Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 12 June 2020

"We got a meeting with some guys from outta town..."

My inbox has been relatively free, recently, of missives from 'Kevin and Mary' of the NEU, although Kevin has been indulging in a certain amount of triumphalism elsewhere, hailing the decision to postpone opening schools as a "win for science and for every member" (which is odd, given that this member, at least, considers the continued disruption of education to be an unmitigated disaster).

Now, however, I have been invited to join a Zoom call - sorry, a 'very important Zoom call'; I forgot the customary NEU hyperbole. The Union has arranged an 'exclusive BLM solidarity webinar' to discuss, among other things, 'systemic racism and COVID-19' - an impressively prescient (or suspiciously well-informed) anticipation of the findings of the PHE study which have just appeared in the press.

Having filled in the registration form and answered the vital question 'How do you self-identify in terms of ethnic origin?'*, one may sit at the virtual feet of some notable speakers: Kevin and Mary must surely be beside themselves with oleaginous smugness at having secured the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr (accompanied by - of all people - Diane Abbott MP.)

What intrigues me, however, is the appearance part-way down the list of an unnamed 'Chicago Teaching Union representative' - is it me, or does this phrase have a slightly sinister ring, given the history of US labour unions? And why Chicago, of all places? After all, it's hardly as if things are going particularly well there at the moment...

It seems an odd use of Union funds - I understand that Ms Abbott, for one, does not come cheap, even in digital form. Our glorious leaders clearly see a window of opportunity (or possibly a handy political bandwagon) but I find it difficult to understand how the Reverend Jackson or the mysterious 'Chicago Representative', however inspiring as orators, will be able to speak with any authority on education in the United Kingdom.

*Surely a triumph of ideology over DNA: do you think I could get away with 'Vulcan' - or possibly 'None of your business'?


  1. It's all very strange. To my mind there is an obvious element of play acting in supporting BLM so theatrically. Everyone knows about those seemingly intractable problems illustrated by your Chicago link.

    We first have to admit then define the problems if we wish to solve them but BLM seems to make that more difficult rather than facilitating it.

    1. 'BLM seems to make that more difficult...'

      It's certainly hard to negotiate in the minefield that activists have created; continual fear of transgression does not make for effctive and productive dialogue.

      Is it cynical to wonder how many people here and in the USA derive their income and status from a continued state of inequality or perceived discrimination?

  2. All organisations and corporations are being forced to support BLM, on pain of boycott.

    1. 'Tell a man what he may not sing, and he is still free; even all free if he never wanted to sing it. But tell him what he must sing [...]- there, I have seen, is slavery.'
      Mary Renault: The Praise Singer (writing about ancient Greece)

  3. "I understand that Ms Abbott, for one, does not come cheap."
    Comedy acts never do.

  4. Oh dear - a linguistic abyss has just opened up at my feet!

    Many years ago, I studied black comedy (specifically the plays of Friedrich Durrenmatt); am I still allowed to use the term? And if not, how else should I describe some of Ms Abbott's more egregious pronouncements on serious issues?


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