Unhappy about the way some have called for removal of contentious items, names and monuments, particularly statues, the government has announced a new “retain and explain” policy which aims to protect controversial monuments and artefacts from removal, instead asking for more information to be provided about them.
Writer and historian Jeremy Black exposes this policy fudge for what it is: abject surrender in the face of a vocal militant minority.
"The culture in too many British institutions at present is one of fear and concession. Fear of the threat of revolution against traditions and customs this country has practiced for generations, and concession to the revolutionaries. Under this pressure, state-sanctioned explanations of the past become a diatribe against it. Overtly political in nature, they lead to a failure to grasp the more interesting dimensions of many historical questions.
The problem is compounded by a Government obsessed with short-term fixes - eager to avoid bad headlines in the days ahead rather than preserving our great institutions for the future. Introducing Retain and Explain may have helped stop the protests, but it now threatens to leave a permanent stain on great buildings and under beautiful statues. Why should we condemn admirers of Oxford and all it stands for - intellectualism, open debate - to shoddy three paragraph ‘explainers’, because a few radicals threatened to take matters into their own hands?"
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