Cecil Rhodes will be a hero to few of the citizens of this country. Nevertheless, he is a key figure in our imperial history and a major benefactor of Oriel College; similar figures of historical significance are acknowledged, though not necessarily reverenced, by plaques and statues in towns and cities all over Britain. It is right and proper that we have highly visible reminders of our history – even those parts that might be thought disquieting (censorship is worse) – and of those individuals, controversial or not, who might be said to have had significant parts to play in the making of it.
My fear is that the College authorities at Oriel are too concerned to appease the shock troops of political correctness in this matter.
When such as the Nazis in Germany burn books, and such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and so-called Islamic State in Syria pulverise ancient monuments and artefacts that remind them of a history, a cultural diversity, a freedom of thought to which they object, civilisation is threatened and must be defended, not bartered away in the manner Churchill characterised as offering up hapless victims to a crocodile in the wretched hope that the beast will not eventually devour all in its way.
In Lincoln, where I live, there are many Roman remains, and a post-Norman-invasion cathedral and castle. The idea that an unrepresentative group should come along and campaign fanatically for the removal of these as violent reminders of the colonial enslavement of ancient Britons and Anglo-Saxon English is no more absurd and offensive that what is happening now at Oriel College.
No more absurd and offensive, indeed, than would be a proposal that Ms Moira Wallace OBE, Provost of Oriel College, should be dismissed for having accepted the royal honour of the Order of the British Empire.