By Jonathon Van Maren
It seems like it was just yesterday that Dr. Jordan B. Peterson was being raucously mocked for stating that “compelled speech” in the form of requiring the use of recently-invented transgender pronouns was the first step towards totalitarianism. At the time, smug limousine lefties found his “hysteria” to be hilarious. Since then, Peterson has spent much time urgently requesting that people read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s monumental record of the Soviet prison camps, The Gulag Archipelago. Now, a headline in yesterday’s Telegraph appears ripped from his worst nightmares: “Gulags were ‘compassionate’, ‘educational’ institutions, say trans rights campaigners.”
For once, the headline does not qualify as clickbait—the facts are as crazy as they sound. It turns out that trans activists at Goldsmiths University decided to describe the Gulags as “benign places where inmates received education, training, and enjoyed the opportunity to take part in clubs, sports, and theatre groups.” Many of us missed the part in Solzhenitsyn when the slave laborers all headed back to the recreational centre for a lively game of pickup basketball and chess club, so the Telegraph helpfully clarified: “In fact most historians agree they were a brutal network of labour camps used by Stalin’s Soviet dictatorship to incarcerate internal opponents and so-called ‘enemies of the state,’ resulting in the death of more than an estimated 1.05 million people.”
It is fascinating that several decades after the Left was forced to own up to the fact that the Soviet Union they had defended for so long was actually a murderous regime built on blood and terror, that trans activists would resurrect and defend it as a model to follow—specifically because they are attracted to the idea of “re-education” in the Gulag. As the Telegraph explained:
During a bizarre exchange on Twitter the LGBTQ group at Goldsmiths Student Union described life in the Gulags as “rehabilitatory” and “educational.” Paradoxically the thread was written as an apparent justification for an earlier post by the same group which threatened to send a political opponent “to the gulag”.
The threat was made against Claire Graham, a special education needs teacher, who wrote objecting to LGBTQ Goldsmith’s threat to target feminist academics who they claimed were prejudiced against transgender individuals. Trans activists refer to these women by the derogatory term TERFS, claiming they are guilty of hate crimes for their opposition to allowing men undergoing gender transition to use women’s toilets and other female only spaces.
In its Tweets, Goldsmith LGBTQ said: “The ideas of TERFS and anti-trans bigots literally *kill* and must be eradicated through re-education.”
Ms Graham said: “I said that I thought their choice of language, in talking about lists and purging people was intended to shut down debate about trans people and the law. I then received unpleasant and dehumanising threats about being sent to the Gulag. I feel bad for other trans people because this kind of response by some makes them seem so extreme and intolerant.”
Goldsmith LGBTQ subsequently attempted to justify the threat to send Ms Graham to the Gulag by stating that “sending a bigot to one is actually a compassionate, non-violent course of action.”
The Twitter thread went on to state that the CIA had spread “lies” about the Gulag system, adding: “First myth to debunk: ‘u work until u die in gulags!’ The Soviets did away with life sentences and the longest sentence was 10 years. Capital punishment was reserved for the most heinous, serious crimes. The penal system was a rehabilitatory one. The aim was to correct and change the ways of criminals.”
It added: “Much like wider Soviet society, everyone who was ‘able’ to work did so at a wage proportionate to those who weren’t incapacitated and, as they gained skills, were able to move up the ranks and work under less supervision.
“Educational work was also a prominent feature of the Soviet penal system. There were regular classes, book clubs, newspaper editorial teams, sports theatre and performance groups.”
In contrast, mainstream historians have concluded that the gulag system, which reached its peak under Joseph Stalin’s rule, was a system of forced labour camps used to incarcerate a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners – including Stalin’s left-wing, Trotskyist opponents and gay men and women.
Ms Graham said: “The LGBTQ group’s interpretation of the history of the Gulag system is madness.”
Goldsmiths Students’ Union has now suspended the group and withdrawn its support for its activities, saying the Gulag threat – and subsequent refusal by the group to apologise for it – clearly breached the students’ union code of conduct. In a statement backed by Goldsmiths University the students’ union said: “We condemn the abhorrent content of the tweets and they are in complete opposition to the views and values of the Students’ Union.”
Members of Goldsmiths LGBTQ refused to comment when approached by The Daily Telegraph.
It is hard to know whether the trans activists are simply ignorant and stupid, or actually wish that they could set up their own Gulag. Considering their hyped-up rhetoric about their opponents “literally killing” trans people simply by disagreeing with them, which is obviously nonsense, it very much appears as if they do believe mandatory re-education should be implemented. And this is precisely why we should all distrust the trans activists so profoundly: Because they are instinctively and ideologically totalitarian.
Trans activists might be able to rewrite history for their own purposes, but those of us who have actually read about the events and the “re-education camps” they are referring to know precisely what they are up to. They wish to force us to accept their ideology—and they don’t particularly care what they need to do to make that happen.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.