Under the Boris Johnson government there has been growing interventionism on how racism and antisemitism are defined and what schools and universities can teach. Guidelines have been introduced which curtail the use of critical race theory and require the acceptance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.
The guidance produced by the Department for Education bars schools from using resources produced by organisations that take “extreme political stances”, which, from their point of view, could potentially include groups like Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Labour. More than 80 leading academics have criticised the government for misrepresenting critical race theory in their crackdown on teaching materials in schools. Such government interventions can have the effect of stifling debate and critical thinking.
Similar issues would seem to be at work in the scandal which has been dubbed ‘Operation Trojan Horse’. In this case, the educational authorities alleged that there was a conspiracy involving organised attempts by teachers to introduce an “Islamist” and “Salafist” ethos in several schools in Birmingham. In addition, the government’s Minister of Education, Gavin Williamson, has written to all UK universities’ Vice-Chancellors, pressurising them to adopt the controversial IHRA ‘working definition of antisemitism’, threatening them with sanction if they do not do this by December.
This webinar engages with questions such as:
What are the forms that racisms take in Britain today? How do we understand the policies and practices which have been developed to address racisms? What are the central issues relating to the role of the EHRC and how do we tackle racisms in different forms? How should we tackle antisemitism as a form of racism given the adoption of the IHRA definition formally by the Commission?