The colonialist complains about colonialism

Odd piece in the NYT.

Critics may ask of what use it is to dismantle symbols of colonialism on campuses if removing them won’t usher in transformed and more inclusive educational spaces?

But they miss the point. The core issue is a prevalent feeling, and experience, of exclusion among many black students in universities across the country, even where they are a numerical majority.

These (mostly white) critics fail to grasp the aesthetic and moral assault on one’s entire being that occurs when a black person walks across a campus covered with statues and monuments that celebrate colonial conquerors as heroes. It is disingenuous to pretend these statues originally existed, or could be re-imagined anew, as monuments that poke fun at the evil characters who looted the region while trampling on the fundamental rights of indigenous people. Rhodes bequeathed land and money to both universities, and erecting statues and naming things in his honor were expressions of gratitude. Why else include an inscription that reads, “To the spirit and life work of Cecil John Rhodes who loved and served South Africa”?
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It is dishonest to deny the inherently celebratory nature of the Rhodes statue, and historical statues in general. While removing one won’t change institutional cultures overnight — or transform the demographics of staff — it would be an important symbolic start.

I gather that Eusebius McKaiser is from one of the various Bantu groupings. You know, that colonising group that didn’t move as far as Cape Town until well after the white colonisation (the standard Bantu farming package didn’t make it over the Fish River). But no one really seems to think about these distinctions these days, do they?

26 thoughts on “The colonialist complains about colonialism”

  1. Yep, the Bantu were top colonisers. The Gaels in Ireland were another effective colonising gang whose descendants don’t like it mentioned.

  2. dearieme – Aren’t you Scots descended from the Irish?

    Bloody Gaels.

    Anyway, Eusebius McKaiser is a wonderful name. He should be a Bond baddie.

  3. Tim

    ‘But no one really seems to think about these distinctions these days, do they?’

    You can lose the ‘about these distinctions these days’ and you’ll sum up the contemporary intellectual scene.

    Simple enough to sort – the UK should ask for the statue to be given away to us (if they want it removed so badly) and also prohibit any political refugees who are non-caucasian from coming here. Not sure if South Africa is an aid recipient but if it is, withdraw them from the list of countries receiving aid.

    South Africa’s decline since the collapse of apartheid has been precipitous. Let them have their ‘legacy of freedom’ and eat it – there’s a long way for ISIS and Boko Haram to go admittedly until they’re threatening South Africa but let these guys stew in their resentment for now.

  4. It seems to me that the problem for us white folk is that our ancestors just weren’t genocidal enough. Guess there are no victims of the Bantu around to make a noise about them.

  5. You don’t have to worship the statue Mr McKaiser. Didn’t the missionaries teach you about that?

  6. Indeed we weren’t genocidal enough. Unlike the colonisers of Manhattan Island for example, who made sure there are no indigenous peoples to picket the offices of the NYT.

  7. “Aren’t you Scots descended from the Irish?” Some more than others. Since I had an Irish grandfather …..

    Actually, he was one of the Good Irish – he thought the people he’d been brought up amongst a loathsome crew, and had a stream of anecdotes to illustrate the point. Family experience since then has not shown him to be wrong.

  8. As Rhodes funded the universities of Cape Town and Rhodes in Grahamstown; donated the magnificent estate Groote Schuur below UCT given to the state to house the prime minister, later president plus several ministers; established the Rhodes scholarship scheme to bring together the cream of the academic crop from the anglosphere, beneficiaries including Clinton; preserved the magnicent mountain chain of the Cape Peninsula with its unique flora from urban encroachment; and drove an imperialist program to link the undevelopped subSaharan Africa with infrastructure the better to colonise it, may I suggest to Mr McKeiser, that colonial contamination is all about him and that he should seek out his ancestral mudhut in the Transkei(never colonised ) and tend goats, rather than ponticate from the comfort of his office in a rather pleasant colonial building in the urSettler city of Cape Town.

  9. dearieme – They’re a mixed bag, the Irish.

    On the one hand, they gave us the sublime George Best, the sonorous Terry Wogan, and many lovely, lilting girls with a sparkle in their eyes.

    On the other hand, shades-wearing bellend Bono, megaphoned religious bigot Ian Paisley, sinister clown-without-makeup Martin McGuinness, and Richard Murphy.

    Maybe that’s a draw.

    What have the Scots given us, other than Gordon Brown and the Krankies?

    OK, Adam Smith maybe. But what have you done for us lately?

  10. Dongguan John – and some guy who rides a bike who’s name no one can remember?

    I hate it when that happens. That’s why I call most people “mate”.

  11. When they excavated the Zimbabwe ruins they found no copper wire. Proof that the ingenious folk invented the mobile phone before the whiteys.

  12. That’s what I call exploitation baas;

    now, the yellow man comes and moves mountains to mine all the diamonds, gold and copper………….. and no one calls them “colonialists” just are, good old mates with the Prez – who gets shoeboxes to buy shoes for his many floozies.

  13. My old man used to raise a hollow laugh whenever India with its caste system tried to take the moral high ground on apartheid.

  14. This is the same irony repeated whenever the various parts Arab empire complains about people taking over its land.

  15. Rob – I reckon Ian Paisley would raise an objection to being described as Irish, if he wasn’t dead.

    I understand what you mean, but no – he wouldn’t have:

    http://www.veooz.com/news/0HVNu3o.html

    The fractious identities of NornIron are a bit more complicated than we tend to assume. I’ve known quite a few NornIrish, Protestant, Unionists – but never met one who objected to being called Irish. It’s just that they’re also British, and maybe also, also Ulster Scots. (Though I get the sense Ulster Scots is more about scamming the government out of culture funding.)

    It wasn’t Irishness that Paisley was always ranting about, before he mellowed slightly in his old age. It was the Potpourri he was after.

  16. @steve – “On the one hand, they gave us the sublime George Best, the sonorous Terry Wogan, and many lovely, lilting girls with a sparkle in their eyes.

    On the other hand, shades-wearing bellend Bono, megaphoned religious bigot Ian Paisley, sinister clown-without-makeup Martin McGuinness, and Richard Murphy.”

    class mate, sheer class, sublimes at “sinister clown-without-makeup Martin McGuinness,”.

    Wogan is a minor genius, yet many don’t see it.

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    The core issue is a prevalent feeling, and experience, of exclusion among many black students in universities across the country, even where they are a numerical majority.

    Well one way to cope with your inadequacies is to blame some sort of external force.

    These (mostly white) critics fail to grasp the aesthetic and moral assault on one’s entire being that occurs when a black person walks across a campus covered with statues and monuments that celebrate colonial conquerors as heroes.

    The poor dears. The poor dears indeed. Luckily for Mr McKaiser (and that name has to be made up, right?), he is named after an African and so he can hold his head proudly as part of the great African intellectual tradition, untainted by anything as horrible as colonialism.

  18. I gather that Eusebius McKaiser is from one of the various Bantu groupings. You know, that colonising group that didn’t move as far as Cape Town until well after the white colonisation (the standard Bantu farming package didn’t make it over the Fish River). But no one really seems to think about these distinctions these days, do they?

    Is it because I is black?

    🙂

  19. johnny bonk – thanks 🙂 But I stole that clown joke from Alan Partridge.

    Wogan is a minor genius, yet many don’t see it.

    He is, isn’t he? I didn’t like him when I was a youth. He was too much of an old fuddy duddy, even when he goaded poor mad David Icke on TV. In my mind he was like flock wallpaper, polyester suits, and brown: a relic of the 70’s.

    But then I grew up, and learned to appreciate the man’s gentle humour, his avuncular whimsy, and his perfect hair.

    It is no small praise to say that Terry Wogan made Eurovision watchable. It’s never been the same without him. BBC Radio 2 in the morning is now almost unbearable. I have nothing against Chris Evans, but the last thing I want to hear in the morning is some manically cheerful person shouting “weh-hey!” I miss the simmering sexual tension between the old master and sultry traffic-siren Lynn Bowles.

  20. Iain Paisley, as I think I have said before on here, was a remarkably decent bloke to have a drink with.

    Personally, I was surprised, because my image of him before I actually met him, was the same as Steve’s. Also, subsequently, I found out that, as a local MP, he was surprisingly (given the nature of northern bog-trotter-land) popular with the Catholics in his North Antrim constituency.

  21. @SE: re Ian Paisley – another example of my principle that public figures who are painted by the media as ‘nasty’ and ‘bigoted’ are usual decent folk who you’d happily live next door to and share a pint and a conversation with, while the ‘right on’ types are complete shits who you’d do well to avoid personally at all costs.

  22. SE

    A number of Catholics I have met who lived in Paisley’s constituency said as a constituency MP he was unrivalled. The late Peter Simplesaid just as there were some people it was impossible to criticise (Nelson Mandela, for example) others were,at least for the chattering classes, impossible, to praise, one of whom was Ian Paisley – it’s an even more marked phenomenon in these days…..

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