South Africa once again inspires the leftists of the world – this time by sacrificing art. Act #2758 of the Race Revolution That Wouldn’t Die was birthed before a statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. Students (and random deadbeats) demanded the icon of white South African culture be removed from their sight post-haste in March 2015.
To their disappointment, the school quickly complied and hauled it away, hoping to get back to education. Where’s the fun in that? Hardly worth having a protest, especially since they already had that great little hashtag, “#Rhodes Must Fall.”
Admittedly Rhodes brought a great deal of grief to many in the continent and was a bigoted, greedy, ultra-British imperialist and colossal land-grabber. However, the man bequeathed his enormous legacy for public works in Africa rather than Britain, and the original campus buildings are built on his estate.
But this isn’t about Rhodes, it’s about his color. “The ‘the fall of Rhodes’ is symbolic for the inevitable fall of white supremacy and privilege at our campus,” the group gravely insist. And “de-colonization.” It’s on their website, so it must be true. Since the African National Congress Party has ruled South Africa with an iron grip since 1994, they must be the “colonists” referred to.
To prove how much they are not motivated by racism, #Rhodes Must Fall protesters temporarily banned Caucasians from both the dining hall and the cafeteria. Some white students joined the movement also, perhaps ones who don’t care to eat.
Anti-Rhodites have since attacked random things such as the Horse Memorial (honoring dead war horses) and statues of famous white people (Jan Smuts, etc.). Incidentally Rhodes has been dead for 114 years. Isn’t there enough room in South Africa for statues and memorials to the ANC, or does the nation need to be culturally purged first?
After Rhodes’ statue went the way of all bronze, the true spirit of this protest emerged. Racist slogans filled the air before the dust cleared, including the Pan African Congress’ rallying cry “One Settler (white person), One Bullet.” For good measure they torched buses and bombed the office of the university vice-chancellor. This so appealed to leftists worldwide, they joined in solidarity, searching for something they could tenuously relate to either Rhodes, colonization or hating white people.
Ironically most subjects of the protesters’ ire are directly or indirectly related to previous accommodation to their demands. Shortage of beds followed lowered fees and cancelled student debts, creating a surge of students. University of Cape Town (UCT) found it necessary to explain to these morons that one of the reasons “there are not enough buildings” was because they are occupying three of them. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
The suffering of Cape Town students exposed to monuments of Rhodes, was enough to rouse the indignation of fellow students across the world. Hardly shocking, the Black Student Union at U.C. Berkeley joined the fray with a list of their own grievances.
From their Facebook post: “Chief among our demands is the renaming of one of the campus buildings from Barrows Hall (named after another colonial administrator David Prescott Barrows), to one of the icons of Black liberation, Assata Shakur.”
Barrows was a past president of the college and an American. Apparently the writer doesn’t have the slightest idea what “colonial” means, but what the heck. He/she will get a degree anyway. Shakur is a cop killer and career criminal who is on the run in Cuba. She already has the distinction of being the first woman on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist List.”
Oxford University had a memorial of Rhodes to dispose of as well, but the colonialists running the place were surprisingly nettled. Chancellor Chris Patten compared that part of his flock to the Chinese government in a statement titled “The Closing of the Academic Mind”: “The role of a university is to promote the clash of ideas, to test the results of research with other scholars, and to impart new knowledge to students. … The irony today is that some of the most worrying attacks on these values have been coming from inside universities.”
A veiled invitation to take a hike.
Oxford students’ Facebook page for the movement promotes performances by such as Travis Alabanza, a “Black, Queer, Femme performance artist that lives, survives and creates in London.” All the haters came out in their academically disguised glory, including BDS campaigners to demonize Israel.
Signs of intelligent life remain, such as a post by student Ruby, describing the inarticulate, 1960s “It’s the decolonizing thing and neo-this and neo-that and all that kind of stuff.” Ruby caught the meta-purpose of political theater when she deduced that continuing “the fight” really means “lots more solipsistic academic jobs, research projects and gloriously self-gratifying campaigns to be created.”
Temporarily out of symbols of colonization to throw excrement at or deface, protesters removed paintings of various white people at UCT on February 16 – venerable deans and such. Videos of the large (likely excellent quality) paintings used as kindling look like a twisted bonfire of the vanities. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be a requirement to burn, deface or remove art in all sister universities.
Trashing “European” art and everything related to it would spell the end of the university itself, because it’s virtually all European. Every bit of it, at least when it began. Grand colonnaded buildings in Greek Revival style are similar to European edifices everywhere. Western and other civilizations are taught according to European tradition and academic constructs. Judeo-Christian logic and culture along with Western technology and science. UCT is the highest-ranked African university, according to many sources. There is no indigenous alternative for it, although who is stopping the portrait-torchers from starting one of their own? It should be fascinating.
What would they teach? If they continue avoiding imperialist, colonial and patriarchal hegemonies (insert any liberal catchword), they will still be stuck squarely in the Western academic camp. This is acknowledged by some at Rhodes University who complain of a lack of any “African curriculum” because no one has created one yet. But their lack doesn’t make white institutions racist.
British press notes that the #Rhodesmustfall probably was inspired by similar lunacy in American Universities. Tom Leonard in the Spectator reminds readers that instructors preemptively self-flagellated here first. “Harvard joined Princeton in announcing it is dropping the title of ‘master’ for the heads of residential colleges, a tradition borrowed from Oxbridge. Yale is expected to follow suit.”
Connotations with “slavery.” Extending this cultural contrition would require all honorifics and titles such as “mister” be banished, but the LGBT crew is already hacking away at that.
It occurs to me they could sentence the UCT offenders to art school and some kind of indentured servitude to painters until they could craft decent replacements. But that isn’t going to happen while South African President Zuma’s signature song is the racist, “Bring me my machine gun.”
Since this began, “#Rhodes Must Fall” has multiplied itself endlessly with demands for free education for unqualified students everywhere. If you have a similar grudge or feel the world is just mean, please see the tag #feesmustfall. Perhaps next in line will be #skymustfall or in keeping with the French revolutionary burning barricades motif, #headsmustfall.