Readers' Letters: Rush to back diversity is a threat to freedom

Although I took issue with Sir Geoff Palmer in the controversy over the symbolism of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, I must applaud his stance over James Gillespie's High School curriculum move on 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (your report, 8 July).

Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird is now verboten at one Scottish school (Picture: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird is now verboten at one Scottish school (Picture: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Indeed, when he says that we need to look at racism and explain it to help us better understand it, we come very close to a meeting of minds. In a November 2014 You Gov poll on what people considered “the most valuable books to humanity”, the Harper Lee novel was considered sixth in the top ten. The others were the Bible, Origin of the Species, A Brief History of Time, Principia Mathematica, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Theory of Relativity, The Wealth of Nations, the Koran, and the Double Helix. I do not claim that these texts are beyond criticism. But the James Gillespie' school staff still have a lot of explaining to do by publicly declaring that Ms Lee's book is dated and promotes a "white saviour” narrative.

The headlong rush to show support for diversity is slowly becoming a threat to literature and freedom. It brings to mind George Orwell's Ministry of Truth where cadres work hard to rewrite history and remove references that the party machine may find offensive. Surely pupils in all schools are entitled to be aware of attitudes that were prevalent many decades ago and might even persist today. To remove a novel from the curriculum because it depicts a white lawyer putting a strong case on behalf of a black client is dogmatic and narrow. The abolition of slavery needed vigilance from many white and black campaigners; modern race relations was pioneered by people of different races.

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All schools need to keep their curriculum up to date. It should be done in a way that adds to the sum total of knowledge and understanding and avoids the charge that they want to rewrite history and provide pupils with only one point of view.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes

Self-sabotage

The English department of James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh has “cancelled” To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. Where did these gods acquire the hallowed knowledge empowering them to pontificate so assuredly and definitively on such matters? If it is the result of reading books like those they have cancelled they have knowingly sabotaged the very means whereby their students may gain similar knowledge.

Doug Clark, Currie, Midlothian

Cruel move

Murdo Fraser (Perspective, 7 July) ignores the dangers Sajid Javid and Boris Johnson are playing with in the wholesale and sudden removal of public safeguards to reduce Covid.

Javid himself has said he is in unchartered territory and the UK move has been criticised by medical experts. People in the UK now face an increase In Covid, including of variants – and more illness and death. Only half the population is fully vaccinated and teenagers and many key workers are not vaccinated. With open borders and air travel, variants multiply while vaccines cannot keep pace. The NHS is likely to buckle under new infections, the delayed non-Covid cases and continuing cuts, and the economy will be hurt. But this is the government gamble.

As the world looks on in dismay, Scotland cannot close it borders as it is tied to reckless Westminster and variants and infections continue to arrive. The test and trace system is better than the privatised Serco system in England and the NHS is still public in Scotland, but under increasing pressure. The Tories are ruthlessly cutting, also privatising the NHS in England and aiming to sell it off in a trade deal including the NHS in Scotland.

Scotland needs to be independent to be able to protect its public NHS, under major threat from Johnson and to protect the health of its population. The Westminster government has no care for public health, nor for the devolved nations /democracy nor for people dying.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh

Think clearly

Murdo Fraser’s desperation to bash the Scottish Government leaves him serving up the usual hodgepodge of statements which are at loggerheads with each other. The Scottish Government gets it in the neck for apparently not doing enough to discourage travel to the Scotland and England game and yet in the same article he is happy to accept an end to wearing masks and social distancing, which, in the current situation, are empowering and life-saving measures.

He mentions that Scotland's Covid rates are the highest in the UK without explaining the reason he surely knows only too well. Last summer Scotland almost eradicated the virus, but without the ability to close our border we are now dealing with the Delta variant, from which we have less herd immunity than in England, where the virus is more widespread.

His next target is Scotland’s Test and Protect system which, while it has room for improvement, has performed incomparably better than the abject Test and Trace system inflicted upon NHS England by the Tories' favourite health privatiser, Serco.

One of the reasons Murdo’s party is so little trusted in Scotland is deceitful nonsense like this. Less political opportunism please, and more clear thinking, when discussing the way forward through this pandemic.

Jim Daly, Edinburgh

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Uncaring cuts

Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has confirmed that the Conservatives intend to cut Universal Credit (UC) by £20 per week. Coffey will be writing to all six million claimants telling them the Tories have deemed they are getting too much money. Boris Johnson wants to put the Union Flag on all Westminster projects. He can start with these letters. The propaganda is that this measly amount to those with the least is “unaffordable”. This from the Tories who have given billions to their cronies for no-bid Covid-19 contracts that either were wholly inadequate or failed to deliver anything of value. The Tories are preparing for a new round of austerity under the guise of “sorting out” the public finances. However, as proponents of Modern Monetary Theory have pointed out, as the UK has a sovereign currency (Sterling), deficits and debt don't matter as the UK is borrowing from itself.

The Tories like to confuse people by getting them to think of the national budget like a household budget. This is wrong. Since 2008 the Bank of England has pumped hundreds of billions into the financial system to keep the banks afloat. Austerity, therefore, is a choice not a necessity.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee

Diving medals

When did sport become about winning at all cost? Like many I suspect, I was not convinced about the winning England penalty on Wednesday night. Even Alan Shearer had to admit that he would have been “pretty angry if that penalty was given against England”.

These delayed Euros have been plagued by diving and cheating of the referees. While England are not the only culprits, their forwards looked as if they had been coached by Olympic diver Tom Daley. I may sound bitter – but only because I am. I’m not bitter about England winning, but I am bitter that we are seeing a game that we love being turned into a farce by these Bambi-like ‘super stars’.

There is a solution. Let them swan off and play in a new European Super League, where they can dive about in a new form of the sport, but give us back the game we love. England may be winning, but at the cost of us losing our favourite sport.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Knives out

The support for England at the Euros is reaching fever pitch. The Prince of Wales arranged for that fine English regiment, the Coldstream Guards, to play Football’s Coming Home on the lawn in front of his house. We must ask ourselves, “would Scotland be the same if we had been in the semi-final”. Almost certainly yes, the difference between the two nations is what would happen if England fail to win the trophy.

We know from previous tournaments that the knives would be out for their excellent manager and team, big time, Seventy minutes into the England versus Germany game at Wembley, with the score at nil nil, the reputation of the players and managers was being torn to pieces. However, after a couple of goals for England the team had been transformed from a bunch of no-hopers to world champions. It was ever thus.

We can say, from numerous bitter experiences, Scotland’s reaction to defeat is much realistic, healthier and generally phlegmatic, but, I dare say, we have had more practice.

Vincent McCann, Edinburgh

Good luck!

The less than gracious reception north of Hadrian's Wall to England's men's national football team finally overcoming their over-half-a-century hoodoo is not merely sour grapes towards the Auld Enemy but everything to do with the self-inflicted poverty of the Scottish football experience.Despite the money men, most English football fans still support doggedly their local club from the cradle to the grave: weaned to accept stoicly the perpetual chase, the annual forlorn dream that maybe this could be their year.

The majority of Scottish football fans, by contrast, are fickle creatures aggrieved when their half of the odious Old Firm finishes “only” second in the league or “only” reaches a cup final without winning it. It's impossible for them thus to appreciate the ecstasy of those fleeting moments of triumph.Enjoy the final England fans, you deserve it.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Plunging hopes

Will the land of the Divas or land of the Divers triumph ?

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

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