Department of Corections

My favourite cartoon shows two European intellectuals (berets, cigarettes) at a sidewalk café. One says to the other: “Do you not be happy with me as the translator of the books of you?”

The joke, of course, is that no one would ever hire this man to translate their book. But the tragic joke is that it isn’t a joke anymore. Some British universities are now “challenging the status quo” for correct grammar and spelling in order not to be “homogeneous north European, white, male, elite”.

On Monday, the Times of London reported that these institutes of higher learning are adopting “inclusive assessments” in order to reduce dropout rates among students from poor backgrounds and “to narrow the attainment gap between white and Black, Asian and minority ethnic students.”

Among them is Hull University which is committed to ‘decolonising curricula’.

Reading its dense nonsense, I felt a bit like George Orwell reading the proofs of 1984 and wondering if its central idea of “Newspeak”, that is, the abuse of language for political purposes, would ever last beyond 1949 when it was written. I needn’t have worried.

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