25 January 2016

Oxford and Cecil Rhodes

Oriel College’s Rhodes Building,
with statue of Cecil Rhodes
Speaking at the ceremony to swear in Professor Louise Richardson as [Oxford University’s] new vice-chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes made a thinly-disguised attack on the campaign to remove the statue [of Cecil Rhodes] from Oriel College, which students say promotes racism.

… Chancellor Patten said: ‘Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been, according to our contemporary views and prejudices. We work, study and sleep in great buildings, many of which were constructed with the proceeds of activities that would be rightly condemned today.’ …

Cecil Rhodes died in 1902 and left two per cent of his fortune to Oriel College, which funded a new building on High Street. But students have demanded the college’s statue of him be removed, describing the former mining magnate and politician in South Africa as a ‘racist and murderous colonialist’.
(Oxford Times, 14 January 2016)
Lord Patten of Barnes refers to certain activities, presumably including those of Cecil Rhodes, as being ‘rightly condemned today’.

The activities of Cecil Rhodes were in accordance with the ideology and laws of their time. Lord Patten seems to be implying that they would not be in accordance with the ideology and laws of the present time. His comments suggest a belief that the current ideology and laws are more ‘right’ than those of a century ago.

Many things happening in the world today are in accordance with the prevailing ideology of their environment. It often seems to be considered inappropriate to condemn such things, possibly on account of egalitarian principles.

At some future time, attitudes might have changed in such a way that Chancellor Patten could be condemned for having condemned the activities of Cecil Rhodes.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.