- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2017

Students at the University of London say the prestigious institution must be “decolonized” — starting with “white philosophers.”

The works of Socrates, Plato and other classical philosophers are in the crosshairs of students at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), but not because of flaws with their logic and reason. Instead, SOAS sees the “white” men as problematic because of their pigmentation.

“Decolonizing SOAS: Confronting the White Institution” is a list of priorities the student group has for the upcoming year. It involves making sure a “majority of the philosophers” studied are from the Global South or its diaspora.

“If white philosophers are required, then [professors should] teach their work from a critical standpoint. For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so called ‘Enlightenment’ philosophers wrote within,” the group says on its website.

The demands unnerved academics interviewed by British newspapers.

“There is a real danger political correctness is getting out of control,” Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, told the Daily Mail on Saturday. “We need to understand the world as it was and not to rewrite history as some might like it to have been.”

“If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it,” added philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.

The students also faced resistance from Erica Hunter, head of SOAS’s Religions and Philosophies department, who said the demands were “ridiculous.”

Other priorities for the student group include obtaining scholarships for refugees and combating “systematic marginalization” of minority students.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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