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Evil & stupidity - November 30, 2008 - davidwarrenonline.com

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November 30, 2008

Evil & stupidity

Last Monday, the student council of Carleton University attracted much attention to their university and to the city of Ottawa -- around Canada and the world -- with their decision to cancel their annual Shinerama fundraising efforts on behalf of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Their argument was that this disease afflicts "white people and primarily men." They would rather choose a charity that is more "inclusive."

Little I can add to the outcry against this. Some things are so simple, we do not need a university degree to understand them. One of them is that, unlike prostate cancer, which afflicts men exclusively, or AIDS, which primarily afflicts men (and fighting the latter is not more politically correct than the former because it is more inclusive) -- cystic fibrosis afflicts men and women fairly equally. Proportionally more "Caucasians" may suffer, but only in the widest sense of a term which subscribes the off-white inhabitants of North Africa, the Middle East, and India. Many of "Negroid" and "Mongoloid" race also suffer cystic fibrosis, if fewer proportionally. So the disease is reasonably inclusive of humans.

To be apagogical about this, one might argue that the disease is exclusive, since like every other, only a minority of people have it. This would at least be self-consistent.

But without further inquiry or thought, the Carleton University Students Association bought into a proposition from one of its members, a certain Donnie Northup, that was both evil and quite superlatively ignorant.

"Good intentions" do not excuse them, as their president, Brittany Smyth, has tried to argue with several media callers. Anti-white and anti-male prejudices are not well-intentioned; she should have been corrected publicly on that. And here is how Ms. Smyth dismissed the disgraceful preamble of Mr. Northup's motion, to CTV News: "It's 100 per cent their opinion. Their opinion doesn't have to be fact or anything really. It's just how this individual felt."

This remark reveals an extraordinary degree of incuriosity, allied perhaps with lethargy and cowardice, on the part of the student councillors. Political correctness has numbed their brains. How has it done so? By instilling indifference to truth in their souls.

Evil and stupidity reinforce one another. Even acts which appear, on their face, to be devilishly clever, turn out not to be, with a little extra cunning. There are arguable exceptions, but in the main, the reason so many criminals get caught, even by rather flat-footed policemen, is that they suffer from cruel deficiencies of intellect. They can't keep up with the lies they are living.

And likewise, the number of leftist activists who get unwanted attention from media and the blogosphere. Through sheer stupidity, they utter aloud or in print the rationale for their actions, instead of covering this over with a slather of additional falsehoods and misrepresentations.

Behind the Carleton students' behaviour is the vicious but unquestioned totalitarian ideology of multiculturalism. The "white man" is taken as the symbol of hatred for everything associated with western civilization. Cultural achievements which include the founding of universities, the elimination of slavery, the emancipation of women, and equality before the law, are overlooked. Any "alternative" social order is idolized, no matter how barbaric.

What have evil and stupidity in common? Once again: indifference to truth. The very western ideal of liberal education was to cultivate the truth-loving mind. Far from contenting itself with slogans, and Pavlovian responses to questions of the day, that mind should be seeking the truth behind appearances. This is a moral quest, requiring such disciplines as courage, to confront the malice that is implicit in every kind of lie -- including the unknowing malice in unknowing lies.

How many letters I have received, from students in Carleton and other universities, who tell me their experience of higher education is nothing like this; who say they are surrounded by students, professors, administrators, and course materials that consistently subvert the ideals of liberal education. Glib remarks by Carleton's new president, Roseann O'Reilly Runte, reinforce this impression. In an "open letter" that I would characterize as a rote public relations gesture, she expressed her "personal regret," over "language that was not appropriate," and so forth. That's an insufficiently robust response.

Tomorrow, the student council meets again, to revisit their decision. Let me helpfully propose a fresh motion for them to consider:

"Last week we made a major decision that was indefensibly evil and stupid. We feel deeply ashamed of what we did, the more as we needed outsiders to explain to us why it was wrong. We hereby rescind last week's motion, with our apologies. We have all agreed to resign from the student council, and we invite all eligible students to think more carefully before electing our replacements. Each of us further undertakes to withdraw from the university for the rest of the academic year, to take stock."

Today is, incidentally, the beginning of Advent. It is thus an opportunity for every man and woman, inspired by the deeper traditions of Western civilization, to take stock, as we begin the new liturgical year.

David Warren

Ottawa Citizen

For an archive of David Warren's newspaper columns, see:


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