lunedì 3 dicembre 2018


 L’intervento I NUOVI GULAG è apparso il 27.9.18 
sulla rivista americana First Things 
(Journal of Religion and public Life).
Autore è Carl R. Trueman  Professor in the Alva J. 
Calderwood School of Arts and Letters at 
Grove City College, Pennsylvania. 

Nell’articolo Trueman sottolinea la crescente intolleranza degli attivisti LGBTQ  verso i loro presunti “nemici”. Il fatto che si raccomandino i gulag per i cosiddetti “omofobi” mostra la radicale politicizzazione degli studi umanistici da un lato, dall’altro conferma il vecchio detto che chi non studia la storia è condannato a ripeterla. 

L’articolo di Trueman è stato segnalato dalla Newsletter della rivista Vita e Pensiero Plus, 30 (che ringraziamo):
Per la versione originale dell’articolo vai a: 

In effetti l'intervento di Trueman commenta un episodio accaduto in precedenza in un'università londinese e ripresa dal giornale The Telegraf, l'11.9.18, 
dal giornalista Patrick Sawer. 
Per leggere l’articolo originale del The Telegraf vai a: 

    As a new teacher at Grove City College, I thought it appropriate to start my upper-level humanities course by informing the students of my broad educational philosophy:

I am over fifty. I no longer care what anyone except my wife thinks about me. That particularly applies to anyone under the age of thirty-five. You should therefore feel free to disagree with me on anything I say because it is virtually impossible to offend me. But I must also add that, old and closed-minded as I am, I have no vested interest in holding an incorrect opinion on anything. Therefore, if you think I am wrong on some issue, be it historical, philosophical, or ethical, then you are under a moral obligation to persuade me to change my mind. But when you do so, please give me an argument, not some emotional plea based on your feelings. After all, if you simply feel I am wrong and I simply feel I am right, we’ll quickly find ourselves at an impasse.

That is my philosophy of education in miniature: I want to teach my students to think, which means the classroom must be a place where I challenge them and where they are free to challenge me. That is the only way true learning can be achieved in an ethical manner. It is not political, in that it privileges neither the right nor the left. It privileges only the common humanity of teacher and student. And yet it seems  such a philosophy is under increasing pressure from the usual suspects. In today’s world, loud voices claim that free inquiry and open discussion are no longer part of the solution to society’s ills; they have become the foundation of the problem.
Take, for example, the latest skirmish in the TERF Wars. At Goldsmiths University in London, LGBTQ activists have not only been waging a campaign to identify and presumably oust any faculty member who refuses to give unconditional support to transgender ideology. They have also suggested that any bigots who disagree should be dispatched to the gulags for re-education. Such silly analogies are common in the world of online polemics; what raises this silliness to the level of malevolent absurdity is that the students, after their proposal was criticized, attempted to justify it by claiming the gulags were compassionate educational institutions.    
The incident reveals catastrophic cultural and historical ignorance. This should not surprise. The humanities have been subject to ruthless politicization and concomitant trivialization over the years. I doubt those recommending the gulags have ever studied them. And I doubt they have taken the time to read Solzhenitsyn’s novella, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, or his magisterial Gulag Archipelago trilogy. Why would they bother, when their teachers have told them the history that portrays the gulags as morally significant has been constructed by white conservative males—men with a vested interested in rewriting history to disguise their own imperial atrocities?
Notably, this ignorance is closely tied to the wider questions of sex and identity highlighted by this incident. Long before the rise of transgenderism, Philip Rieff pointed to the anti-historical dimension of the sexual revolution, arguing that it depends on overthrowing historical norms of sexual behavior. It can involve specific acts that repudiate history. The example he gave was abortion. In a memorable if rather distasteful passage, he described abortion as a literal flushing away of the sexual act’s historical evidence. Transgenderism embodies this anti-historical tendency in its very repudiation of the body. Caitlyn Jenner is walking evidence of the desire to erase Bruce, just as every transgender person is a denial of the reality of his birth and prior life.
It is not surprising, then, that the transgender activists of Goldsmiths should prefer historical solecisms to Solzhenitsyn. History has only two functions for them: It is either an account of oppression to be overcome, or it is just another plastic body of evidence that can be twisted to fit any particular identity or policy which catches their fancy.
Above all, the incident reveals a different philosophy of education than the one I outlined to my class. It is not surprising that gulags appeal to such radicals because that is what they are trying to turn the university system into. The food might be better, the accommodation more pleasant, and with a three- to four-year sentence, the chances of coming out alive are pretty good. But the purpose is totalitarian: teachers of political orthodoxy cloning themselves through the student body. And that is a very dangerous tendency. 
I noted above that I want to teach my students to think. Others only want to teach their students to think like themselves. That contrast in educational philosophies could make the difference between a free society and one dominated by gulags, whether of the Siberian or university variety.

Students at a leading London university have been condemned as blind to reality after defending the system of Soviet Gulag labour camps where thousands perished as “compassionate” places of rehabilitation.
Trans rights campaigners at Goldsmiths University described the Gulags as benign places where inmates received education, training and enjoyed the opportunity to take part in clubs, sports and theatre groups.
In fact most historians agree they were a brutal network of labour camps used by Stalin’s Soviet dictatorship to incarcerate internal opponents and so-called "enemies of the state", resulting in the death of more than an estimated 1.05 million people.
During a bizarre exchange on Twitter the LGBTQ group at Goldsmiths Student Union described life in the Gulags as “rehabilitatory” and “educational”.
Paradoxically the thread was written as an apparent justification for an earlier post by the same group which threatened to send a political opponent “to the gulag”.
The threat was made against Claire Graham, a special education needs teacher, who wrote objecting to LGBTQ Goldsmith’s threat to target feminist academics who they claimed were prejudiced against transgender individuals.
Tans activists refer to these women by the derogatory term TERFS, claiming they are guilty of hate crimes for their opposition to allowing men undergoing gender transition to use women’s toilets and other female only spaces.
In its Tweets, Goldsmith LGBTQ said: “The ideas of TERFS and anti-trans bigots literally *kill* and must be eradicated through re-education.”
Ms Graham said: “I said that I thought their choice of language, in talking about lists and purging people was intended to shut down debate about trans people and the law. I then received unpleasant and dehumanising threats about being sent to the Gulag. I feel bad for other trans people because this kind of response by some makes them seem so extreme and intolerant.”
Goldsmith LGBTQ subsequently attempted to justify the threat to send Ms Graham to the Gulag by stating that “sending a bigot to one is actually a compassionate, non-violent course of action.”

[…] The Twitter thread went on to state that the CIA had spread “lies” about the Gulag system, adding: “First myth to debunk: ‘u work until u die in gulags!’ The Soviets did away with life sentences and the longest sentence was 10 years. Capital punishment was reserved for the most heinous, serious crimes.
“The penal system was a rehabilitatory one. The aim was to correct and change the ways of criminals.”
It added: “Much like wider Soviet society, everyone who was ‘able’ to work did so at a wage proportionate to those who weren’t incapacitated and, as they gained skills, were able to move up the ranks and work under less supervision.
“Educational work was also a prominent feature of the Soviet penal system. There were regular classes, book clubs, newspaper editorial teams, sports theatre and performance groups.”
In contrast, mainstream historians have concluded that the gulag system, which reached its peak under Joseph Stalin's rule, was a system of forced labour camps used to incarcerate a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners - including Stalin’s left-wing, Trotskyist opponents and gay men and women.

[…] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who survived eight years imprisoned in a Gulag incarceration, brought its horrors to the world's attention in his 1973 book The Gulag Archipelago.
Soviet files show that 1,053,829 people died in the camps between 1934 and 1953, mostly as a result of deliberate starvation.
The historian Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History, said: “It was an incredibly brutal system designed to eliminate Stalin's’ enemies and terrorise the wider population. Most of the inmates were innocent of anything we would regard as a crime.”
Ms Graham said: “The LGBTQ group’s interpretation of the history of the Gulag system is madness.”
Goldsmiths Students’ Union has now suspended the group and withdrawn its support for its activities, saying the Gulag threat - and subsequent refusal by the group to apologise for it - clearly breached the students' union code of conduct.
In a statement backed by Goldsmiths University the students’ union said: “We condemn the abhorrent content of the tweets and they are in complete opposition to the views and values of the Students’ Union.”
Members of Goldsmiths LGBTQ refused to comment when approached by The Daily Telegraph.

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