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Let the dead bury the dead

By Bo

I lay awake recently turning the recent victory for archaeological research at Avebury over in my mind. It seems to me that the background hum, as it were, to the development of the ‘reburial controversy’ is the unexpected growth of an anti-intellectual streak amongst modern UK Pagans, particularly among druids. This, I think, essentially constitutes a delayed outbreak of recidivist footstamping at Ronald Hutton’s flinging back the grubby curtains of fakelore to let the light into the dank caravan of pseudohistory. I’m not sure that this reactionary backsliding is necessarily conscious, and Hutton himself as always has done a splendid job of remaining on cordial terms with all sides. But I detect a general sense from some parts of the British Pagan spectrum that something has obscurely been taken from them, an undertow of anger at the perceived whittling-away of whatever mystique they felt they once possessed. Thus, the controversy about the excavation and retention of ancient human remains is a kind of flashpoint for a much more inchoate sense of aggrieved belittlement amongst a small section of self-identified Pagans.

This sense of disgruntlement has dovetailed unfortunately with the disturbing New Labour fondness for desecularising public discourse in the UK, persuading policy-makers, as Blair might have said, to ‘do God.’ Today’s constant, nauseating invocation of ‘Faith’ is in part a misguided response to Muslim sensitivities (often more perceived than actual), which have been the dynamo for such legal precedents as have come to pass. In my opinion, the correct response to a developing multifaith society should be an absolute insistence on the secularism of the public realm, as in France. But the British, alas, have always preferred the incremental, well-meaning fudge to the crisp articulation of unbending principle. As a result, we have allowed a situation to develop in which the state forks out money for Papal visits, allows female Muslim medical staff to wear disposable sleeves instead of washing their forearms like everyone else, and in which, I might add, a tiny bunch of druids can waste thousands of pounds of public money.

Read the original article at: Pagans for Archaeology

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