On the Right we have a bunch of regressive conservatives who demonize minorities and women and have no sympathy for the downtrodden, while on the Left we have regressive Leftists who try to censor people’s speech, take the side of extremist Islamists against women and gays, and shut down disagreement by other Leftists who aren’t pure enough. What is a person to do? The answer, of course, is to call out both sides for regressive behavior.
And so I’ve been criticizing Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS), which is about as regressive as a “progressive” organization can be. We all know, of course, of their “no platforming” policies that are, in effect, codified denial of free speech. One further odious example: the NUS’s LGBT+ campaign called for removing gay males from their annual conference because gay males weren’t sufficiently oppressed. As RT reported:
The campaign also seeks to push LGBT+ societies into scrapping the position [gay male representatives] completely.
“The reps system exists to ensure that committees can always have a reserved place for groups which disproportionately face oppression within the LGBT+ community,” the motion said.
“Gay men do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community and do not need a reserved place on society committees.”
The motion also addresses the contentious “no-platforming” debate, whereby speakers are denied a platform to express their views if they are thought to be “bigoted.”
“Students’ Unions have a choice of who to host as speakers, and denying them that platform is a choice that SUs should feel free to make on ideological and welfare-based grounds. We reaffirm our commitment to a policy of no platform for fascists,” it reads.
This, of course, codifies what we all know to be true: the Regressive Left is establishing a Hierarchy of Victimhood, in which people are classified as worth more or less depending on how many oppressed groups they belong to, and how oppressed those groups are deemed to be.
And the new president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, isn’t going to help matters. Once the NUS Black Students Officer, she had a history of problematic statements about Jews, which in my view bordered on anti-Semitism (see my posts on Bouattia here and here). After election she promised to do better, and pay attention to the concerns of all students, including Jews, but I was doubtful. The student unions of Newcastle, Lincoln, and Hull then disaffiliated from the NUS, while Oxford voted narrowly to remain. Still, I decided to wait and see if she made good on her promise to be more inclusive.
I’m not waiting any more As I suspected, Bouattia has a covert agenda, and it’s just become more overt: she has taken away from Jewish students their traditional right to select a representative to the NUS’s Anti-Racism, Anti-Facist taskforce. As the Torygraph reports:
Previously the Union of Jewish students was consulted and talked to about the identity of the Jewish representative on the committee.
But from now on the Jewish member will be decided by the National Executive Council (NEC) and President Malia Bouattia, after the NUS passed a motion that brought the changes to effect.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) have condemned the decision saying that it is just another example of “Jews being pushed out of university life.”
An UJS spokesman said: “It was no surprise that the NUS President, Malia Bouattia, who had the deciding vote once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish students’ interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.
“Malia is still yet to adequately answer the concerns of Jewish students regarding her past rhetoric and today provided further proof that Jewish students are right to feel unsafe in the national union that she leads.
“After today’s vote it is clear that NUS and specifically the NUS President has no desire to listen to Jewish students.”
It’s not clear to me what reason Bouattia or the NUS would have to deny the right of a group to select its own representatives, especially since that was okay in the past. The only rationale I see is a wish to control the composition of that committee.
This wouldn’t concern me so much but for two things: the rising tide of anti-Semitic views in Britain (and since a rising tide lifts all boats, that bigotry extends to Muslims as well), and the fact that NUS officers often transition to secular politics. Bouattia’s actions are in spirit if not letter anti-Semitic, and she has no business representing a diverse group of students. But, NUS students, you get whom you vote for. Good luck.
Thank Ceiling Cat there’s no such thing as a National Union of Students in the U.S.!