by Jože Biščak
In the spring of 2019, George Eaton, a journalist for New Statesman magazine, called philosopher Sir Roger Scruton and asked him if he would give an interview. Because his publisher agreed, and because he had written for the magazine in the past, he decided to accept the invitation. On Wednesday, April 10, the interview was published.
The interview was published correctly, but the summaries and interpretations of the interview published online by the magazine were literally fabricated, torn out of context, and manipulated, Scruton wrote. The damage was done. The greatest conservative thinker of the beginning of the millennium – at least for me – was literally bombarded with criticism. The most zealous was the Times, and the rest of the mainstream media followed. That he was a supremacist, that his views were racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic were just some of the labels. He became an anti-Semite solely because he defended Viktor Orban against Georg Soros and said that Orban cannot be anti-Semitic, given that he has done a great deal for the Jewish community in Hungary.
I naively thought the magazine and the journalist were interested in my views, but in reality they just wanted me to confirm theirs, Scruton wrote months later, adding that it never occurred to him that the interview was only a way they used to harm him. Progressive journalists have brought to light all sorts of past statements by Scruton; of course torn out of context and ones that suited their campaign.
Sir Roger Scruton was renounced even by the Tories, the Conservatives, whom he always supported and defended with thousands of argumentative words. The doors of Downing Street 10, where he advised in the field of rural architecture (he was an ardent supporter of the idea that the English countryside must preserve its architectural tradition), were closed to him, and the architects, whom he »pushed out« with his conservative ideas in architecture, found their five minutes and poured liquid manure over him. The Times published a big headline that Scruton had been relieved of his »government position because of supremacist views«. It went so far that the English Parliament demanded the revocation of his knighthood because his Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic views threatened his loyalty to the state and the party. It was like listening to speeches at my funeral, Scruton wrote, saying that the letters of support he received from all over the world were the good side of all that, and the French Le Figaro also stood up for him.
On Monday, July 8, New Statesman magazine apologized to Sir Roger Scruton. They admitted that some of the quotes were fabricated, misunderstood, and most of all, taken out of context. In the fall, Scruton wrote a text for Demokracija, we also talked by email about doing an interview with him. Unfortunately, due to his progressing illness, this did not happen. He had already taken the first step up God’s staircase.
At the end of the year, in a wonderful essay in Spectator entitled »A year in which much was lost – but more gained« he wrote: »During this year much was taken from me — my reputation, my standing as a public intellectual, my position in the Conservative movement, my peace of mind, my health. But much more was given back: by Douglas Murray’s generous defence, by the friends who rallied behind him, by the rheumatologist who saved my life and by the doctor to whose care I am now entrusted. Falling to the bottom in my own country, I have been raised to the top elsewhere, and looking back over the sequence of events I can only be glad that I have lived long enough to see this happen. Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.« He died on January 12 this year, I was informed of this by my good friend and our columnist Keith Miles, who also wrote an obituary for Demokracija.
Readers with common sense can easily see the parallels with the media stampede we have been experiencing in Demokracija in recent days. Because of the text, which was clearly labeled as satire, we were labeled racists. From the text of our colleague Aleksandar Škorc, they took only what suited them. No one looked for the first four sequels of the gloss so they could see them as a whole. The media storm will go away, of course, and the pain of the unjust accusation will also lessen. But to get an apology – neither Škorc, nor Demokracija, nor I as the editor-in-chief will probably experience this in Slovenia. It doesn’t matter.
I am grateful to all of you who have supported us these days. Others should know, however, that no progressive agenda will set limits on what we can and cannot do, what is appropriate and what is not. Thirty years ago, I believed that no one would ever be persecuted again for a spoken or written word, for simply disagreeing with some imposed doctrine. But time and time again I am stunned at the mass hysteria when someone (albeit in a humorous tone) writes something about illegal migrants, LGBT, race, gender or anything else that is not in line with the dogma of the media mainstream or is not on the same wavelength with the latest fashion notion of identity. nation, race, tradition and culture. Such outbursts, aimed at intimidation and branding with racists, Nazis, fascists, xenophobes, or homophobes, lead to the self-censorship of a handful of sane people who are still left and do not want to submit. In Demokracija, we are among the latter. We will remain that way and continue to oppose the path of »enlightened liberal democracy«, leading to a mixture of a kind of universal ideology, in which all conflicts, different views and opinions, sovereign nations and cultures, races and genders would miraculously disappear. You know, when the heartbeat on the screen is no longer depicted in a zigzag but in a straight line – that’s when it’s all over.
So today I look up with humility and I am thankful to God for what happened.