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Desc:Oxford bows to a couple rich old racists.
Category:Educational, Business
Tags:Oxford University, Oriel College, Cecil Rhodes, money buys anything
Submitted:SolRo
Date:02/01/16
Views:630
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Comment count is 25
The Mothership
I am no lover of many of the less tolerant and sometimes in retrospect embarrassing figures who founded or endowed institutions of higher learning.

But the recent spate of damnatio memoriae against these figures is a willful rejection of the values of higher education, which seek to understand.

Keep these assholes' statues up, and never forget that they are assholes.

SolRo
Counterpoint: how many Lenin or Stalin statues do you see in east Berlin?

Let these racist assholes be a dark chapter in some history book, not imortalized in public view.

EvilHomer
Hey SolRo, what are your thoughts on Muslim regimes destroying Buddhist statues?

SolRo
What are your thoughts on me shoving my cock balls-deep down your throat?

baleen
There's a Lenin statue (imported from Russia after the fall of USSR) 2 miles from where I'm sitting. It is routinely egged by Slavs and Eastern Europeans who live here. It routinely becomes a centerpiece of the "destroy all bad statues" debate.

It's a beautiful piece of art. The craftsmanship is unbelievable.
In a hundred years, nobody will remember the pain it caused.
At the same time, those still living who suffered under Soviet bloc oppression find it offensive and unpleasant.

I feel for them, at the same time, it's art, and art can be offensive.
It's a situation where I feel there is often no correct answer.

EvilHomer
Yes yes, that IS the sort of level at which you typically think and argue, but please focus Mr SolRo. You have stated a position, now you need to defend it - or at least think it through.

What are your thoughts on Muslim regimes destroying Buddhist statues?

SolRo
@baleen

Even something like that is denied to the ancestors (and people sympathetic to them) of Rhodes' victims. He's up there on a literal pedestal, protected from vandalism by a net, because rich old racists are more precious and need more protection than communist leaders.

EvilHomer
The whole reason the net is there is precisely *because* people want to vandalize the statue. And evidently he's not considered to be "in more need of protection", because nobody is seriously contemplating destroying baleen's statue of Lenin. Besides, do you really think Cecil Rhodes was anywhere near the level of Lenin? Lenin, like Rhodes, was an ardent imperialist, and because of him, nearly half of Europe was colonized, oppressed, and subjected to the single largest program of systematic mass-murder in human history. Not just South Africa, but the entire world suffered under the yoke of Russian colonialism - and yet, there in baleen's backyard, Lenin's statue remains.

Ultimately, this comes down to the age-old argument over iconoclasm; should societies commit damnatio memoriae against figures and artwork deemed offensive to the current moral standards of the time, or should societies strive to remain objective and preserve history, warts and all? You are not a liberal, so I honestly don't expect you to give much weight to policies of tolerance and historical restraint, but you should at least be willing to accept the ramifications of what you profess to stand for - hence why I ask whether you'd be willing to grant Muslims the exact same behavioral leeway you're so eager to grant yourself. If not, then maybe you should re-examine your motives?

I'd also be curious as to whether you'd be willing to expand this "let's purge the racists" crusade to ALL racists? Is Cecil Rhodes, the soft-news flavour-of-the-week, the beginning and the end of the matter so far as you're concerned, or would you be willing to carry The Good Fight to other historical figures?

Bort
"Lenin, like Rhodes, was an ardent imperialist, and because of him, nearly half of Europe was colonized, oppressed, and subjected to the single largest program of systematic mass-murder in human history."

That was more Stalin's bag, though Lenin has a hell of a lot of blood on his hands too (i.e. the Great Famine).

Anaxagoras
The Mothership:

What? Having a statue somewhere doesn't say "This man existed." Rather, it's declaring that they're good, admirable people. That's why you see statues of people like Lincoln, Peter the Great, or Napoleon, and not so many statues of Hitler & Pol Pot.

Taking the statue down doesn't erase the asshole from history; it just acknowledges that we now recognize that he wasn't such a great guy. Leaving the statue up, on the other hand, says the opposite.

Anaxagoras
@ EvilHomer:
If you're worried about iconoclasm, just recontextualize the statue by moving it to a museum. It can still be viewed as a work of art & commemoration of a shitty person that existed w/out exalting him; museums are chock full of busts & paintings of terrible people.

dairyqueenlatifah
What's racist about wanting to preserve history and not forget it so that we aren't doomed to repeat it? Is keeping Thomas Jefferson and George Washington on our money racist because they owned black slaves?

You aren't retroactively softening the blow of history by pretending it never happened; all you're doing is a disservice to all the people who fought and struggled and suffered through it all by sweeping their story under the rug to appease your own misplaced feelings.
SolRo
Unsurprisingly only stupid white racists are claiming that this statue is an important piece of history and that removing it would be covering up the suffering he caused.

Two Jar Slave
It's an interesting debate, and I don't fall hard to one side or the other. Both sides are accusing the other of trying to rewrite history.

But one thing to think about is the way in which the statue would be removed, and how that changes things. For example, removing the statue as part of a public event involving lectures on harmful colonial legacy would be different from, say, stealing it away in the night and replacing it with a nondescript piece of corporate art.

Symbolic events, such as public apologies for past atrocities or the removal of images of historical wrongdoing, can acknowledge victims' histories, help with healing, and send strong political message about the present intentions of an institution. So, while I'm not sure whether or not to leave statues of racists up, I don't really buy the "Leave it up and acknowledge history OR Take it down and erase history" lightswitch.

SolRo
lol, you one-star like a bitch

SolRo
not you, jar slave

Bort
I see a lot of statues have occupied that building and I am curious who they all are.

When it came to Princeton I was entirely in favor of renaming the Wilson building, because students shouldn't have to study in a place named after someone who would object to their presence. But eradicating every trace and every stature of Wilson would be a bit much -- dude was kind of historically important*. For now anyway, I'm seeing the Cecil Rhodes statue the way I would a Wilson statue.


*: Not that removing statues erases people from history; I know of all sorts of historical figures in absence of accompanying buildings and statues.
Two Jar Slave
Hmm. What difference in magnitude do you see between a building's name and a commemorative statue? I personally would've ranked 'statue' above 'building name' in terms of visibility. So, I'd prefer to have studied in a building named after someone who disapproved of me than walk past statue of that person every day. But you see it opposite. Is it just personal taste?

Bort
The symbolism of naming a building, as I see it, is that what goes on inside the building should be something that person would be generally okay with. It sucks that Wilson's objection wouldn't be the pursuit of higher learning but rather that blacks were the ones doing the learning, but that's what he gets for being human filth, even by the standards of 100 years ago.

A statue is a thing that commemorates someone for something, but does not really obligate them to much. You of course don't want to commemorate people you feel were pure monsters, but like in the case of Princeton, the fact that Wilson was president of both the university and the United States makes him a big deal. And not everything he did was horrible, though some of what he did was. Give him a statue and maybe a wing of the political affairs library (since the League of Nations was a genuinely good idea), perhaps a big commemorative display that talks about both the good and the bad.

Void 71
Anything to distract these kids from the fact that they're going to spend the next couple decades paying off their student loans while they toil away at at a series of soul-destroying desk jobs.
SolRo
And if you don't like that, there's always the 'gig' economy!






I'm honestly impressed at how pacified the masses have become.

infinite zest
Desk jobs if they're lucky! Post-grad all I could find was a job at a tofu company that started at 5 in the morning where I just cleaned out vats of tofu for hours, and then off to the movie theatre where I worked until usually midnight. :(

ashtar.
You know, yeah. Fuck Cecil Rhodes, but can't we get outraged about the present and the future rather than (in addition to) the past?

SolRo
We could use this the be outraged about the present. We have here our bourgeois overclass using money funneled from the proletariat to keep their insulting idols and icons shoved in our faces.

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