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Modern-day witchfinders won’t end the hate by pulling down statues — they’ll only fuel it

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Daily Mail
June 19, 2020

Britain has reached a bleak turning point. I do not say this lightly, but I believe that the very fabric of our civilisation is under threat.

By caving in to the censorious mob, and giving the green light to the removal of its statue of Cecil Rhodes, Oxford University has taken a wrecking ball to Britain’s traditions of pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

It is, of course, possible to make a perfectly rational argument for the demise of Rhodes’s statue outside Oriel College.

He was, after all, an aggressive colonialist and empire-builder, fixated by theories about white superiority.

Yet the proposed removal of this statue has a significance far beyond the act itself.

For it is ultimately symbolic of a new climate of ideological fervour and bullying fanaticism which is wholly un-British.

In the vengeful quest to impose today’s progressive values by smashing relics of the past, there is more than a whiff of Cultural Revolution in the air.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The great 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke, commenting on the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, wrote that ‘rage and frenzy will tear down in half-an-hour more than prudence, deliberation and foresight can build in a hundred years’.

There is an echo of that destructive mood in Britain today. And it is informed by a profound sense of historical illiteracy.

Like Rhodes himself, the story of Britain is richly complex, featuring episodes of glory and shame.

It cannot be reduced to a simplistic narrative of oppression and exploitation in order to justify a wave of cultural vandalism.

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This article was posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 at 3:00 am

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