Academic freedom in Australia is dying before our eyes; another sacrifice performed in the now holy name of “The Other.” In the universities, as elsewhere, public criticism of privileged minorities must walk a shaky legal tightrope.
Even the politically correct mainstream media can run afoul of the human rights industry by straying too far off the reservation. Only recently, neoconservative journalist Andrew Bolt was successfully sued for articles scolding many “fair-skinned” people of predominantly European ancestry for accessing benefits intended for Australian Aborigines.
Unfortunately, in a mass-mediated wasteland of intellectual cowardice and political conformity, Australian universities are not an oasis of dissent. If my experience as a teacher, scholar, and, more recently, a first-year theology student is a reliable guide, academia is utterly hostile to free thought and frank discussion on race, ethnicity, and gender.
This situation does not exist because the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 outlawed speech deemed to be “offensive” and “insulting” to a person because of his race, colour, ethnicity, or national origins. Academic freedom was given formal legal recognition in section 18D(b) of the Act which protected “anything said or done reasonably and in good faith…in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest.”
But critical legal scholars have long known that there may be a vast gulf between “the law in the books” and “the law in action.” When I publicly criticized BlackBlack African immigration into Australia in 2005, my employer, Macquarie University, quickly exploited the large loophole in section 18D. The Vice-Chancellor summarily suspended me from teaching, acting on the premise that remarks critical of BlackBlack African immigration could not have been made “reasonably and in good faith.”
Deakin University soon followed suit by ordering the editor of the Deakin Law Review to pull my peer-reviewed article on “Rethinking the White Australia Policy” from the issue that was about to go to the printer. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission provided legal cover for both universities by finding that my observations on African immigration were not made “reasonably and in good faith,” either as part of an academic debate or discussion “or any other genuine purpose in the public interest.”
Since my retirement in 2006, I have researched and written a book entitled The WASP Question. My goal was to explain why white Anglo-Saxon Protestant political, academic, corporate, and legal elites in every country founded by their ancestors are so ready, willing, and able to aid and abet the toxic minorities determined to shut down criticism of mass Third World immigration.
In the course of writing that book, the spiritual dimension of Anglo-Saxon history acquired an altogether unexpected significance for me. I began to wonder whether a Christian ethno-theology might help WASPs to recover from the ethno-pathology that I call “Anglo-Saxon Anglophobia.”
Throughout my academic career, I was an agnostic on religion and identified mainly with the secular traditions of civic humanism. My research into the long course of English and American history led me to rediscover the Old Faith of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. I was very much struck by the fact that it was the early Christian Church—not the State—which created the English nation.
Of course, I also knew that, in our own time, mainstream Christianity in general, and the Anglican Church in particular, works tirelessly to undermine the will of the Anglo-Saxon peoples to preserve their own homelands. To understand how the church came to play such a destructive role, it became clear that I would have to study Christian theology in a more systematic manner.
Life in the Belly of the Beast
Accordingly, in early 2011, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Theology course at United Theological College in a Sydney suburb close to my home. The College is formally affiliated to a public university, Charles Sturt University, but occupies land and buildings owned by the Uniting Church of Australia.
Now the theology of the Uniting Church is notoriously liberal. But I hoped that as a mature student, I would be able to engage in academic debates and discussions in a comparatively free and frank manner. I was not aware, however, that the College’s commitment to the political theology of multiculturalism is so powerful that the student body is now made up mainly of Pacific Islanders—especially Tongans—and Koreans, with an admixture of Indonesians and Black Africans.
Life as a student at UTC has taught me what it means to be a member of a (despised) ethnic minority. A few weeks into the first term, I attended the seminar on “Myths of Whiteness” which featured Dr. Anthony Reddie as its headline speaker. Proudly describing himself as a native Yorkshireman, Reddie is also a prominent “British” exponent of Black theology.
He found a receptive, predominantly non-White, audience at UTC. The aim of the seminar, according to one organizer, Dr. Stephen Burns, was to show that for centuries certain people who described themselves as “Whites” subjected Black people to racism, de-humanized them, and treated them as animals.
Accordingly, the 100 or more people in attendance were treated to hours of anti-White rhetoric from Reddie and the eight non-White respondents who commented on his presentations.
When, at long last, I had the opportunity to ask how “racism” can exist if, as Reddie claims, there is no such thing as “race,” a College lecturer, Dr. Jione Havea, quickly appeared at my side. He placed a red dot prominently on my name tag, a stigmatic ritual intended to signal to all present that I no longer had permission to speak.
“Anti-racism” was the watchword not just at the seminar but in the classroom as well. My open dissent from the relentlessly leftist spin of courses such as “Introduction to Christian Theology” and “Introduction to Old Testament Studies” very quickly aroused the ire of several lecturers. On 1 April 2011, four of them complained about my allegedly “racist,” “sexist,” “anti-Semitic,” and “supremacist” views to Professor Clive Pearson, Principal of UTC.
Only in late June 2011 did the Principal inform me that he had received complaints about me from both staff and students. But it was not until mid-October that I learned the identity of the complainants or saw copies of the complaints.
When I did read the complaints, I was amused (and a little flattered) to discover that one tutor was worried that “numerous other students were quite taken with [my] ideas and wanted to hear more about them.” He expressed “fear that [my] views may mar the theological formation of the other students.”
To avert that danger, Dr. Ben Myers, the lecturer in charge of the introductory theology course, segregated me from my tutorial group—together with the only other older Anglo-Saxon Protestant man. We were directed to meet privately with Myers for the remainder of the semester.
Only one student, Ms. Radhika Sukumar, a woman of Indian descent, actually lodged a formal written complaint against me. She is now an employee of the Uniting Church of Australia. In the first semester of 2011, she studied part-time, taking only one course, “Introduction to Christian Theology.” Her complaint was lodged with the College Principal on 4 April 2011, three days following the complaints filed by the academic Gang of Four.
Not until 16 November 2011 did the University complete its “investigation,” formally finding me guilty on three counts of academic misconduct: I was said to have (a) demonstrated intolerance for female and ethnic students; and (b) interfered with the studies of female and ethnic students; and (c) distributed an essay containing material that was offensive to female and ethnic students.
As a consequence, I was suspended from my studies for a period of one academic year. I appealed both the finding of misconduct on my part and the penalty to the Student General Misconduct Appeals Committee of the CSU Council. The Committee, composed of the Chancellor, Lawrence Willet AO, the Deputy Chancellor, Kathryn Pitkin, and the postgraduate representative, Dr Rowan O’Hagan, upheld both the finding of misconduct and the one-year suspension.
My experience at Macquarie University, Deakin University, and now Charles Sturt University demonstrates that section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 has effectively been nullified.
Charles Sturt University, in particular, now asserts the power to impose a speech code in its classrooms which empowers female and ethnic students to short-circuit academic debates and discussions simply by claiming to be “offended” by “politically incorrect” ideas and arguments.
But militant feminists and ethnic students with chips on their shoulders are not solely or even mainly responsible for the collapse of academic freedom in Australian universities. They are merely “useful idiots” pressed into the service of a globalized system of higher education; their role is to identify and root out the few remaining pockets of dissent from the multicultural orthodoxy governing contemporary academic discourse.
Other minority interests have an even more toxic influence on the corporate culture of Australian universities. Most obviously, “progressive” academics are keen to set their current ideological hegemony in stone. But top-heavy university administrations (staffed largely by deracinated, Other-directed WASPs) are no less desperate to maximize the revenue generated by the orderly throughput of undergraduate and postgraduate clients in an increasingly competitive and ostentatiously cosmopolitan academic marketplace.
Can Australian Universities Be Forced to be Free?
The situation is not utterly hopeless however. It is just barely possible that the law in the books may yet force universities to be free. My case does seem to offer some hope that the very expensive process judicial review might be invoked to reverse the university’s decision.
I believe that my case can be distinguished easily from Eatock v Bolt. Andrew Bolt’s articles were not held to be public comments made “reasonably and in good faith.” The judge characterized his language as so insulting and provocative, sarcastic and mocking, as to be unreasonable. Therefore, the judge found, Bolt was not entitled to shelter behind section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, 1975.
Such reasoning cannot be dismissed out of hand. Significantly, Bolt’s employer, News Ltd, has not appealed the decision.
Bolt’s articles named many of the so-called “fair-skinned Aboriginals” alleged to be sailing under false colours. The plaintiffs, in other words, were named and shamed. Clearly, having been held up to public ridicule, they had the requisite legal standing either to sue Bolt in defamation at common law or to invoke the Racial Discrimination Act.
The CSU Appeal Committee cited the Bolt case in support of its own finding that my views, as expressed in class and in an essay that I distributed to some of my classmates were not made “reasonably and in good faith” in the course of academic debates and discussions. But the facts of my case are very different from those in Eatock v Bolt.
I am alleged to have demonstrated intolerance towards female and ethnic students. The Bolt case featured a small army of personally aggrieved “fair-skinned Aboriginal” plaintiffs. In my case, there is only one formal written complaint from a female ethnic student.
Another female ethnic student, Katalina Tahaafe-Williams, one of my Tongan classmates, was interviewed during the sub rosa “investigation” of the complaints against me in September 2011. In that interview, she asserted baldly that I am “really offensive, everything [I say] is offensive.” In her view, I made “the classroom environment uncomfortable.”
Mrs Tahaafe-Williams is married to the General Secretary of the Uniting Church and was herself employed for years by that church and its UK affiliates. She is also a militant feminist and a committed “anti-racist” activist.
Unlike Mrs. Tahaafe-Williams, the Principal of UTC frankly acknowledges that the complaints against me presented him with a serious conflict of interest. His allegiance to the Uniting Church (which aims to inculcate its political theology of multiculturalism in the student body at UTC) conflicted with his position as Head of the Faculty of Theology in a public university forbidden to impose religious tests or to discriminate against students on political grounds.
The written complaint from my Indian classmate, Ms. Sukumar, cites only two examples of my “racially prejudiced and bigoted” attitudes. The first arose out of a classroom discussion of the split between German churches in the early years of the Third Reich. The second referred to my observation during one class that “racist is a code word for white,” made in response to Mrs Tahaafe-Williams’ claim that Kant was a “racist.”
It should be obvious that Ms Sukumar’s first example of my “racist” views had nothing to do with women, Indians, or even Tongans. In my classroom comments, I merely suggested that the Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, was himself lacking in Christian charity when he publicly charged that German churches supporting Hitler’s rise to power had betrayed their primary allegiance to Christ.
In Ms. Sukumar’s mind, such a view “implied that [I] believed the Holocaust never occurred (or at least was greatly exaggerated).” Under questioning at the appeal hearing, Ms. Sukumar conceded that it requires a very long logical leap to equate criticism of the Barmen Declaration of 1934, largely written by Karl Barth, with holocaust denial.
In any case, neither as a woman nor as an Indian did Ms Sukumar have a dog in my classroom debate with Dr. Myers over the proper role of German churches during the first year or two of the Nazi regime. (By coincidence—well before I learned of Ms Sukumar’s complaint—I wrote an essay in a second semester ecclesiology course on the issues raised during that classroom controversy. It is available here and here.)
In late April 2011, after being removed from my tutorial group in “Introduction to Christian Theology,” I distributed another essay to some of my classmates (including Mrs Tahaafe-Williams who made an informal complaint about it to Dr Myers).
This allegedly insulting and offensive essay (which received a Distinction grade from Dr. Myers), entitled “Whiteness as a Problem in Theology” (available here), was not mentioned in Ms Sukumar’s written complaint. Only at the appeal hearing on 6 February, 2012, did she opine that the paper was “racist,” “insulting,” and “offensive.”
During that hearing, I asked her whether the paper had anything to say about either women or Indians and she agreed that it did not. I then asked her why she was insulted and offended by the paper, and she answered, “partly as a person, and partly as a person of colour.”
The essay in question reviews a book on whiteness as a problem in theology written by an American Negro scholar, J Kameron Carter, who contends that all people of colour should unite in a common struggle against racist White power structures in the USA and elsewhere. In other words, it is a book that illustrates the truth of the proposition that “anti-racism is anti-white.”
Given the opportunity to “refresh” her memory of the paper at the appeal hearing, Ms. Sukumar cited the last sentence of that essay as an “insulting” and “offensive” example of “racism.”
Here is the offending sentence:
Indeed, Carter is doing the devil’s work when he finds something Christ-like in Black America’s descent over the past century into a dysfunctional and degrading culture of rampant welfare dependency, drug addiction, soaring rates of illegitimacy, escalating violence, and chronic criminality.
The appeal committee found that language to be so provocative and insulting that it falls outside section 18D of the Act. But I ask: How can an Indian woman in Australia claim to be insulted and offended by an essay discussing a festering problem for which many thoughtful American Negroes hold their own people responsible? (See, for example, this You Tube video produced by Pastor James Manning, or this article on rising BlackBlack pathologies by a prominent Negro journalist.)
Once again, neither Mrs Tahaafe-Williams nor Ms Sukumar has a racial, ethnic, or gendered dog in the academic debate between J Kameron Carter and me. Under the Racial Discrimination Act, a person belonging to one protected minority cannot be insulted or offended vicariously on behalf of another racial or ethnic group.
In my own brush with the Australian Human Rights Commission a few years ago, a complaint against my comments on African and Chinese immigration lodged by an Argentinean man was dismissed summarily on the ground that he was not a member of a group reasonably likely to have been offended by my remarks.
Nothing I have done or said insulted or offended any named individual. Nothing mentioned by Ms Sukumar in her written complaint, or even orally at the appeal hearing ten months later, can be construed as insulting or offensive to women or Indians.
Significantly, however, Ms Sukumar did suggest that she was offended as a “person of colour” by the concluding sentence of “Whiteness as a Problem in Theology.” Since she is not an American Negro, Ms. Sukumar thereby implies that “anti-racism” is indeed a code word for “anti-White.”
Given a racial/ethnic conflict between American Whites and American Negroes, Ms. Sukumar feels an immediate sense of solidarity with Blacks allegedly oppressed by White racism. Both Mrs. Tahaafe-Williams and Dr. Anthony Reddie display the same animus towards “Whites.”
Mrs Tahaafe-Williams, for example, has written an article on “multicultural ministry,” in which she holds Immanuel Kant, inter alia, responsible “for the systematic institutionalization of racism.” The German Enlightenment philosopher allegedly helped to pioneer the scientific racism “whereby Europe’s (translation: White peoples’) sense of its cultural and racial superiority was systematized and institutionalized.” Like J Kameron Carter’s book, Mrs. Tahaafe-Williams’ article strongly suggests that “anti-racism” really is just a code-word for “anti-White.”
For his part, Dr Anthony Reddie makes the same point explicitly in his book, Is God Colour-Blind? Insights from Black Theology for Christian Ministry. Dr. Reddie writes that the meaning of the term Black is not restricted “to those who are of African descent.” Nor does it “simply refer to skin colour.” Rather, he “opens it up to all people who are non-White and who are struggling in solidarity for liberation over and against the forces of White, male-dominated power structures.”
A serendipitously ironic twist of fate led me to write, “reasonably and in good faith,” academically respectable essays elaborating on the two comments made in Dr. Myers classes which provided Ms Sukumar with the “worst” examples of my “racist” views.
One hopes that it will be as obvious to an Australian court as it is to me that in neither case did I say or write anything that can be adjudged “insulting” and “offensive” to Tongan or Indian women within the meaning of the Racial Discrimination Act.
If I am right in that assessment, and, more importantly, if a critical mass of Anglo-Australian activists emerges to help me mount a successful legal challenge to the CSU decision, academic freedom in Australia may yet arise from its deathbed with renewed vigour.
Opportunity knocks! It is time for an Anglo-Australian Civil Rights movement to secure, by litigation if necessary, legally protected zones of free inquiry and free expression within the nation’s universities and colleges. Even such small-scale struggles for liberation from the false gods of corporate neo-communism will inspire a home-grown ethno-patriotism in institutions (above all, churches and universities) now given over, body and soul, to the worship of The Other.