A declaration of our Covid lockdown rights for society as a whole

Star dispatches I’m an engineer. As a numbers man, I’ve been horrified that whilst showering

Star dispatches

  • I’m an engineer. As a numbers man, I’ve been horrified that whilst showering us with figures, Whitehall is either not analysing the data or deliberately ignoring the findings. Howard
  • I can’t tell you how distressing my work in the surgery has become – I finish most days in tears. It is virtually impossible to get hospital tests, appointments and treatments for my patients … the suffering is immense, and so unnecessary because it isn’t caused by covid but by this crazy lockdown. The government has stopped listening – it is ignoring the hard data, the scientific facts. London based GP, anon

Meet Helen Pluckrose, a softly-spoken academic who has written a brave and important book

Many UK institutions – universities, broadcasters and businesses – are now obsessed with “identity politics”. A supercharged political correctness, it’s taking over our lives. A vocal minority seem permanently offended about identity issues – whether gender, race or sexuality. The rest of us, however well-intentioned, walk on eggshells, not knowing what we can and cannot say.

Humanities specialist Pluckrose had enough – so got together with mathematician James Lindsay to write Cynical Theories. They lacerate post-modernism – the school of thought which since the 1960s has denied objective truth, claiming everyday language stems from oppression by a white patriarchy. This morphed into “critical race theory”, where “identity politics” began.

“Critical race theory was developed in a US context,” says Pluckrose, our latest Planet Normal guest. “We can obviously study the Windrush generation and post-colonial Britain, but just imposing a framework from American history isn’t right.”

Countless studies, says Pluckrose, show “the UK is one of the world’s least racist countries”. While recognising “no room for complacency”, she argues identity politics can do damage. “It puts people in conflict, activating the worst of our nature, which doesn’t help any kind of social justice”.

Anyone can fall foul of the “woke brigade” – the identity politics language police. Transsexual activists have hounded author JK Rowling for insisting on the use of the word “women” rather than “people who menstruate”. Yes, really.

Pluckrose meanwhile describes a “diversity and inclusion industry” hired by nervous companies to “train” staff. “Lots of white people are being asked to affirm they’re racist and talk about dismantling their white privilege,” she says. “And lots of black and Asian people are expected to testify to a particular experience of racism they don’t feel they have experienced”.

The world according to Helen Pluckrose

  • “Identity politics is generating polarised positions, where people are pushed into a stance of either everything is racist or nothing is racist, they’re either in favour of social justice or opposed to social justice. So we’re in danger of causing reactions that are much less tolerant. We could lose the progress we’ve made towards racial and gender equality”.
  • “This is a school of thought claiming science, maths, technology, reason and even literacy are white and Western – and have been unfairly imposed on everyone else. It is essentially saying these rigorous disciplines, which are universal, in search of objective truth, are not for women or people of colour”.
  • “While the UK isn’t perfect in terms of race relations, we do need to recognise progress – which many so-called progressives are very reluctant to do. But we cannot make more progress unless we recognise we’ve already made some – and carry on doing the things that helped make it”.

Planet Normal’s star listeners share their thoughts

  • Plainly our only hope of keeping the woke warriors happy is for a worldwide ban on all language and forms of writing – which would have the advantage of sparing us any more lectures from Meghan and Harry. Elizabeth
  • Do not, under any circumstances, stop your excellent podcast. My wife and I would be bereft beyond measure. John
  • When my father was taking his then equivalent of A-levels during the Second World War, the school was emptied during an exam to go to the air raid shelter. He passed anyway, and went on to become one of the world’s foremost biochemists. Gareth
  • Planet Normal – a ray of light amidst the gloom of idiocy enveloping us. Paul
  • In these dark days, brought upon us mostly by this spirit sapping government approach, you and your many interesting guests provide much needed common sense and hope that a sense of proportion can, one day soon, again prevail. Graham

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