ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD, FIRES BACK AT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?

ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD, FIRES BACK AT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?

Every now and then there comes along something so politically incorrect, so stubbornly in defense of the light of the intellect, and of the necessity of preserving history, no matter how "blemished" it may be according to some, that you just have to sit up and take notice. I take notice because, of course, I am an alumnus of the University of Oxford, having done my doctorate there under the then-eminent University Lecturer in Eastern Christian Studies, Bishop Kallistos(Timothy) Ware.  This tempest in the teapot concerns an apparent move, or rather, maneuver, by some of the university's black students, to have the statue of Cecil Rhodes in Oriel College taken down and removed because of his views. This letter was shared by Ms. A.V., and it can be found reproduced in full in the following article by Mr. Paul Craig Roberts:

Letter from Oxford

As Roberts points out, the letter is in all probability not genuinely from Oriel College, but rather, a letter someone wrote who wishes it had been written. But as Roberts also points out, the controversy over Mr. Rhodes' statue did issue in threats from alumni donors that if it were removed, the donations would cease.

The nub of the letter, however, is about something hugely important: we cannot erase or remake history: blemishes are a part and parcel of every human being's experience, and moral perfection is seldom, if ever, to be encountered in figures from the past, but the attempt to erase them from history is to tamper with history itself, and in that tampering,, to create a fiiction that never existed. In creating such fictions, we run the risk of repeating the errors and mistakes of the past, to paraphrase De Santillana. To quote the fictitious letter:

Oxford, let us remind you, is the world’s second oldest extant university. Scholars have been studying here since at least the 11th century. We’ve played a major part in the invention of Western civilisation, from the 12th century
intellectual renaissance through the Enlightenment and beyond. Our alumni include William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, William Tyndale, John Donne, Sir Walter Raleigh, Erasmus, Sir Christopher Wren, William Penn, Samuel Johnson,
Robert Hooke, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Emily Davison, and Cardinal Newman. We’re a big deal. And most of the people privileged to come and study here are conscious of what a big deal we are. Oxford is
their alma mater – their dear mother – and they respect and revere her accordingly.

“And what were your ancestors doing in that period? Living in mud huts, mainly. Sure we’ll concede you the short-lived Southern African civilisation of Great Zimbabwe. But let’s be brutally honest here. The contribution of the Bantu tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.

“You’ll probably say that’s ‘racist.’ But it’s what we here at Oxford prefer to call ‘true.’ Perhaps the rules are different at other universities. In fact, we know things are different at other universities. We’ve watched
with horror at what has been happening across the pond from the University of Missouri to the University of Virginia and even to revered institutions like Harvard and Yale: the ‘safe spaces;’ the blacklivesmatter; the creeping
cultural relativism; the stifling political correctness; what Allan Bloom rightly called ‘the closing of the American mind.’ At Oxford however, we will always prefer facts and free, open debate to petty grievance-mongering,
identity politics and empty sloganeering. The day we cease to do so is the day we lose the right to call ourselves the world’s greatest university.

Political correctness, with all of its fast-and-loose attitudes to human history  and memory, has, sadly, come to the Uniiversity of Oxford.. But there's an implicit logic hidden in the fictitious letter's  remarks. That very western civilization, for all its faults, is the same civilization that, in the form of a Wliberforce, would challenge the institutionalized slavery and racism, and that would insist that the values of that civilizatiion, if it were to be true to itself, had to be applicable to all, without exception, under the common virtues and laws of that civilization. I doubt that anyone who attended that university can honestly say that they were never offended by somethiing or at how they were treated.   The whole tradition there is to prove and argue one's position not to complain of ill treatment or offended feelings. I know of no one there who was not offended by something, at some time, including myself. The University boasts of several famous atheists, Richard Dawkins among them, and the last I checked, Mr. Dawkins was not urging that the University raze all the chapels and churches that adorn its colleges simply because it offended his personal views and space, which the University affords him the right to proclaim and advocate as long as he can argue them, which, as anyone familiar with him knows, he does ably. Many of my friends there were atheists, and, after the "offense" wore off, their views forced me to think, to examine my own thoughts, and even to modify them, to think deeper. This is what universities are for. They are not for political correctness, the approved narrative, the standard orthodoxies. They are for that, to be sure, but they are for much more.

If anything, the controversy over Mr. Rhodes' statue in Oriel College is a symbol of a wider cultural malaise, and it's high time we learn the lesson: in a free and open society, someone will always have views that offend someone else, that upset the view one holds, that violates the "personal space"; but they have the right to hold them, and to defend them. When we close down free speech, or demand that our own history be rewritten or that monuments be razed to conform to some abstract notion of moral perfection, we are in danger of losing it all. When we seek to impose our "offended feelings" on others, we all suffer. The end reductio of this logic is that we must raise all monuments having a blemish: we must raze Roman Catholic churches for the Inquisition; prohibit all atheism because of the excesses of the organized atheism of the Soviet Union, write German history without mention of Nazism, and so on. And in so doing, we will have learned none of the lessons of the past. And when we do that, we will not understand how we got here, and why. And when we lose our past, we have lost our future.

It's time everyone grew up. And to the University of Oxford: thank you for offending me. I would not trade the experience for anything. It was a crucible very much like the old American television series, The Paper Chase, with its inimitable Professor Kingsfield: "You teach yourselves (such and such a discipline), and I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush, and you leave thinking like lawyers, doctors, biologists, philosophers, musicians, artists (fill in the blank here)." So a big thank you to the University of Oxford, blemishes and all. You taught me to standards of thought to which I still unsuccessfully aspire, and taught me the inutility of whining, and being offended. I can only hope that tradition will continue, and, to those institutions that have succumbed to it, that it will be restored.

Otherwise, we will all be impoverished.

See you on the flip side...

16 thoughts on “ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD, FIRES BACK AT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?”

  1. Quoting from the “letter”–really a kind of concern trolling: “Great Zimbabwe. But let’s be brutally honest here. The contribution of the Bantu tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.”

    A problem, with racialist implications, taking a tiny subset of a society, or continent, and saying it didn’t contribute to modern civilization could be true (unlikely), but that’s about the same as saying that some tiny town in isolated Scotland hasn’t contributed to modern civilization. Nubia, Ethiopia, and Egypt are all part of Africa, and there are ruins of some sophistication on the Atlantic coast.

    The author of the letter seems real confused about the objections of the Black Lives Matter protestors in the USA–and undercuts any point he/she has about the perfectly valid point that taking down a statue of Rhodes isn’t going to make his racism go away.

    Woodrow Wilson, an US president, and president of Princeton, was a racist, who thought “Birth of a Nation” was a documentary of sorts. Despite protests, his name is unlikely to be dropped by Princeton, or the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

    L. Frank Baum had some “exterminate the Indians (Native Americans)” screeds to his credit. We still watch the “Wizard of Oz.”

  2. Quoting from the “letter”–really a kind of concern trolling that doesn’t reflect well on Oxford, or perhaps “Oxford”: “Great Zimbabwe. But let’s be brutally honest here. The contribution of the Bantu tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.”

    A problem, with racialist implications, taking a tiny subset of a society, or continent, and saying it didn’t contribute to modern civilization could be true (unlikely), but that’s about the same as saying that some tiny town in isolated Scotland hasn’t contributed to modern civilization. Nubia, Ethiopia, and Egypt are all part of Africa, and there are ruins of some sophistication on the Atlantic coast.

    The author of the letter seems real confused about the objections of the Black Lives Matter protestors in the USA–and undercuts any point he/she has about the perfectly valid point that taking down a statue of Rhodes isn’t going to make his racism go away.

    Woodrow Wilson, an US president, and president of Princeton, was a racist, who thought “Birth of a Nation” was a documentary of sorts. Despite protests, his name is unlikely to be dropped by Princeton, or the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

    L. Frank Baum had some “exterminate the Indians (Native Americans)” screeds to his credit. We still watch the “Wizard of Oz.”

  3. I have a mixed-response to Joseph and the statue controversy. First, I do not believe in destroying ‘treasures’ of the past, whether giant Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, ancient pagan temples in Syria, or even the ‘clean sweep’ of the Maoist ‘Cultural Revolution’. A pox on all of them…

    However, there are subtle undercurrents at work. I am reminded of the statue of Albert Pike standing in Washington, D.C. It is the only statue of a Confederate General in all of D.C. He is not even a well-known General, and the Confederate leadership even recalled him from his western post due to his cruelty. So, why is the statue there?

    It turns out that Pike was the leader of American Masonry. He built them up to be a significant political force, and even wrote the alleged Pike-Mazzini letter of 1871 on three future ‘wars’ to establish what we would call the NWO. I would bet that statue is still in D.C. because of his Masonic connections, not because he was a minor Confederate General…

    Still, rather than taking-down the Pike statue, I would place a placque next to it documenting what was ‘hidden’ about him. (Plus a way to reach internet sites about him, for the millennial generation.)

    Now, on to the Cecil Rhodes statue: Rhodes, like Pike, was up to his ears in NWO activities. He was also a pawn of Roth interests, if not Roth himself. To me, those aspects trump (although are probably related) any racial issues.

    So, I would not take down his statue. But, I would place a placque next to it documenting what has been ‘hidden’ about him, just like for Pike. (And hidden NWO ‘sponsors’ be damned…)

    And, as a pertinent aside, something of this ‘undercurrent’ nature is going-on with the US $20 bill. President Andrew Jackson is being removed from the front side of the bill to the back side, and being replaced by Harriet Tubman. The stated reasons are for Jackson’s racism and Tubman’s heroism.

    However, just like for Pike and Rhodes, there is a more-likely (though hidden) scenario. Jackson deep-sixed the Central Bank of the time for corruption and market manipulation, almost being assassinated (read the story; you will be amazed) for his efforts. Truly heroic…

    Now that Fed employees ‘own’ the Treasury Department through revolving-door appointments, ‘magically’ there is a movement to remove Jackson (effectively) from the $20 bill. For anyone who actually believes this has anything to do with Tubman (except as a good cover), I have a bridge in New York that I would like to sell them.

    These ‘situations’ around Pike, Rhodes, Jackson, etc., are all signs of deeper ‘machinations’. I am trusting that readers here are astute-enough not to buy into ‘cover stories’…

    1. I have to agree. Rhodes WAS up to his earlobes in all manner of machinations… and I think the stature needs to stay as a reminder of THAT as well. In short, we have to accept our history, warts, blemishes and all.

  4. I’d say that impoverished is an understatement of what we will all be. Never having attended university, nor even college per se, I can only say that I fervently hope that that esteemed Oxford college does *NOT succumb and take down that statue. Even some of the less educated of us can see the carnage which threatens to engulf the world if the-powers-that-be have their way and are allowed to continue their push for (re)making the world in the image which they have conceived of for us. Themselves excluded, of-course. Would that the letter HAD come from Oxford University.

    If only this really WAS written to the ingrate rabble-rousers, along with all that came before this last paragraph:

    “Understand us and understand this clearly: you have
    everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from
    you.”

    *In reading the Paul Craig Roberts article in it’s entirety, I now realize the statue will not be removed… GOOD!

  5. Nothing can escape the cycles of ups and downs. But Oxford is enduring the test of time better then most. All good things must come to an end sooner or later. I hope that didn’t offend anyone 😉

  6. I have always thought that Joseph’ take on the world was a direct relationship to the Oxford library. In other words, while Joseph was at Oxford studying, he also had access to probably the best, most comprehensive library in the world, outside the dreaded Vatican library. So it’s no surprise Joseph’ knowledge in such things as The Hermetica, and numerous other ancient texts is a direct result of……drum roll please……READING !!!!!!

  7. Sorry, but I don’t think that I have a right to advocate that Jews should be gassed in concentration camps even if I can come up with some cogent arguments for the idea. Oxford comes out of this mess hardly smelling like the rose you make it out to be. The issue is not one of political correctness at all. It is a moral issue. They would never have taken this position against “political correctness” has not big money interests threatened to withdraw financial resort. Cecil Rhodes, with his colonial/racist viewpoint, was responsible for the deaths and impoverishment of thousands of human beings in his time, and the fact that he had enough money to fund a university does not make him any less of a criminal. But that’s alright. We post peans to criminals everywhere one looks in this society. Two of them are even running for president.

  8. The real problem is do our elites believe or have they really believe in being a cosmopolitan. A citizen of the World or are they barbarians masquerading as ones. Even Stalin though he has never been acknowledge as such was a defender of Western Civilization he and Russia bore the brunt of NAZI barbarism Cecil Rhodes like the rest us had within himself both good and bad and should not and can’t be erase from history.

  9. “Invention of Western Civilization”…
    Good, Now I know who to blame.
    Yet, for me this boils down to:
    “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
    Now many of these universities are grooming the newly minted modern technocratic feudalistic-elite leaders of the NWO. They believe in a division between people who work with there minds, and people who work with their hands. Achieving a hierarchical caste system; a monopoly of the high-born – an entitled to learn as is expected of us. Inequalities in school enrollments have moved to massive inequalities in learning outcomes.

  10. Amen brother and I likewise tip my cap and raise my pint in honor of our Alma Mater – flaws and all, she was the crucible that we were immersed in, for the better as well as the painful challenges. Thank you Dr. Farrell and thank you University of Oxford.

    1. The University of Oxford is entwined with the establishment and the grooming ground of future political puppets via its societies and clubs so I have no doubt that they’re on script with any agendas that need playing out.

  11. I think it is hard to dispute that Rhodes was a dark figure in human – and especially African – history, leaving a dark legacy.
    So why don’t these “activists” turn their attention to the substance, such as the globalism being promoted by the “Rhodes Scholarships”? Or question, say, the Oppenheimer monopoly on S. African diamonds? The reason is obviously that iconoclasm is the easiest path to take, and statues don’t complain if you remove them…

  12. Great comments Joseph. Along that same line, the University of Louisville is trying to remove a Confederate Memorial of Jefferson Davis that has existed at the university since 1895.

    http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2016/04/29/ramsey-fischer-discuss-confederate-statue/83695160/

    One of the GOP contenders for KY Legislature has filed a lawsuit and there is an injunction while matters are discussed. This guy has a great outlook on American (and Kentucky) history. Of course there are other links within this article: http://libertyfight.com/2016/Everett-Corley-Kentucky-GOP.html
    That paints this guy as a gun loving, redneck kook and of course Rand Paul has to chime in about the Confederate Flag….which is NOT even the flag that was flown by the Confederate Army….what we know as a the “rebel flag” was actually a MADE UP DESIGN FOR MOVIES. See an original one at the Smithsonian here: http://www.civilwar.si.edu/soldiering_conf_flag.html

    I am sick unto death of this political correctness stuff which is just another name for squelching freedom of speech and trying to implant a revisionist history in the minds of the masses. Any time I hear someone spouting off with this tripe, I present them with true facts and figures regarding their nonsense and will not let them get away with bullying me (or anyone else) with their stupidity. They usually have nothing to say and just stomp off. Ignorance is no excuse, in life or under the law, for this type of shenanigans.

  13. “Great Zimbabwe. But let’s be brutally honest here. The contribution of the Bantu
    tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.”

    A problem, with racialist implications, taking a tiny subset of a society, or continent, and saying it didn’t contribute to modern civilization could be true (unlikely), but that’s about the same as saying that some tiny town in isolated Scotland hasn’t contributed to modern civilization. Nubia, Ethiopia, and Egypt are all part of Africa, and there are ruins of some sophistication on the Atlantic coast.

    The author of the letter seems real confused about the objections of the Black Lives Matter protestors in the USA–and undercuts any point he/she has about the perfectly valid point that taking down a statue of Rhodes isn’t going to make his racism go away.

    Woodrow Wilson, an US president, and president of Princeton, was a racist, who thought “Birth of a Nation” was a documentary of sorts. Despite protests, his name is unlikely to be dropped by Princeton, or the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

    L. Frank Baum had some “exterminate the Indians (Native Americans)” screeds to his credit. We still watch the “Wizard of Oz.”

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