Over at the excellent & wonderful Engage, it's becoming clear that the boycotters are up to their usual tricks. Presently, their focus is to attack the opinion from counsel obtained by UCU (see previous post) which confirmed what we all knew, namely that this is racism. And they are really embarrassing themselves in the process! That the law should be required is shameful enough - you'd have thought a union today would be one place where we ought to be able to rely on anti-racist instincts being sufficient, without need for recourse to legal opinion! I no longer know why I once thought this.
The boycotters are now busy attacking the lawyer who authored the opinion, speciously attempting to malign the most heroic and valiant Anthony Julius in the process! Over at Harry's Place, I see David T has put this well in describing how the boycotters
accuse UCU of consulting with "Princess Diana's divorce lawyer" (trans: the literary critic, anti-fascist activist, and the legal nemesis of the Holocaust Denier, David Irving: Anthony Julius).
As if this weren't bad enough, it turns out they've even managed to get the wrong guy! At least, that's according to one of UCU's Trustees, who published a letter in the Guardian, saying he's:
familiar with the advice that the union received from Anthony Lester QC, as well as the independent advice the trustees commissioned from Anthony White QC.So it transpires that the person who wrote the UCU opinion is none other than Lord Lester! Yes, the same man without whom these human rights and anti-racism protections wouldn't exist at all - here's an extract from his bio:
So the boycotters' target, we learn, is in fact the main man behind all these human rights & equality laws, long and hard fought for - yes, those very same laws without which our unions would remain free to exclude Jews (oops, what a slip, I mean, Israelis - not surprising, given a disgraceful history of union exclusion of Jews). And not just this protected group but all such groups - only most, I would venture, are presently pretty safe given how excluders and boycotters seem too busy picking on you-know-who to have time for much else, including, one should add, positive action to further the ends of our union. Happily, the law ensures that they can't get away with this anymore, as Lester's unassailably authoritative opinion confirms.
Between 1974 and 1976, he was Special Adviser to Roy Jenkins, when he had special responsibility for developing policy on race relations, sex discrimination and human rights [the period in which the governing frameworks which have served us since to guard against race and sex discrimination were legislated through Parliament]. He campaigned for thirty years to make the European Human Rights Convention directly enforceable in British courts and introduced two Private Members’ Bills on the subject which became models for the Human Rights Act 1998.
Over at the impressive civic engagement site TheyWorkForYou,* we're reminded that Lord Lester's recent parliamentary interventions have included voting very strongly against introducing ID cards and against Labour's anti-terrorism laws; and very strongly in favour of equal gay rights. We're informed that his most recent appearance in Parliament involved him quizzing the government on the Al Yamamah deal. I don't need to add that he and his party opposed the war in Iraq. [update: see here for more on why they are really barking up the wrong tree on this one]
I could wish that any of this would finally make the boycotters cease their racist posturing. But I'm no fool - I know it won't. They are so far gone that they just dig deeper, reproducing their racialist stereotypes, in recent days repeating the slander that anti-racism protections are being perverted to silence & stem their movement by "all-powerful rich Jews" and their nasty Lobby. [the link is to that post's update, and there's more of the same in the Harry's Place thread, with a brave poster going by the name of UCU Whistleblower reproducing** some of the filth on the activist list which passes, through the sick filter of our time, for solidarity work]
Whatever initial relief I felt in my last post has promptly vanished since, given that nothing seems to have changed substantively: our activist list is still full of the boycotters' bigotry, and they are as energetic as ever, if not more so; and it's just as chilling & alienating. In consequence, I feel no respite from the boycotting shadow all this casts. Our union is still being paralyzed by a force making it so toxic that some will continue to stay away for reasons which persist in being compelling to me. Now that my vote is no longer required for a ballot on this, I return to my perennial questions (asked in a previous post). All this deleteriously impacts on our working environment and British academia as a whole. I continue to ask myself how long I can remain in the UCU given the discursive community it has spawned and which it continues to platform prominently by way of its activist list. And I even ask how long I can remain embedded in this academic community in my boycotted state. How long will I have to dread going in to work for fear of bumping into one of the boycotters on campus (sadly there seem to be a few of them around)? How long will I have to psych myself up just to open my daily digest from the UCU activist list, let alone summon up the energy and courage to post on there?
All this persists...ineluctably.
* Through TWFY, I wrote to my MP who signed the anti-boycott EDM. Very helpful, thanks!
** Update: some of these are reproduced by an anonymous poster in comments to this thread who, along with UCU Whistleblower over on the HP thread, is performing the important task of showing non-UCU members (or less active ones) just what is going on here and just why David T's take on the UCU activist list - that it's a veritable 'bigot's playground' - is apt indeed. As Jon Pike has succintly put it, the 'debate' which boycotters are now falsely claiming to have been gagged (by these anti-racism laws) is not about helping Palestinians but all about demonizing Israel. This is what I get in my inbox on a daily basis; and some activists on there, those valiant few who can actually stomach this better than I, get them in real time, fading into their screens: "You've got mail!" No spoiler; no warning of what is to come, when it should read "You've got hate mail!" All this, just for being in the union!