What do Germaine Greer and J. K. Rowling have in common? Until recently, an obvious answer was that they are strident feminists. But more recently, these two have another claim to fame: they’ve been ‘cancelled’ for not being radical enough.
In a 2015 interview, Germaine Greer refused to describe men who underwent sex-change surgery as ‘women’. For that, she was deplatformed, publicly shamed, and even accused of inciting violence against transgender people—an accusation she describes as ‘absolute nonsense’.
In previous decades, Greer was rightly seen as radical for her feminist views. But now as she holds the line defending the female gender from being caricatured and impersonated, she is apparently evil.
Long known for her feminism views, J. K. Rowling has faced the same fire in recent times. On suggesting that vulnerable young girls should feel safe in female bathrooms, and that not all childhood gender dysphoria should lead to sex surgery, she was called ‘transphobic’—and disowned by Harry Potter actors and fans alike.
If even the fearless feminists of late decades can’t satisfy the woke mobs, what chance do any of us have? This in fact may be the key to overcoming our fear of being called ‘hateful’ and ‘bigoted’ for airing sensible views. See, the truth is that you can never please the mob, and you will never be radical enough. The evidence for this is everywhere.
For a start, there will never be enough toppled statues.
What began as a reasonable protest against confederate monuments has since turned into an ugly crusade against all the heroes of history; men like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and George Washington. Even those who fought for the abolition of slavery have had their statues destroyed—for no other reason, it seems, than for being white and male.
At this point, comparisons to the French Revolution and Pol Pot’s Cambodia seem increasingly relevant. During those bloody campaigns, the political end-goal was a concept known as Year Zero:
“All culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed or discarded and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch. All of the history of a nation or people before Year Zero is largely deemed irrelevant, because it will ideally be purged and replaced from the ground up.”
A Black Lives Matter activist has recently called for the tearing down of any statues, murals or stained glass windows of Jesus that depict him with light-coloured skin. He has called these “a form of white supremacy” and “racist propaganda”. Where will it end?
Consider also that there can never be enough apologies.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously called for Americans not to judge each other “by the colour of their skin, but the content of their character.” But colourblindness, we are now told, is no longer enough. Instead, everyone must be judged precisely by their race—and white people should apologise for their ‘privilege’ and collective guilt. If they don’t, it can be assumed that they are racists.
But even if every white person lined up today and apologised for the sins of colonialism and slavery, the problem wouldn’t be solved. In a hundred years’ time, the same routine could be symbolically repeated—and again a hundred years after that. The past will never be erased. ‘White guilt’ is a problem without a solution; a sin without forgiveness. In other words, it’s a false construct.
Likewise, there will never be enough division.
If a group promoted “white power” or said they stood for a cause based on their proudly white perspective, we would be appalled, and we’d rightly consider them white supremacists. But when Black Lives Matter does the equivalent on its own website, we are expected to turn a blind eye—or even chant in unison.
Dividing people up into subcultures based on immutable traits like colour, sex and ability is exactly what the West has fought so hard against for decades. All that has changed, it seems, now that we have the doctrine of ‘intersectionality’ and its endless categories and subcategories of oppression.
The intersectionality dogma is so bizarre that it has become a caricature of itself. A running joke online now is that you might, for example, read an article about an able-bodied Hispanic lesbian Buddhist transexual—and still not work out if you had just read candour or parody.
As psychologist Jordan Peterson has explained, if you keep the divisions and categorisations going long enough, you will end up where it all started—back at individualism. Indeed, the idea that every one of us is unique and different, too complex to be bound by group identities, is one of the most liberating discoveries that Christian civilisation ever made.
In the name of justice, the woke are now eating their own. History is being trashed, Jesus is cancelled, and we are being told to embrace shame and victimhood en masse. And they call this progress?
No one said it better than C.S. Lewis. “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
So let’s turn back and start making progress again.
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Kurt Mahlburg has studied architecture and theology among other interests of philosophy, history, surf, the outdoors and travel. He spent several years in Indonesia and has worked as a young adults pastor. He is now a teacher, a freelance writer, the Features Editor of the Canberra Declaration and contributes regularly at Caldron Pool & other online publications. He hosts his own blog 'Cross + Culture' at KurtMahlburg.blog.