June 22, 2020
A person wearing a face-muzzle, a baseball cap and socks adorned with the words ‘Hotter than Hell’ appeared at my side.
He or she (I had better be careful not to assign a gender) spoke sharply to me, like someone with power: ‘Why have you chosen to stand here?’ For a moment, I was taken in by the air of authority, but recovered myself and asked: ‘Who are you?’
To this I received no useful reply, but the person continued: ‘A lot of people would prefer it if you did not stand here.’
To which I replied that I was – for the moment – a free man and would stand anywhere I liked on the streets of my home city, thank you very much.
I had gone out on Tuesday afternoon in Oxford to observe the second of two recent demonstrations calling for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes.
It is probably because I used to be a foreign correspondent in Moscow and Washington that I feel I should take a close direct interest in events that are happening in my home town.
I can remember clearly taking part in Left-wing demonstrations, some of them pretty unruly, on these same streets more than half a century ago, when I was myself a revolutionary Marxist. I was fascinated to see how things had changed.
Basically, the causes I supported in the 1960s have won. Our 1968 protests were demonstrations of powerlessness, which is why they were rowdy. Today theirs are laps of honour.
This article was posted: Monday, June 22, 2020 at 3:19 am