Hungarian Jews’. As though Scruton had attacked all Hungarian Jews, rather than one very influential and political man who happens to be a Hungarian Jew.
On the matter of the government of China Eaton claims that he merely edited the quote ‘for reasons of space in print edition’ but that what Scruton actually said was (clearly talking about the Chinese Communist Party – the party of government in China):
‘They’re creating robots out of their own people by so constraining what can be done. Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.’
Which is something very different. Where Eaton claims that his interviewee was talking about all the Chinese people, the quote (which he decided to edit so that it fit his print edition, or his sloppy journalistic narrative) is something that is at the very least contestable and strikes me as rather obviously true.
Within four hours of Eaton tweeting out his misquotations of Britain’s most prominent living philosopher, the housing minister (James Brokenshire) announced that Scruton had been dismissed with immediate effect from his role as Chairman of the ‘Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’. The sacking from this unpaid, advisory position came because of these ‘unacceptable comments’. The Statesman itself has decided to glory in Scruton’s sacking, and in the process ramp up even further its claims of what happened in the interview.
The conservative philosopher has been dismissed for comments made in a New Statesman interview.
So criticism of the Chinese Communist party is criticism of ‘Chinese people’ and criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood is in fact comments about ‘Muslims’? I wonder whether these editorial standards are acceptable in the Statesman these days? Perhaps they are. Perhaps people can edit quotes, misrepresent quotes, and then hand over to colleagues to sensationalize these claims and this is all fine.
What does strike me as my business – and the business of other more conservative (and Conservative) voters is the despicable behavior of James Brokenshire and the Conservative government in all this.
There are many reasons to feel contempt for the modern Conservative party. Personally I can see no reason, after the fiasco they have made of Brexit, to ever vote for them again. But now this? After nine years we have little ministers like Brokenshire sacking people on the strength of partial misquotations on Twitter? Well to hell with them then. A matter that Sir Roger may like to pick up with me (among other things) when we get together for our Spectator live event in London in a few weeks time.
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