“What have the Romans ever done for us?” A famous Monty Python sketch begins with this question. Let’s rephrase it in the Age of Woke: What has Western civilization ever done for us? And let’s allow the woke spokesperson to respond.
“What have the Romans ever done for us?” Those of my generation will probably know the famous Monty Python sketch which begins with this question. What follows is hilarious…
What have the Romans ever done for us?
They gave us the aqueduct…
Yes, they did give us that, that’s true
Yes, that too
The aqueduct I’ll grant is one
thing the Romans may have done
And the roads, now they’re all new
And the great wines too
Well, apart from the wines and fermentation…
Apart from those, which are a plus,
what have the Romans ever done for us?
The sketch continues and so does the litany of benefits brought by Roman civilization: Medicine, irrigation, health….
Let’s rephrase the question in the Age of Woke: What has Western civilization ever done for us? And let’s allow the woke spokesperson to respond:
What has Western civilization ever done for us?
It’s done nothing except impose systemic white supremacist racism on the peoples of the world. Western Civ has got to go!
But what about the beautiful music that Western civilization has given us?
It’s as systemically racist as everything else the elitist “west” has imposed on culture?
The Pastoral Symphony?
What about the canon of Western literature?
What about the beauty of Western art?
Leonardo da Vinci?
The Mona Lisa?
This rewriting of the Monty Python sketch is not as funny as the original version but it’s much more absurd. Indeed, it is a reductio ad absurdum. It reduces all reality to the level of racial politics. It is as racially obsessed as are racists themselves. Might we even dare to suggest that the definition of a racist is one who reduces everything to nothing but race? Is Wokeism a sort of inverted racism?
Let’s look at some of the absurd real-life situations to which such reductionism has led.
The classical radio station in a large American city recently went out of business after trying to obey a mandate to adopt a “diversity and inclusion” programming philosophy. Half of the music the station played had to be by non-white, non-male, or non-heterosexual composers. The problem is that most of this kind of “classical” music is composed by contemporary composers, writing in the postmodern style that nobody likes. After enjoying Beethoven, the next piece was something dissonant, off-putting, amateurishly written and unpleasant to the ear. All too predictably, classical music lovers merely switched to another channel or simply switched off the radio. The number of listeners dwindled, as did the number of donors willing to pay for such rubbish. Within a few months of adopting the new “inclusive” policy, the station went off the air. It had committed suicide.
What is true of woke classical-music radio stations, is true of the music departments at major universities. At a once reputable university, a musicology professor is trying to ban the performance of music by some of the greatest classical composers for their “racism”. At the same university, the composition professor boasts an array of non-straight-white-male intersectional identities and writes pieces consisting of a quiet ping on a cymbal, then ten seconds later a ding on the edge of a gong, then ten seconds later a ting on a triangle, reflecting the “aura of the universe”. His/her/its music would have fitted very well on the playlist of the now defunct radio station if it were not now extinct. On another occasion, woke members of a university orchestra refused to play a work of traditional classical music on the grounds that it was racist. These students, no doubt tacitly encouraged by some of their woke professors, had no idea of the logical absurdity of their position. It would be well to enlighten them because, for all their priggish puritanical intolerance of Western civilization, the joke’s on Woke. This can be demonstrated by playing the joker in the pack of lies with which they are dealing with reality. Continuing the earlier dialogue will prove the point and demonstrate the pointlessness of such reductionism:
If Beethoven is racist, should he be tolerated?
Should we stop listening to his work?
Should those who play in orchestras refuse to play his work?
But what about the orchestra itself?
What do you mean?
Isn’t the classical music orchestra also a part of Western civilization?
I suppose so.
And the violins?
The oboe? The flute? Are these not the products of Western civilization?
[An awkward silence.]
In fact, shouldn’t we burn all the instruments of the orchestra as constructs of Western civilization?
[A look of puzzlement.]
Okay so we burn all the instruments of the orchestra as constructs of Western civilization. But why stop there. What about Shakespeare?
Shakespeare is racist, sexist, heterosexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic. Why would anyone want to endorse such a fascist?
Have you actually read Shakespeare?
[A look of smug self-satisfaction. Virtue-signalling feels so good.]
But what about the words?
What about the words that Shakespeare uses?
What about them?
Isn’t the English language a construct of Western civilization? Worse, isn’t it disgustingly Anglo-Saxon, with an admixture of French and Latin, the latter of which is a testimony to the Roman roots of the language and, horror of horrors, the power of the Catholic Church?
Well, if you put it that way, I suppose you’re right.
I’m so pleased that we are in agreement. At this point, on the presumption that you want to practice what you preach without being accused of hypocrisy, you will refuse to use any of the words in the Fascist language.
[A perplexed and confused silence.]
I believe that our very pleasant conversation has come to an end. I’m going to read a little Jane Austen. In the absence of words, please feel free to grunt as much as you like.
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