Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts Website
Rhodes will stay, students can go: Oxford Chancellor
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The letter below came to me from Oxford University where I was a post-graduate.
I do not think it conceivable that the letter was actually written by Oriel College, or any authority at Oxford. This letter was written in exasperation by someone who feels that the civilized world has collapsed around him. This is a letter that the author of the letter wishes had been written.
By presenting the letter, I am not endorsing a make-believe letter or its point of view. My point is different. The world's most famous university lacks the confidence to defend itself from from unreasonable demands made by students from its former colonies who desire to remove the association of Oriel College with its benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.
Yet, despite insufficient confidence to stand up to foreign students, England has mustered the confidence to align with Washington against the Muslim World and Russia. How do we explain this?
If the British still had enough confidence for an Oxford College to have penned such a letter, the British would not have forsaken their sovereignty and joined the European Union. What saved Cecil Rhodes stature at Oriel College was not Oxford but alumni who said they would cancel bequests of 100 million British pounds if the university succumbed to erasing its history in order to appease foreigners who claim to be offended by it. If they are offended, say the alumni, let them go elsewhere.
The future independence of universities is in doubt, especially those dependent on alumni support. Old grads are turned off by the erasure of what they remember. Recent grads are not experiencing the same success. A university degree no longer brings the same economic success that it did in the 20th century. A financialized and offshored capitalism has heavily redistributed income and wealth to the One Percent. One consequence is that the alumni donor base will shrink.
Moreover, the older generation of graduates, who made their money in the past, is constantly reminded by fund-raising materials that the college or university that they attended has been replaced by something else. What they experienced is gone. Oxford colleges were segregated by gender and attended mainly by British. Today they are gender-integrated and multi-cultural. Judging from photos in fund-raising materials, at Oxford the British appear to be a minority.
Instead of warm and fuzzy feelings, old grads feel dispossessed. The psychological effect on those who experienced a different Oxford environment is similar to returning to the site of your grandparents farm and finding a subdivision, a bedroom community for a once distant city. The creek you explored is now inside a pipe buried under back yards, and the trees you climbed are cut down. You feel a loss. This is what many alumni feel when they experience the transformation of their educational institution. They experience a loss of association, which is not a racist or sexist response.
As survivors of an era in which economic success was more broadly based pass away, colleges and universities will turn increasingly to corporations and the One Percent for funds. These donors will extract a price. Colleges and universities will be suborned, as the media and politicians are today, to serve the powerful interests on which they are dependent.
We might think that this is what the Oxford alumni are doing when they threatened to withhold bequests, but it is not. The alumni are not saying what is to be taught and not taught or how things are to be explained. The alumni are saying that it is impermissible to destroy history by throwing it into Orwell's memory hole. Oxford alumni have had to accept so much change and now the physical image itself, the historical landmarks, are to be thrown away. The result is that nothing any longer corresponds to their memories. Their association with their college and the university becomes severed.
There is no doubt that the British and US governments have ground under their feet many peoples. But history is history. We have to live with it and try to make the future better. We cannot substitute for history our view of what should have happened.
Here is the letter that indicates more British confidence than actually exists:
This letter is a response from Oxford to Black Students, some of whom are attending as Rhodes Scholars, who are demanding the removal of the statue of their and Oxford's benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.
Subject: OXFORD -- THE FIGHT BACK HAS BEGUN
Interestingly, Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), The
Chancellor of Oxford University, was on the Today Programme
on BBC Radio 4 yesterday on precisely the same topic. The
Daily Telegraph headline yesterday was "Oxford will not
Patten commented "...Education is not indoctrination. Our
history is not a blank page on which we can write our own
version of what it should have been according to our
contemporary views and prejudice."