The attempt to remove Roger Scruton from an honorary advisory role on the U.K. government’s “Building Better, Building Beautiful” commission failed when it was tried last November. But it succeeded today.
“You expect people who spend their lives on Twitter to have this store of malice but when it comes up in parliament, as it did, I was astonished,” said Scruton of last year’s controversy to a journalist who lives on Twitter, but who writes for the New Statesman.
That journalist, George Eaton, conducted an interview with Scruton, and included this summary paragraph:
His sacking was unsuccessfully demanded by Labour MPs and others on account of his past remarks on Hungarian Jews (part of a “Soros empire”), Islamophobia (a “propaganda word”) and homosexuality (“not normal”).
Eaton summarized another part of his interview, published today, this way:
Perhaps most remarkably, he commented of the rise of China: “They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”
But on his Twitter page, he tweeted this:
Roger Scruton on the Chinese: “Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.” 2/4 https://t.co/0LtUN9cZ9e
— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) April 10, 2019
Notice how he used the ellipsis there in his quotation, but then presented the last clause of the sentence as the entire thought on Twitter. Notice how the quotation obscures who the subject of the first sentence is.
I would bet a tidy sum of money that “They’re” refers to the Chinese Communist Party, and the attempt by the government to induce conformism through social engineering. But Eaton presents it as a bigoted remark about the character of Chinese people.
The same kind of technique was used elsewhere. Eaton claims Scruton was making anti-Semitic remarks and calling Jews the puppets of George Soros. Here is the relevant section of the speech on nationalism:
Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire. People in these networks include many who are rightly suspicious of nationalism, regard nationalism as the major cause of the tragedy of Central Europe in the 20th century, and do not distinguish nationalism from the kind of national loyalty that I have defended in this talk. Moreover, as the world knows, indigenous anti-Semitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.
In other words, Scruton gave a speech on nationalism to Hungarian nationalists, and defended on historical and ideological grounds the wish for Hungarian Jews to associate themselves with an anti-nationalist like Soros.
The dishonesty extends to even the most trivial parts of George Eaton’s hatchet job. He describes Scruton’s farm as having “the unintentionally comical name “Scrutopia.” I can assure him, the comedy is intentional.
The 75-year-old Roger Scruton gave his candor and trust to George Eaton because he is deputy editor of the New Statesman. Eaton used those civilized and liberal instincts against Scruton, dishonestly edited his remarks in order to smear Scruton as fearful and bigoted toward Chinese people in order to drum up a mini-Twitter outrage, and got him fired from an honorary position, in which he was advising the government on how to build more beautiful housing.
In another interview by Giles Fraser last year, Roger Scruton said, “I’m a hate figure for a certain kind of half-educated politically correct person”.
The half-educated and politically correct are identifying themselves on Twitter as we speak, exulting in their little triumph at forbidding Scruton to serve his country. Labour activist Owen Jones. Former chancellor of the Exchequer, now editor of the Evening Standard, George Osborne. Buzzfeed UK’s senior political correspondent, Alex Wickham.