Rhodes hasn’t fallen, but the protesters are making me rethink Britain’s past

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:47 am

The Oxford students have a point. We do need to acknowledge the pain caused by empire

Rhodes Must Fall has failed. Rhodes Must Fall has succeeded. The statue high up on the wall of a college building on the High Street in Oxford will not be removed, instead receding into its former pigeon-spattered obscurity. But the student protest movement has sparked a valuable debate about how Britain deals with its colonial past. I think both these results are good ones.

It was a brilliant stroke of student activism to identify that obscure statue as the target. Every newspaper could print photographs of the honeystone facade in which it stands, looking Brideshead Revisited-cliché Oxford. Dave Spart biffs Evelyn Waugh.

Daily Telegraph readers would predictably chunter and international media pick up the story. The statue was just big enough to command attention and just small enough for there to be a sporting chance of something being done. In the event, Oriel College first said it was going to have a big debate about it and then, reportedly under pressure from donors, abruptly declared the statue would not be taken down – thus giving the Rhodes Must Fall activists an even better story. I foresee a bright political future for these guys.

Unlike the spreading student practice of “no-platforming” in the name of “safe spaces”, I don’t think there is much of a free speech issue here. As the Oxford historian David Priestland pointed out in a panel discussion I organised at the university this week, no one claimed free speech was being infringed when statues of Lenin were taken down across eastern Europe. Rather, this is a perfectly legitimate debate about the politics of memory.

But the Lenin comparison also shows up a difference. Lenin was a prominent symbol of a recent oppression of people in the country where the statue stood. So was a large statue of Cecil Rhodes that stood in front of Cape Town University in South Africa, until the original Rhodes Must Fall movement got it moved last spring.

But this Oxford Rhodes statue was neither genuinely prominent (I have lived in Oxford for years and never even knew it was there), nor a symbol of the recent, brutal oppression of most of those who live here. It is more like an obscure statue of Lenin somewhere in Russia today: a relic and a question to the former imperialists.

The debate about symbols is entirely legitimate, but the arguments for removing this particular symbol from this particular place are not strong enough. There should be a presumption in favour of the continuity of an ensemble of historic buildings in the centre of an old town.

More pertinent and practical might be to demand more Rhodes scholarships for African students, given that the money originally came from Africa. This is something that past and present Rhodes scholars from more privileged parts of the world should support. One of the student activists who spoke up at our debate was a Rhodes scholar from Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). She said she regarded her Rhodes scholarship as a kind of atonement or restitution.

Like so many student movements, this one is both made and marred by its hyperbole. The current list of demands from Oxford’s Rhodes Must Fall movement starts with exhorting the university to “acknowledge and confront its role in ongoing physical and ideological violence of empire”. There is a huge amount that can be said about Oxford’s historic involvement with the British empire, including Rhodes, but implicated in current physical violence of empire? Where? How?

The truly liberal reaction is not to get distracted by this hyperbole but to listen carefully and engage with what the protesters are saying, while resisting anything that would make the university less open, free and pluralist. And they raise some important issues: the representation of people of colour among both faculty and students; the often subtle ways in which students of colour feel not wholly accepted in a university, even when there is no outright discrimination or racism.

Rhodes hasn’t fallen, but the protesters are making me rethink Britain’s past 2516
A statue of Cecil Rhodes is removed at Cape Town University after weeks of protest by students.

Addressing these effectively, not just rhetorically, is quite complicated. There are people at Oxford who spend a lot of time trying to do so, but there is certainly more that we, and other British universities, can do.

The demand that touches me most personally is for “decolonisation of curriculum” and, more broadly, for Britain to face up to its colonial past. My grandfather was a member of the Indian civil service, the small band of men who governed India under the British empire. I have spent much time studying the way countries such as Germany face up to difficult pasts, whether fascist or communist. Only recently did I start wondering whether there was not a little facing up to be done in my own family.

Obviously, I was aware that bad things were done by British imperialists. But I think it is true that one can study history in Britain, and live as a politically conscious citizen here, without being pressingly confronted with this legacy. The British memory of empire is, I think, quite woolly – and that also means soft on ourselves. Unlike in Germany, there is little agonising about what your grandfather might have done. In a very British way, we just don’t talk about it.

This feeling is reinforced by visiting an exhibition at Tate Britain, Artist and Empire. Although its subtitle is Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, the facing in question seems more like peering into something remote, exotic and half-forgotten than confronting something morally difficult. Inevitably, most of what is on display is seen through the eyes of those who were on top, not those who suffered underneath.

A gentle foreword to the catalogue by Paul Gilroy explains why it’s all so complicated. A last room shows some images by the oppressed, or descendants of the oppressed, including an ironical reworking of a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston that still stands prominently in Bristol.

A painting by the black British artist Sonia Boyce is wonderfully entitled Lay Back, Keep Quiet and Think Of What Made Britain So Great. Exactly so. That’s us. It’s not that we can’t find this out if we want to. There are plenty of good books by historians, including some at Oxford. It’s that on the whole we don’t feel urgently compelled to enquire. Or perhaps I had better just speak for myself: I haven’t, until recently.

So thank you, Rhodes Must Fall, for violating my safe space.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/04/rhodes-oxford-students-rethink-british-empire-past-pain



Insightful and well balanced, by Timothy Garton Ash who is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. His personal website is timothygartonash.com. He directs the 13-language website freespeechdebate.com. His latest book is Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:49 am

Glad they told the leftist idiots to get stuffed lol

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:16 pm

I'm glad too. If the students don't like the statue they shouldn't have gone there, and they're free to leave.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:18 pm

Raggamuffin wrote:I'm glad too. If the students don't like the statue they shouldn't have gone there, and they're free to leave.



I mean we see this sort of shit where ISIS are tearing down history

Too allow the same is denying history and trying to eradicate it

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:19 pm

I doubt they care very much anyway - they probably want to make a fuss about something, and it's more interesting to them than studying probably.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:12 pm

Yep, well you ain't one for deep thinking are you.   But that is what students go to university to do, to think deeply and question, not just learn by rote.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:14 pm

sassy wrote:Yep, well you ain't one for deep thinking are you.   But that is what students go to university to do, to think deeply and question, not just learn by rote.

I don't think that includes making a silly fuss about a statue which was there before them.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:17 pm

Well, perhaps the significance is a bit beyond you, never mind.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:21 pm

A statue of Jefferson Davis has been removed from the University of Texas-Austin. Students at the University of Missouri also asked for a statue of Thomas Jefferson - third president of the US - to be taken down as he was a "racist rapist".

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:26 pm

sassy wrote:Well, perhaps the significance is a bit beyond you, never mind.

It's not, but those students are there temporarily, and when they leave they probably won't give it a second thought, other than to say - oh, I was at Oxford you know. New students might not feel the same way as them, so why should these present students be able to bully the university into getting rid of it?

I don't suppose most of the students cared about it until a few decided they were bored and wanted to make a fuss about something, and decided to jump onto the "Rhodes Must Fall" bandwagon. If they want to rant on about Rhodes, they should start a blog.

I suppose you think that the Rhodes Scholarship should be scrapped too. Any student benefiting from that and objecting to the statue should be told they're free to abandon their studies and leave.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:45 pm

One of the student activists who spoke up at our debate was a Rhodes scholar from Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). She said she regarded her Rhodes scholarship as a kind of atonement or restitution.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:49 pm

Noooooo - not the "atonement" crap again.

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Post by nicko on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:28 pm

I though Rhodes paid for the College to be built in the first place. They should be grateful to him. He's given them the chance for a good education. A lot of students don't study as much as they should,they spend time boozing and protesting about things on the streets.
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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:35 pm

He didn't pay for the college to be built.

And the money for the scholarship came from money he got from what he is in Africa, and the African people paid for that.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:41 pm

nicko wrote:I though Rhodes paid for the College to be built in the first place.   They should be grateful to him.   He's given them the chance for a good education.   A lot of students don't study as much as they should,they spend time boozing and protesting about things on the streets.

The Rhodes building, yes. Those benefiting from that and the Scholarship and complaining about the statue need to stop being whiny, spoilt brats and show some gratitude.

It's a good job the statue is high up, otherwise the whiny brats would have defaced it by now.

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:46 pm

Typical regressive lefty

So based on the absurd view point of Sassy we mighty as well take down everyone in history that has a stain on their record

So lets start with Queen Boudica

Rhodes hasn’t fallen, but the protesters are making me rethink Britain’s past Shutterstock_121664005


I mean after all she did sack Colchester and commit genocide to the inhabitants, who being as they were mainly Roman, we must not upset any Italians over this..

Best we get rid of Churchill according tot he maxist Stassi, I mean after all he did nothing to help the millions that starved in India, which as bad as that was, he still managed to being the country of the UK united and saw us through Britains darkest hour. He carried on when others wanted to quit


Rhodes hasn’t fallen, but the protesters are making me rethink Britain’s past Franklin-d-roosevelt-and-winston-churchill-statue-mayfair-by-lawrence-holofcener

Who else do the left want to erase from history because they are that petty minded that they cannot grasp that these statues are a representation of British history and if you do not like it, fuck off to North Korea

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:52 pm

Raggamuffin wrote:
nicko wrote:I though Rhodes paid for the College to be built in the first place.   They should be grateful to him.   He's given them the chance for a good education.   A lot of students don't study as much as they should,they spend time boozing and protesting about things on the streets.

The Rhodes building, yes. Those benefiting from that and the Scholarship and complaining about the statue need to stop being whiny, spoilt brats and show some gratitude.

It's a good job the statue is high up, otherwise the whiny brats would have defaced it by now.


The Rhodes building in Oxford was not built by him.   Rhodes University College, now Rhodes University in Grahamstown in Africa, was established in his name by his trustees and founded by Act of Parliament on 31 May 1904.


And the statue is on Oriel College

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:57 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodes_Scholarship

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:03 pm

sassy wrote:
Raggamuffin wrote:

The Rhodes building, yes. Those benefiting from that and the Scholarship and complaining about the statue need to stop being whiny, spoilt brats and show some gratitude.

It's a good job the statue is high up, otherwise the whiny brats would have defaced it by now.


The Rhodes building in Oxford was not built by him.   Rhodes University College, now Rhodes University in Grahamstown in Africa, was established in his name by his trustees and founded by Act of Parliament on 31 May 1904.


And the statue is on Oriel College

The Rhodes building at Oriel College.

Perhaps you should tell them their sign is wrong then.

http://www.oxfordhistory.org.uk/streets/inscriptions/central/rhodes_oriel.html

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Post by Victorismyhero on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:36 pm

Its the lefty "destroy your country, hate your country" mind set at work

all part of the marxist agenda....

delegitimise your countries past, make the citizens ashamed of their country, (we see this where the union flag is declared racist and demanded to be removed, almost ENTIRELY by "lefty" councils).
allow foreign interests to fly THEIR flag with impunity, DEMAND the impoverishment of your own people, to "attone for the past"


the left will turn britain into a 3rd world shithole....

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Post by Guest on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:39 pm

Rolling Eyes

No.  Learn to understand what we did and the consequences of it and don't go around with rose coloured specs thinking we did everything we did for the good of others.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:41 pm

I'm sure a lot of people have benefited from Rhodes' legacy. They just need to get a life and stop whining.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:42 pm

Anyway, the Rhodes building is listed, so they shouldn't go messing around with it.

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Post by Victorismyhero on Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:53 pm

sassy wrote:Rolling Eyes

No.  Learn to understand what we did and the consequences of it and don't go around with rose coloured specs thinking we did everything we did for the good of others.


so???


and you intend to "right" that by

Its the lefty "destroy your country, hate your country" mind set at work

all part of the marxist agenda....

delegitimise your countries past, make the citizens ashamed of their country, (we see this where the union flag is declared racist and demanded to be removed, almost ENTIRELY by "lefty" councils).
allow foreign interests to fly THEIR flag with impunity, DEMAND the impoverishment of your own people, to "attone for the past"


the left will turn britain into a 3rd world shithole....

this is another reason to get the hell outta the E.U

the left have long (ever since we joined in fact) been in cahoots with the marxist E.U.

to turn Britain into the equivalent of europes sewer, where it can dump all its rubbish.....

WHY ELSE would illegal migrants head STRAIGHT for calais and hopefully britain (nothing to do with refugees this )

and why did the rest of the EU quite openly facilitate this.....

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Post by Raggamuffin on Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:18 pm

I wonder how many of these daft students even knew there was a statue of Rhodes up there before all this drama. Laughing

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