Friday, 29 January 2016

Rhodes must not fall

Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College
he can stay right where he is.

Oriel College, Oxford, one of my old Alma Maters, has finally seen sense and decided that they are not going to take down the statue of Cecil Rhodes (after whom that dead lion must have been named... where else do you think the name Cecil comes from in Zimbabwe??).

A lion, perhaps called Cecil, perhaps named after Cecil Rhodes
The statement can be read here. I actually don't want to criticise Oriel. I think that they were caught on the hop and then they froze in the headlights of the oncoming 'historical racism' van. Let's face it without Rhodes Oriel by now really would be Christ Church's back shed. With the Rhodes' cash she could spread her wings physically, through the buildings it financed, and academically, by being associated with the Rhodes Scholars. Had none of that happened then all those people who now in such a tedious 'right-on' student way have decided to raise their voices, they would not be at Oriel. It would have been even smaller than it is now, and infinitely less significant.

A fitting tribute to Cecil Rhodes
(Rhodes is disguised as a lion)
I suppose it is in the DNA of students to find a cause. How I remember my own student days campaigning for the repeal of the corn laws. As I type this I am sitting in the library at Durham, and I am sure that a few around me would willingly sign up for some weird thing or other, but I have a horror of destroying the past. Why should Rhodes be pulled down more than anyone else?

Thank goodness sense prevailed. And I'm sure that it had nothing to do with the threatened withdrawal of millions of pounds in legacies.

But even if it did, I just know that Rhodes would have approved!


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