"Well there is some justice after all" was my first thought when it was announced in November 2018 that British philosopher and author Sir Roger Scruton was appointed chairman of the British Governments “Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission”.
England is facing major public investment with regard to public housing in order to address an acute housing shortage, and the idea of this commission was to encourage and advise contractors and architects to incorporate aesthetics into the construction plans, and consider local landscaping solutions. The hope was thus to curb the creation of even more of the shabby and abandoned rectangular concrete buildings that has blighted (also) the English suburbs since World War II.
One may wonder that such a commission is even needed - but it is! - and Scruton, who has worked extensively with aesthetics, beauty and architecture in his great writings, was therefore the obvious choice as an advisor on better construction practice.
There is just one problem: Scruton is a conservative. And VERY conservative at that! As a distinct voice in the public debate - always elegant and full of English wit, at times very polemic - he has not put up with any nonsense, but has on the contrary, challenged the establishment - whether it be about misanthropic architecture, Cultural Marxism's ravages at universities, the consequence of massive immigration to the West - or about the defense of fox hunting. Needless to say, this assertion of his conservative stance has been less than optimal for his career, and has provided him with many enemies who wish him to a hot place very far away…anything but working as the state-appointed feinschmecker!
As Scruton himself stated on an earlier occasion: "Once you are identified as Right-wing, you are beyond the pale of argument ... You are not an opponent to be argued with, but a disease to be shunned."
And yes, the moment he was nominated all hell did indeed break loose: several architects and other critics were out and about warning of a repetition of the cultural war on architecture that had raged in the UK's 80s, and it was feared that Scruton would return to ornate stucco, cornices and the like.
The Ministry of housing, however, showed instantaneous courage by replying to the criticism and stating that Scruton, who was, moreover, knighted by Prince Charles in 2016, was an excellent candidate.
Next, several Labor parliamentarians queued to disqualify Scruton for anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist remarks, and demanded his departure. Still without luck.
It was not until a young, unscrupulous deputy editor, George Eaton of the left-wing weekly magazine, “New Statesman” came on the track, that the critics' efforts bore fruit:
Scruton, who for a number of years had written a column on wine for the aforementioned magazine, accepted Eaton's call for an interview at the end of March, which was supposed to be about his writing.
The interview, which was brought on April 10, instead started to focus on topics such as Brexit, George Soros, anti-Semitism and mass immigration.
And what did he say that justified the government's firing of him? Well, that is a very good question indeed! After asking about China, the journalist quoted Scruton to say that (…) "Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing" which was thus presented as a racist remark about Chinese people. While the full quote, which Eaton has been heavily pressured to share in its full length was this: "They're creating robots out of their own people by so constraining what can be done. Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing. ”In other words, a distinctly different angle, which was not so much about the Chinese, as it was a comment on the Chinese government's massive monitoring of its people.
As regards to the question of Islamophobia, Scruton replied that it is (…) a propaganda word invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue. Which is only partially true: The word was coined in 1918, that is, ten years before the Brotherhood was established. But aside from that, the word is used ad libitum to shut down any critic or criticism of Islam. And to be used as the basis for a termination of employment? No!
George Eaton, before all of this happened, had put all of Scruton's "controversial" statements from the interview on social media, tweeting the following comment as the cowardly and headless firing became a reality: "The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser "next to a photo of himself drinking champagne directly from the bottle. This tweet was subsequently deleted, and he apologized for his behavior on the social media, although he still claims that the quotes were correct. He seems to have pulled the plug, and an auto-reply to his email reads: "Out of office until the 29th of April". May he stay away.
Naturally, criticism of this tainted and dishonest journalist from real conservative voices, amongst others, Melanie Phillips, Douglas Murray and Paul Weston, have been calling on George Eaton to publish to the public the full unedited, taped interview so that the public can see for themselves if the firing of Scruton was justified, or if it was just another example of conservative politicians without backbone, without stamina, confidence or ability to stand firm when subjected to pressure by a leftist mob seconded by tax-paid politicians, and fake news from the fourth estate. In short: Justice by Twitter.
It's pathetic. And totally unacceptable.
A conservative and national-minded person, as Scruton most definitely is, has every reason to be angry. And he, whose heart beats for a more beautiful environment for everyone, must rightly be disappointed to have lost this eminent opportunity to make his influence felt. You don't have to be born on the British Isles to be just as angry and disappointed about the treatment that this gifted man has endured.