Britain’s secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has apologized for firing prominent conservative philosopher and writer Sir Roger Scruton over an interview with the New Statesman that initially made him appear anti-Semitic and Islamophobic.
In the initial controversial report from the interview published in April, Scruton, 75, was quoted as saying there was a “[George] Soros empire in Hungary” but the report did not include that he continued: “It's not necessarily an empire of Jews, that's such nonsense.”
He was also quoted as saying “each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one,” but it was later accepted he was criticizing the Chinese Communist Party rather than Chinese people themselves.
Scruton was also accused of saying Islamophobia is a “propaganda word” but it was later revealed that he also said: “Muslims who settle into the Meccan way of life are obviously perfect citizens. They have the inner serenity that the citizen should have. We ought to learn to appreciate that – and encourage it.”
The New Statesman has since apologized to Scruton, saying tweets about the interview “did not accurately represent his views.”
“After its publication online, links to the article were tweeted out together with partial quotations from the interview – including a truncated version of the quotation regarding China above. We acknowledge that the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage. We apologize for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger,” the publication said.
Prior to the controversy, Scruton had served as chair of Britain’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which was formed in November 2018 to "raise the level of debate regarding the importance of beauty" in new housing development.
On July 13, in an apology published by The Spectator, Brokenshire offered to rehire the philosopher to continue his work with the commission.
“I … welcome that the New Statesman has now published a correction to their original article of your interview with them which did not represent your views fairly and fully in the way that it should have,” Brokenshire said.
“As you know, I regret that the decision to remove you from your leadership role within the Commission was taken in the way that it was. I am sorry – especially as it was based on a clearly partial report of your thoughts.
"Following the publication of the Interim Report I am now considering the next phase of the Commission’s work. If you would be willing, I would like to invite you to meet to discuss this work and what part you might be prepared to play in advancing this important agenda which we both care about so much,” he added.
In a statement on the clarification of his comments, Scruton said he was thankful but had been particularly distressed by his firing.
“This experience was very unpleasant, not least on account of the rush to judgment by others in the media and in politics. I was particularly distressed by the behavior of the Minister who sacked me on the strength of the NS article, without asking me whether it accurately represented anything that I had said,” he explained.
“I was also astonished by the comments issued from Number Ten Downing Street, and by the fact that the Conservative Party made no collective effort to defend me. I am grateful to the New Statesman at least for this, that these distressing events have awoken me to the true moral crisis of the Party to which, despite everything, I still belong,” he added.