Couldn't Ms Hirsch Summon a Smidgen of Gratitude? despite Having Every Privilege, the Latest Darling of the Left to Denigrate Britain Is Different from Those Intellectuals Who Gloried in Disdaining This Country. Her Views Threatenracial Harmony, Says STEPHEN GLOVER

Daily Mail (London), April 6, 2018 | Go to article overview

Couldn't Ms Hirsch Summon a Smidgen of Gratitude? despite Having Every Privilege, the Latest Darling of the Left to Denigrate Britain Is Different from Those Intellectuals Who Gloried in Disdaining This Country. Her Views Threatenracial Harmony, Says STEPHEN GLOVER


Byline: Stephen Glover

THE hatred of British intellectuals and writers for their own country has a long pedigree. It is usually combined with a misguided conviction that everything abroad is better.

More than 200 years ago, the young William Wordsworth celebrated the French Revolution. However, the starryeyed poet soon became disillusioned with Robespierre's blood-soaked Reign of Terror. In the end, he became a staunch conservative.

During the 1930s, intellectuals such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, founders of the London School of Economics, ignored Stalin's genocide in the Soviet Union and extolled his supposed achievements.

Around the same time, Professor Harold Laski, also of the LSE and a chairman of the Labour Party, was unconcerned that Soviet prisoners had their teeth smashed with iron bars, and couldn't see much difference between 'the general character of a trial in Russia and this country'.

Nothing much has changed.

The novelist Martin Amis once grumbled that he would 'prefer not to be English', and cited the 'Philistine' Royal Family and the British public's 'obsession' with celebrity as reasons for turning his back on his country. Having decamped to New York, he softened his views, and recently confessed that he 'missed the English'.

A starker example of an intellectual who hated many aspects of Britain, and tended to think the best of our Soviet enemy, was the celebrated Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm.

As a life-long member of the Communist Party, he held a flickering candle for Stalin's Russia -- notoriously saying the 'sacrifice of millions of lives' would be worth it for a communist utopia.

He also argued that 'Stalin imposed order the police state can be the rule of law.' It was British society that was 'morally unacceptable'.

Now there is a new disgruntled, Britain-hating intellectual on the block. Afua Hirsch may seem a slighter figure, but she is feted as the darling of the trendy Left.

Her recently published book, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity And Belonging, has been favourably, sometimes ecstatically, reviewed.

There is no doubt Hirsch is an attractive and superficially plausible figure. I am sure she is well-meaning, and I suspect she is rather nice. But what she writes and says about race and identity could foment bitterness and division.

For there is this important distinction between her and the cavilling intellectuals who came before. Afua Hirsch, who is of mixed race, lambasts contemporary Britain and its past through the prism of race.

SHE is far from being alone, of course. In her evisceration of Britain's imperial past, she joins the Indian writer Shashi Tharoor, who has depicted British rule in India as virtually Nazi, and the Nigerianborn, mixed-race historian David Olusoga, who has written about the 'dark side of British history'.

A few weeks ago, Olusoga -- one of the three presenters of the BBC TV series Civilisations -- said that Winston Churchill was involved in activities which could today be considered war crimes. Olusoga, like Shashi Tharoor, holds the great wartime leader chiefly responsible for the Bengal famine of 1943-44, in which millions of Indians died.

Unsurprisingly, Olusoga has hailed Hirsch's book as a work 'for our divided and dangerous times'.

For her part, she jumped to Olusoga's defence in the Guardian, drawing a pretty silly parallel between the 'lies' of Vladimir Putin and our own historical 'myths'.

This week, she was at it again, in the Guardian, arguing after Winnie Mandela's death that this 'freedom fighter' was a flawless heroine.

The Mail was criticised for describing her as a 'blood-soaked' bully (which she undoubtedly was). Hirsch even claimed outrageously that British people had an 'ambivalence about apartheid', the wicked system of racial segregation that only came to an end in 1994. …

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Couldn't Ms Hirsch Summon a Smidgen of Gratitude? despite Having Every Privilege, the Latest Darling of the Left to Denigrate Britain Is Different from Those Intellectuals Who Gloried in Disdaining This Country. Her Views Threatenracial Harmony, Says STEPHEN GLOVER
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