Trinity College’s Historical debating Society, commonly known as The Hist, has a rather comfy position within the university resting on its laurels after centuries in operation. The quarter of a millennia old student society has acted as something of an incubator for public figures in this country, from Edmund Burke to Mary Robinson and everything ideologically in-between.
The society has recently been cashing in on its history as part of its celebratory quarter of a century milestone, peaking with an address by President Higgins and the prerequisite brown-nosing editorial from the Irish Times.
While genuinely a wholesome occasion to lovingly remember the society’s distinguished history, recent developments pertaining to the fallout over claims of racism in the society points to an institutional damp running rampant in the college circuit.
Controversy has arisen over claims of institutional racism forwarded by events convenor and former candidate for next year’s auditorship Gabrielle Fullam. This has resulted in some bitchy interactions in print and across social media.
The basic claim levelled against The Hist was that it has been dangerously humouring the far-right and marginalising voices of colour over the course of the last year or so. An oversubscription of straight white male committee members and the invitation of noted white separatist Nigel Farage given as reasons among others.
At this point it should be noted that, by itself, this kerfuffle should be of little note. Ireland has been well integrated into the tiresome global culture war since the middle of the last decade regarding identity politics and those that would oppose it.
What distinguishes this collegial dogfight is that the Hist represents an important organ in the training of Ireland’s managerial class. The auditors of today proceed to become the civil servants and journalists of tomorrow.
Whatever SJW power grab we see in their debating halls now will play itself out in the corridors of power and influence in years to come. Hence the need to observe and influence it if possible.
In a public manifesto the grievances of Ms Fullam were outlined alongside a platform to reengineer the Hist along more inclusive lines.
These included unconscious bias training, anti-racist working groups made up solely of non-White students as well as total integration of the society into left wing activist groups. In addition was the abolishment of the black-tie dress code that the society enforces.
Ms Fullam, who looks almost as white and pasty as the author penning this piece is indicative of an atrophy that is occurring in college and public life. An Americanised form of identity politics as puerile as it is alien to Ireland, which would be funny if it hadn’t captured aspects of the college by the proverbial short and curlies.
The actions and potential boycotting from the Fullams of this world will likely only help the far-right in the long run. Nigel Farage and his ilk has and will continue to reshape politics and ham-fisted denouncements and protesting from college educated crazies will merely act as more fuel to the fire.
Colleges the world over are increasingly becoming an academic and professional warehousing effort of the absolute dregs of left politics. The Hist may have its debates festooned in the logos of corporate sponsorship, but the tone of conversation is concordant from a People Before Profit struggle session.
The chamber in which Thomas Davis orated on the virtues of patriotism is now the nesting ground of those wishing merely to fill up aspects of their Linkedin profile, or promote the absolute worst aspects of identity politics.
Hist committee members are undeserving of their august chambers and history. Fullam’s demands, while initially rejected, will invariably meander themselves into becoming Hist policy in a few years.
Real debate has retreated long ago to the province of the Internet, more often than not in places frowned upon by our elites.
The Hist has a revered place within Irish life, but as the equivalent of a very geriatric grandfather in the throws of dementia, the potential embrace of identity politics may be the last straw.
Whatever importance debating societies like the Hist formerly had is quickly drying up. Even if it retains a decent brand name, for the Hist is to have any relevance in the 21st century it must begin to combat the now cultish left wing personality disorders wanting to give it its marching orders.