Our new moral order dictates that you should be honoured not for what you’ve achieved nor what you’ve sacrificed, but instead for the “correct” opinions you express and the identity category you belong to. From the attacks on Churchill, to the removal of recognition for JK Rowling for her views on gender identity – this doctrine is now increasingly the moral guide of our institutions, leaving the flawed heroes of the past and present and the imperfect truths of our national story ripe for censorship, rewriting and ruin.
Actual achievements are treated as irrelevant, if the person responsible can be deemed to be “problematic”. Young people are being taught that goodness isn’t found in forgiveness, fortitude and courage, but in uncritically reciting the fashionable cultural mantras of the present. Everything must be made subordinate to the compulsion to show that we have the “right” views. It is a moral catastrophe.
Consider two examples from the past few weeks. There is nothing inherently wrong with examining the legacy of historical figures. In fact, it is essential to recognise that they are complex, a product of their time and not infallible. But what we have today is much more extreme than that. When the Imperial War Museum, on Remembrance Sunday, ends a two-minute silence to honour those who lost their lives with a rap which included statements such as “Why, when some remember, do they see the same faces, the white faces from western places”, it is not just making a political statement. It is effectively saying that there is no occasion so sacred that it cannot be turned into an opportunity to display your “correct” political opinions. The museum has apologised and admitted that it “was not the moment” for the rap. But the fact that it was even contemplated highlights just how far many cultural institutions have strayed from moral clarity about their role.
JK Rowling, meanwhile, has been a victim of a related phenomenon. The Harry Potter author has been vocal about her views on the biological reality of sex and has attracted controversy as a result. She is not being included in the celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the first Harry Potter film and it isn’t a stretch to conclude that this might have something to do with her “heretical” opinions on trans issues. Thus, the woman responsible for one of the most important cultural achievements of a generation is apparently deemed not good enough to attend a celebration of that very achievement because she doesn’t conform to the fashionable views of an identity-obsessed minority.
We’re losing the language and sense of true moral worth in favour of the hollowness of “correct-think”. This is a tragedy for our culture, and a betrayal of the gains of the past and the future inheritance for those to come. We need to rediscover the importance of goodness, truth, beauty and shared meanings, or they will continue to be lost to an aggressive, philistine and corrosive ideology.
Inaya Folarin Iman is a presenter at GB News and the founder of The Equiano Project