The Lasting Legacy of the Trojan Horse

April 2019

The Greek myth of the Trojan Horse, a story of deception and subterfuge, wherein a wooden horse is presented as a gift to the Trojan goddess Athene, is embedded in our consciousness. Of course, we all know that the horse was full of Greek soldiers whose purpose was to gain entrance to Troy for the purpose of destroying it.

The myth of the Trojan Horse has endured through history, and while the concept has surely applied throughout history, it is exemplified in modern times by imperialist tactics of sending “advisors” to intervene in offshore disruptions, and to exert the imperialist agendas under the guise of aid. The use of “Trojans” in the computer world refers to misleading users of the true intent of the offerings. These malicious programs are usually simply schemes to defraud people of money, but the trick has broader applications in the area of ideology.

A glaring example is the recent appearance of “secular chaplains” at Mount Royal University. Such a blatant oxymoron should be recognized for its obvious deception and invasive intent but, like the naive, mythical Trojans, this attempt to bypass MRU’s secular status is accommodated as an amicable compromise. This secular disguise was used recently to cancel an event, organized by the Atheist Society of Calgary, featuring the atheist ex-Muslim speaker Armin Navabi who recently spoke at the University of British Columbia. Navabi’s presentation, titled “We must defeat Islam,” has no connection and makes no reference to the recent killings in New Zealand mosques, as the chaplains claimed. At the Navabi event, I was struck by the apparent contradiction of overt criticism of Islam, and support for Muslims. Surely Muslims are the representation of Islam; if it weren’t for them the Qur’an would be as irrelevant as Mein Kampf. Navabi’s severe criticism of Islam was the Trojan Horse that brought the audience into acceptance of Muslims and thus the maintenance of the religion.

A further example of this pretention is the Unitarian Church. The church, accepting members from all ideological backgrounds, even encourages atheists under the pretense of not believing in a “spiritual existence outside this world”. However, Unitarians do have faith - a contradiction of their claim to value reason. The real aim is the obstruction of the exponential momentum of rational thinking, thinking that demands evidence for beliefs, into a collective that accepts anything, except rational thought.

Mimicry of the subterfuge is in the climate-change denier movement. Industry sponsored organizations and corrupt scientists misrepresent themselves with names like “American Institute of Biological Sciences”, “Global Warming Policy Foundation”, “International Union for the Conservation of Nature,” and “World Wide Fund for Nature” – all fronts for fossil fuel and associated industries. The latter is a shameless attempt to be mistaken for the science-driven World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

A most recent Trojan Horse occurrence is the reversal of the philosopher Charles Taylor’s position on the Quebec secularism bill. The Bouchard-Taylor Commission report (2007) upheld the barring of wearing religious symbols by persons in positions of coercive authority in public institutions. Having established himself as an intrinsic authority on all questions of reason, Taylor is now upheld as the final word against the recommendations of the report he co-authored. The horse’s belly has opened, and Taylor’s deception has spilled out.

The postmodern objective, of intercepting progressive initiatives, is at the core of the contemporary Trojan Horse phenomenon. It is through adherence to the values of The Enlightenment – reason and critical thought – that the reactionary subterfuge of the contemporary Trojan Horse will be excluded from our rational space.