Stephen Daisley Stephen Daisley

You can’t sit out the culture wars

As if Judy Murray wasn’t already a national treasure. When the tennis coach, mother of Jamie and Sir Andy, heard about a biological male poised to be awarded tour status by the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association, she tweeted:…

The replies are what you might imagine but, refreshingly, Murray has not backed down or issued an apology. It’s important to have people as popular and high-profile as Murray speak out on the undermining of women’s sport. If we left it up to professional bodies and sports journalism, we’d get nothing but an endless stream of platitudes and craven championing of men taking women’s spots. It got me to thinking about who speaks out and why.

In his landmark 2018 essay, Andrew Sullivan warned that ‘We All Live on Campus Now’, that the melange of absurdities taught and practised at US colleges – intersectionality and critical race theory, micro-aggressions and safe spaces – were seeping into the mainstream of American society. With them they were bringing an aversion to the free exchange of ideas that proliferates in higher education settings, whether in the form of groupthink, self-censorship, ideological monoculture or the impulse to punish and silence dissenting views. This was, Sullivan wrote:

why our discourse is now so freighted with fear, why so many choose silence as the path of least resistance, or why the core concepts of a liberal society – the individual’s uniqueness, the primacy of reason, the protection of due process, an objective truth – are so besieged.

Committed ideologues can capture institutions because they, unlike the rest of us, are committed

Sullivan has proved to be the Cassandra of our times on this subject. If anything, he underestimated the speed and scope with which the pathologies of the campus would sweep the western world, from governments and corporations to military bureaucracies and scientific and clinical institutions.

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