Roger Scruton’s Greatness

Lefties have been jumping on board the faux outrage bus in an attempt to inflict another Toby Young-style ousting of a right-wing government adviser. This time it’s the preeminent Conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, unpaid chairman of a government housing commission on “Building Better, Building Beautiful”, who has been put in the stocks, with a rag-bag of allegations of anti-Semtisim, homophobia and Islamophobia being levelled against him.

Labour rent-a-mouth Andrew Gwynne told BuzzFeed: “Nobody holding those views has a place in modern democracy. The prime minister needs to finally show some leadership and sack Scruton with an investigation into how he was appointed in the first place.” Has Andrew Gwynne done as much for modern democracy as Sir Roger Scruton? Unlikely.

Scruton spent years in the 1980s travelling to Communist Central Europe, building bridges with dissident academics and students, putting himself in harm’s way for their freedom. In 1985 he was arrested, expelled from Czechoslovakia and placed on the communist government’s “Index of Undesirable Persons”. After the fall of Communism President Vaclav Havel presented him with the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit. Gwynne was still in short trousers at the time…

The Red Roar, which started the pile-on, uses an egregiously selective half-quotation to level an accusation of anti-Semitism at Scruton, quoting him as saying: “many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form party of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire.” The full quote shows that Scruton is saying quite the opposite and warning about the ongoing problem of anti-Semitism in Hungary:

“Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire. People in these networks include many who are rightly suspicious of nationalism, regard nationalism as the major cause of the tragedy of Central Europe in the 20th century, and do not distinguish nationalism from the kind of national loyalty that I have defended in this talk. Moreover, as the world knows, indigenous anti-Semitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.”

Red Roar also “reveal” that Scruton is a friend of unsavoury Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has a long-running feud with his former ally George Soros. In fact Scruton only knows Orban because he helped him and a few other Hungarian students set up an independent law school in the late 1980s in Communist Czechoslovakia. Scruton lectured in that law school, as part of his drive to get young people to work for their country’s freedom. Attacking Scruton for this is pathetic…

Scruton actually took on Orban and lobbied hard against his move to close down the Central European University in Budapest last year. The university founded by George Soros…

Attempting to force Scruton out of a non-political government appointment on the basis of quotations taken out of context and a highly selective use of historical facts is dishonest. The only people guilty of illiberalism are the ones pursuing student union-style attempts to purge the ranks of civil society of any vestiges of conservative thought…

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