A political curriculum, social justice and an election fever

A political curriculum, social justice and an election fever Prof. Eric Kaufmann

There is a phenomenon I’d call ‘the illusion of consultation’ – e.g. where a government or one of its offshoots consults the public on a topic, and then proceeds to do what they were going to do anyway.

The current consultation on the new Primary school Curriculum was featured on Newstalk Breakfast Thursday, June 6. Journalist and former Irish Catholic editor David Quinn was concerned that not many people knew about it. The fact that it has been extended to June 18 would suggest he was right. David Quinn had some concerns about the content of the new curriculum, and wondered why the current encouragement to foster Irish identity didn’t make it into the new version. Puzzlingly the role of Europe was downplayed, with more emphasis on global citizenship. He thought there could be content overload, and much of the new additions would be rather political – he wondered if parents would be OK with this. A commitment to justice and equality sounds good, but he pointed out that these were contested – there were different interpretations of what they meant. He hoped the variety of views would be aired rather than there being a bias in a particular direction. Asked by presenter Shane Coleman (tongue-in-cheek?) if what he was afraid of a lefty woke brainwashing, he said that could happen, but what parents wanted was the important thing.

I’m not altogether enamoured with the word ‘woke’. Yes, it has come to describe a kind of prissy and stifling political correctness, devoid of all humour, but at its best political correctness can be an antidote to casual cruelty and prejudice, while ‘woke’, if you dig deep, can be an awareness of the demands of social justice. However, I fear modern culture has left those core meanings far behind.

On Sunday (BBC Radio 4) William Crawley discussed an upcoming book Taboo, that sees ‘woke’  as a kind of religion.  The author was Eric Kaufmann, Professor at Buckingham University, and book will be called Taboo (US title: ‘The Third Awokening’) I wasn’t convinced of the idea that woke is effectively a new religion, but certainly it was easy enough to make out that there are features that make it LIKE a religion,  e.g. key events, sacred people, punishment for the transgressors, etc., Prof. William Davis of Goldsmith University in Londan thought Kaufmann’s idea of woke being a religion was pejorative and that he was using religion to disparage a particular set of views, implying some sort of irrational fundamentalism among the woke. I felt the presenter was more challenging towards Kaufmann than he was to Prof Davis – e.g. asking him if he was ‘deploying culture warrior tactics’.

Justice is one of those many words to which you can add the word ‘climate’ and some would accuse the advocates of climate justice of being overly ‘woke’. The dismissiveness does not serve us well. Media discussions can be patronising and censorious, but as usual, the discussion on Sunday Morning Live (BBC One) was varied. The specific question was whether the rich should have to pay extra taxes to ‘fix’ the climate crisis.  Melanie Nazareth of Christian Climate Change agreed as the rich consume the world’s finite resources disproportionally. Julia Davies of Patriotic Millionaires UK also agreed and said that when she became rich, she felt a responsibility to put her wealth to good use, planet wise. Andy Mayer thought carbon taxation was better than a Robin Hood raid on the rich, while Ella Whelan, journalist with Spiked-Online was concerned about where the money collected would go, if it would be put to good use. She didn’t want to see those in poorer countries told they couldn’t enjoy the lifestyle we in the West have had, the things that she thought made for an enjoyable life, like travel, holidays and culture.

Finally, the media was dominated by election fever at home and abroad and as a political anorak I loved it but am concerned that only around 50% voted. The dust hadn’t settled at the time of writing, but following the news and current affairs coverage over the weekend and early this week there was quite a sense of drama – President Macron of France calling an election, the Belgian Prime Minister resigning, Benny Ganz resigning from the Israeli war cabinet, Douglas Ross declaring his intention to resign as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party after the UK election.
Dominoes or what!




BBC One Sunday June 16, 12.30pm

On Father’s Day, Aled Jones meets inspiring dads leaning on their faith through the joys and challenges of fatherhood. With music reflecting and celebrating the fatherly love of God


EWTN Sunday June 16, 9pm

Sister Clare Crockett gave up a promising acting career to serve the Lord. While her life was tragically cut short, her talents, infectious personality and deep love of God inspired people on three continents.


RTE One Friday June 21, 7.30pm

Baptists, Catholics and an Attempted Drowning: Georgie and Mandy’s wedding plans pit Mary against Mandy’s mom, Audrey (Rachel Bay Jones), with baby CeeCee caught in the middle. Funny and touching series, but sometimes has jaundiced view of religion.