Anonymous Oriel College Collective …….The letter (below) is a response from [one part of] Oxford University to black students attending as Rhodes Scholars who demand the university removes the statue of Oxford Benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.
Interestingly, Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), The Chancellor of Oxford University, was on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 on precisely the same topic. The Daily Telegraph headline yesterday was “Oxford will not rewrite history”. Lord Patten commented: “Education is not indoctrination. Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudice.”
“Dear Scrotty Students, …..
Cecil Rhodes’s generous bequest has contributed greatly to the comfort and well being of many generations of Oxford students – a good many of them, dare we say it, better, brighter and more deserving than you.
This does not necessarily mean we approve of everything Rhodes did in his lifetime – but then we don’t have to. Cecil Rhodes died over a century ago. Autres temps, autres moeurs. If you don’t understand what
this means – and it would not remotely surprise us if that were the case – then we really think you should ask yourself the question: “Why am I at Oxford?”
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, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Samuel Johnson, Robert Hooke, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Emily Davison, Cardinal Newman, Julie Cocks. 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 appalling black lives matter; 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.
Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to squander your time at Oxford on silly, vexatious, single-issue political campaigns. (Though it does make us wonder how stringent the vetting procedure is
these days for Rhodes scholarships and even more so, for Mandela Rhodes scholarships). We are well used to seeing undergraduates – or, in your case – postgraduates, making idiots of themselves. Just don’t expect us to indulge your idiocy, let alone genuflect before it. You may be black – “BME” as the grisly modern terminology has it – but we are colour blind. We have been educating gifted undergraduates from our former colonies, our Empire, our Commonwealth and beyond for many generations. We do not discriminate over sex, race, colour or creed.
We do, however, discriminate according to intellect.
That means, inter alia, that when our undergrads or postgrads come up with fatuous ideas, we don’t pat them on the back, give them a red rosette and say: “Ooh, you’re black and you come from South Africa.
What a clever chap you are!” No. We prefer to see the quality of those ideas tested in the crucible of public debate. That’s another key part of the Oxford intellectual tradition you see: you can argue any damn thing you like but you need to be able to justify it with facts and logic – otherwise your idea is worthless.
This ludicrous notion you have that a bronze statue of Cecil Rhodes should be removed from Oriel College, because it’s symbolic of “institutional racism” and “white slavery”. Well even if it is – which we dispute – so bloody what? Any undergraduate so feeble-minded that they can’t pass a bronze statue without having their “safe space” violated really does not deserve to be here. And besides, if we were to remove Rhodes’s statue on the premise that his life wasn’t blemish-free, where would we stop? As one of our alumni Dan Hannan has pointed out, Oriel’s other benefactors include two kings so awful – Edward II and Charles I – that their subjects had them killed. The college opposite – Christ Church – was built by a murderous, thieving bully who bumped off two of his wives. Thomas Jefferson kept slaves: does that invalidate the US Constitution? Winston Churchill had unenlightened views about Muslims and India: was he then the wrong man to lead Britain in the war?”
Actually, we’ll go further than that. Your Rhodes Must Fall campaign is not merely fatuous but ugly, vandalistic and dangerous. We agree with Oxford historian RW Johnson that what you are trying to do here is no different from what ISIS and the Al-Qaeda have been doing to artefacts in places like Mali and Syria. You are murdering history.
And who are you, anyway, to be lecturing Oxford University on how it should order its affairs? Your bloody rhodesmustfall campaign, we understand, originates in South Africa and was initiated by a black
activist who told one of his lecturers “whites have to be killed”. One of you – Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh – is the privileged son of a rich politician and a member of a party whose slogan is “Kill the Boer; Kill the Farmer”; another of you, Ntokozo Qwabe, who is only in Oxford as a beneficiary of a Rhodes scholarship, has boasted about the need for “socially conscious black students” to “dominate white universities, and do so ruthlessly and decisively ‘!
Great. That’s just what Oxford University needs. Some cultural enrichment from the land of Winnie Mandela, burning tyre necklaces, an AIDS epidemic almost entirely the result of government indifference
and ignorance, one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates, institutionalised corruption, tribal politics, anti-white racism and a collapsing economy. Please name which of the above items you think
will enhance the lives of the 22,000 students studying here at Oxford.
And then please explain what it is that makes your attention grabbing campaign to remove a listed statue from an Oxford college more urgent, more deserving than the desire of probably at least 20,000 of those
22,000 students to enjoy their time here unencumbered by the irritation of spoilt, ungrateful little tossers on scholarships they clearly don’t merit using racial politics and cheap guilt-tripping to ruin the life and fabric of our beloved university.
Understand us and understand this clearly: you have everything to learn from us; we have nothing to learn from you.
Yours, Oriel College, Oxford
In March 2015, the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign began at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, when students began pushing for the campus to take down a statue of Cecil Rhodes.
Rhodes (the former prime minister of Cape Colony) was a businessman and politician. He was also an ardent imperialist who was part of the effort to annex large parts of land in South Africa in the late 1800s, making enormous sums of money and eventually founding the De Beers diamond firm.
Many universities in South Africa bear his name, and for years, Rhodes has been lauded for his accomplishments. However, he also passed laws which laid the groundwork for apartheid in the country, and is thus also regarded as a symbol of repression, colonization, and apartheid — which has no place, activists say, on a university campus, especially in a region of the world that still struggles with the aftereffects of institutional racism.
The “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign was successful at the University of South Africa; the school removed the statue in April 2015, a month after the protest there began. Students and anti-colonialism activists then began similar protests to remove statues at other universities, including Oxford, where Rhodes (who was born in England) remains a large figure. Oxford University still offers the elite Rhodes Scholarship, and a statue in his likeness presides over the university’s Oriel College campus.
In January 2016, Oxford students voted to remove the statue. Later that month, the university opted to keep the statue after receiving threats from alumni to withdraw millions in donations if it was removed. The college’s decision sparked more marches and ongoing protests, keeping the issue in the news.
A letter about the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oxford University began to be widely circulated via social media and e-mail after it was originally published on the web site Breitbart in December 2015. The message (a missive that in part laments today’s politically correct culture) is often preceded by the claim that it is an official letter from Oxford University’s chancellor, Chris Patten. The original posting on Breitbart starts with a small disclaimer informing the reader that the following message is what Oxford should have told its students, and not what the university actually said:
Instead of standing up to these hoity-toity grievance mongers – led by two black South African students on scholarships – Oriel has caved.
Here is the letter that Oriel College should have written to the campaigners from Rhodes Must Fall.
The above-displayed message was eventually stripped from the letter and replaced with the claim that it was an official piece of correspondence from Patten to the student’s of Oxford:
My mouth is still hanging open after reading this….this is OUTStANDING!! About time the institutions and governments on this side of the pond get some backbone and use logic in lieu of feelings.
Subject: Oxford Rebukes Idiot Activists
Black activists at Oxford have been campaigning to have THE RHODES statue removed and below is the Chancellor Chris Patten’s response…it’s a beauty from start to finish.
While Patten did argue against the removal of the Rhodes statue during an appearance on the Today program on BBC Radio 4 in January 2016, his language was far tamer than the openly racist rhetoric employed in Breitbart’s fictional letter:
“But if people at a university are not prepared to demonstrate the sort of generosity of spirit which Nelson Mandela showed towards Rhodes and towards history, if they are not prepared to embrace all those values which are contained in the most important book for any undergraduate, Karl Popper’s Open Society, if they are not prepared to embrace those issues then maybe they should think about being educated elsewhere. But I hope they will embrace those issues and engage in debate.”
Patten styled the objections to Rhodes as along the lines of the “safe spaces” policies adopted on many university campuses in Britain and the US, which critics have said are used to suppress debate on a range of issues.
“That focus on Rhodes is unfortunate but it’s an example of what’s happening in American campuses and British campuses,” Patten said. “One of the points of a university – which is not to tolerate intolerance, to engage in free inquiry and debate – is being denied. People have to face up to facts in history which they don’t like and talk about them and debate them.”
He added: “Can you imagine a university where there is no platform? I mean a bland diet of bran to feed people, it’s an absolutely terrible idea. If you want universities like that you go to China where they are not allowed to talk about western values, which I regard as global values. No, it’s not the way a university should operate.”
The protests, which have developed into an international movement, are real and ongoing. However, the circulating letter that’s alleged to be from Oxford University’s chancellor is fake, and first originated as a satirical op-ed piece written by a London-based contributor to Breitbart.com.