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Western Civilization, the media, and political irresponsibility

By Dirk Moses - posted Monday, 18 June 2018

The proponents of political correctness have concentrated their efforts on the core of a liberal education, the curriculum. Their efforts will radically alter what new generations of Western Europeans and Americans will learn. In this battle the handmaiden of political correctness has been the "multicultural" movement. A number of critics have rightly pointed out that multiculturalism is more than an argument for courses that concentrate on groups that at one time were disadvantaged or oppressed. Rather, multiculturalism involves the systematic restructuring of the curriculum so as to hinder students from learning about the Western tradition.

Throughout his manifesto, Breivik cites mainstream conservatives - including Keith Windschuttle, Cardinal George Pell and John Howard ("one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world") - with approval. He even praises Western civilization for its intrinsic self-critical capacity in the familiar manner we hear today.

These arguments appear regularly on pages of The Australian. For example, its contributing economics editor, Judith Sloan poured scorn on the ANU's argument about the importance of university autonomy in the following way:


The ANU expected the Ramsay Centre to hand over millions of dollars to the university in order for it to trash every aspect of Western civilisation and Paul Ramsay's name, to boot. How naive can you get?

And let's get real about outside funded centres that sit within Australian universities. Do you really think university managers keep a close eye on what these centres get up to? When you are all on the same postmodern, green-left page, there is no need.

The clash of civilizations between Christendom and Islam is central to regular columnist at The Australian, Jennifer Oriel, a political scientist who cites Steve Bannon's Breitbart News site as a reliable and reputable source. Concerned about the West's moral fibre, she complained recently that "After almost half a century of revolutionary leftist rage against the West on campus, Western civilisation is denied due recognition as a continuous historical fact and teachable field of study." In an earlier column in The Australian, she also attacked multiculturalism as the vehicle for "the Jihadist threat" in this country.

The West must accept the myth that all cultures are equal while Islamic and communist states celebrate their unique contribution to world history. Under multicultural ideology, the greatest civilisation of the world, Western civilisation, is held in contempt while theocratic throwbacks and communist barbarism are extolled.

Then there is an article in The Australian by Maurice Newman, which cites Oriel at length and runs the line popular in the European far-right that Jewish financier, philanthropist, and director of the Open Society Foundation, George Soros, is responsible for bringing Muslim refugees to Europe. "Soros is a new breed of anti-Western elite,"he concludes, noting Soros's support for the reviled GetUp! Movement. Linking the Holocaust survivor to the Ramsay controversy, Newman laments that "New 'unlearning' (brain­washing centres) are being established on university cam­puses intended to ensure that once students believe in nothing, they will fall for anything."

Australian universities as "brain­washing centres" breeding an "anti-Western elite" that is anti-Christian and soft on Islam? This rhetoric is now spinning off into a parallel universe of conspiracy and paranoia, from the Fox News playground into the Breitbart swamp. The similarities with Bannon and Breivik in tone (the nightmarish, ideological vision of the decline and looming collapse of Western civilization) and analysis (the fault of politically correct, youth-corrupting universities) are unmistakable.

But it is one thing to share a diagnosis, quite another to propose a remedy. The conservatives whom Breivik admires are not responsible for his decision to engage in mass murder. Nor would the commentators who now sow panic in sections of the population by banging on about political correctness, and who identify the inner enemy culpable for every malaise (wicked leftist academics), be responsible for the actions here of people like Breivik. Shooting dozens of leftist youths like Breivik is not their solution; it is, rather, re-educating them to love Western Civilization via a Ramsay Centre program.


Even so, today's alarmists need to ask themselves whether they contribute to an atmosphere of incitement in which the unhinged might act on those ideas. Some may take the declaration of an existential crisis as calling for action rather than simply words. This is, after all, the logic that I have seen writers for the The Australian apply to Muslim leaders, challenging them to purge Islam of radical potential after a terrorist attack. Keith Windschuttle, editor of the conservative Quadrant rightly apologized when a magazine employee wrote on its site that the Manchester terrorist bomb should have rather "detonated in an Ultimo TV studio"of the ABC. He knew where to draw the line on this occasion.

Online comments posted beneath articles in The Australian routinely cross the line in my view. They indicate the radicalizing potential of the anti-university campaign. Amazingly, they are "moderated before publication," as the newspaper states, suggesting that they are considered acceptable contributions to "lively and civil debate." Consider four comments on an article claiming that the ANU is "Islamized."

Malcolm: "Remove all government funding from the ANU as it has proved itself to be anti Australian to such a degree as to border on treason - or has it crossed the line?"

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About the Author

A Dirk Moses is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past, the senior editor of the Journal of Genocide Research, and co-editor of The Holocaust in Greece.

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