General Secretary of the Free Speech Union Toby Young added: “This is a victory for common sense over the woke Taliban. We cannot cleanse our past of historical figures whose views we now find distasteful and the attempt to do so, by pulling down statues and renaming buildings, is a hallmark of a totalitarian society. The Rhodes Must Fall movement has caricatured Rhodes as an evil racist, determined to oppress black and brown people, but that is over simplistic. He was a member of the Liberal Party, he funded the newspaper in South Africa that became the mouthpiece of Nelson Mandela’s ANC and he created a scholarship programme that was open to all, regardless of ethnicity, saying ‘no student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on grounds of his race’. By the standards of his time, he was actually pretty woke. I hope this sensible decision encourages other institutions to stop self-flagellating themselves about their own links with ‘problematic’ historical figure and instead treat their statues and busts as an opportunity to learn more about the past. Cancelling the dead in a frenzy of moral indignation is not the best way to understand our rich and complex history.”
James Gant, MailOnline, 20th May 2021.