Readers of this publication may not be particularly fond of Andrew Neil, due to his shocking rhetoric about those who chose not to take the Covid vaccines. On wokery, however, he is much more sound, and has just written a robust condemnation of Oxfam’s absurd 92-page ‘Inclusive Language Guide’ for the Mail.
Here’s an excerpt:
Oxfam apologised for the English language this week, describing it as “the language of a colonising nation”. It also counselled against using the words “mother” and “father” because they ascribed “gendered roles”.
Thus, in this charity’s right-on eyes, has the language of Shakespeare (hiss) and Churchill (boo) — the most successful language the world has ever known — become a matter for regret and embarrassment, while simple, clear words that have stood the test of time are to be abandoned. Oxfam says it’s only offering guidance not prescription. Fair enough. But I wouldn’t fancy the career chances of any Oxfam staffer who cared to flout it.
Oxfam has come a long way since it was founded 81 years ago. There was a time in the dim and distant past when its primary purpose was to raise money from well-meaning, relatively affluent folks and use their donations to assuage the hunger pangs of the poor and downtrodden across the globe. It was a worthy cause.
Those days are long over. For some time now it’s been more associated with Left-wing agitprop than famine relief. Indeed, you almost get the impression feeding the famished is now seen by some in Oxfam as an annoying diversion from the far more important work of political activism.
Hence all the effort that’s gone into its 92-page ‘Inclusive Language Guide’. It won’t fill a single empty belly but it will sure warm the cockles of its increasingly woke staff, with its insightful injunctions to avoid using words like headquarters (“implies a colonial power dynamic”), aid sector (“cements” idea of those with “resources” giving “charitable aid” — which I stupidly thought was the founding mission of Oxfam) and, incredibly, field trips (“reinforces colonial attitudes”).
The logic of that last one escaped me until I remembered that, after a teenage geography field trip (sorry) to the Scottish Highlands, we were all pretty fired up to retake India (or not — recollections vary).
Neil sees the woke obsession with language as a way to control the debate:
Why the obsession with language, with demands for changes in usage which might be thought trivial, irrelevant, even pathetic? Because if you control the language, you’ve gone a long way to dominating the debate in this new age of identity politics.
By outlawing words with even the merest tangential link to race and colonialism — or, in reality, none at all — you are establishing that racism and colonial repression are the defining hallmarks of our society, as critical race theory mandates, and far more important than social class or social mobility or economic growth.
By insisting that biology can never take precedence over gender self-identity, and that the use of language must reflect that, you’ve pretty much handed over the argument to the transgender lobby. It’s long been a conceit of those most active in the culture wars that there’s no such thing as a culture war, that it’s just a myth promulgated by the Right, and that to be woke is just to be concerned about social justice (and who can object to that?).
It’s a clever tactic. But we shouldn’t fall for it.
The aim of today’s culture warriors is to change the face of society by replacing the concerns of the majority (prosperity, growth, opportunity) with their newer priorities (race, gender, anti-colonialism). They hope to do this not just by determining the language but by closing down debate. In offices and shop floors across the land, people are already walking on eggshells, terrified of saying what they think lest it offend those with the power and predilection to make the lives of any deviants miserable.
Robust debate is already being strangled as folks (an Oxfam-approved word, by the way) take refuge in platitudes and pablum so as not to upset the snowflakes. That’s how the new woke generations plan to win the war.
Worth reading in full.