The Rhodes statue
London Trevor Phillips: The attempt to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College in Oxford trivialises the memory of millions who suffered under colonialism, and dishonours the work of those who fought apartheid. The ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign has been witless, wrong-headed and reprehensible. Witless, because it demands of the university authorities what could not be met by issuing a blindfold to any student of a sensitive disposition. Wrongheaded, because despite Oxford’s awareness of its lack of diversity, the leaders of this campaign have not used the battle to make a case for educational opportunities for those descended from the victims of colonialism. Reprehensible, because it supposes that if symbols are removed, evil is vanquished.
The Lexicon Gap
Cheshire Edward Brady: In his Lunch with Financial Times interview, the TV presenter Jeremy Paxman declared that “everyone on the telly is a showoff”. Five paragraphs later we have confirmation of his membership of that elite club. In describing his guest, the estimable Jeremy Clarkson, as an accomplished deipnosophist, Paxman had me running for the dictionary. Alas, my 2,000-page Collins Concise English Dictionary was not up to the task. I then turned to my son, a graduate in English literature. He didn’t recognise the word either, but seconds later, after consulting his iPhone, he defined deipnosophist as someone who is an adept conversationalist at the table.