Monday, January 04, 2016

Former equality chief slams 'witless and reprehensible' campaign to remove statue of Rhodes from Oxford college

I have already mentioned this campaign on TONGUE-TIED so will repeat here what I said there:

Most of the assertions by the black campaigner are somewhere between exaggeration and outright lies. Cecil Rhodes looted nobody.  He was a mine owner who paid his miners better money that they had ever had before. Most were originally subsistence farmers with no cash income. Without him and other businessmen like him, there would have been no mines.

It is true that he believed in white racial superiority but just about everybody in Britain and Europe did in those days.  But he killed or injured no-one because of his racial beliefs.  If he was a "genocidal maniac", how come he was buried with full native honours by the Ndebele chiefs in what is now Zimbabwe? For the first time ever, they gave a white man the Matabele royal salute "Bayete".

He negotiated with Africans via their chiefs.  He did not go about killing them. He was basically just a very clever businessman

The present campaign is part and parcel of Leftist "anti-colonial" rhetoric.  The Left instinctively hate both the present and the past of the societies in which they live. But their objections to colonialism are quite pointless, as all the major colonies were given independence years ago. They are re-fighting old battles.

It is true that by modern standards, there were some things in the colonial era that were objectionable but there were benefits too.  When the British left Africa, they left behind them well-organized countries with democratic institutions, a capable bureaucracy and an impartial judiciary.  But after independence, that soon decayed into corruption, near anarchy and all sorts of bloodshed.

Generally speaking, the colonial era was a time of rapid civilizational and economic advance for most people involved in it.  But you will never hear a Leftist saying that.  If you look to the Left for a balanced account of anything political, you will not find it.

The former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission described the campaign to remove the Cecil Rhodes statue from an Oxford college as 'simultaneously witless, wrongheaded and reprehensible'.

Trevor Phillips criticised the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, which is calling for the removal of the memorial to the British imperialist at Oriel College, Oxford.

South African student Ntokozo Qwabe, led the group which has succeeded in the university to hold consultations over what to do with it.

Mr Qwabe's student campaign says Rhodes paved the path to apartheid by introducing discriminatory land ownership and voting rules.

It is inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall protest movement that began on in March, originally directed against a statue at the University of Cape Town which commemorates Cecil Rhodes.

The campaign for the statue's removal received global attention and led to a wider movement to 'decolonise' education across South Africa.

But Mr Phillips believes the protest is ludicrous. He told The Times: 'It trivialises the memory of many millions who genuinely did suffer under colonialism and dishonours the work of those who fought apartheid including many British students.

'Perhaps the students who support this campaign might take a moment to google Auschwitz to see a complete justification for the preservation of all aspects of the historical record, however grim.'

Academics, politicians and famous Oxford alumni have waded into the row, heatedly debating the rights and wrongs of honouring a man who was a major driver of British territorial expansion in southern Africa and a key player in the Boer Wars that left thousands dead.

Rhodes was one of the era's most famous imperialists, with Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe and Zambia – named after him.

An inscription underneath pays homage to the white supremacist for his donation to Oriel College in the 1870s.

Inspired by the popular movement that forced the removal of a statue of the famous colonialist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, campaigners have been asking the British college to do the same.

The campaigns are distinct but supporters in Oxford use the same hashtag #RhodesMustFall as the Cape Town campaign and their actions have fuelled a political debate in South Africa as well as soul-searching in Britain ranging well beyond the statue itself.

Most recent Rhodes Scholars could not be more different from the multi-millionaire colonialist.

More than 43 per cent are 'black or other ethnic minority students', according to Rhodes House, the organisation that runs the scholarships. It stresses: 'The principles of racial equality are central to our values and our sense of purpose.'

Making the analogy with Alfred Nobel, a munitions maker and inventor of dynamite who went on to found the Nobel Prizes, a spokesman said Rhodes, too, 'was a complicated man who left his wealth to create an important institution that makes the world better'.

Over the years, beneficiaries have included the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Tony Abbott, the recently ousted Australian prime minister.

Abbott has already called on Oxford University not to remove the statue. 'It would damage its standing as a great university if it were to substitute moral vanity for fair-minded inquiry,' he said.

'The university and its students should prefer improving today's orthodoxies to imposing them on our forebears. The university should remember that its mission is not to reflect fashion but to seek truth and that means striving to understand before rushing to judge.'

'To put someone so literally on a pedestal is to tacitly condone their legacy,' said Daisy Chandley, a student and organising member of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign.

'There have always been those who have questioned the statue as well as the wider racism within the university but the movement in South Africa brought debate over similar problems in Oxford to the forefront and triggered collective action.'

Mr Qwabe, was himself named a Rhodes Scholar last year and has defended himself against charges of hypocrisy by saying that he is taking back some of the money that Rhodes took from Africa.

'I'm no beneficiary of Rhodes. I'm a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and slaved,' he wrote on Facebook.

The university rejects accusations of racism but Oriel College promised to be 'more diverse and inclusive of people from all backgrounds' in a response to the campaign earlier this month.

It said it would take down a Rhodes plaque on the wall of another college building and agreed to a six-month 'listening exercise' on whether to remove the statue.

The college said Rhodes's values 'stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the scholarship programme today and to the values of a modern University'.

It said it would put up a sign in an antique window below the statue saying that 'the College does not in any way condone or glorify his views or actions'.

But it also talked up the positive contribution of the Rhodes Scholarships, which have allowed 8,000 students from around the world to study at Oxford


It's time to say No to our pampered student emperors

The Rhodes statue row can be blamed on a generation raised to believe that their feelings are all that matter
The little emperors have grown up. The babies of the late 90s – mollycoddled by their parents, spoon-fed by their teachers, indulged by society – have now reached university. Some of the brighter ones are now at Oxford, demanding that the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel should be torn down, because of his imperialist, racist views.

We shouldn’t be so surprised. If you’ve had a lifetime of people saying “yes” to you, of never being told off, you remain frozen in a permanent state of supersensitivity. I wasn’t offended by the Rhodes statue when I was at Oxford 20 years ago. But, even if I had been, I wouldn’t have thought my wounded feelings should be cured by tearing apart the delicate fabric of a beautiful university.

Universities are reaping the whirlwind of two decades of child-centred education. That whirlwind has imported imbecilic trigger warnings – when academics have to warn students that western European literature, from the Iliad on, is full of sex and violence. It has also brought the pernicious idea of “no-platforming” – when students refuse to give a stage to anyone who doesn’t fit with their narrow view of the world.

We shouldn’t blame the student emperors for all this. Their warped supersensitivity is the fault of the generation above – the teachers and parents who have so indulged them. I first noticed the disaster of child-centred education six years ago. Near my childhood home in north London, there is a late-Victorian school. According to the noticeboard outside, it didn’t have a headmaster. Instead, Mr MJ Chappel was called the “lead learner”.

The implication was clear. Mr Chappel wasn’t placed in authority above the children but was ranked alongside them. Children have as much to teach the teachers as the teachers have to teach them – an idiocy that’s difficult to attack because it sounds so charming; and because people like me sound so evil when we disagree.

That idiocy is now endemic through the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors. I resigned from a provincial university lecturing job recently, when the disease struck my department. My colleague said it was my fault if the less clever, less hard-working undergraduates did worse in exams than their brighter, harder-working contemporaries. I was told not to penalise undergraduates for bad grammar or spelling mistakes. And I had to dumb down the exams.

The last straw was when I was told to cut down on facts in lectures. “You’re here to teach them how to think, not what to think,” the head of department told me. The tragedy was that the undergraduates weren’t little emperors. They were longing to learn facts, spelling and correct grammar but they had had precious little exposure to these things at school.

And so they sailed on serenely into the world of work, blissfully unaware that employers would throw their applications straight in the bin because of their bad English. I saw the final punishment for child-centred education a decade ago, when I worked on the Comment desk of the Telegraph. One of my jobs was to keep an eye on the interns.

A charming bunch they were, too. What was astonishing, though, was how some of them took to having their grammar corrected. Because they’d never been told off about bad grammar at school or university, they logically assumed it didn’t matter; that I was some dreary old pedant, enforcing a code that died out some time in the Middle Ages.

I didn’t mind. It was no skin off my nose. But they should have minded – it was only the interns who either knew their grammar, or were chastened and informed by correction, who ended up getting jobs on the paper. Why should they have thought any differently? Throughout their education, they had been repeatedly encouraged to think their wounded feelings must trump the teacher’s, or employer’s, right to instruct.

The same applies to the row over Rhodes’s statue. The authorities at the university have, so far, continued to pamper the student emperors. Every time the authorities are accused of racism, they bend over backwards to soothe the offended egos of the little, tinpot dictators – rather than telling them that they, the teachers, are there to tell the students what to do; and not the other way round.


LGBT Group Calls on Government to Address ‘Disturbing Trend’ on Religious College Campuses

The largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activist group in the country is calling on the Department of Education to address what it calls a “disturbing trend” on college campuses.

Specifically, the Human Rights Campaign is calling for more transparency towards what it sees as a trend of schools citing religious reasons for not adhering to Title IX.  The Human Rights Campaign believes that in granting such exemptions, schools are given  a “license to discriminate.”

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive federal funding. If schools are found in violation of the statute, their federal dollars could be at risk.

To address these concerns, the Human Rights Campaign wants the Department of Education to issue public reports stating which institutions request or receive religious exemptions, and to detail the scope of those exemptions.

“We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a press release last week. “Prospective students and their parents deserve greater transparency, and we urge the Department of Education to take action by helping to increase accountability and to ensure that no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.”

Specifically, the Human Rights Campaign is calling for:

* The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received and the way in which Title IX still protects students
The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, and ensure the information is provided on the individual schools’ landing page as part of College Navigator

* Congress to amend the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied

Religious schools often believe that adhering to Title IX conflicts with tenets of their beliefs including on marriage, sexual orientation, and abortion.

According to the Human Rights Campaign’s latest report, at least 56 colleges and universities have requested religious exemptions under Title IX since 2013.

Southern Wesleyan University is one of them.

A spokesman for the college confirmed to The Daily Signal the university “did make a request for a Title IX exemption, citing our biblically based religious principles.”

The school, which is based in S.C., is owned by The Wesleyan Church and adheres to those teachings.

Another university listed in the Human Rights Campaign’s report is Union University.

Hunter Baker, a fellow for religious liberty at Union, told The Daily Signal that the erosion of religious liberty exemptions, would make it “illegal” for schools to operate in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“If we were unable to choose faculty members who both live out and have a traditional view of Christian sexual morality, then that really damages our ability to pursue our mission as an institution,” Baker said. “You’re making it illegal for us to insist on a Christian life and worldview.”

Baker said it would be a “major intrusion” on the school’s standards of conduct for its student body. Union University, a Baptist college in Jackson, Tenn., follows a traditional Christian view of marriage and sexuality, for example.

“Any kind of activity that would occur between two same-sex individuals would be unacceptable by our standards of conduct,” he said.

Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, calls the Human Right Campaign’s requests an attempt to “blacklist religiously-affiliated schools.”

“We need more diversity in higher education institutions, not less, yet [the Human Rights Campaign] wants to out, interrogate, and blacklist religiously-affiliated schools that assert their right to continue to embody and pass on their teachings about marriage and human sexuality consistent with their faith,” he said, adding:

"The real story is the Department of Education’s attempt to force schools to provide unrestricted access to shared dorms, lockers, bathrooms and showers to persons who self-identify as male, female, none, or both, regardless of their biology or genetics. No one should be surprised when religious schools push back on this unprecedented federal intrusion".


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