Saturday, December 19, 2015

Whitewashing History Isn't Limited To This Side of the Atlantic

Who, in recorded history, held such "modern" views that we cannot find a reason to expunge them?  Is there anyone who didn't have some belief, or commit some action, that means they cannot be held up for posterity--or even have a statue?
An Oxford college might remove a statue of the 19th Century politician Cecil Rhodes giving in to a student anti-racism campaign.

The students have claimed hat honouring Rhodes is not compatible with an “inclusive culture” at the university...

The college says it doesn’t “condone his racist views or actions”.
I'm quite serious.  Who in history is worthy of a statue?

I'm OK with a "warts and all" approach to learning history, what I don't like is the "only the warts" approach, as if everyone in history is no more than the sum of their mistakes--mistakes by our standards, not by the standards of their day.


Jean said...

Dangit. I was hoping that Brits, living as they do with a couple of thousand (or more) years of history in evidence all around them, would be more sensible than this. They're gonna have to rename EVERYTHING.

I do not understand the sudden mania for renaming things and excising people from history. If Woodrow Wilson's name gets taken off a building, will that mean all that stuff never happened and everything was always great? Personally, I prefer not to pretend history didn't happen. (And if I were a black Yalie living in Calhoun Hall, I'd think "Ha, in your FACE. I won." every time I entered the building.)

Darren said...

Your last point is exactly what I, as a coin collector, think when I look at Nazi or Soviet or East German money :-)

Jean said...

Heh. I have a similar stamp collection!

Anonymous said...

Do you object to people in eastern Europe taking down statues of Marx and Lenin?

Darren said...

No more so than removing statues of Hitler.

I see and respect your point, but there's more difference in what you're suggesting that just mere degree.