Wednesday, May 31, 2006

French vote to boycott British universities

Yeah, it’s a good headline, but actually it’s nonsense. I had an idea to write a spoof of yesterday’s NATHFE conference decision to boycott Israeli academics (unless they sign a McCarthyite declaration of the political opposition to the Israeli government). Briefly, the idea was that the French universities had voted to cut off ties with any British academics who refused to sign a declaration opposing the UK government, principally over the war against Iraq.

But then it hit me. The types of people supporting the boycott of Israeli Jews would probably welcome such a move by the French. They’d probably happily sign a declaration and denounce their own colleagues who refused to sign. So, writing such a ‘spoof’ would be a waste of time.

Of course, if this type of witch hint ping-pong took off, all sorts of pressure groups could enter the fray. I can think that some might decide that retaliation against the French on the issue of the secularism might be a good idea. Perhaps French academics might be required to disassociate themselves from the ban on conspicuous religious symbols and attire in secular spaces after successful lobbying of the NATHFE by religious groups backed by the SWP. And that’s just getting the ball into play.

Picking up this ball and running with it will be any number of pressure groups for various causes, who would (rightly) cry foul if the NATHFE (or rather its soon-to-be successor, the UCU) refused to include their concerns. Perhaps an academic will eventually have to spell out quite a wide-ranging ideological position.

“I can’t peer-review Dr Smith’s paper on Christopher Marlow because she will not sign a declaration stating her opposition to abortion, said Professor Jones of Southport University, a prominent member of the Christian Academic Pro-Life Association.”

Of course, we should not fall into the trap of thinking this is all a new development. We have been here before, as Professor Ellen Schrecker noted in 1999 in her paper Political Tests for Professors.

What is most worrying now is that a group called the British Committee for Universities in Palestine, is offering advice on how to ‘anonymously’ support the boycott. This sounds even more ominously McCarthyite. What do they want people to do? Anonymously inform on their colleagues? Backstab, scuttle and nix other academics work and associations all from behind the veil of anonymity?

Film directors who do not want to put their name to projects use the moniker “Alan Smithee”. Perhaps BRICUP could create a persona or two for this purpose. I suggest Professor Torquemada and Dr Cohn. The second one can be used by those anonymous academic informers who want to further obscure their anti-Semitism by sounding “Jewish”.

I won’t belabour the points about why this move is such a bad idea, since they are covered in great detail elsewhere, but I will end by saying that the spectre of wider political tests interfering with academic freedom is quite disquieting. More than ever, I have a sense that the Authoritarian Left would like to see all manner of political tests applied to enforce political and moral conformity.

As such, a spoof article about a French boycott of the UK’s universities over Iraq would not be parody. It would be a road map.


At 11:09 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:29 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Yeah, *principles* are so boring.

At 12:48 pm, Anonymous Don said...

Hope this isn't too late but would just like to say a few things about the Joe Tex email.
You know Brett, gays like you will never understand how hated you are, throughout the whole world including "civilised" UK and USA.
What you are doing is another form of colonialism, first you take our land and now you want to take away our independant way of thinking.
I have a good idea, Blacks and Muslims should join forces to stamp down on you poofs, what a team we would make!
The world is in trouble everytime Don come, battyboy get up and run!

At 12:58 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

I'll take your 'independent thinking' point Don when you can show some original thought rather than rehashing someone else's lyrics.

At 9:36 am, Anonymous Don said...

Laugh now all you want, so tough behind your computer screen arn't you?
But you won't be laughing once the Mahdi comes to lead us Muslims to success. You gays will be on the side of Dajjal, but we will we swipe you down.
Gay wimps, you have no balls. Blacks achieved emancipation through the civil rights movement and in the boxing ring. Violence is an unfortunate but necessary part of breaking loose the shackles that bind you, can you do that? Do you know any gays that can even throw a punch?

At 12:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brett,

I am just enquiring as to whether you have read the article in the Times which confirms what Anonymous wrote anbout David Lucas-that no gallows have been sold.
Well well, seems you were wrong- just for the once of course haha!

At 12:36 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"I am just enquiring as to whether you have read the article in the Times ...

Which article? Do you have a link?

The last article 'anonymous' boasted about confirmed the BBC's version!

At 12:43 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Never mind. I found it:,,2-2205886,00.html

But the story shaows that David Lucas was hoist with his own petard, as it were. HE was the hoaxer, *not* the media. 'Anonymous' painted a picture of a man unfairly portrayed by the media, but in actual fact, it was David Lucas himself spinning all these lies, not the journalists.

At 12:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...,,2-2205886,00.html

I didnt read it as boasting, I thought he was pointing out that the story was untrue.

At 12:52 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"I didnt read it as boasting, I thought he was pointing out that the story was untrue.

Yeah, but the Guardian article confirmed the BBC's story. And now from The Times we see that, while the story is now revealed to be untrue, Mr Lucas himself was the source of the false information. He is not a victim, he is a liar who made false and untrue claims to the media, who, as far as I can see, acted in good faith and took him at his word.

So, why he is not a unprincipled murerous monster, he is - as it turns out - an unprincipled liar and attention seeker.

At 10:38 am, Blogger Brian Miller said...

One wonders if most of these universities -- which are taxpayer-funded -- would support a boycott of paying the portion of taxes which go to the salaries of "academics" who put their personal politics ahead of doing their jobs. Something tells me no -- we've all got to keep working and paying, regardless of what we think.

Only the academics give themselves freedom -- and it's mostly freedom to NOT do their jobs.

At 10:41 am, Blogger Brian Miller said...

"Do you know any gays that can even throw a punch?"

I'm not bad at it, and I am also classically trained in archery, a crack shot, and a member of Pink Pistols in the United States.

Your schtick works in Europe, where the law forbids self-defence, but I suspect that if you take your "struggle" elsewhere, you'll learn that gays who have faced and survived real discrimination since they could talk are a bit tougher than soft-around-the-middle council house residents who have decided to become radical jihadists in order to be trendy.


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