Ruth Dudley Edwards: A new free speech body is standing up to the woke bullies

Here’s some good news.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 5:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 6:22 pm
Ruth Dudley Edwards, the author and commentator, who writes a column for the News Letter every Tuesday. She is author of 'The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions' and her most recent book is 'The Seven: the lives and legacies of the founding fathers of the Irish republic'

There are new recruits to the sane army in the culture wars, those who fight back against the bullies, the ideologues, the hysterics and the cowards who are destroying the intellectual freedom for which so many of our ancestors struggled for centuries.

The Free Speech Union — set up to defend those threatened, silenced and even fired for challenging the destructive ideology of Wokeness — is already on the battlefield, saving people’s careers and growing strongly in numbers and strength.

It protects people persecuted by the thought police and the witch-finders who scour social media in search of a few words that can be used to destroy heretics.

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While people scream to tear down of statues to people like Winston Churchill, who saved us from fascism, they show no interest in standing up to China

It has just been joined in the public square by historians who are fighting the degradation of their profession by those whose only ambition is to undermine Western society by making people ashamed of their history.

“The abuse of history for political purposes is as old as history itself,” says its first public statement, ‘Why We are Reclaiming History’.

“In recent years, we have seen campaigns to rewrite the histories of Western democracies so as to undermine their solidarity as communities, their sense of achievement, even their basic legitimacy. There have been calls to abolish National days in Canada and Australia, and both countries have been accused of being founded on genocide.

“Slavery — despite being almost universal until the early 19th century — is cast as the original sin of Britain and the United States ... these culture wars seem to be aimed squarely at demoralising Western countries.”

The two men spearheading this, Professors Robert Tombs and David Abdulafia, are scholars of great distinction who are editing the great range of well-informed and evidence-based material being provided on the website to provide support to those who care about free debate and the search for truth as opposed to mindless adherence to the destructive, ill-thought-out dogmas of Critical Race Theory.

The group they have assembled are “an independent group of scholars from seven countries and several ethnicities,” they explain, “with a wide range of opinions on many subjects, but with the shared conviction that history requires careful interpretation of complex evidence and should not be a vehicle for facile propaganda.”

We believe “History is always about context, not imposing our own moral values on the past”, as one of our members, Dr Zareer Masani, puts it.

I hope we will be of service to those who think enough is enough.

Enough of virtue-signalling, timid management of schools, universities, local government, civil servants, police, media, museums, churches, publishers, politicians and international corporations obediently regurgitating an ideological view of the history of the West that seeks only to undermine our society.

Enough of rule by ignorant, deluded and politically motivated activists screaming for pulling down of statues of people they know little about, the decolonisation of curricula the literature of which they haven’t read and the silencing through cancel culture and general intimidation of the heretics who refused to bow down to the false idols of this new ideology — that what history is all about is evil white men enslaving women and black people in the interests of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and racism.

And enough of kowtowing to the nihilistic ignoramuses and bullies who seek to divide our society by trashing the culture and memories that hold us together.

The History Reclaimed group has two Irish members, Professor Liam Kennedy and me, both of whom have spent years challenging the twisting of the historical narrative to glorify violent republicans and demonise unionists.

As citizens, we have political opinions – him from the left, me from the right — but as historians we seek objective truth.

Liam’s latest book, Who is Responsible for the Troubles?, is history as it should be, looking honestly and objectively at the evidence to tell a story and arrive at an honest conclusion.

I aspired to do the same in my last, The Seven: the lives and legacies of the founders of the Irish Republic, published on the centenary of the 1916 rebellion.

While people scream for the tearing down of statues to people like Churchill, who saved these islands and, indeed, the West, from fascism, they show no interest in standing up to China, which is ruthlessly destroying the culture, language, and sense of identity of the Uighur Muslims.

They remind me of those who demand special treatment for the Irish language and publicly revere those who killed for a vision for Ireland while declaring that unionists have no culture and that their history is shameful.

When four of the five main political parties agreed with a unionist request for the erection of a granite stone paid for privately with the inscription: “Erected to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland 1921-2021”, the fifth party, Sinn Fein, vetoed it on the grounds that it would be “symbolic of the past failures of political unionism and of this state. Those past failures are certainly not a template for the future”.

If you believe that our past and present should be honestly debated, may I suggest you join the Free Speech Union https://freespeechunion.org.

And that you look at https://historyreclaimed.co.uk where you will find mind-stretching and entertaining wide-ranging discussions and disagreements on the most contentious issues in our history.

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