It’s still August, which means it’s still the silly season. Even if Fleet Street no longer dictates the news narrative, old habits die hard and the annual glut of stories unworthy of attention any other time of the year routinely surface to grab the headlines. Not that they’re particularly worthy of attention now, mind, but I suppose it helps that there’s no shortage of uniquely grim stories competing to catch the eye; at the moment, anything that isn’t taking place at Kabul Airport feels like light relief, and the more ridiculous the story, the more it stands out. In such a climate, I guess Identity Politics and Woke ideology can always be relied upon to serve this function, for silliness seems to be intrinsic to their relentlessly idiotic rhetoric. From the unveiling of LGBT cop cars to the shocking revelations that Extinction Rebellion top brass don’t necessarily practice what they preach, it’s not hard to understand why coverage outstrips relevance, even if all these silly stories add up to a bigger picture that isn’t really very funny at all.
It shouldn’t come as a great surprise, therefore, that this week has seen some wannabe Mary Whitehouse decide that a beloved children’s book should be excised from the pre-school library due to it allegedly being guilty of portraying the female sex in a ‘negative’ light and breeding the next generation of misogynists and rapists in the process. That this claim should be associated with Zero Tolerance, an organisation which apparently has a reputation for good, positive work in helping women deal with domestic violence, perhaps shows the damage that can be done when malignant Wokery infiltrates any institution and proves utterly counterproductive as it comes to define it, holding it up to ridicule and overshadowing all the good work previously achieved. The state of Stonewall is a good example – a unifying force respected for decades and recognised as the go-to charity when it came to gay issues; but its current pollution by the divisive extremes of Trans-activism has opened up a widening schism in the gay community, alienating many high-profile supporters it could previously call upon, including veterans who fought the actual battles that mattered.
Zero Tolerance appears to be taking a similar route by diving into the Gender Identitarian black hole with some of the ludicrous claims it makes about Judith Kerr’s delightful evergreen favourite, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. What kind of po-faced party-pooper looks at such a book and comes away from it wondering why the tiger in question is male as opposed to gender-neutral? The charity’s co-director, Rachel Adamson, that’s who. Such books, according to Ms Adamson, ‘aren’t just stories…we know that gender stereotypes are harmful and they reinforce gender inequality, and that gender inequality is the cause of violence against women and girls, such as domestic abuse, rape and sexual harassment.’ Imagine reading a charming slice of innocent, fantastical life like ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and that’s your main reaction to it. What does that say about you? By attaching such serious issues to such an innocuous book, you instantly negate any proper debate on the subjects – as with calling everything racist tends to neutralise genuine racism when it appears.
Now that this cherished children’s classic is a Rad-Fem target, certain important factors about its genesis have to be conveniently overlooked in order to uphold the unconvincing argument. Judith Kerr was married to the visionary Nigel Kneale, creator of ‘Quatermass’ and the man who wrote both the groundbreaking 1954 BBC TV adaptation of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ that remains a landmark in early British television as well as the equally remarkable 1968 TV play, ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’; yet she wasn’t merely the great woman behind a great man, but was – like Clara Schumann before her – a great artist in her own right, regardless of her spouse. We clearly have to turn a blind eye to the fact her most celebrated book was a book written by a woman, and a woman who was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany to boot. But, hey – so what? Why should something that has long been (rightly) regarded as a creative triumph over extreme adversity be spared the revisionist treatment courtesy of those who have never experienced anything remotely comparable to that which Judith Kerr lived through, let alone created such a sublime work of enchanting art? And why should it come as a surprise that giving the artless a mere inch means they will take more miles than even The Proclaimers ever walked?
Of course, we are dealing here – as we always are in cases of art being tossed onto the philistines’ funeral pyre – with people who have no comprehension of the subtle nuances of the best art. They themselves cannot create, nor are they able to appreciate the creations of those who can; they only see everything through the negative, narrow prism of whichever corrosive agenda they’ve decided to attach themselves to. They cannot discern beauty in any manmade creation because it would only underline their own absence of it, not only internally, but in their inability to produce it. Anyone whose response to a work of art is not to ooze admiration and awe but to somehow see its brilliance as highlighting their own inadequacies and mediocrity should never be taken seriously as a critic. It was blatantly evident a long time ago that bestowing credibility upon the creatively clueless when they air their opinion of any art would lead to this kind of scenario; moreover, it was equally evident doing so would bolster their high opinion of themselves and give them the unwarranted confidence to eventually come for everyone and everything if unchallenged.
It is both unwise and futile to concede to their demands, for their craving can never be satisfied, however far one bends over in an attempt to placate them. Works by Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss have already fallen under the revisionist hammer without notable objections, so why should anything else be immune? However, it’s important to be aware that denying serial cancellers the right to cancel means they might just dematerialise before our eyes, for if we dare to challenge everything they surmise to be offensive or problematic and prove them wrong, they then no longer have a reason to exist; this is their purpose in life, to be on permanent look out for anything that supports their argument, especially if produced in the distant past by the conveniently deceased (‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ was published in 1968 and Judith Kerr passed away in 2019). Their lifelong work won’t be complete until we’re all as dead inside as they are, until we’re all incapable of seeing anything without twisting it into an embodiment of evil to slot neatly into the latest category of cultural Year Zero think-checking.
The organisation advocating the censuring of Judith Kerr’s classic suggests children’s libraries should dispense with brilliantly imaginative fairy tales about anthropomorphic big cats who adhere to gender stereotypes and should instead promote recommended stories featuring transgender infants and little boys who want to become mermaids. Perish the thought gender stereotypes should be reinforced in books that point out some women might like to be nurses or secretaries or even stay-at-home mothers! Unsurprisingly, this whole story emanates from a survey conducted north of the border in the Woke wasteland formerly known as Scotland, a ‘gender and diversity audit’ of over 3,000 books in 21 Scottish nurseries; the findings remind me of a booklet circulated during China’s Cultural Revolution, titled ‘Four Hundred Films to be Criticised’. I know I mentioned it just a couple of posts back, but a timely revisit to the ‘Exposure’ series I produced for YT a decade ago has sadly reminded me how much the seeds sowed in the 2010s have been reaped in the 2020s. If I had a crystal ball, I’d smash the bloody thing.
© The Editor