by Sophie Watson
Tuesday, 23
March 2021
Reaction
11:50

Student unions are suppressing dissent

A new motion could blacklist more than a dozen groups without justification
by Sophie Watson
I’ve seen the vitriol directed at female, lesbian, gay and bisexual students who diverge from progressive orthodoxy

Student unions are going through an identity crisis. Where they once sought to protect female students, they now appear more concerned with harassing women than representing them.

A motion debated yesterday at the National University of Ireland, Galway provides a prime example of this bizarre shift. Although the ballot was ultimately postponed, class representatives were to vote on a motion entitled “Opposing Fascism, Far-Right Extremism, and All Forms of Discrimination.” It identified 16 organisations to be automatically no-platformed by the Student Union; listing feminist and gay rights groups Radicaillín, the Irish Women’s Lobby and the LGB Alliance alongside one or two political parties and several far-Right organisations.


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In a blatant attempt to purge the SU of anyone who diverges from the author’s political opinions, its representatives would further be prohibited from sharing a public platform with anyone from these groups. Incredibly, the motion provides no details on how they were chosen and reserves the SU’s right to add more organisations to the blacklist with zero accountability or oversight. This becomes somewhat more intelligible when we learn that the motion’s author campaigns for a political party in direct competition with the ones on the list.

If successful, the students involved have pledged to bring it to the National Union of Students in Ireland — where it could become a blight on academic freedom at every university in Ireland.

There has also been a systematic attempt by the union to silence women with dissenting opinions. Since openly opposing the motion, NUIG student Saoirse Connolly has been harassed online by members of her Student Union (of which she herself is an elected representative). The author of the tabled motion spent yesterday morning tweeting that “TERFs aren’t welcome here” and another student rep recently threatened to “set transphobes on fire.”

This is not an isolated incident. As a student at Cambridge, I know first-hand the vitriol directed at female, lesbian, gay and bisexual students who diverge from the accepted progressive orthodoxy. I get messages every week from students here and elsewhere who feel unable to openly express their views, and a member of the Cambridge Radical Feminist Network (of which I am co-president) recently received rape and death threats from a fellow student.

Rather than seeking to address this harassment, our student union fans the flames. The incoming Women’s Officer ran on a manifesto which promised students an “anti-SWERF” guide — SWERFs being feminists who oppose the decriminalisation of sex-buyers in favour of decriminalising prostituted women. The fact that more instances of sexual violence were reported by Cambridge students between 2014 and 2018 than almost anywhere else in the country was apparently too insignificant to feature.

At Cambridge, we have responded by organising our own events and supporting each other when the student union falls short. But we should not have to work around our elected representatives, and students like Saoirse should not have to put their wellbeing and education on the line in order to take an opposing stance. I do not know what the outcome will be, but one thing is clear — in universities across the UK and Ireland, students are in a fight for the soul of our student unions.

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Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Opposing Fascism, Far-Right Extremism, and All Forms of Discrimination.” It identified 16 organisations to be automatically no-platformed by the Student Union;
This is a lack of self-awareness at a weapons-grade level. You simply cannot make up this level of incoherence. The left’s problem is not the “far right,” whatever that means; it’s the left itself.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I wish you’d stop calling these wannabe Thought Police ‘left’! Most of them don’t seem to give a damn about traditionally ‘left’ issues like imperialism, poverty, inequality or class.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Perkins
Djeli Ghoti
Djeli Ghoti
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

They care about all those things. They just like to look at them all primarily those the lens of who is, according to them, oppressed most.
Having said that, it might be best if we all just abandon the left/right dichotomy as a method of categorisation, because the political spectrum does not exist: https://heterodoxacademy.org/blog/social-science-political-spectrum/

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Djeli Ghoti

They care about all those things.
Some might, but some seem to take existing power and economic structures as given, merely wanting equal representation for disadvantaged groups (except of course the poor!) at the top.

Dennis
Dennis
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

That’s contradictory. If everyone is at the top, then no one is. They want equality of outcome.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
1 year ago
Reply to  Dennis

No, they want privileged outcomes for ‘oppressed groups’.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Dennis

But they don’t want everyone at the top. They want the ‘right’ proportions of black, gay, women, trans, etc at the top, and then the world will be perfect. The poor deserve to be poor.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

There’s a broad range of opinion on the ‘left’. It suits those on the ‘right’ (which also has a broad range covering mild conservatives, free market capitalists, racists, feudalists, religious extremists and more) to portray the whole of the left in terms of the most extreme fringes of identity politics.
The defining character of the left is belief in achieving equality or minimising inequality as the starting point.
Obviously, if equality is your aim racism isn’t going to fit in with your objectives, or ageism, or sexism or totalitarianism which by denying some people rights to give greater rights to others is inherently unequal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Last Jacobin
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Good and nuanced point. A few questions, though:

  • Equality of what? Opportunity, outcome, or reparations-now-for-our-ancestors’-sufferings?
  • Who get to define what is racist, sexist, or transphobic?
  • Would you call it totalitarianism if people of the wrong opinions are denied the right to speak, or fired if they do?

Please stay around – you are adding variety to the debate.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I’d argue for equality of opportunity and outcome. Take, for example, life expectancy. You can provide equality of opportunity to healthcare, good diet, clean air, a safe working environment etc but the only way you can actually measure their effectiveness is by looking at the outcome. Not everyone will be able, or choose, to live the same length but the objective is to minimise the inequality of outcome.
With racism the outcome would be everyone having the opportunity to live as meaningful (to them) a life as possible without their race interfering with that or limiting their opportunities. Anything that stands in the way of that would be racist.
With totalitarianism it’s complicated and I don’t have a clear answer as to how consensus on what can be said is reached. I’m generally inclined to freedom of expression. There’s a big difference between saying all Jews are Christ killers and saying the state of Israel has similarities to apartheid South Africa. At the moment either statement could get you sacked.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

“Not everyone will be able, or choose, to live the same length but the objective is to minimise the inequality of outcome.”
Since outcome is based largely on what you do as an individual, we would have to curtail the rights of some to smoke and drink and eat junk food, that sort of thing? People who don’t do these things tend to live longer. We could make prenatal care mandatory and lock up any pregnant woman who fails to seek it. We could prevent men under the age of 25 from driving based on accident/death statistics. We could jail anyone caught dealing or using drugs for life. Inequality of life expectancy is based on inequality of life decisions, not on inequality of opportunity unless you believe that some people do not have the opportunity not to smoke and stuff themselves with junk food.
Become obese and develop diabetes? Well, your life will be statistically shorter than someone else’s who did not do those things. Take drugs and drink too much? Same here. Do we all have the opportunity not to do drugs and drink too much?
Fail to seek prenatal care? Your baby has a greater likelihood of premature delivery and subsequently death or lifelong complications.
“With racism the outcome would be everyone having the opportunity to live as meaningful (to them) a life as possible without their race interfering with that or limiting their opportunities. Anything that stands in the way of that would be racist.”
Including dropping out of school before finishing high school and having children while still a child yourself? We have known for a long time that what most stands in the way of opportunity is not racism. It is 1) not finishing high school, 2) having children before marriage and a viable means of financial support and 3) getting into legal trouble. All three are under the control of the individual.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

@Annette Kralendijk. I’d have several things to say to Mark, but there is also one for you:
In addition to what you list, outcome also depends – a lot – on your starting point. Space to live in and money to give you what you need; fewer hassles and less negative messages to push through; parents with the time and inclination to stimulate you, teach you, push you through school; getting the contacts and picking up the attitudes as you grow up. Enough grit or talent can overcome the handicaps, but those things really make it easier. I still believe in equality of opportunity, in judging people on what they can do, not on their identity or what you think they might have been able to do with a different childhood. But we have to face that many people will end up by being more capable through accident of background, not just through effort or inborn talent.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I somewhat agree although people from very humble backgrounds can and have succeeded brilliantly. Often with very little support. If they follow the three conditions I mention above, they can usually be successful in life if not turn into Oprah Winfrey. Doing all three things should not be that difficult and statistically it’s hard to wind up living in poverty doing these things.
I most agree with you on the matter of parenting and I saw this up close when I ran a public education foundation. One of our projects worked getting parents to help out at schools as volunteers and attend parent teacher meetings. The differences were stark. In some schools, parents were so thick on the ground that you could hardly get through them to see the kids. At other schools, parents just wouldn’t show up. And not because they were working three jobs. In fact, the parents who were working three jobs were some of the best participants because they saw the value of education and did not want their kids to wind up like them. Parenting also has an impact on kids staying out of legal trouble. If your kids are out at night and you don’t know where they are, you are allowing them to get into trouble, if you let your kids drop out of school, same thing. But none of these things are racism so Mark’s claim that anything that stands in the way of equality of outcome or opportunity is racist is baloney.
If what you mean is that life is not fair, I totally agree. And it never will be. But we are not talking about everyone living in Montecito with Harry and Meghan. What you need to do is relatively simple to live a decent life, solidly middle class, caring for your family.
You didn’t mention it, but in addition to some people being more capable through accident of background, we also have intelligence differences as well as differences in self denial ability (the marshmallow test).

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Families are RACIST by defination as all life’s successes and failures are almost always linked to how the parents did. Children of criminals make up most of the criminals. Single mothers produce single mothers, Middle class produce middle class, and intelegent produce intelegent.

Just like you breed two poodles to get a poodle, and not a Jack Russel and a Labrador.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Every one in my family makes it to almost 100, or more. My Doctor has yet to have a male in his family make it to 70.

So his family would be outlawed smoking and drinking and snacks, wile it would be required of my family members.

That is fair, right? These fascists in the universities mentioned above would say YES, and then go onto make lists of every behavior, thought, and act to also bring justice through equalization.

“As there has been no history of sex industry participation in your family it is deemed necessary that one of your children become a prostitute, and as your family has too high a level of University education it is necessary one becomes a drug addict dropout. Anything else would be racist!

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

i guess if we have to harm some so others don’t fail to measure up, that’s just what we have to do.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

I was trying to cover the aspect of people making choices that shorten their lives by saying not all ‘we be able, or choose’ and that the objective was to minimise, not eradicate inequality of outcome.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Dropping out of high school and having children while still a child does not mean that person or their children need not live meaningful, rewarding lives of benefit to themselves and their community. I think you’re seeing opportunity as meaning a way to achieve financial security and ‘to live a decent life, solidly middle class, caring for your family.’
This may be your idea of a meaningful life but it is not necessarily everybody’s. It also precludes the idea of wanting different things at different times of your life or changing your mind about what you find meaningful.
Doesn’t expecting everyone to conform to one interpretation of what a decent life is (or suffer the consequences of poverty or social ostracism) limit opportunity and represent a conformity of society every bit as stultifying and depressing as the totalitarian societies of the 20th Century?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

“Dropping out of high school and having children while still a child does not mean that person or their children need not live meaningful, rewarding lives of benefit to themselves and their community”
As I said, it means your chances of living in poverty are very high. I don’t know how you define rewarding but poverty would not fit my definition of it. Neither would winding up in prison or saddled with a child at the age of 13. Are you really unaware of how these things lead to a life of dependence and poverty?
“ I think you’re seeing opportunity as meaning a way to achieve financial security”
That’s part of it, along with education and staying out of legal trouble. You don’t have much opportunity if you can’t achieve these things. Do you know how hard it is to get a job after prison? Or with no high school diploma?
“Doesn’t expecting everyone to conform to one interpretation of what a decent life is “
You mean like staying out of prison? Yeah I think that’s a huge key to a decent life and I think that’s a pretty universal definition. Perhaps you’d like to describe the decent life people live in prison. Or in poverty. Or unable to read at third grade level because you dropped out of school. The consequences of poverty are CAUSED by these things, no education, having babies while still a child, being in prison, that’s the recipe for poverty. These consequences are not foisted on people, they invite them by failing to do these things, staying out of prison, not having babies as a teenager (or younger), no high school diploma.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

None of those things have one unified treatment on the political left.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A good and nuanced but unpopular point!

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

In the U.S, many of them seem to. However, their procedures are themselves fascist.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Since they are the left, what other word fits? They are not liberals; now, that’s the word that no longer applies to them, but their totalitarian behavior has all the hallmarks of every leftist regime in history.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Wokeist? PC? They seem to like being called woke, and they’re all about everyone’s (well, their own!) right to self-identify.
Try looking at a left website like the WSWS. They have no time for this middle-class identity politics, and they’re far from alone.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Call them whatever you like, but they are not conservatives or libertarians or centrists. What option is left?
I’ll even draw a distinction among liberals, progressives, and leftists. The latter doesn’t just believe certain things; this group wants to force everyone else to believe them, too.
The textbook divide here is the feminists and the trans movement. The former is supposed to be about womanhood, “hear me roar,” with women having opportunities and agency. The latter pushes drivel like “people who chestfeed” or “women with penises.”
WSWS may have no time for identity politics, but the left sure does and lets everyone know it, willingly turning on its own just as quickly as it attacks those on the right.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I keep meaning to make a note of left writers, groups and websites who oppose wokeism. I’ll have to get round to it, instead of just saying ‘WSWS for example’!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

In the US, the Substack website has such writers: Matt Taibbi, Glen Greenwald, and Barri Weis are all liberals of the old-school variety. Andrew Sullivan, British-born for what that’s worth, also writes there. He’s a bit more conservative but was also a never Trumper and not a fan of the woke.
There are probably others but I can’t think of them offhand. Give Substack a look and see what you think.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Where do you get the idea anyone likes being called ‘woke’? It’s a undefined term used almost exclusively as an insult in the pages of right wing publications, as far as I can see. It’s used to cover everything from human rights to trans rights to anti racism to the NHS, BBC or social security.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Wokeism is nothing more than the race to the top of the victimization mountain. Wokeism has zero to do with human rights and woke people are frequently among the most racist. An example would be the Teen Vogue employee who took out Alexi McCammond for racially insensitive comments made as a teenager who now has been caught using much more racially insensitive comments herself as an adult. We used to call wokeism hypocrisy.

mattpope145
mattpope145
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Because it’s the left’s term – unlike eg. snowflake.
For any who are woke, wokeness is a good thing, if now also touched with irony given its current status. Anti-woke use it in a derogatory way not only because they are opposed to what it stands for but also because they would scoff at any who think that everything it stands for, and so the term itself, is a positive thing.
For the anti-woke, woke is a term that offers a codified distance from a group whose defence of and identification with this term is further evidence of immaturity and ardent delusion.
Naturally woke see things differently.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You could be right. I sort of ignored the woke/ID thing for ages, imagining it to be some kind of fringe fad that would fizzle out, but I did get the impression woke was a term the woke used for themselves, at least before it became pejorative. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them use the term wokeism though!

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

It’s also possible it’s been used differently in the US where it comes from than in the UK.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

They’re not socialists, since they p on solidarity with the working class.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

This is precisely the sort of extremism that gets the left a bad name.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

There just is no left and right. Because of Mr T there is a left and right in your country but it is confused.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Confused how? The left, beyond doing everything that it accused Trump of wanting to do, is behaving like numerous leftist regimes of the previous century.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

What Left?
The US has two right wing parties, one of which has a centrist wing.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Good to see the loonies distinguishing between fascist and the far-Right for a change.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

No lack of self awareness, they are just evil and stupid. They know what they are doing is wrong.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

I know first-hand the vitriol directed at female, lesbian, gay and bisexual students who diverge from the accepted progressive orthodoxy “
Maybe you can now understand how much harder it is for a “male” to offer divergent opinions – or maybe not ?

Mike Page
Mike Page
1 year ago

Listen and learn – maintain freedom of speech and beliefs – somewhat ironically universities are becoming renowned for this new form of fascism

Chris Scott
Chris Scott
1 year ago

It seems my first post is awaiting moderation, so I’ve removed the names of two European dictators and the word ‘h*te’ which could be causing offence and reposted.

Another case of divide an rule. The cake is being divided into ever smaller slices until there are only crumbs left. Are their arguments so weak they have to de-platform opponents? Are they so incapable of presenting an opinion in a logical coherent way that they are unable to debate with someone they may disagree with? How will these people function in the real world where they don’t have the protection of their student union or a local ‘****-crime’ officer? Are they just going to scream at someone for holding another point of view? ******, ****** and numerous others have consumed the very people who supported them turning on them and those they have sought to protect or who brought them to power. It seems universities and student unions are doing the same. It feels as though the traditional left have become what they hated most, the oppressors.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Scott
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Scott

See my post below. It is a fear of figures and graphs. It is easier to say, “I’m right because I believe I am right.”

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I’m right because I’m left, and I’m left because I’m not right!

Rick Sharona
Rick Sharona
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Scott

1) yes,2) yes,3) they can’t unless it is in a gov’t position a place of “higher” learning or with other professional protesters,4)yes

David George
David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Scott

“Are their arguments so weak they have to de-platform opponents”
I saw a T shirt with “I’m not arguing, I’m just explaining why I’m right” printed on it. Appropriate?
It’s worse than that; why argue or discuss when you already know everything?
“There are no innocuous ideologies. They’re forms of pathological over simplification and they’re also clubs, I mean the kind of clubs that you hit people with as well as the kind that you belong to… the advantage (to me) of being an ideologue is that I can explain everything, I can feel morally superior, and I know who my enemies are…and you know what you’re supposed to do with enemies? They’re not your friends, you move against them.”
― Jordan B. Peterson

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
1 year ago

In the late 1960s Hull University followed the crowd and students staged a sit in and occupied various buildings. The Hull SU then proposed a motion which would have furthered this kind of protest. All the silent majority has to do is to attend the voting meeting en masse and sit quietly and watch the idiots make fools of themselves. In our case it took over 8 hours and was a very negative experience as so few people could make decent speeches. But we voted the sit in out and the SU executive changed completely. Students DO have the option to determine their own future. They just need to participate in great numbers and see these extreme views off. Think it is called exercising your democratic rights.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

Yes exactly. In my time in the 70s, there was a gang walking around with banners every week – same gang, different banners. We mostly ignored them but when it came to something important, democracy took over.

Rick Sharona
Rick Sharona
1 year ago

Great point. People need to get involved, even though most just want to be left alone and don’t care what others do.

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago

Thank you Sophie. This is a perfect rebuttal for those who try to gaslight us – to claim that the threat to freedom of speech in our universities is a figment of our imaginations.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

The SU has always been bonkers. They have merely entered another dimension of bonkersness.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

When I was at university, nearly half a century ago, feminist and gay rights groups opposed and were opposed by fascists – real, far-right type fascists, as well as their hangers-on. Now they’re opposed by some weird Woke warriors in the name of anti-fascism.
[And my, is it hard to comment on stuff like this without triggering the auto-censor!]

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

these groups have gone full circle, becoming what they once opposed but insisting that this isn’t so.

Jim Costello
Jim Costello
1 year ago

I get that young adults have genuine sympathy with trans rights, but they’re doing this by labelling everyone who questions how this works in practise as a transphobe to shut them down.
Lacking an even platform for debate young people will continue to support current progressive causes without insight or understanding of the issues for women who need to access women’s only spaces and the difficulty managing those resources.
Threats of violence towards women who speak their concerns about how trans rights impact on women’s rights only reinforce the broader point that women have good reason to fear men.

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Costello

For the best recent analysis see this article:

 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-9752.12549

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago

It is always the Left that is attempting to shout down and silence those who disagree with their ideology . I think the Guardian, the Socialist Worker and the Morning Star are contemptible, dishonest rags but I wouldn’t ever join any call to have them closed down.

In their hearts the Leftist/”Progressives” must know that their ridiculous, failed ideology cannot withstand reasoned, fact based counter argument and so hide away from it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus Leach
Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

In 1930s Germany, and Pinochet’s Chile, it was the left coming under very violent attack.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

In Germany it was the Left in the form of the National Socialists who were the violet attackers.
In Chile, Pinochet was dealing with a country that had been driven to economic ruin by Socialists. It is understandable, though not necessarily right, that he felt the need to suppress those that had inflicted so much damage on Chile.

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus Leach
Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

The National Socialists were about as left as today’s Woke Warriors, and your defence of Pinochet seems to outright contradict your claim that “It is always the Left that is attempting to shout down and silence those who disagree with their ideology.”

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Woke warriors are on the left.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

This current form that now constitutes the Left however is vastly different from the old working class Left that used to be in our industrial heartlands.
They were primarily concerned with better wages, workers rights and public services. This new breed seems to ignore all of that in favour of constant identity politics. It’s much closer to a student protest than a viable political movement, which while it has been able to seemingly take over institutions such as academia, the media and even large companies (it’s much cheaper to hang up a rainbow flag than actually pay your workers enough to live on), it doesn’t find much success at the ballot box as Brexit and the Tories have proven these last few years

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yes, today’s left has nothing in common at all with liberal ideology.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

Liberals aren’t famous for supporting better wages, workers rights and public services. 

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

That depends what you mean by workers rights. I am a huge fan of workers rights including the right not to join a union. Are you in favor of workers having that right?
Wages are market driven. Forcing employers to pay more than the job is worth means fewer jobs. Several grocery stores in California just closed because the state is forcing them to pay higher wages than the jobs are worth.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Yes they are. It was Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith who brought the welfare state into being.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

in 1930 Germany Antifa was a violent Marxixt in opposition to the National Socialists, called the Fascists, and so called themselves antifa, although just as violent and evil. In fact they exist today with no stigma, same as Trotskyites, Maoists, although every bit as evil as the Nazis.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Yes Pinochet was indeed dreadful. After all, Mao only outmurdered him by a factor of 20,000 to 1.

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
1 year ago

A sad litany, and I really do not understand how these bizarre, half-baked ideas have gained such traction. I hope your CRFN colleague who received rape and death threats reported those threats to the appropriate authorities [college/University/police depending on context]. If so, how did they respond?

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

I’ve spent quite a lot of time and energy pondering how these ideas have gained such traction, reading various hypotheses from a variety of sources, and I’m still at a loss to explain the phenomenon at all satisfactorily.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Personally, I feel that it is a fear of science. In the past, traditional thought has been backed up with graphs and statistics, which are definitely open to interpretation and I know that you can always find stats to back up your ideas.
So, instead of fighting on this very difficult level (beyond most university lecturers) it is better to say, “We don’t believe anything which has been said in the past (to support the white male view of life) so don’t try and prove it with your fallacious arguments. Instead, we will ask ordinary (i.e. bright middle-class people) what their opinions are and we will take those opinions as correct.”
This has been helped by the ridiculous use of phoney science to support the views of politicians during the lockdown. It will continue to be helped as politicians bumble along as before.
In the courtroom of social science, anything is allowed – except facts.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You could be onto something, but I’m not sure it isn’t a case of thick middle class people telling other middle class people what their opinions should be!

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

When I was a teacher I sometimes used to play ‘devil’s advocate’ to try to get the pupils to see something from another point of view. It was impossible and I have since found that many of those born since about 1980 see everything as right or wrong-they having the correct viewpoint of course.Perhaps its because video /dvd and now computer mean you can choose exactly what you want to watch and listen to ( alone in your bedroom) wheras I had to watch the TV programmes my parent’s chose and we all shared the living room as it was the only one with a fire.We were also expected to play outdoors most of the day and only come in for meals-nowadays you hardly see any children playing out-so today’s young have not learnt to interact with others.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Fascism normally arises when an entire political system refuses to confront authoritarianism. What these student unions are doing is authoritarian in a quest to squelch dissent of any kind. If allowed to succeed, it will naturally lead to the fascism they say they are fighting. And society seems totally unable to confront this sort of authoritarianism.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
1 year ago

Why are student unions in Britain given such power? Surely the buildings and facilities concerned are owned by the universities and should be controlled by then? At the very least the universities should insist on free speech in their facilities.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

Yes, the NUIG sounds like a taxpayer supported university and as such should ensure that freedom of speech is the norm. Of course, a 1st amendment style right of freedom of speech as the US has would help tremendously. In the US universities that trample 1st amendment rights can lose taxpayer funding. As they should. In the absence of such a constitutional right, it seem speech freedoms are determined by the individual taxpayer supported institutions in the UK and Ireland.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Richard Powell
Richard Powell
1 year ago

NUIG is in the Republic of Ireland. Universities in the UK are subject to Section 43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986 which imposes a duty to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers.”
The US does indeed have First Amendment rights, but from the UK it doesn’t always look as if they are readily enforceable.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Powell
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

So neither the Republic of Ireland nor the UK guarantee the right to free speech.
Totally agree that rights are always under constant pressure from those who don’t care for the speech of others. And that’s why we have SCOTUS to enforce our constitutional rights. Without a constitutional right, you have nowhere to turn. On a public college campus, losing funding or just the threat of it usually helps everyone see the value in the 1st amendment.
But don’t misunderstand the 1st amendment, (non Americans and even some Americans sometimes do) it guarantees you the right to free speech by preventing the GOVERNMENT from trampling your rights. This is why public colleges can lose taxpayer funding. But something like Facebook is not a government entity and so does have the right to curtail speech. And it does. It’s why when the Dixie Chicks made comments that stopped their fans from supporting them, they did not lose their 1st amendment rights. But no one can force people to buy music. It wasn’t the government shunning their speech, it was their own fans.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
1 year ago

The University authorities connive at these injustices, not least Cambridge of which I’m ashamed to be a graduate.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

In the past, we would say ‘wait until they get into the real world’. Unfortunately, there is now enough of them in the ‘real’ world who are changing it so that it panders to these spoilt would-be moral dictators.
Back in my day, the student union I was part of was primarily concerned with drinking and clubbing. Maybe young people no longer have the outlets that were available during my uni days.

Neil John
Neil John
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

With so many school trained activist s-too-dense arriving at Uni looking for a cause and many non-alcoholic drink consuming overseas (and now UK) students, the SU’s of old are dead. Not helped by many Uni’s gerrymandering SU votes to disassociate their SU from the NUS, which whilst distancing a catalyst for protest on the one hand excluded all the life members from their local SU, removing at a stroke the older heads that acted as moderating influences on the other.

Malcolm Glynn
Malcolm Glynn
1 year ago

The fools behind this motion simply prove how intolerant the left is. They generate dispute and campaigns out of nothing and expect everyone [under pain of social exclusion] to go along with their insane and very narrow beliefs. It is not the right that forms mobs who burn and attack monuments that alienate anyone of sound mind. It is not the right which bans people the right to speak it is always the left.
Factionalism now dictates that one section of the left within the LGBT movement are now attacking another both sections on the left. One prepared to be reasonable and the idiots behind this motion clearly not. Speaking as an obvious enemy of the left. an elderly grey-haired white heterosexual male I do not tick all the PC boxes but dare I say I have witnessed some crazy stunts from the left in my time and this motion has to be out there somewhere on the unhinged fringe.
The reason I have ven bothered to post this comment is that as a former mature student I know there are far more sane students at Uni that this little coterie of commissars. Do yourselves a favour, Sort them out. Kick them out please return to free speech it can be enlightening.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 year ago

I’m rather glad, in retrospect, that I missed out on going to University, it would appear that admission requires the removal of significant parts of the brain. You, obviously, need to be seriously intelligent to be able to square a statement like “Opposing all forms of discrimination” and then promptly discriminate against groups you dislike. I’m sure it would all make perfect sense, even to a thicky like me, if it was explained in simple English, using unintelligible words and sentences.
I’m not entirely sure if I have undivided sympathy with the author though. I know nothing about the “Cambridge Radical Feminists Network” and have no particular inclination, or care to find out, but I do rather wonder if it’s simply a case of chickens coming home to roost. An organisation suddenly finding itself subject to the same “unthinking” hogwash that it, if often eloquently expressed, likes to inflict on anyone it finds in it’s sights.

Chris Scott
Chris Scott
1 year ago

Another case of divide an rule. The cake is being divided into ever smaller slices until there are only crumbs left. Are their arguments so weak they have to de-platform opponents? Are they so incapable of presenting an opinion in a logical coherent way that they are unable to debate with someone they may disagree with? How will these people function in the real world where they don’t have the protection of their student union or a local ‘hate-crime’ officer? Are they just going to scream at someone for holding another point of view? Stalin, Hitler and numerous others have consumed the very people who supported them turning on them and those they have sought to protect or who brought them to power. It seems universities and student unions are doing the same. It feels as though the traditional left have become what they hated most, the oppressors.

David Foot
David Foot
1 year ago

There is no plan to ban the extreme left because they are the extreme Marxist left exploiting any grievance to overthrow the state as Marx himself would recommend!!
It is incredible that these snow flakes can go about without all their lights on and pretending to force outcomes everywhere.
If you want to do yourself a fvour, it has to be only Merit which has to be the driver of everything, anything alse will do you nor your society any favours at all.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago

If you’ve received threats, call the police. It’s illegal, you know.

David Fellowes
David Fellowes
1 year ago

I am not sure how one can become a student at a university without having learned what I am about to say, but apparently it is entirely possible.
Fasces, the bundle of rods with an axe protruding from the centre, was symbolic of the authority of various Roman officials, the highest rank of which was Dictator. Within their sphere, these officials had the right to issue what we now call Diktats, unsurprisingly the German version of the word, which promulgated the rules for different situations in which the Roman citizenry might find themselves. Punishments for failure to obey these Diktats were measures up to and including the death penalty, whence the axe, of course.
Leaving aside the death penalty, this is precisely the level of authority and method that these students are arrogating to themselves, so unless they are feeling absolutely suicidal, I would suggest they drop the anti-fascist rhetoric lest anyone take them at their word.
PS The fasces, with their multiple rods bound together, stand for strength through unity, which explains fascists’ hostility towards differing opinion.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Sounds as though the democratic processes within the Union are being followed.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Most student unions have a constitution which should provide a level of protection against this sort of power grab. If it does, then “no platforming” decisions by a student union council shouldn’t have any effect. If they didn’t think of that when the constitution was written, then maybe the Union can use its democratic processes for this type of oppressive skulduggery.
Student politics is not in my limited experience any more mature and considered than our “grown up” politics in the UK, the USA, or even Ireland.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

“Student politics is not in my limited experience any more mature and considered than our “grown up” politics in the UK, the USA, or even Ireland.”
Yes, let’s have some more of the “democratic” de-platforming. As long as it’s by majority rule, what’s the problem, eh?

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

That would be a fair point if any de-platforming had actually taken place.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Apparently you are totally unfamiliar with US institutions of higher learning, where de-platforming is as common as misbehavior on a beach during spring break.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

I was referring to the example we were discussing in the article.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Well, if you look at my post, you’ll see that I wasn’t.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago

You seem to have formed an impression that I’m in favour of “deplatforming” people?