We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Spartacus writes to the Times


The historian Andrew Graham-Dixon has just been blacklisted by Keir Bradwell, president of the Cambridge Union, for doing a Hitler impression, which is something that almost all of us have done occasionally over the past 80 years. I have written to Mr Bradwell to ask him to put me on his blacklist, and I wish to use the letters page of The Times to urge all historians, writers, artists, scientists and public intellectuals to write to any student union, academic or public institution that practises cancel culture, demanding to be put on their blacklist. I also call on them to boycott these institutions absolutely.

Louis de Bernières
Denton, Norfolk

Mr de Bernières is the author of the historical novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

I am not sure if this is in response to the call from Mr de Bernières or not, but John Cleese, having done a famous Hitler impression himself in a 1975 episode of Fawlty Towers, has blacklisted himself from the Cambridge Union “before someone else does”.

24 comments to Spartacus writes to the Times

  • staghounds

    Thank goodness the news outlets have protected us from knowing just what Graham-Dixon did.

  • Thoughts:

    * John Cleese was scheduled to speak at the Cambridge Union, so his pointed self-cancellation impacts what they do, not just how they look. Well done, John!

    * That said, I agree with Louis de Bernières that it would be just for Keir Bradwell and/or the Cambridge Union to receive a ton of communications from people cancelling themselves merely as a precaution lest they ever be invited, and/or informing them of other Hitler impersonators (presumably every maker of a Downfall video should be on the list – along with whoever is planning to make a meta-Downfall video out of this 🙂 ).

    * I think it is possible the majority of the UK have mimicked der Führer on occasion. The habit of ridiculing a silly command from on-high by standing stiffly, affected a Germanic accent and saying (for example) “It iss ein order!” is common enough. (Indeed, I have done it myself – better alert the Cambridge Union never to invite me.)

    * How, I wonder, did the very white and male Hitler manage to get himself added to the PC list of those who must not be mocked? Except for the very debatable question of whether Adolf could claim the B, or even the G, from the LGBTQERTY parade, I can’t see any intersectionality points he holds (unless it’s being very onboard with BDS, and having assured the Mufti of Jerusalem that Germany’s sole task on reaching the area would be to effect “from the river to the sea”). The woke keep trying to kill comedy, but what their left hand taketh away their right hand giveth again.

  • staghounds

    Also, what is the deal with the five women clustered around, yet all below, the Chair?

    Is this some sexist outrage?

    Mr. Cleese is right. Laugh at them.

  • Paul Marks

    I have never done a Hitler impression – but please-please-please pretty please with a cherry on top, put me on this “blacklist” (how “racist”) – it would love to be in the distinguished company of the people on the “blacklist”.

  • Paul Marks

    As for these Frankfurt School of Marxism types with their “Diversity and Inclusion” (i.e. uniformity and exclusion) “Cancel Culture” (which now dominates the Corporations and much else), you have made your choice.

    In the end a totalitarian society always turns on its own supporters and so, eventually, you will get the end you so richly deserve. Not from me (not at all – I will not harm a hair on your little heads), but from your own “friends”.

  • XC

    I would like to point out that Cleese’s most famous Hitler imitation came after being hit by a falling moose head.

    Proving, once again, that Canadian Beer caused WWII.


  • Snorri Godhi

    John Cleese did an addditional Hitler impression in Monty Python iirc.

    Niall: Hitler gets an additional inter-sectionality point by being a vegetarian.

  • John

    Didn’t the Duke of Sussex once perform an ill-advised Hitler impersonation?


    If his easily triggered wife was unaware of this cancellable offence I’m sure her father should be able to provide the details when they next chat.

  • Stonyground

    Long before any of the woke nonsense kicked off, I came to the conclusion that you can identify stupid people by the fact that they don’t understand the concept of satire. The level of stupidity required not to realise that taking the piss out of Hitler doesn’t mean that you are a Nazi has to be off the scale.

  • X Trapnel

    I think it’s beginning to look a lot like the reaction of real Nazis to the lampooning of the real Führer.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Maybe I am blacklisted will become the 2021 equivalent of I am Spartacus.

    Incidentally, shouldn’t the truly progressive use the term ‘of-colour-listed’ instead?

  • APL

    Niall Kilmartin: “How, I wonder, did the very white and male Hitler manage to get himself added to the PC list of those who must not be mocked?”

    Because in the insane world that those on the ‘Left’ now inhabit, mocking an individual, by exaggerated mimicry of his/her mannerisms, means you sympathize with that persons political beliefs or goals.

    Obviously, by that token the BBC series ‘allo allo’, is cast iron evidence of fascists sympathizers in the BBC.

    Given that the extreme left and extreme right merge into one totalitarian whole at their, er.. well, extremes. The whole series was simply an example of ‘confession by projection’. Ta da! See how that works?

  • bobby b

    “Zerren Yeoville
    November 11, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    “Maybe I am blacklisted will become the 2021 equivalent of I am Spartacus.”

    I have a hat that says “Twitter banned me!” It’s a point of pride. I’d buy that “I was blacklisted” tee-shirt in an instant.

  • Eric Tavenner

    Snorri and Naill
    He was also an avid conservationist and rabid anti smoker.

  • Fraser Orr

    Snorri Godhi
    @Niall: Hitler gets an additional inter-sectionality point by being a vegetarian.

    And another for being an underappreciated artist.

  • bobby b

    I wonder if they’d allow Alan Rickman to speak? Severus Snape was quite evil, I hear.

  • Mr Ecks

    Bobby B–That would be a feat considering Alan Rickman is dead.

    Piss on the Cambridge Union.

  • Mike Solent

    Having reciprocal membership of the Cambridge Union I, too, have chosen to blacklist myself. This decision has been communicated, albeit pseudonymously, via the comments section on a Times online article on Mr de Berniere’s letter. Many others have done the same.

  • bobby b

    “Bobby B–That would be a feat considering Alan Rickman is dead.”

    That’s what he wants you to think. Start looking for horcruxes.

  • Aw Fraser, you beat me to it. I was going to point out Hitler was an artist.
    I guess I’ll just have to add that he was a Conservationist then. See, he gets at least three intersectionality points: struggling artist, vegetarian, and conservationist. Oh! And used Essential Oils extensively.

    But he loses points for imitating Chaplin’s mustache. Cultural Appropriation there. Stick with the Kaiser-stache, Heir Hitler!

    He also loses a few more Intersectionality points for having a hand in some of the mid-century unpleasantness.
    (Sarcasm shields up; phasers set to lampoon and torpedoes ready to taunt!)

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    That’s what he wants you to think. Start looking for horcruxes.

    Spoiler alert — Severus Snape wasn’t evil, he was just a grumpy old bastard.

  • bobby b

    Yeah, but I couldn’t remember the name of the actor who played Voldemort.

    Tough crowd.

  • Flubber

    Ralph Fiennes

  • Hugh

    He had to trim his ‘tache to get his gas mask on.
    It didn’t really work, he was still gassed.