David Cameron's coalition government likes to present itself as consensual, even touchy feely. However threatening its policies, the message is "we're all in this together". But if the latest plans of his close ally Michael Gove were to come to fruition, prepare for an outbreak of culture wars under the new regime: conflicts that would be fought out in classrooms across the country.Oooh, man the barricades! The wackademics are going to be revolting!
Last week the new education secretary publicly appealed to pro-empire TV historian Niall Ferguson to help rewrite the history curriculum for English schools. Considering this is a man who has unashamedly championed British colonialism and declared that "empire is more necessary in the 21st century than ever before", letting him loose on some of the most sensitive parts of the school syllabus in multicultural Britain might have been expected to provoke uproar.Might have been expected by whom?
Instead it passed almost without comment.There you go, then…
If Britain had genuinely come to terms with its imperial history, no senior politician would have dared suggest celebrating it or mobilising apologists to sanitise its record for schoolchildren.Translation: ‘If only we’d had more time, we could have made everyone feel guilty for things done decades ago…!’
The British empire was, after all, an avowedly racist despotism built on ethnic cleansing, enslavement, continual wars and savage repression, land theft and merciless exploitation.Wow, he almost went for a Godwin ther…
No wonder Hitler was such an enthusiastic admirer of Britain's empire, which he described as an "inestimable factor of value". The echoes of Nazism in the colonial record are unmistakable.*sigh*
If people like Ferguson and Roberts are allowed to get their hands on school history, it will be contested every step of the way.Bring it on, Seumas. How many divisions has the ‘Guardian’…?
And see Ross for a good breakdown of Seumas’ rather flexible idea of history….