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« The Cheese and Onion Gave Him Away | Main | Friday Ephemera »

August 06, 2014

Comments

rjmadden

That’s this chap.

And he doesn't look like a caricature at all.

Patrick Brown

Christ.

For anyone who can't be bothered to watch Dr. Pitcher's video, allow me to summarise. A cartoon hipster with spectacular combover and a face you'd never get tired of punching thinks that white people who watch Scandinavian murder mysteries are racist, but that repeats of Neighbours offer "new ways of being black".

Identity politics is actually more racist than racism. Racists only see racial differences in people. Identitards see racial difference in stuffed toys and flowers.

Martin Seebach

Thinking Allowed

But clearly not required.

Ian Goodwin

I couldn't help but notice that Dr Pitcher, according to the "Recent publications" tab on his University of Westminster webpage, is the author of "The cultural politics of being a knob".

Quite.

Could Such publications be a sign of Dr Pitcher's astounding self-awareness?

David

But clearly not required.

Thinking Allowed is a programme I find insufferable. It typically affects an air of intellectual sophistication and great moral depth while begging endless questions and cultivating credulity. It’s where the most extraordinary pseudo-intellectual horseshit is treated with a deference it simply hasn’t earned. It’s basically the sound of the nation’s collective middle-class leftist admiring himself.

Watcher in the dark

The Outrage Absurdity Index is like a ratchet. Those Outrages of ten years ago seem so stale now to our lefties. Happily, so many new issues have been noisily ratcheted up over the last decade in order to declare fresh Outrage on increasingly incidental (and unrelated) themes. While I admit it is growing harder to see to what new levels Outrage can be squeezed out of a very dry lemon, you have to hand it to the loons who do this sort of thing: they can find something new every week to blame or label or beat us with.

Personally I am getting more outraged over the use of white chalk on blackboards. I mean, people only see the white and not the black! And don't get me started on the colour of fluffy clouds on a summer's day...

Anna

“Gardeners’ Question Time... is layered with, saturated with, racial meanings.”

Glad to hear the University of Westminster's sociology department is doing important work.

David

Glad to hear the University of Westminster’s sociology department is doing important work.

In the context of a modern sociology department, where people like Dr Pitcher are not only employed but flourish, I’m not sure what “important work” might be.

Patrick Brown

"The cultural politics of being a knob"

A draft of this "article" can be read here. It seems to be his attempt to justify enjoying Top Gear while condemning it at the same time.

Jacob

Glad to hear the University of Westminster’s sociology department is doing important work.

If Dr Pitcher is one of their best they should level it and build a car park instead. A better use of the space.

Dr Cromarty

Glad to hear the University of Westminster’s sociology department is doing important work.

This government really needs to starting making some serious cuts in public spending. The University if Westminster's Sociology Dept is, I would suggest, an excellent place to start.

Ian Goodwin

A draft of this "article" can be read here. It seems to be his attempt to justify enjoying Top Gear while condemning it at the same time.

And if anyone’s interest has been piqued by that delightful draft, the whole book - Barthes’ "Mythologies" Today: Readings of Contemporary Culture - which seems to be chock-a-block with knobbery, costs a mere $140/£83, according to Routledge’s website.

If it’s any consolation, I doubt that there will be a second edition.

Jimmy

Surely that's a wig...

David

Here’s the Thinking Allowed tongue bath, sorry, interview. It’s the usual convoluted bloviating, desperate status signalling, and tenuous, rather strained leaps of association. The Ben Pitcher section starts around 15:40 and the bit regarding Gardeners’ Question Time begins around 25:00 in.

I should warn you the programme is as tendentious and tiresome as usual and while listening you may feel like you’re bleeding out. Shockingly, the programme’s career race hustlers – because it needed two of them, obviously - want us to “talk about race,” because “it isn’t really talked about.” We also learn that there’s a “crisis of white identity,” which apparently afflicts all we palefaces – bedevilled as we are by “fantasies” - and that, “historically, white culture is a racist culture,” unlike all those others, presumably.

Bo

It’s basically the sound of the nation’s collective middle-class leftist admiring himself.

Snort. Consider your tip jar hit.

David

Snort. Consider your tip jar hit.

Cheers, Bo. Gratuities always welcome. But it is a dreadful programme, almost a parody of what it pretends to be. It’s so dense with begged questions and Guardianista assumptions it’s difficult to keep count of them. And so instead of widening the listener’s horizons, it actually feels claustrophobic and parochial. A tiny group of people with eerily similar views congratulating each other, and thereby themselves.

Greg

'...postfeminist media culture.'

I must have been napping during the transition from feminist to postfeminist media culture.

Or is it just that 'post' has become a fashionable prefix like 'social' and 'cis'. In other words, a beacon to alert us to the writer's elevated sophistication and moral bonafides.

WTP

Ive been thinking lately that these absurd, far- out lefties with the craziest theories are part of a plot to make your more mainstream lefties, who would be extreme by most historically modern standards, seem normal. The farthest out ones enable the somewhat moderate ones someone to point and laugh at and thus reassure themselves that they are normal. But that's just crazy talk.

DH

I'm going to produce a sociological paper arguing that gardening is inherently socialist. The convoluted allegories are abundant.

- It's an unnatural elimination of competition and growth designed to attain the gardener's idea of perfection.
- The weeds (counterrevolutionaries) are constantly pulled up and destroyed, the grass (proletariat) is kept at an an artificially, but equally low level.
- Even the desirable plants are largely reliant on the gardener for sustenance (DPRK-style public food distribution), and are frequently deadheaded and pruned to remove undesirable growth or elements that are no longer useful (purges).
- The compost heap is a gulag
- The potting shed is party headquarters
- The bird table is a bread queue

Now, could someone tell me where I collect my wheelbarrow full of public money?

abacab

It’s basically the sound of the nation’s collective middle-class leftist admiring himself.

Misread that as "It’s basically the sound of the nation’s conservative middle-class leftist admiring himself".

Which is also true. For there is none so conservative stricto sensu as the modern British leftist.

Anna

I'm going to produce a sociological paper arguing that gardening is inherently socialist.

You're not supposed to make it look easy.

Jimmy

'...postfeminist media culture.'

I must have been napping during the transition from feminist to postfeminist media culture.

Or is it just that 'post' has become a fashionable prefix like 'social' and 'cis'. In other words, a beacon to alert us to the writer's elevated sophistication and moral bonafides.

I usually interpret it as a sly conceit. Post*isms, like Feminism, is a sly way of admitting that it is actually the status quo without making it explicit.

R. Sherman

…claimed the programme’s regular discussions on soil purity and non-native species promoted nationalist and fascist beliefs.

To be fair, we always knew that the rabid environmentalists harping about this stuff were, indeed, fascist. The "non-native" species are merely disadvantaged immigrants seeking a better life.

David

Oh, by the way, here’s the Gardeners’ Question Time site, in case any of you want to comb through the content for hidden racial messages. The episodes on the National Botanic Garden of Wales and the Chelsea Flower Show look particularly suspicious.

David

What’s interesting, I think, isn’t just Dr Pitcher’s dogmatic unrealism. Or even his hilarious conforming to just about every caricature of leftwing sociology lecturers. It’s the fact that this idiocy has apparently flourished with little, if any, challenge. It made its way past academic peers, academic publishers and onto a flagship ‘intellectual’ programme of the nation’s state broadcaster, where it was met, not with laughter and derision, but with nodding and chin-rubbing.

Hal

Those Outrages of ten years ago seem so stale now to our lefties.

For all the people who keep insisting that the Sixties were an absolutely wonderful time of love and freedom, even the slightest review of the period shows the countering reality. Just start by looking at Nero and all the damage he did, and then everything goes downhill from there . . . .

Hal

Or is it just that 'post' has become a fashionable prefix like 'social' and 'cis'. In other words, a beacon to alert us to the writer's elevated sophistication and moral bonafides.

It's all part of the race and politics discussion. They're all trying to be first past the post.

pst314

"Well, Soil is Sort of Brown"

Does that make your garden a Chocolate City?

lee

They have to keep racism alive.
They can't cope with a world where there is no moral objections to the goings on of the average middle classian.

But what I think the video is talking about is the fact that racial identity is a norm. It will happen and is unavoidable. And because white majority isn't allowed to identify with their race, based on his previous conjecture he's looking to see if white majority is out-letting through subtle hues in choices in design and furniture and preferences.

I'm sorry people, we classify things. It's in our nature. That's how we form memories, predict behavior. If we couldn't classify, then we wouldn't be able to predict how to not offend. It's a circular self sustaining problem. So I think people may be misinterpreting what he's saying here. He sees white majority identifying with Nordic culture because it seems that's the only culture they are allowed to identify with. It's the only culture left that is identified as profoundly white, but not politically censored in history and today.

But for me, racism is a dying thing. There are always going to be preferences for people that look and act like you do. That will never change. Because it is a known factor. The earlier you introduce racial diversity, the less a person is conflicted by it. It's no different from cultural diversity. Experiences or lack of experiences early in life lead to conceptions one carries with to their deathbed.

But, we are so thin-skinned these days.

Racism used to be deadly. Minorities dealt with brick throwing, stoning, burning crosses, forced to work in deadly conditions, and lynching. But now, we are looking at the hidden emotions and seeing if there's any preferential treatment.

Let me quicken that search. There is, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. As long as a standard level of treatment is established, and everyone falls within that standard, that's the best that society can provide. You can't prevent a cop from giving his mom an easy pass on a pull-over.

To show how frustratingly meaningless it is these days...

A common racial stereotype is associating a favorite food with a particular race. If I were to be super sensitive and avoid mentioning this food item around people of a certain racial group, am I being racist? If I mention it, am I being racist? The very fact that someone can find both scenarios racist just make the classification of offense meaningless.

mojo

The Travails of the Muddled Class

DensityDuck

This is coming from the same "language is inherently racist/sexist/homophobic" theme that tells us the term "nonwhite" is racist (because, obviously, it implies that "white" is the default state, and that the important thing to note is the fact of a deviation and not it's specific substance.)

dicentra

white people who watch Scandinavian murder mysteries are racist

I did find something disquieting about watching Kurt Wallander lose his marbles to Alzheimer's, but my initial thought was that they were wrecking the franchise by giving him an incurable disease that he can't rise above to do police work.

Now I know that it was my own racism that was troubling me.

Enlightenment is our friend.

dicentra

Here's my racism for 2014, thus far.

And for 2013.

My soil is actually gray when it dries. I had a gray cat who was difficult to see when she just sat there on the ground.

Thornavis.

He sees white majority identifying with Nordic culture because it seems that's the only culture they are allowed to identify with. It's the only culture left that is identified as profoundly white, but not politically censored in history and today.

Do people really identify with it ? Is there any evidence or is it just an assertion which is used to confirm the hypothesis ? A lot of people liked the Three Tenors, does that mean the opera is a subtle expression of white identity ? The interest in things Nordic, to the extent that it actually exists, is probably no more than the current craze, something else will be along soon. As far as not being politically censored goes that is only because the left has got it into its collective silly head that Scandinavia represents the ideal social democracy that we should all be copying, so by the same logic the left are covert white identity seekers.

David

Here’s my racism for 2014, thus far.

All your own? I’m impressed.

Thornavis.

Beautiful garden Dicentra, I take my battered gardening trilby off to you. My garden soil is a mixture of 50% stones and 49% molluscs, the remainder seems to be some sort of growing medium as the weeds like it, there's rumoured to be a bit of thin loam in there somewhere but I think it's just a myth.

Nikw211
    My new book, Consuming Race (Routledge, 2014), explores how the meanings of race are made and remade in acts of creative consumption […] finding race in some unusual and unexpected places, it gives us some fresh and innovative ways of thinking about the centrality of race to our lives.

Surely the man should start by investigating his own hair?

It's the most racist hair I think I've ever seen. He is literally just a few short days growth followed by some strategic shaving from becoming an Adolf Hitler impersonator.

Now there was someone who was genuinely in the thrall of a visceral need to see everything in terms of race.

    Comments are disabled for this video.

Why ever so one wonders?

It's truly nauseating to hear him – with his brimming book shelf including copies of Adorno, Derrida and other usual suspects – smugly declare that:

    "It shows how, in fact, are lives are saturated with racial meaning; often in ways that we don't always fully recognize, or understand"

In other words, "we" simply are all racists, but have failed to recognize it. And through some pseudo-Freudian maneuvering, the good Doctor, as an expert in such things naturally, wants to show how our racism simply seeps out of every pore despite our own natural inclinations.

He has slipped in one of those little preemptive strikes that any denial that you are not racist and that he's talking out of his a*** will be used as proof of this hypothesis.

Franklin

Here's my racism for 2014, thus far.

Your Klan membership is in the mail.

Nikw211
    How do we account for the enduring popularity of the BBC TV motoring show Top Gear?

Oh, well I don't know - probably something to do with consistently high viewing figures?

Really, you have to wonder at someone who claims to be knowledgeable about pop culture yet who seems completely unable to grasp the concept of ratings.

Nikw211
    Thinking Allowed is a programme I find insufferable.

That programme makes my skin crawl.

The presenter has hair almost as weird as Dr Ben Pitcher's.

Sam

And so instead of widening the listener’s horizons, it actually feels claustrophobic and parochial.

That.

present & correct

@Thornavis.
i support the Norwegians during the skiing season.
must be my Nordic blood..
i have blond hair, a scandi surname, and live in the viking-descended north of england :)
certainly nothing to do with them being perfect lefties!

Sam

The interest in things Nordic, to the extent that it actually exists, is probably no more than the current craze, something else will be along soon.

I didn't even know there was a Nordic craze, never mind one that appeals to a "crisis in white identity". Must be reading the wrong style magazines.

Thornavis.

i have blond hair, a scandi surname, and live in the viking-descended north of england :)

Then sir as a South Saxon loyal to the Kingdom of Wessex you are my sworn foe ! We must meet at dawn with our identity swords drawn.

Hal

Here's my racism for 2014, thus far.

And for 2013.

Hmmm. Well done. At least for sightseeing, you might find bits of Telegraph Hill to be of interest . . .

Joan

"Speaking on the same programme, Lola Young, a crossbench peer and former professor of cultural studies, backed Dr Pitcher's analysis. She added: "I remember back in the late 80s-early 90s when rhododendrons were seen as this huge problem, and people were talking about going out rhododendron-bashing. That was at a time when 'Paki-bashing' was something that was all too prevalent on our streets."

Let me get this straight. Thousands of gardeners didn't like Pakistanis so they channeled their racism into uprooting rhododendrons?

Thornavis.

"I remember back in the late 80s-early 90s when rhododendrons were seen as this huge problem,

That's because they are, when they get into woods they smother all the ground flora. I suppose she'll be telling us that there's nothing bad about Japanese Knotweed next and that attempting to control it is a modern version of the yellow peril fear.

Elrond Hubbbard

Here in the Midwest we are dealing with the Asiatic Carp, a invasive Chinese fish that crowds out native species, disrupts river ecosystems and is threatening to invade the Great Lakes. But John Hoffmann, a Minnesota state senator (and a Democrat) sees racism in the name "Asiatic Carp" and recommends a new name be found, something more inclusive and free of anti-Asiatic bias. Senator Hoffmann is open for suggestions.

R. Sherman

@Elrond

I suggest, "Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman Is A Fucking Idiot Carp."

Henry

I find myself losing the will to live if I ever accidentally listen to Thinking Allowed.

There's a particular kind of avuncular, reassuring tone of voice that a few BBC journalists seem to have turned into an art form - it's there to let you know that you're listening to the voice of balanced, middle-of-the-road reasonableness.

What you're actually listening to, of course, is a demonstration of how a particular social set try to display moral/intellectual value to each other.

Anyway this chap talking about this supposed crisis in white British self belief: does he realise how fervently he and his mates are trying to bring such a crisis about?

Jimmy

I suggest, "Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman Is A Fucking Idiot Carp."

I wholeheartedly second this.

dicentra

All your own? I’m impressed.

All my own. Of course, using my camera's built-in "Sunset" filter enhances the reds and yellows, which makes it all especially vivid. For example, these photos of the same roses are shown in reverse chronological order, beginning with my deft use of the sunset filter, then regressing to the non-use thereof, and finally to an older film camera that tended to over-expose things.

I take my battered gardening trilby off to you

My soil is heavy clay, 0% Nitrogen, 0% Potash. Which is why God invented raised beds.

14 years of work. Also, the close-ups on the flowers fool you into thinking there's a concentration of blossoms when on any given day there's just lots of foliage sitting around interrupted by the occasional bloom.

Your Klan membership is in the mail.

Oh, like I'm not already IN it.

Jimmy

here's a concentration of blossoms

More like a concentration CAMP, am I right?

anyone?

It's hard fitting in with the correct people.


The missus and I don't have a proper garden, yet. We're renting a place on re-claimed land. Our single rose languishes in a plastic pot next to an Australian native and some Asian lilies.

Shiggz

Insane bossy pants know it all's. The only thing this guy could ever "get" about racists is that he looks like one.

His type always exists they will always glom onto the power fad of the day. The only thing wrong with this story is not this insane person or his mutterings but that a sickly society gave him a microphone.

Exit question, is the crystal he uses as a substitute for deodorant a milky white color?

The Lurker on the Threshold

want us to “talk about race,” because “it isn’t really talked about.”

I'm reasonably sure I've heard someone mention it somewhere recently.

fnord

How surprising is it that someone who is paid to decry racism finds hallucinates fabricates it in the unlikeliest of places?

pd

It’s the fact that this idiocy has apparently flourished with little, if any, challenge. It made its way past academic peers, academic publishers and onto a flagship ‘intellectual’ programme of the nation’s state broadcaster, where it was met, not with laughter and derision, but with nodding and chin-rubbing.

Time to reboot the humanities.

Steve B

Wait...he's white. He can't talk about race. Except to express guilt for his white privilege.

JL

This is like that joke where a shrink shows a series of inkblots to a patient. For each inkblot, the patient replies "people having sex". Eventually the shrink says "Mr Smith, I've concluded that you're obsessed with sex." The outraged patient replies "I'm obsessed with sex? You're the guy showing all the dirty pictures!"

Lockers

Most people know this sort of thing is just academics blowing hot air up each other's arseholes. But it's the fact that my hard earned cash gets siphoned off to support these clowns that gets me peed off. I'd happily hand the lot of them to get a fiver a month of my tax back.

DH

Here's my racism for 2014, thus far.

No, no no. This will not do.

Check your privilege, tear up those frivolous blooms and create one of these: http://alchemistsclosetarticles.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-transgender-herb-garden.html

Lancastrian Oik

"....want us to “talk about race,” because “it isn’t really talked about.”

Usually within the context of "a proper debate", a favourite rhetorical trope of the "progressives".

Theophrastus

Lola Young, a crossbench peer and former professor of cultural studies, backed Dr Pitcher's analysis

Given her background, that is no surprise:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lola_Young,_Baroness_Young_of_Hornsey

Jimmy

From his twitter...

Just had a fun chat with Cassie on Australian national radio
@RNthelist about race, Nordic aesthetics & Pharrell Williams

Sounds riveting!

svh

These people really need something useful to do. Just don't trust them with anything important.

WTP

It’s the fact that this idiocy has apparently flourished with little, if any, challenge. It made its way past academic peers, academic publishers and onto a flagship ‘intellectual’ programme of the nation’s state broadcaster, where it was met, not with laughter and derision, but with nodding and chin-rubbing.

This is what both fascinates and scares the hell out of me when I see stupid go this far. For a certain philosophy professor I know to have graduated with a PhD from Ohio State and still be as incredibly thick headed and thinking disabled, lacking even a ability to write properly, or someone as obviously daft as Dan Rather to spend decades presenting the news, for someone like Obama to have actually gotten a job teaching Constitutional Law, there were numerous review boards, certifying committees, "thought leaders" involved in the process that could have/should have said "NO". And the people on those boards and such were supposedly vetted, yet here we are.

From what I have seen, this stuff is quite common in academia. It's been going on for 30-40 years. But 30-40 years ago not so many people were being "educated" on the public dime so the impact was not as severe either in direct costs nor in the volume of end product corrupted.

These people really need something useful to do. Just don't trust them with anything important

Yes, we put them in charge of educating the next generation of our youth. If western civilization doesn't wise up, this won't end well.

dicentra

we are so thin-skinned these days.

Thin-skinned is what it looks like, but that's just the affectation. In reality, it's sanctimony wrapped in faux outrage marinated in moral vanity topped with compulsive scolding.

Hal

. . . sanctimony wrapped in faux outrage marinated in moral vanity topped with compulsive scolding. . . and a partridge in a pear tree.

Oh.

Wrong month.

Nevermind . . . .

Anna

What dicentra said.

rabbit

Cultivar purity is our petunias' security.

Okay, that was a joke, and a poor one. But to sincerely trivialize fascism as these idiots do is even less funny.

ACTOldFart

Pitcher will go hypersonic when someone tells him about snooker: "Lets get rid of the Reds first, so we can pot the Colours and the Black"

fnord

150 years ago Doc Pitcher would be inveighing against sin. 400 years ago he'd be burning witches. With the near erradication of religion from western society these sufferers from Accusatory Personality Disorder ( which should be added to the DSM forthwith) have moved on and adapted to a new set of sins. He's just Dana Carvey's Church Lady battling 'racism' ( or classism, sexism, speciesism, lookism,.... et weary cetera) instead of Satan. Indeed, believing in Satan is more rational than Pitcher's idiocy.

Bob-B

In his 'Reflections on a Ravaged Century', Robert Conquest comments on the collapse of academic Marxism:

'But the collapse of the old intellectual structure has also left a sort of residual sludge. Its main characteristic is a sub-Marxist detection, in every aspect of life and art and language, of mechanisms for safeguarding the existing order and suppressing a wide variety of social and other categories.' (p.220)

There is a lot of 'residual sludge' about.

Minnow

Didn't we pre-empt this a little while ago in a discussion about bindweed and bucking broncos in the USA? There is obviously something in it, this idea of 'native' and 'invasive' species does reflect the racist mindset in some degree, immigrants from poor countries being seen as weeds, prolifically reproductive but profoundly nasty, disturbing and then destroying the local eco-system. An artist did a thing about this where I live, putting up signs next to plants that originally come from far away places but are now growing wild in our countryside. It was quite good I thought.

As to Wallander, we like it because it looks exactly like dreary, dragging English cop TV, but because it is in foreign it seems a bit more sophisticated. We do this stuff better than the Scands, watch Line of Duty if you don't believe me.

Minnow

I had a little look at the vid. He looks at how street food stages racial authenticity. I think we can all agree that that at least is worth doing. And it won't get done by just anybody.

Lancastrian Oik

There is a lot of 'residual sludge' about.

Indeed. A few years ago I read for a Master's degree in law at one of the newer, but nevertheless respectable, universities in the North. Before my dissertation (on a contentious area of international law) could be submitted, my fellow students and I had to attend several seminars which discussed methodology; we were expected to be able to justify the way we approached our various subjects, which I suppose is fair enough as a measure of intellectual rigour ought to be required.

So we went through the various ways by which one can analyse a given concept or hypothesis. Naturally, we soon butted heads with "immanent critique" (hmmm) and then "hermeneutics". Now, I like to imagine I am a reasonably intelligent man but the latter left me utterly confounded until it dawned on me that nobody else (post-Habermas, at least) had the faintest idea what was involved, either. You could dress anything up using sufficient postmodern gibberish and claim a breakthrough and nobody could gainsay you. Of course, Sokal had already been there, but it was nice to know that my suspicions were confirmed, and I thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Hick's "Explaining Postmodernism" as I went along.

The penultimate seminar had, of course, to tick all the "fairness" and multi-culti boxes; from there we were also told that we could simply abjure anything we'd heard in the preceding six or seven weeks should any of us wish to employ a method which hadn't been conjured up by a dead white European male (I'm paraphrasing, of course. The methodology course handbook was chucked away a long time ago) Either the methodology course itself had been subject to some sort of scrutiny by a committee of academic gauleiters before it could be signed off as being fit to teach, or (more likely) it's the default position of the 21st century humanities academic: you have to include this stuff in your course, because if you don't it's somehow not valid.

During the final session, we were each asked to make a short presentation, lasting about three minutes, on our chosen dissertation topic and the method we had chosen to employ. I thought about maybe livening things up by saying "well my choice of subject is universal jurisdiction in criminal law, and I thought I'd deconstruct it by indulging in a bit of ancestor worship then maybe killing a chicken and poking about in its entrails to divine what is really real". I didn't say anything of the sort, of course, because they'd have kicked me out on the spot for being racist.

My dissertation was well received, I got my degree and was invited to consider staying on to complete a Ph.D. I did nothing of the sort, because in my eighteen months' sojourn in academia there were times when I thought I'd fallen down the fucking rabbit hole (and this was the Faculty of Law, remember; Christ alone knows what the sociology department was like).

Thornavis.

Didn't we pre-empt this a little while ago in a discussion about bindweed and bucking broncos in the USA? There is obviously something in it, this idea of 'native' and 'invasive' species does reflect the racist mindset in some degree,

There's only 'something in it' if you are the kind of person who can't distinguish between two entirely different things that only appear to have a similarity, that Daily Mash item that our host links to up thread just about says it all really. It's no surprise that an artist draws parallels between racism and alien* species, making connections between things is what artists do, although this is a pretty superficial example of that. The British Neo Romantics of the immediate pre and post war period did history and identity in the landscape so much better, but they were proper artists who could do painting and other reactionary stuff.

Let's leave 'artists' to indulge themselves and look at why a concern about certain out of place species is perfectly valid and nothing to do with racism, the arguments are both scientific and aesthetic. Some species are invasive and destructive of both native species and the amenity of the kind of countryside that a great many people enjoy. Rhododendron is a good example an attractive and welcome flower in gardens but not woods where it smothers ground flora, excludes light and is a vector for fungal diseases that damage trees. Our woods are already in trouble as they are no longer worked in the ways that made them so interesting and attractive, they don't need extra problems. People enjoy landscapes for reasons quite other than the usual stuff about biodiversity and so forth, they have an aesthetic and emotional reaction which is most definitely not racist or even nationalist. It is all too typical of the contempt that leftist intellectuals have for ordinary people that it is being portrayed as such.

In fact most people are perfectly able to distinguish between harmless plants from abroad, which in British gardens is most of them, and invasive species. If anything the clamour for growing natives in gardens, which is often much harder than is made out, comes usually from Greens and other committed environmentalists, not gardeners who understand perfectly well that when it comes to things like bee friendly plants, foreigners are often the better choice.

However if the good Doctor and others really do want to look seriously at where nationalist and racist concepts bisect environmental concerns they should be looking at the Greens and indeed the whole environmental movement which has a very dubious history in this respect, the historical links with Fascism and Nazism are studiously ignored now that they've gone lefty but they are definitely there and still are IMO. Take George Monbiot for instance, an impeccable progressive one might think but what about his obsession, shared with other deep greens, with re wilding the landscape ? This, apart from being utterly impracticable and smacking of year Zero, has an unpleasantly atavistic quality to it that is profoundly anti human and seems inherently far rightist to me.


* We might do well to drop this term and think of something more neutral.

GC

Give the guy some credit - he doesn't have a neck-beard.

Minnow

I think he might be wearing my glasses. I have the un-ironised version though.

Tom Foster

Worthy of the Guardian, but found in the Telegraph…

Guess where Dr Pitcher's pitched up now.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/08/native-species-nature-radio-4-gardeners-question-time-racist

David

Guess where Dr Pitcher’s pitched up now.

I suppose it was inevitable, what with the Guardian’s intense gravitational pull on certain kinds of stupid. Now it turns out that squirrels are the proxy for “our” unspoken racial sentiment.

Karen M

Now it turns out that squirrels are the proxy for “our” unspoken racial sentiment.

Even Guardian readers have started taking the piss.

Minnow

I have more time for the Ben Pitchers of the world than is the norm around here but this is quite funny:

The uprooting of invasive “non-natives” such as the Japanese knotweed is of course not necessarily motivated by racist intent.

It's the grudging 'not necessarily'.

David

Dr Pitcher’s problem - one he shares, as we’ve seen, with many of his peers in academia’s Clown Quarter - is that he takes a very slim and unremarkable idea and then extrapolates wildly, based on nothing much, in order to make it sound credible as the basis for a book, and by extension his career. And so, is it possible that at some point someone has consciously or otherwise used gardening, or squirrels, as a personal symbol of racial sentiment, or racial antipathy - or some other, entirely different and unrelated thing? Well, I suppose so. But of course this rather slim and negligible idea isn’t the stuff of books and scholarly pole-climbing. And so, instead, he insinuates that such mental manoeuvres are widespread, commonplace – that’s it’s some kind of phenomenon - without ever establishing that any of this is the case, or even plausible.

And when the Radio 4 programme reached a wider, less credulous audience and Dr Pitcher faced an appropriate level of ridicule – from which his academic environment has apparently shielded him for years – he then blamed this public reaction on the idiocy and mischief of “little Englanders,” while affirming precisely the sentiments he claims he didn’t air. Those of us who don’t regard squirrels and IKEA as being racially totemic or “saturated” with nationalistic sublimation may note just how readily and often our statusful academic uses the words “we” and “our” when talking about things that, despite casual presumption and great efforts to project, may not in fact be happening outside of his own head. At least not with a frequency sufficient to justify Dr Pitcher’s claims, or indeed his career.

Such is the arse-end of academia.

[ Edited.]

Minnow

Well, at least I can trim back the buddleia without feeling I am fighting the Opium Wars by proxy.

Lancastrian Oik

Dr Pitcher’s problem - one he shares, as we’ve seen, with many of his peers in academia’s Clown Quarter - is that he takes a very slim and unremarkable idea and then extrapolates wildly, based on nothing much, in order to make it sound credible as the basis for a book, and by extension his career.

I didn't study humanities beyond 'O' Level- my 'A' Levels were in the sciences.

I think what is reprehensible about Pitcher and his ilk is the way they mimic the sciences, finding detail where there is none.

'O' Level biology, for instance- you get a basic understanding of cellular organelles and Mendelian genetics (at least in my day you did); at 'A' Level you dig a bit deeper and study the workings of the organelles and find out a lot more about the nucleic acids. At university, you'll be expected to explain Krebs' cycle, and write it down from memory (again, I was expected to be able to do that).

Now, I'm not dissing sociology, or anthropology for that matter, per se- but when you consider just who make up Pitcher's undergrads at the "University" of Westminster you can't help thinking that there is charlatanry at work here. These kids will have had racism rammed down their throats since primary school; GCSEs would have consisted of Nazism, WW2 etc; 'A' Level would been all about Durkheim, anomie, more on the evils of racism; then they get to "uni" and they get the likes of Pitcher with their fake po-mo deconstructionism and semiotics telling them "Look- it's everywhere! All around you!".

When it isn't. It's brainwashing, or cultural stereotyping and it's pretty much complete bollocks. What a waste of human endeavour.

Jake Haye

Another day, another breakthrough in socialist science:

To conduct the research Dr Pereira spent, with permission of the school and relevant authorities, three months as a student in a Year Eight class observing the everyday lives of school children. In order to gain as much insight as possible, she participated in all aspects of their day at school: she attended classes, did PE lessons, took exams, had lunch in the cafeteria, played in the playground and joined them in trips to shopping centres after school.

And I'm sure "Dr" Pereira was as surprised by her conclusion as anyone:

Our ideas of what constitutes a real man or woman are not natural; they are restrictive norms that are harmful to children of both genders.

It must be incredibly dull being a leftist, endlessly banging on about the same tired tropes all the time. I'm sure things brighten up around payday though.

Joan

Social 'science' without the difficult science bit. Or any commonsense.

Joan

And when the Radio 4 programme in which these strange things were said reached a wider, less credulous audience and Dr Pitcher faced an appropriate level of ridicule – from which his academic environment has apparently shielded him for years – he then blamed this public reaction on the idiocy and mischief of “little Englanders,” while affirming precisely the sentiments he now claims he didn’t air.

Perfect. Pure Guardian.

Connor

Our esteemed intellectual, who divines hidden racism by means of his third eye, is hurt by the avalanche of mockery aimed at his earlier pronouncements, claiming his words have been misconstrued, while also claiming that same derision proves him right, and while repeating the very claims that resulted in laughter.

As our hosts says of people like this -impervious. Everyone else *must* be wrong.

David

Dr Pitcher’s pronouncements - about gardening programmes being “saturated” with racial sublimation and “fantasies of national integrity,” and about how an interest in Scandinavian furniture is “all about race” – these were, he says, “jumped upon and repeated as perfect silly season material.” Imagine that. Our sociology lecturer, who’s apparently accustomed to chin-rubbing agreement, grumbles that he’s now regarded by the public as “some lefty academic… wasting taxpayers’ money… out of obedience to a right-on, politically correct agenda.”

This from the man who tell us that, “the uprooting of… Japanese knotweed is… not necessarily motivated by racist intent” - although, according to him, it probably is motivated by racist intent an awful lot of the time. He just knows this. Because, you see, “accounts of… weak native hosts bedevilled by larger, more aggressive, rapidly reproducing foreign species… demonstrate a language that is shared in descriptions of human and nonhuman life.” So, how on Earth anyone got the idea that this lefty academic has a “politically correct agenda” and is, in his words, “wasting taxpayers’ money”… well, it’s a total mystery.

And remember, it isn’t just Dr Pitcher. At least three of his peers think this overcooked claptrap is “a nice bit of sociology in public, on race, landscape, gardens and the drift of sentiment across human/non-human domains.” As I’ve said before, these clowns aren’t isolated aberrations; they exist in, and flourish in, an environment that rewards such things, and which apparently spares their proponents even the most rudimentary critical testing.

Everyone else must be wrong.

He doesn’t seem at all willing to entertain the possibility of his own foolishness, even though many of the people laughing, including a majority of Guardian readers, have pointed out why, repeatedly and at length. But then, entertaining that possibility might cast an unflattering light on the rest of his career, where similar conceits apply, and on the institution that still employs him despite his shortcomings.

[ Edited. ]

Henry

Our ideas of what constitutes a real man or woman are not natural; they are restrictive norms that are harmful to children of both genders

Yes. Never heard that idea trotted out before. Or completely refuted several times over.

Some supposedly bona fide scientists in the 60s & 70s (and later) went along with the feminist idea that gender is a social construct. One of the more prominent was John Money, who was convinced that babies were blank slates, and that gender roles came from society alone.

Because of the political pressures from feminism, he had plenty of support. He was considered an expert, and was consulted when one of a pair of identical twin boys had damage to some of his nether regions at birth. Money persuaded the parents to proceed with gender reassignment for that son, and to bring him up as a daughter (with further operations - an orchidectomy - and giving female hormones)

John Money for some reason thought that this would prove his theories. It didn't, Brenda Reimer paid for surgery to reverse the gender reassignment as far as possible, and changed her name back to David.

David Reimer could never father children, but he wanted to live a life as a man anyway, because it seems that gender identity is decided in the womb (contradicting Money and the feminists). Sadly he later committed suicide. One wonders whether the interference of scientists - egged on by popular gender politics - was partly responsible.

That's the sordid history of this idea - yet it's still popular with leftists...

Hal

Our ideas of what constitutes a real man or woman are not natural; they are restrictive norms that are harmful to children of both genders

Yes. Never heard that idea trotted out before. Or completely refuted several times over.

The first thing that came to mind was of some news story where someone is telling a reporter [paraphrase] I was [way young] and my dad introduced me to someone as his son, and I looked up in shock because I knew I was a girl [/paraphrase]

My Googlemancy didn't get the actual story to pop up, but something else and another else and yet another popped up very quickly . . . .

Hal

Having to accept reality instead of faith, ideology, or Me! Me! Me! is just sooooo annoying . . . . .

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