Do you aspire to Moan for England? Want a Gold Medal in the Oppression Olympics? Think you can tweak the Four Yorkshireman sketch to fit any circumstance — poverty, race, disability or gender, or even all four at once?
Well, now you can! If you have a 2:1 in a related undergraduate discipline, you can enroll in the London School of Economics’s MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies where, for a mere £10,272, you can learn to be a professional victim and whiner, and the recipient of government grants forever.
Yes, I am being sarcastic, although the fact that this course even exists, and that one of the most privileged alleged rioters completed it in 2009, makes my job difficult, perhaps impossible. It is almost beyond parody.
[I am using the word 'privilege' properly, you may note, because I possess sufficient information about the alleged rioter in question to be able to consider him 'privileged'. Those who attempt to apply the word to entire groups of people need to be forced to study statistics at gunpoint, and learn when it is and is not accurate to ascribe characteristics to every N in a given set. Here is an example of how not to do it].
From The Telegraph:
Fahim Wahid Alam, who also has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, is accused of being part of a mob that attacked police in Hackney last Monday afternoon.
Mr Alam, 25, attacked police as he walked home from a job interview with an organisation that helps to promote a more tolerant and civil society, Highbury Corner magistrates’ court heard.
He is alleged to have thrown two bricks at police officers, one of which hit a constable on the leg, during almost three hours of disorder outside Hackney town hall, on Mare Street. He was arrested at 6.30pm that evening.
The court heard how police on Mare Street came under attack from bricks, bottles, and fireworks. It was the scene of one of the worst clashes witnessed in London during three days of rioting.
A lawyer representing Mr Alam said that he had not taken part in the riot and was on the street because it was the only way he could walk to his grandmother’s house. Mr Alam, who lives with his parents, two brothers and a sister in Walthamstow, east London, graduated from Oxford University in 2007.
He later studied for a Master of Science degree in race, ethnicity and post colonial studies at LSE. He graduated with merit in 2009.
Yesterday the court heard that on the same day he is alleged to have attacked police, he had attended a job interview with the London Civic Forum.
The organisation’s website says its aims are to “build healthy communities and improve quality of life for all.” The website carries pictures of Londoners cleaning the streets after the riots and a statement that reads: “London Civic Forum has been shocked and saddened by the wave of destruction that has rocked our city and others since last Friday.”
A spokesman confirmed that Mr Alam had been offered a job as an intern researcher, which he had been due to start next Tuesday. Mr Alam, who has been charged with violent disorder, will be on remand until Sept 5 after being refused bail. The London Civic Forum said his job offer would now be reconsidered.
Earlier this year, Mr Alam featured in a newspaper article about Oxbridge students from low-income backgrounds.
Miqdaad Versi went to university with Mr Alam. The pair were involved in organising the Oxford University Speakers’ Corner.
Mr Versi said: “I remember him as a very nice guy. I got on well with him and he got on well with most people. I remember he always wanted to work with those who were underprivileged.”
Well, it’s looking increasingly likely that Mr Alam will get his wish — from within the confines of Wormwood Scrubs or Wandsworth Prison.
One can only assume that someone else was paying the £10,272 in fees, because it is difficult to imagine a course more useless. With your Oxford qualification, Fahim Wahid Alam, you could have taken a job in the City like everyone else with a 2:1 or better in Oxford law (I know, I’m one of them, and had to make a deliberate choice not to go to the City — although my Scottish job is pretty good). Had you done so, even if Eric Pickles had eaten Walthamstow’s youth club, it wouldn’t matter — because you’d be able to buy them a bloody new one!
But no, that’s the government’s job, innit?
But, let’s leave Mr Alam to one side for the moment and take a closer look at the utterly vacuous MSc that may well have given him the idea that it is all right to lob bricks at the police. This subject — labelled ‘Topics in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies‘ — is a compulsory component of the course. Here is a decent chunk of the subject guide:
The course offers students a broad exposure to theory and history of race, racism and ethnicity as well as an opportunity to consider a range of contemporary instances in which the social and political problems arising from these factors of division have been manifested. We start by addressing the history and character of the colonial and imperial expansion with which modern theories of race and ethnicity were intertwined. The first block introduces material drawn from various disciplines that is aimed at interpreting the social, political, governmental, cultural and economic characteristics of the colonial “contact zones” which were so important in making racial categories and keeping them alive. The development of racialised conceptions of humanity, progress, civilisation, national identity, cultural difference and geo-politics are tracked through the rise and fall of European empires in the second and third blocks. Block three takes on the scholarly agenda set by the anti-colonial theorists and intellectuals who led the movements against colonial rule as its initial point of departure. The final block engages contemporary approaches to diaspora, interculture and biocolonialism before concluding with a sequence addressed to the failure of human rights initiatives to sufficiently engage the issues of racial hierarchy and racism.
Christ in a sidecar, can it get any worse? Indeed, it can!
Take, for example, one of the non-compulsory courses, Race and Biopolitics (they do like their silly neologisms, this lot, don’t they?). If you were expecting a science course–an introduction to genetics at least–you’d be sorely disappointed. Instead there’s the inevitable Foucault and Gilroy, coupled with a bunch of humanities academics who likely don’t know how to spell gene expression, let alone what it is.
The London School of Economics, I might add, was the university of Ronald Coase and F.A Hayek and John Kenneth Galbraith. All three of those illustrious gentlemen must be on their way to the earth’s core by now, from spinning so hard in their graves. A once great institution has been reduced to taking money from Colonel Gaddafi so that his son could ‘buy’ a doctorate.
Now, while I’m in this spectacularly irritated mood, let’s take a look at the London Civic Forum. Wander around their website for a bit and see if you can imagine a better definition of rent-seeking. Apart from receiving government money and holding meetings, it’s rather difficult to work out what they actually do. That’s because they exist to derive rents by manipulating the social and political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by adding value.
And, in case you think I’m being excessively partisan, they’re already well and truly on David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ gravy train. Check this out, for example.
Now, I’m going to make a suggestion (apart from the obvious one that Mr Alam appears to be an ingrate; I mean, the system was so racist and discriminatory it sent him to Oxford and the LSE).
How about we stop taking victims and victimhood so seriously? How about we point out that being a victim (if, indeed, one fits the definition, which needs to be dramatically narrowed) gives one no greater right to a voice or audience than any other member of society? How about we make sure that our criminal justice system doesn’t get any more borked than it already is thanks to the woolly-headed desire to ‘put victims at the centre of sentencing’?