- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

Boris Johnson said that he opposes taking down the statue of 19th century explorer and imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University’s Oriel College, his alma mater, saying people should not be protected from history’s “imperfections.”

In an interview with Evening Standard published Thursday, the British prime minister said, “I want to build people up, not tear people down. If we go around trying to bowdlerize or edit our history in this way, it’s like some politician sneakily trying to change his Wikipedia entry.”

Following intermittent student protests dating back to 2015, Oriel College voted on Wednesday to have an independent commission look into the propriety of the statue of Rhodes, an ardent defender of British colonial policy for whom the Rhodesia, the country now known as Zimbabwe, was named.

“The university has acknowledged that it has, as Britain does, a history that is marked by colonialism and imperialism,” an Oxford official told the Guardian. “Although we cannot change this fact, we must continue to create a genuinely diverse and inclusive academic community in which students and staff feel respected and secure.”

The Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. have sparked fierce debate over the propriety of prominent public statues honoring Confederate war heroes and slave owners, a debate that has spilled over into the U.K. and Europe as well.

Said Mr. Johnson, “I’m pro-heritage, I’m pro-history, and I’m in favor of people understanding our past with all its imperfections.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide