The Self-Hatred and Loathing of Cultural Elites In The West

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The War on the West

By Douglas Murray


April 2022

320 pages



Twenty years ago, it was called a culture war in the United States; it has now become what one Wall Street Journal columnist has called “a civil war without rifles.” What better way to navigate through this toxic polarization than Douglas Murray’s 2022 tour de force The War on the West?


Murray is a brilliant British author and political commentator. Now forty-three, he attended a leading Roman Catholic day school in London, St. Benedict’s, and went on to graduate from Eton and then Magdalen College, Oxford University. He has written four books, including The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, which was published in 2019. He is a conservative, and he is homosexual.


Murray is no stranger to controversy. For example, while the conservative English paper The Daily Telegraph praised The Madness of Crowds as a “superbly perceptive guide through the age of the social justice warrior,” the left-leaning English newspaper The Guardian criticized the book as “the bizarre fantasies of a rightwing provocateur, blind to oppression.” The Madness of Crowds describes in great detail various forms of victimhood now prevalent in the West – LGBTQ+, feminism, and racial politics, all of which can lead to both social and political status and power.


The War on the West takes up where The Madness of Crowds left off. One comes away from the book astonished by the overwhelming degree of self-loathing and revulsion exhibited by progressives and liberals about the very culture and heritage which nurtured them – and which allowed them to live in freedom, democracy, and prosperity – not to mention the ability to criticize and savage the society that produced such extraordinary benefits for them. Imagine what would happen if one attacked one’s country in this manner in China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, or even most nations in the developing world.


Murray chronicles the relentless war against the roots of the Western tradition and indeed against everything good that the Western tradition has produced. He does not dismiss the issues of race and colonialism but makes two vital points:  He argues that all societies have racism in their past, just as they have had slavery, but only the West is hated for it. And until modern times, powerful nations conquered weaker nations. A brief look at the history of Europe and Asia for the past millennia tells this story, and it was same in Africa and the Americas, even if there is less written history to document the oppression that took place.


Much of this assault on the West started in the United States three decades ago. An example he points to is Reverend Jesse Jackson leading a crowd of protesters at Stanford University in 1987 with the chant “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go.” Another example is when Yale University received a grant of $20 million from the Bass brothers in 1991 to create a curriculum on Western civilization but was forced to return the funds in 1995 after the university’s administrators were unable to agree on a structure for the curriculum amid resistance among the faculty over the benefits to mankind that the West produced.


But the self-hatred for legacy and heritage of the West that was germinating in the Academy then has now engulfed the entire culture in the United States – the government, large corporations, the military, the professions, the schools, and even the churches.


A particularly shrewd moment in the book is when Murray describes travelling in the United States after George Floyd’s death and seeing that Black Lives Matter had become something like a new national religion. He writes that the dominant strain in the culture here now accepts that racism is the sole lens through which the United States (and the West) should be understood. And this at a time when racism has never been more discredited and unacceptable politically and socially. Is the United States “systematically racist,” at a time when the country elected a black president twice and currently has a vice president who is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica? What majority-white nation has done likewise?


Murray brilliantly debunks the assertions and propaganda propagated by the high priest and high priestess of anti-racism – Massachusetts’s very own Ibram X. Kendi, tenured professor at Boston University, and Robin DiAngelo, formerly assistant professor at Westfield State University. It’s not easy to argue against tautology — as anyone involved in the culture war knows, all white people are alleged to be racist. And if one claims not to be a racist, that itself is proof of racism. And remaining silent is also a sin, as “silence is violence.”


Murray also levels a devasting critique of The New York Times for its calumny called The 1619 Project, which asserts that the real founding and foundation of America was not at Plymouth Rock in 1620 nor the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but rather in 1619 when the first slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia. Despite articles by some of the most eminent American historians debunking the New York Times project, the paper’s leadership has stuck by the story, and The 1619 Project is, tragically, being taught in high schools across the country.


Murray also shows how so-called “mainstream media” is complicit in seeking to tar the United States with the brush of “systemic racism.” When citizens in the United States were polled and asked how many unarmed black Americans they believed had been shot by the police in 2019, 22 percent of people who identified as “very liberal” said they thought at least 10,000. Among self-identified “liberals,” 40 percent thought that the figure was between one thousand and ten thousand. The actual figure was somewhere around ten. More police officers were assassinated in execution-style killings that year than unarmed blacks killed by police.


Murray also gives examples of how the West’s colonialism and the U.S. treatment of indigenous peoples unleashes the same self-loathing and self-hatred. Two examples make his point. During the COVID shutdowns in the summer of 2020, freshmen at the University of Connecticut were instructed to download an app to their cell phones in which they were told to type in their home address. The app then informed them from which Native American tribe their home had been “stolen.” This propaganda ignores the history of indigenous tribes that warred and triumphed over other tribes, with the winner occupying the land of the loser and not infrequently torturing and burning alive their prisoners, and eating their some of their body parts.


Another priceless example is how the State of Board of Education in California in March 2021 approved a model curriculum in Ethnic Studies for 11,000 California schools that included prayers to Aztec gods. The “affirmations, chants, and energizers” were meant to “bring the class together” and “build unity around ethnic principles and values and reinvigorate the class.” These prayers included an Aztec prayer calling on the name of Aztec gods including a prayer to Tezcatlipoka, who was worshipped by the Aztecs with both human sacrifice and cannibalism. The curriculum also included prayers to Huitzilopochtli, whom Aztecs celebrated accompanied by hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices. Murray questions whether members of the California Board of Education knew what they were doing — but then again, who’s to say they didn’t? Imagine the board’s reaction if someone suggested a curriculum incorporating the Lord’s Prayer.


In his concluding chapters, Murray addresses the importance of gratitude for what the West has brought to mankind. It is a long list, but chief among the benefits and blessings are the dignity and value of the individual, democracy, scientific progress, and, finally, capitalism, which, despite its many imperfections, has been shown empirically to raise many poor people of out poverty wherever it has been tried.


Douglas Murray’s War on the West should be required reading in every high school and college in America. Young people should know the truth about their culture and its achievements.



Robert H. Bradley is Chairman of Bradley, Foster & Sargent Inc., a $5.5 billion wealth management firm that has offices in Hartford, Connecticut and Wellesley, Massachusetts. Read other articles by him here.


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