Finding Bravery (or Avoiding Cowardice)
The book research is still driving my days. There's no sign that the hunger for knowledge is waning, and I can feel myself beginning to understand things better as my frames of reference increase in number. For example, in an interview with journalist Helen Lewis on Decoding the Gurus, she and the hosts mention a few names that I'm now familiar with enough that I could explain who they are to my wife (if she were at all interested, which she isn't!) For example, Helen Lewis mentioned Kathleen Stock, and it just so happens that I have her controversial article, This is not a Drill, open in my browser right now. I discovered Helen Lewis for the first time on Bari Weiss' podcast, Honestly, and I actually had to look up TERF. And then I had to look up Trans-Exclusionary Radical Female. That was the kind of charming ignorance I was bringing to the project!
One of the issues I'm wrestling with is whether to put forward my own views as I research the culture wars. I'm coming to the conclusion that it would be cowardly not to disclose my bias, if indeed it would even be possible. I see incredible bravery in people like Isabel Oakeshott, who leaked former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock's WhatsApp messages in a national newspaper; and J.K. Rowling, who felt so strongly that she risked everything to speak out against what she sees as behaviour that is antithetical to the central message of her Harry Potter novels. I'm not saying that coming to a conclusion after months of research and revealing that conclusion is necessarily brave—it isn't—but attempting not to reveal it is almost certainly cowardly.
Is there bravery on the other side? Is it brave to deface statues of historical figures or cause traffic disruptions? I suppose, in some ways, it is. As the saying goes: freedom fighters and terrorists are the same; it's just a question of perspective.
My goal was to begin the project with an open mind, which I did, and allow myself to draw my own conclusions based on my research. Research is good. Open-mindedness is good. But #nodebate is abhorrent. There's nothing brave about that. Quite the opposite, in fact.
One of the most interesting pieces in my research has been the serialised podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling. I found myself tearing up today as I heard J.K. Rowling saying these words:
I suppose the thing I would say, above all, to those who seek to tell me that I don't understand my own books, I will say this: Some of you have not understood the books. The deatheaters claimed, "We have been made to live in secret and now is our time. And any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die." They demonised and dehumanised those who are not like them.
I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement that I think has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society. I do not see this particular movement as either benign or powerless. So I'm afraid I stand with the women who are fighting to be heard against threat of loss of livelihood and threats to their personal safety.
– J.K. Rowling, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Chapter 5: The Tweets
I think I would go so far as to say that I Stand with J.K. Rowling. But I will research the other side, too. I have some articles and books lined up and am looking forward to learning more.
Recent media consumed
- I Don't Believe in Progress, Mary Harrington on TRIGGERnometry
- Critical Racists, Christopher Rufo on Jordan Peterson
- How Now Cow of Brown, Heather Heying
- How Marxism is Disguised as Woke Morality | Dr. Yoram Hazony | EP 305 - YouTube
- Neil Oliver: "Scotland is a Country Split Down the Middle" - YouTube
- Tom Holland on the Great Awokening - YouTube
- How Anti-Racism Is Hurting Black America | John McWhorter | EP 241
- The War on the West, by Douglas Murray (currently reading)
- The New Puritans, by Andrew Doyle (currently reading)
- An Immigrant's Love Letter to the West, Konstantin Kisin
- Journalist or Heretic? | Bari Weiss | EP 175