One of the strange reactions to the 17th Century Enlightenment was the concept of the Noble Savage.
In the backlash against humanism, British scholars who should have known better developed the cult of ‘primitivism’. They argued people were better off living in their natural state, uncorrupted by commerce, technology and the other bells and whistles of Western civilisation.
Today, as left-wing identity politics wages war against Enlightenment principles, the Noble Savage is back in fashion.
I saw it recently when I researched the work of the publicly funded Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS), the details of which I reported on this page last week.
The BPS runs a monthly ‘poetry competition’ in southwest Sydney, the modus operandi for which is to vilify Australian values and institutions.
The more the speakers rant against the West, the more likely they are to draw audience applause and win the contest. It’s a nascent form of radicalisation.
Any young Islamist sitting in the crowd, forming a hatred of our society, is likely to have those views sharpened by a night out in Bankstown.
It’s not so much a Poetry Slam as a full-body slam on Western culture.
Yet incredibly, five government-funded bodies are resourcing it.
Plus the BPS has access to Sydney high schools through its ‘Real Talk’ mentoring program.
Parents of students at the following schools should be alert and alarmed: Bankstown Girls, Chester Hill, Sir Joseph Banks, James Ruse, Blacktown Boys, Holsworthy, Plumpton, St Ives and Blakehurst. Your children are being mentored by an organisation specialising in hate speech.
How has this happened? Why haven’t the authorities seen a danger in this?
The answer lies in the ideal of the Noble Savage.
In attacking our institutions, the Left needs a substitute rationale, an alternative culture to promote.
This is why, through identity politics, it has invented a list of people who need to be set free from Western civilisation and returned to their natural, more purified state.
If only women weren’t oppressed by the patriarchy, they could find a feminist nirvana.
If only LGBTIWTF people could express their natural sexual fluidity, they could create a utopian life between the sheets.
If only Indigenous Australians had never heard of a thing called 26 January 1788, they could still be living in their native state, free from the genocide of Western educational opportunities, health services and economic development.
And in the case of the Bankstown Poetry Slam, if only disenfranchised, dispossessed Muslims could find their voice, they wouldn’t be so badly marginalised by the horror of white male privilege.
In funding this madness, who are the guilty parties?
Last year the Australia Council for the Arts gave the Bankstown poets a $42,000 grant, as part of its promotion of ‘community participation and diversity in the arts.’
Canterbury-Bankstown Council and Western Sydney University both fund the BPS but will not say by how much.
A university spokesperson described questions about possible Islamic radicalisation as, ‘demonstrating a complete failure to understand the work of the Bankstown Poetry Slam and warrant no response.’
I’ll think of that next time I hear higher education in Australia crying poor.
I asked Peter Dutton, the Turnbull government’s new anti-terrorism tsar, why the Department of Social Services funded BPS but he failed to respond.
Seemingly, Dutton can speak freely about problems in other jurisdictions, such as African gang crime in Victoria, but in his own patch he is mute.
The local Federal MP Tony Burke also refused to answer questions.
Last year Burke, a prominent Palestinian booster, hosted a BPS visit and recital session in Parliament House Canberra, no less. At the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, its chief spruiker Chris Brown told me he was ‘proud as anyone could be’ to have given $10,000 to BPS. He said it gives young Muslims a voice, especially through ‘their wonderful love poems’.
The only tender verse I could find on the now deleted BPS YouTube Channel was Sara Mansour’s ode to ‘My Mama’. Even then, after a couple of stanzas about her mum, the text turned to politics.
‘You may think I’m oppressed because I wear a head-dress’, Mansour opined, ‘But we donned this burden of our own volition because the Koran does not advocate for the beating of women.’
Islamic scholars like Keysar Trad have said this is untrue.
If flowers and a box of chocolates don’t bring recalcitrant women to heel, then the Koran preaches the rough stuff. Mansour dismisses this as a misunderstanding, claiming that as men have translated the Holy Book into English, their version cannot be trusted.
I kid you not. That’s her view.
The problem is not the Koran, it’s the men who interpret it.
‘We are fighting the same enemy, whether its name is religion or capitalism: it’s the patriarchy’, she says.
In 2016, Brown arranged for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to present Mansour with a Western Sydney Leadership Award.
Anything goes in the Mad Hatter world of Bankstown poetry.
The NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes doesn’t fund the BPS but he does let its representatives into government schools.
While he says any ‘type of hateful opinion’ worries him, Stokes sees no problem with the BPS mentoring students ‘as all the organisers have had Working With Children Checks.’
That’s his message to parents: the Islamic ranters have had their records checked and they are not convicted paedophiles.
What a relief.