By Jonathan Midgeley
Many have been the debates about Dr Johnson’s famous “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. It was uttered in an age when patriotism – love of homeland, and care for those who share it – was unquestionably seen as a good thing. Johnson was referring to an obvious truth, that anything which is regarded as unquestionably good will become a magnet to all who are bad.
So it was in Johnson’s day that indefensible things started to be defended on grounds of patriotism. After all, to be behaving patriotically was enough to dispel all doubts, surely? Indeed, your critics could easily be dismissed, or worse, if you could suggest they were animated by an aversion to patriotism. In this way, the unscrupulous slowly colonised the noble idea of patriotism, and subverted it to their own ends.
Fast-forward a couple of centuries, and the same thing has happened to our most noble idea. Equality, the idea that all should be regarded as equal regardless of race, religion or gender, was a founding principle – maybe THE founding principle – of modern, liberal democracies. This great Enlightenment ideal, so obvious to anyone with a scintilla of human decency about them, long ago attained the status of an unquestioningly good thing. Indeed, a time came when no-one could doubt its benign credentials. And therein lay the seed of its decline. Everybody wanted a piece of the action, everybody wanted to become associated with this great anti-discriminatory, anti-racist idea. So the idea gradually became colonised and occupied, and in the process it became …. altered.
Now see what has become of it. The universalist ideal of equality has been turned on its head. From the SJWs of America to the Hard Left in the UK, a new kind of equality has been promulgated. And this is an equality that is no equality at all, where a selection of interest groups, chosen because a shallow understanding of Marxist theory has claimed they are forever the exploited – blacks, homosexuals, women, Muslims – have been given endless access to activist sympathy, while other groups – whites, men, Christians, heterosexuals – have been denied this. The given name for all this discrimination is nowadays ‘diversity’, and the whole racket has become an industry employing thousands.
But let’s call this new ‘equality’, this new ‘anti-racism’ and ‘anti-sexism’, by a name worthy of it. Let’s call it SELECTIVE EQUALITY, or maybe SELECTIVE DIVERSITY. After all, once you give a thing a name, you clarify the world for everybody. And this is a sinister development that cries out for clear thinking.
Unless we can recapture the spirit that gave us the original, universalist ideal of equality, then a terrible reckoning lies ahead. Equality must be for all, regardless of race or religion or gender. There can be no denials of people’s basic rights, based on some spurious argument that their skin pigmentation or genital arrangements make them somehow ‘privileged’. Such denials are the essence of racism and sexism – they should be repugnant to us all.
Dr Johnson, the great lexicographer, would surely agree that new words are needed to counter this reversion to segregation and discrimination. “Selective Diversity” …… “Selective Equality” ……. Use them. Use them often.