Dan Hannan writes in The Telegraph:
With some embarrassed throat-clearing, Oriel College has announced that it won’t, after all, be tearing down the statue of its controversial Victorian benefactor, Cecil Rhodes. A small knot of angry students had been demanding that the offending stonework be removed, because they suffered “violence” every time they had to walk past it. Rhodes, they said, was a racist, an imperialist and a symbol of colonial oppression.
Unbelievably, instead telling them to mind their own business, the authorities at my former college launched a consultation exercise about what to do with the statue. The wholly unsurprising answer came back, from students and former students of all ethnic backgrounds, that the statue should stay. Most Orielenses understood, even if the protesters didn’t, that accepting a bequest in 1902, and honouring the benefactor, doesn’t mean endorsing his opinions today.
Exactly. Should we tear down the statues of George Washington because he owned slaves?
James Delingpole also writes:
The #RhodesMustFall campaign by loony entitled race hustlers to topple a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford, of one of the university’s most generous benefactors has failed.
Donors were so furious at Oriel College’s cowardice in the face of this student activism that they threatened to withdraw millions of pounds in bequests.
Right decision; wrong reason.
The Oriel College authorities could have said no to #RhodesMustFall because it was orchestrated by a bunch of chippy, ungrateful, politically correct, spoilt, vexatious, posturing bullies with connections to some of the most viciously unpleasant elements in the cess pool of South African politics.
They could have argued that Cecil Rhodes was a man of his time and that it’s quite ludicrous to judge a hero of the Great Imperial Age by the standards of the age of safe spaces, “Islamophobia” and Caitlyn Jenner.
They could have stood up for the principle that students may come and go but the fabric of the University and the generosity of its benefactors must remain inviolate from wanky posturing by early twentysomethings whose frontal lobes haven’t been properly formed.
Instead, though, Oriel College’s decision was motivated not by high principle but by terror and desperation at losing so much money.
Oxford University is no the institution it once was. They should have just ignored the radical activists, rather than give them legitimacy. The end result is Oriel College looks silly.