Showing posts with label Colston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colston. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Kolston Kult Komes Klean

During my visits to the Deep South I visited the old Colonial Mansions in Greenville, Savanna and Charleston also Georgia. 

Not all the so-called slaves had a rough time. They had a roof over their head and were fed. 

During the war we lost our house in the blitz. We lived in a village hall sleeping on the floor and in air raid shelters up to our knees in water. We would have swapped these conditions for what I saw of the conditions of the so-called slaves in the Deep South. 

My advise to those of you who are trying to get rid of the name Colston: if you do not like it, move home. 

Edward Colston's contribution to Bristol was immense.

Letter, Bristol Evening Post, 18/11/2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Kolston Kerfuffle Kontinues

There is a scheme to add an explanatory plaque to the statue of Edward Colston which stands in the center of Bristol. 

The current statue simply says that Colston was one of the "most virtuous and wise" sons of Bristol. The proposed text would read: 

"As a high official of the Royal African Company from 1680 to 1692, Edward Colston played an active role in the enslavement of over 84,000 Africans (including 12,000 children) of whom over 19,000 died en route to the Caribbean and America. Colston also invested in the Spanish slave trade and in slave-produced sugar. As Tory MP for Bristol (1710-1713), he defended the city’s ‘right’ to trade in enslaved Africans. Bristolians who did not subscribe to his religious and political beliefs were not permitted to benefit from his charities.”

Surely no-one could possibly have any objection to this wording?

This pathetic bid to mount a secondary revisionist plaque on Colston's Statue is historically-illiterate and a further stunt to try to reinvent Bristol's history

If it goes through, it will be a further slap-in-the-face for true Bristolians and our city's history delivered by ignorant, left-wing incomers

I have never been a believer in taking the law into one's own hands. However, if this partisan and nauseous plaque is approved, I can not find it in my heart to condemn anyone who damages or removes it.

Richard Eddy (Bristol Councilor)

I want to pull down and erase all mention of William the Conquer as he killed some English people at Hastings. 
andys rifles (via Mail Online) 

I take it these lefties also want Karl Marx gravestone and image removed too? 
Mark from Manchester, (via Mail Online)

Another example of someone from distant passed being judged by today's standards. Are these people thick or just mad?
Christian solider, (via Mail Online)

Why do those in authority always cave in to lefties instead of protecting our history
Time for revolution, (via Mail Online)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Kolston Kerfuffle Kontinues

Nobody in their right mind would regard the slave trade as anything other than hideous and barbaric but this suggestion smacks of political correctness out of control once more. -- Gavin Chandler

Would it be no surprise to find that when the revisionists have been successful in purging Colston from Bristol, we will see a new campaign to rename Cabot Circus. -- John Cudmore

Whilst in my mind and as a true Bristolian , I will always associate the currently named Colston Hall with this name simply because I have, and continue to have, memories that link the name to the building that I have supported for many years and continue to do so. -- Bob Farmer

...whatever name is chosen it will still be known as and called THE COLSTON HALL....It is not possible to judge the standards of 300 years ago by today's. -- C Derrick

Notwithstanding his connections with the slave trade, my recent letters on the subject have always supported keeping Colston's name (warts and all!) as an integral facet of what it means to be a dyed-in-the-Bristolian. [sic] - RL Smith

Although we now condemn him for his connection to the slave trade, times were very different then and he shouldn't be judged by us who are living comfortably today with the protection of the Welfare State when we are ill or can't support ourselves -- P Collins

[Meanwhile, someone is demolishing a pub]

I was devastated by the recent news that the Council have decided to demolish the old Cattle Market tavern just to make way for a bus-stop. What are these sacrifices being made for? A faceless fortress for foreign students that could be sited anywhere? If the plans are to create an enhanced medical faculty for the good of us all, then this bitter pill could  be better swallowed, but even then there is no need to erase our past. - Mark Steeds

Monday, February 05, 2018

I Might Be In The Swamp

"What are your politics?"
"Well, I am afraid really I have none. I am a Liberal."
"Oh, they count as Tories. They dine with us. Or come in the evening, at any rate."
The Importance of Being Earnest

An American once asked me if Tony Benn was a liberal.

“On the contrary," I replied  "He was on the left of the Labour party.”

To which the American riposted  “Oh, I thought he supported high taxation, socialized medicine, trade unions and fairly generous welfare spending and opposed the death penalty and nuclear weapons.”

“Yes,” said I “That’s what I mean by ‘on the the left of the Labour Party’”.

“Oh,” the fictitious American retorted “But that’s what I mean by ‘liberal.”


On November 18th, the Guardian published a short essay by the former leader of the British Liberal Democrats, under the headline “Liberalism has eaten itself — it isn’t very liberal any more.” 

Any fool can type “Christ was not a Christian” or “Marx was no Marxist”. It’s just a smart-arse way of saying “I don’t think that Jesus would have agreed with some of the doctrines which the Christian church now subscribes to” or “Present day leftists haven’t properly understood Karl Marx’s political ideas.” If Tim Farron had said that the Green party was no longer green, the Conservative Party was not interested in conserving things or that the Worker’s Revolutionary Party was neither Holy, Roman nor an Empire, we would all have understood perfectly well what he meant. 

But when Tim Farron types that liberalism is no longer “very” liberal he doesn’t mean that his party, the Liberal Democrats, has drifted away from the political ideas which it was founded to promote. What he appears to be saying is that there is a thing called liberalism, which is distinct from the liberal party. When this thing called liberalism exists in conjunction with Christianity it has a desirable quality which he calls…liberalism. But when Christianity is removed from that thing called liberalism, that quality called liberalism is lost. However, Christianity and liberalism are not the same thing.

The Athanasian Creed seems positively straightforward by comparison. 

Let us try to unpack the argument as best we can.

I: The Liberal party was founded by Christians - it grew out of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Protestant Non-Conformist movement

"British liberalism is founded in the battle for religious liberty. The nonconformist, evangelical Christian groups that were persecuted by a society that favoured adherence only to the established church built a liberal movement that championed much wider liberty, for women, for other religious minorities, nonreligious minorities, for cultural and regional minorities, for the poor and vulnerable."

A lot of the great liberals of the past were definitely Church of Wales, Unitarian or Methodist. And so were a lot of the great socialists and the great Tories. Tony Benn was fond of saying that the Labour Party owed more to Methodism than to Marx; Mrs Thatcher’s dad was a Methodist local preacher. Was there a special link between the liberals and the Non-Conformists? Or would it be more accurate to say that the Non-Conformists were more inclined than the Established Church to think it their Christian duty to change the world through secular, political action?

Tim is trying to make the point that there is no necessary contradiction between being an evangelical Christian and being a liberal. I am not sure how far claiming that the movement's origins were Christian (even if that is true) supports his case. Most people have a perception that evangelical Christians want laws against blasphemy and obscenity, whereas liberals are against censorship. They think that evangelicals want abortion and euthanasia to be against the law, but that liberals think that people should be free to make their own choices. They think that evangelicals believe that God gave men and women different roles whereas the liberals support the equality of the sexes. This is why they are “surprised and confused” when a liberal such as Tim Farron says that he is also an evangelical Christian. If this is a misconception, Tim could very easily have typed “That may have been true at one time, but evangelicalism has moved on: most of us are much more progressive on those kinds of issues than we used to be.”

But he doesn’t

II: Although the Liberal Party has lost the election, a separate thing called liberalism has “comprehensively triumphed” everywhere else. 

"Liberalism has apparently won. Even members of the Conservative and Labour parties call themselves liberals today. Let’s be honest, you can’t work in the media without being a liberal. Even most of the journalists who write for the rightwing press are in truth liberals."

"Despite my best efforts, the Liberal Democrats have not won. But irrespective of my efforts, liberalism has." 

Is it true that we are all liberals now? Many people would agree with Tim that you can’t work in the media without being a liberal. Many people would agree that liberals run even the so-called right-wing press. And many people do indeed believe in something they call the Liberal Elite.

But the people who talk about the liberal elite aren’t talking about an elite made up of members of the Liberal Democrats. They certainly aren’t saying that in order to work at the Daily Telegraph you have to believe in 200% council tax surcharges on second homes. Liberal, in this sense, simply means “of the left”. And it is almost always used in a pejorative sense. Indeed, most people who think that you have to be a liberal to work in the media (hello, Richard Littlejohn! can you hear me, Kathy Hopkins?) subscribe to a conspiracy theory in which the media is controlled by a secret society known as the SJW or the Cultural Marxists.

Liberal, in this pejorative, American sense doesn’t imply beliefs which are particularly left-wing by British standards. A liberal, in this sense, believes that women should be paid the same as men, that evolution and climate change are real things, and that everyone should be allowed to go to the doctor if they get sick. The far right call this “leftie” or “PC” or “liberal” or “SJW”. The rest of us call it "what everyone believes in nowadays."

If Tim wants to adopt this usage, then he is free to do so. If we define “liberalism” as “views which are not on the extreme right” then it is certainly true that everyone except the extreme right is now a liberal. 

3: However, there is some analogy between this triumph of liberalism and the conversion of Rome to Christianity in 313 AD, which Tim takes for granted was a Bad Thing.

“Yet its triumph is hollow, just as Christianity’s apparent triumph was hollow when it became the state religion of the Roman empire.”

“My experience is that although liberalism has won, it is now behaving like the established church of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. It has gained ascendancy and lost itself in the process.”

This is a very odd thing for a self-proclaimed Bible believing Christian to say. I understand why a conspiracy theorist like Dan Brown might think that Jesus was just a new age hippy mystic until Nasty Constantine deified him in order to sell his new faith to the pagans. I understand why a, er, liberal theologian like Giles Fraser would think that the historical Jesus was basically a Corbynite social reformer and that the doctrines of the Atonement and the Resurrection are part of a vicious death-cult invented by Wicked Constantine in 325. But why should an evangelical think that the conversion of Rome was a disaster? Surely it was the post 313 Church that established the text and canon of the Bible they hold so dear? And surely it was the post 313 church that formalized the doctrines and creeds that they are so committed to?

Would Tim Farron rather we were all Arians?

I fear that there is a very dodgy sectarian undercurrent to this. I am very much afraid that evangelicals identify the ancient Roman church with the present day Roman Catholic church, and believe that Roman Catholics are “not Christian” or at any rate “not very Christian”. I fear that they believe that the Protestant Reformation — specifically, whatever sect they happen to belong to — restored the primitive apostolic faith. And I suppose that Tim Farron wants to wrest primitive liberalism back from these nasty fake liberals with their newspapers and their temples and their idolatry. 

IV: Because many liberals are not Christians, liberalism has lost a quality which it once had. This quality Tim calls "liberalism". 

"In discarding Christianity, we kick away the foundations of liberalism and democracy and so we cannot then be surprised when what we call liberalism stops being liberal."

"My experience is that although liberalism has won, it is now behaving like the established church of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. It has gained ascendancy and lost itself in the process. It isn’t very liberal any more."

I am pretty sure what Tim Farron is not saying here. He is not saying that the liberals (in the first sense, the Liberal Democrat Party) have ceased to believe in raising income tax by 1p to pay for the health service. He is not even saying that liberalism (in the second sense, the near universal progressive consensus) has ceased to believe in progressive values. He is claiming that liberalism has lost one specific defining liberal characteristic. The salt has lost its savour and Tim Farron knoweth wherewith it can be salted. 

I will accept for the sake of argument that liberalism emerged from the eighteenth and nineteenth century Non-Conformist movement; I will allow him to conflate Non-Conformism with evangelicalism, and I will even swallow the implication that the fourth century Roman Church and the nineteenth century Church of England are "establishment" Churches in a somehow analogous way. 

What I will not accept is that because liberalism was originally Christian, it follows that liberalism is irreducibly Christian. It certainly doesn’t follow that if you “discard” Christianity -- if some liberals are also catholics or atheists -- that you “kick away the foundations” of liberalism. You might as well say that because the Freemasons were originally a guild who built Cathedrals then building Cathedrals is what Freemasonry is all about and your local lodge is no longer very masonic. 

I think that what is happening here is simple metaphor-abuse. I am reminded of the pundits who argued that since marriage is the foundation of our society, allowing lesbians to get married will cause society to fall down. 

It might be that liberalism has some hidden premise that only works if you believe in sola scripture and baptism by total immersion. But Tim would need to demonstrate this. He isn't allowed to take it for granted.


So what is this quality called liberalism which is present when Christianity is present, but absent when Christianity is absent?

Ladies and gentlemen, the true definition of liberalism is…

(loud fanfare and drum roll) 

….freedom of speech. 

“What is at the heart of a liberal society? It is to uphold that we have a right to offend and a duty to tolerate offense. George Orwell said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.””

Is that truly what he believes? Is that the one quality which makes liberalism liberal, which modern liberalism has lost? Is that the quality which disappears from liberalism when the majority of liberals stop being Methodists? And indeed, is there the slightest evidence that evangelical Christians are any more inclined than anyone else to say that they don’t agree with Jerry Springer the Opera or Monty Python’s Life of Brian but they will defend to the death those works right to be heard?

Oh, and did you spot the way that when George Orwell said "liberty" Tim Farron heard "liberalism"?

I don’t know if freedom of speech is at the heart of a liberal society, because I don’t really know what “at the heart of...” means. It is a classic preacher’s cliche. Clergymen are always telling us that improved street lighting on the Putney High Street should be right at the heart of our Christmas celebrations and that the problem of drug misuse in the under twelves is at the very heart of our Christian witness.

If free speech is at the heart of a liberal society, does that mean that it is the most important thing: that we should be prepared to sacrifice other things in order to secure it? Or does it mean that free speech is the good thing on which all other good things depend — that unless you secure free speech you will never secure any other reform?

I think that freedom of speech is one of a number of Good Things which need to be balanced against each other. I don’t think that freedom of speech is more important than universal enfranchisement. I would never have said “Well, it’s a shame that women are still not allowed to vote, but at least they are allowed to say offensively nasty things about men.” I don’t think that freedom of speech is the freedom from which all other freedoms derive. I don’t think that you have to fight for the right of offensively bigoted people to say offensively bigoted things before you can start to work towards racial equality.

Both ideas sound like nonsense to me. But perhaps they don’t sound like nonsense to Tim Farron. Perhaps that is why I am a Corbyn-supporting reformist and he is a Liberal Democrat. Perhaps the Liberal Democrats are and always have been the Freedom Of Speech Party.


In what way has this freedom to be offensive, this right to tell people things they do not want to hear, been withdrawn?

Tim cites two pieces of evidence.

First, social media. "Liberalism has eaten itself" turns out to mean “some people on Twitter can sometimes be a bit awful.”

“Five minutes on social media will give you a window into a society that condemns and judges, that leaps to take offence and pounces to cause it – liberals condemning those who don’t conform as nasty and hateful, the right condemning liberals as fragile snowflakes.”

I invite the reader to examine this claim very closely indeed. Note that Tim again adopts the American usage where liberal is the opposite of the right and the right is the opposite of liberal. Even granted this usage, you would expect him to say "the right condemns liberals and liberals condemn the right”. Instead, while we are all looking the other way, he performs his rhetorical masterstroke.  “The right condemns liberals and liberals condemn those who don’t conform.

Those who don’t conform.

It isn’t that liberals say that white supremacists and rape apologists and people who think that wheelchair users should be barred from going to school are nasty and hateful because nasty and hateful is what they in fact are. Liberals are calling them bad names because liberals don’t like people who won’t conform.

Note the subtle way he brings everything back to non-conformism, which is where we started. The true liberals, refusing to conform to the liberal consensus on the internet, are like the Anabaptists, refusing to conform to the protestant consensus in the Church of England. The liberals on the internet, shocked when someone says that secondary modern students are little different from cavemen, are like the fake Christians who made a pact with Caesar. Any one who deviates from received opinion is a non-conformist, and every non-conformist is a liberal. So the brave soul who is prepared to come right out and call a spade a nigg-nogg is the true liberal and the person who tells him that we don’t want that kind of language round here is not a liberal at all.

(There is also a sort of a pun going on around the dual meaning of "non-conformist". Non-Conformist has a specific religious meaning; but it can also just mean "anyone who won't fit in".  Not all non-conformists are Non-Conformists. And most Non-Conformists were rather conventional folk.)

Then we get an odd digression on “shared values”. 

“People talk about shared values today – I’ve done it myself. But when they do, what they mean is: “These are my values – and I am going to act as though they are also yours, and will demonstrate contempt for you if you depart from them"…..The cultural leaders of our day have made the arrogant and fatal assumption that we have these shared liberal values, and have sought to enforce them via John Stuart Mill’s hated tyranny of opinion.”

Is this true? Is this what people mean when they say “shared values”? Is this what Tim meant? Did he truthfully declare some idiosyncratic private belief of his own  to be a value that everyone shared and then try to enforce it? Are consensus progressive values merely the personal whims of a handful of individuals which have been forced on the majority by the minority? Is it really so arrogant of me to assume that everyone round the table agrees that black people and white people should have the same civil rights? Wouldn’t showing my contempt be the very mildest possible reaction if it turned out that someone at the table supported slavery or didn't think that Muslims should have freedom of worship?

But this is the claim. The people in charge -- the Establishment, the Emperor, Twitter -- have a set of rules, and if you deviate from those rules you risk of.....being disapproved of and called bad names.

And the people at risk from this terrible fate are....people who aren’t sufficiently liberal.

Don’t believe anything you may have read about Gamergate and the Puppies issuing rape and death threats to what-they-call SJWs and what-they-call feminazis. What we need to fear is the baying mob of consensus progressives.


And that, of course, is what this is all about.

There was once a  politician -- let's call him "Tim" -- who was also, confusingly and surprisingly, an evangelical Christian. And he dissented from the consensus by saying that he thought that it was a sin to be gay. And everyone in the liberal media judged the poor politician. They condemned him and demonstrated contempt for him. He was despised and rejected of Twitter, a man of sorrow and acquainted with John Humphries.

So he went home, and tried to come up with a way of defining the word liberal such that the people who said that gay sex was forbidden by God were the liberal ones, and the people who said that it was fine to be gay were not true liberals.

So he decided that judge not lest thee be judged was the whole of the law. And so it turned out if the liberals had really been liberals they would have tolerated his intolerance and not said that he was hateful and nasty for thinking that a whole section of the population were going to hell.

Because if liberalism doesn’t mean the right to call one lot of people sinners without another lot of people looking down on you then it doesn’t mean anything at all.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Right Wing Racist Writes

....Richard Smith is looking forward to the Colston Hall name change - how about Hally McHallface or Star Bucks [sic]. And would you like Bristol renamed next year too, since a lot of its wealth in the past was made from the slave trade, and sugar and tobacco?

Of course neither [correspondent]mentions the significant philanthropic contributions that Colston made to Bristol...and neither acknowledges the realities of the times that Colston lived through and that his involvement with the slave trade should be seen in that light.

But then should we be surprised that the Countering Colston arguments are so one-dimensional and biased, because behind them is the sort of anti-establishment anti-capitalist slant of the Bristol Radical History Group[?] Looking at its website shows how they would like our history rewritten with conscientious objectors the only true heroes of war, Churchill the evil war-monger who incited WW2, and the renaming of the Colston Hall the first "domino" to fall.

...Colston was a significant person in the history of Bristol whose name should continue to appear, though his slave trade involvement should be highlighted in the context of the times he lived in as well as his philanthropic contributions

And before you call be a right wing racist, I am an educated liberal Bristolian with a passion for history, Bristol, education, and fairness. 

J. E Hill 

Evening Post Jan 18

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Ignorant Outdated Racist Writes....

I am getting totally fed up with the non-Bristolians of lower Clifton etc imposing their views on true Bristolians over historical events that happened more than 300 years ago.

Now they have finished their uni courses and settled down here, they seem to think they are the best thing since sliced bread because they are so-called educated and can impose their minority views on us!

For the non-Bristolians who want to have a rant at me because in their eyes they think I am an ignorant outdated racist (which I am not) I am actually a fairly successful career person who was born in this great city of ours but detest when the former uni students demand our history is changed because of their unrealistic left wing views. 

Bristol Evening Post 17/1/2018

Friday, January 05, 2018

Toby Proposes a Toast

Let us pause in life’s pleasures and take a look at what Toby Young actually said.

The prosecution alleges that Toby Young described special needs pupils as “troglodytes”, and said that giving schools wheelchair access was and example of “ghastly political correctness.”

The context here is a 2012 article in the Spectator on the subject of School Examinations. The point under discussion was whether all school children should take the same examination at the age of 16, or whether there should be two or more different kinds. 

When my Dad was at school, there was only one kind of exam: the School Certificate. When I was at school, there were two kinds: the Certificate of Secondary Education, for the pupils who were expected to leave school at 16 and get a job; and the General Certificate of Education, for those who intending to stay on at school and go to college. The C.S.E had been created for the old Secondary Modern schools, and tended to be in technical and practical subjects like photography and metalwork. The G.C.E (more commonly known as the “O Level”) was created for the old Grammar Schools and tended to be in more academic subjects like history and Latin. In 1988 these two exams were combined into a single General Certificate of Secondary Education. When Mr Young wrote the offending article, the idea of bringing back the old “O” level was being mooted. Young was very strongly in favour of this idea; he had apparently been talking to some people who were very strongly against it. 

The reason that the “two tier” exam system is controversial can be encapsulated in the fact that throughout the article, Toby Young equates “more technical and practical” with “easier, for stupid people” and “more desk based and academic” with “harder, for clever people”. Not two different kinds of exams, equal but different, with (to make up a phrase on the spur of the moment) “parity of esteem”: but a Good Exam and a Bad Exam, or at any rate Better Exam and a Worse Exam.

It was ever thus. The GCSE / CSE split was a legacy of the old “tripartite” system, where children were sent to Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools on the basis of an IQ test at age 11. The question was never “Will you go to Secondary Modern and maybe learn how to be an engineer; or will you go Grammar School and maybe learn how to be a barrister?” It was always “Hooray, you’ve passed and your prize is to go to the Grammar! Boo, you’ve failed and your punishment is to go to Secondary Modern!” One of the books about education I studied for my “O” level Sociology described an infant school headmistress telling little kids that if they failed their 11+ they would be “dummies” and “dopies”

If we were actually having a discussion about exams and how best to measure the achievement of school-leavers then you could make out a case for “two kinds of exam” and you could also make out a case for “only one kind of exam”. It is not the sort of question which has a definite right or a definite wrong answer.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that an exam which everyone takes, regardless of ability, has to be easier than one which is only taken by clever people. We could easily contrive a paper full of open ended questions like “What were the causes of the First World War?” and “Why did Othello kill his wife?”, and give some marks to the candidates who state the simple facts of history or the bare bones of Shakespeare’s plot, but a lot more marks to candidates who can contrast the viewpoints of a number of different historians and scratch beneath the surface of the Bard's text. We could certainly come up with a maths paper in which the quicker student was able to answer 100 questions in the time it took the slower one to answer 50. (I suspect that this would fill some elements of The Right with horror. The Right prefer black and white to shades of grey. The point of exams is not to grade children into OK  / Good / Very Good / Excellent / Bloody Brilliant. The point of exams is to divide children into Sheep and Goats, or at any rate Artisans and Philosopher Kings.)   

My personal theory is that it is very hard to persuade an employer that the holder of a “Grade D English” has shown himself able to write correct, grammatical, well punctuated essays and would therefore be quite able to hold down an office job, even though the person with the “Grade A English” had shown he could use the language with more maturity, flair, and fronted adverbials. I think that a lot of employers leap to the conclusion that the holder of the Grade D can hardly read or write. I also think that there are people who are perfectly competent at arithmetic but hopelessly confused by calculus and geometry, and that it is better to present an employer with a “Grade I CSE Maths” than a “Grade D O Level Maths” even if both represent about the same level of numeracy. So like Toby, I would run with two different kinds of exams. 

By an astonishing coincidence, this is the system I grew up with. 


But Toby Young isn’t actually talking about exams. Toby Young is actually talking about conspiracy theories. The gist of the essay is that sinister forces called “inclusion”, “equalities”, “Harriet Harman”, “the therapy squid”, and (of course) “political correctness” have turned state schools into a dystopian nightmare.

His first bugbear is equality and specifically the 2010 Equalities Act. Young thinks that the idea of equality in the political sense — that everyone should be treated the same — necessarily leads to the belief that everyone actually is exactly the same — and then to what he calls an “all-must-have-prizes” culture. 

”All must have prizes” is a reference to the Caucus race in Alice in Wonderland: it was impossible to win, but everyone participant got a prize just for showing up. But it is also the title of a book on education by the far-right conspiracy theorist Melanie Phillips. It isn’t clear if Young literally believes that “schools” nowadays give prizes and qualifications to everyone regardless of ability, or if “all must have prizes” is just a code word for “oh, isn’t everything awful nowadays”. 

Young claims that before the government could restore O levels it would have to repeal the Equalities Act, because the Equalities Act means that any exam has to be equally accessible both to stupid people and to clever people. He has subsequently claimed that the word troglodyte was not intended as a slur against children with special educational needs: it was in fact reference to the movie One Million Years BC. I suppose it is possible that he was just trying to be funny: envisaging a grunting Neanderthal in a leopard skin trying to answer questions about the role of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet. (It is interesting, albeit completely irrelevant that when he wants to reference cavemen, the first thing which comes into his head is a 1966 dinosaur movie starring Raquel Welch, as opposed to, say, Quest For Fire or 2001: A Space Odyssey.) So let’s ignore the unfortunate word choice and look at what he actually said: 

“If Gove is serious about wanting to bring back O-levels, the government will have to repeal the Equalities Act because any exam that isn’t ‘accessible’ to a functionally illiterate [person] with a mental age of six will be judged to be ‘elitist’ and therefore forbidden by Harman’s Law.”

“Functionally illiterate” could be hyperbole. We have all heard Grammar Pedants fulminating that "young people nowadays are functionally illiterate" when what they really mean is that they've just spotted someone writing “who” when they should have written  “whom” or putting exclamation marks at the ends of sentences which don't begin with “What…!” or “How…!”  But “with a mental age of six” is pretty specific. O Levels are taken at age 16, and a person of 16 with a mental age of 6 is the very definition of special educational needs. 

So. Either this man really believes that the Equalities Act requires all school exams to be easy enough that a severely mentally handicapped person can take them; or else by “functionally illiterate with a mental age of six” he really means “the kind of person who would have gone to a Secondary Modern and done CSEs under the old system”. Which is better than calling special needs students cave-men, but not much. It takes us right back to that infant school teacher and her dummies and dopies. 

I cannot help mentioning that J.C Wright (who has by now failed to win so many Hugo Awards that I have lost count) says that anyone who went to an American state school is a “zombie” or a “moorlock” and when pressed insists that he believes this to be the literal truth. 

Does Young really believe that the Equalities act forbids anyone to do anything that could be judged to be “elitist”? In fact, it simply offers legal redress to people in nine “protected categories” if they are subjected to harassment, discrimination, or victimization. You might think that it is simply providing a legal framework for stuff that everyone thinks should happen as a matter of course. A black person shouldn’t be passed over for promotion because they are black; a Jewish person shouldn’t be bullied at work because they are Jewish; you can't fire someone just because they're over 50. Some people on the Right don’t like this: they think that “everyone should be treated fairly” means “everyone should have identical outcomes”. They think “you shouldn’t get first prize in the race just because you Dad is the PE teacher” is logically identical with “you shouldn’t get first prize in the race just because you are the fastest runner.” So when an act of parliament says “no-one should be excluded from work for an irrelevant reason like the colour of his skin or the gender of his lover” they hear “schools are only allowed to set exams if they are easy enough for cavemen to pass.”  

The Equalities Act might very well allow the mother of a 16 year old who can neither read nor write and has the cognitive ability of a 6 year old to say “My child has the same right as every other child to an education that is appropriate for him or her.” It could not possibly be interpreted to mean “My child has the same rights as every other child to a GCSE in English Literature” This is fantasy and Toby Young must know that it is fantasy. 


He gets deeper into the realms of fantasy when he starts to talk about a bogeyman he calls inclusion.

“Inclusive. It’s one of those ghastly, politically correct words that have survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be ‘inclusive’ these days. That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library (though no Mark Twain) and a Special Educational Needs Department that can cope with everything from dyslexia to M√ľnchausen syndrome by proxy.”

There is nothing wrong with hyperbole; I myself have used hyperbole on billions of occasions. But words do have meanings. If someone says “You never see anyone on the BBC who isn’t a one-legged black lesbian” they may not literally mean that you never see anyone on the BBC who isn’t a one-legged black lesbian. But it is reasonable to infer that they think that you would naturally expect that only white able bodied heterosexuals should appear on the BBC. If you don’t agree with them on that, the joke isn’t funny. 

So what do Young’s words mean?  

He says that the word “inclusive” is ghastly. It isn’t entirely clear whether he means “I wish we had chosen a less ghastly word to express the same idea more clearly” or “The idea itself is ghastly”.  He says that the word “inclusive” is “politically correct”. Again it isn’t clear if he means “the idea of inclusiveness is politically correct” or “I wish we had chosen a less PC word than inclusive to express the same idea more clearly.” 

And what does he mean by political correctness? Does he just mean “the idea that you shouldn’t use words which denigrate or belittle people”? (But what’s so ghastly about that?) Or is is he one of those who thinks that “PC” is part of a plot by Jewish intellectuals in Frankfurt to destroy civilization as we now know it?

I don’t imagine that Young has done a survey and discovered that all school have all 14 of Alice Walker’s novels on the shelf; and that no school has a work by Mark Twain. It seems overwhelmingly unlikely to me. I would imagine that copies of Tom Sawyer are much easier to track down than copies of The Colour Purple. But of course Young hasn't picked a random example. Mark Twain is a white guy; Alice Walker is a black lady. The implication is that schools are removing books by white males and replacing them with books by black females. He expects his readers to agree with him that this is “ghastly”. Inclusive doesn’t mean “both black writers and white writers” — it means “no white writers”. It’s about as clear an example of a racist dog whistle as you could imagine. 

Equally obviously, he doesn’t really think that all schools have an S.E.N department that are skilled in the treatment of Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy. He has picked on Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy because the name sounds funny. He places the obscure condition with the funny name alongside the common condition because he wants us to infer that catering for children with dyslexia and catering for children with Munchausern’s Syndrome by Proxy are both equally ghastly ideas. 

The most benign translation from the hyperbole I could manage would be:

“Schools have to accommodate to children with disabilities, both in sensible ways, like being wheelchair-accessible and giving help to dyslexic pupils, and in unreasonable ways, like trying to spot the signs of Munchhausen's syndrome and having books by both black and white writers in the library. Having a single exam for children of different abilities is one of the unreasonable demands. And its hard to talk about this because it is framed with unhelpful, jargon expressions like ‘inclusion’.”

But I think it very likely that the correct translation is:

“Having a single exam for children of different abilities is only the latest in a large number of obviously unreasonable demands that are being placed on schools. Other unreasonable demands include allowing children with wheelchairs access to the building; providing extra help for children with dyslexia; and having books by non-white authors in the library. This is all part of plot by the Frankfurt Group to destroy civilization.” 


Young maintains that the real reason that some people want a single, unified exam is that they fear that children put in for the easier one would “suffer a permanent blow to their self-esteem”, that they are “so fragile that the ‘stigma’ of not doing O-levels would cause permanent damage”.  He extends this into a wider allegation that “teachers” are no longer interested in passing on knowledge and see themselves instead in a therapeutic role (where “the therapy industry” is another Bad Thing). 

But this is a straw doll. I don’t think that the main argument against selective education is that the children put into Secondary Modern School or the lower stream will feel sad. I think that the main argument is about results. The claim is that overall, looking at both troglodytes and Spectator readers, you get better educational results if everyone goes to the same school and sits the same exam than you do if you sent the clever people through one door and the less clever people through another door. It is a claim that could theoretically be tested. It would be fairly easy to look at an area with a unified system and an area with a two-tier system and find out which population gets the best educational results over all. 

But of course Mr Young has an argument which trumps all of that. He can prove that segregated exams are better than unified ones, beyond any contradiction. He went through the old GCSE / O Level System and he turned out all rightHe did CSE’s; he failed his CSE’s; he went back to school and took some O Levels, he went to Oxford and now he writes for the Spectator. So he is living proof that the system works. Stick close to your desk and never go to see and you all may be rulers of the queens navee. 

Discussions about education always seem to founder on the rocks of the Argument From Individual Personal Experience. In another article, Young literally says that he would be okay with schools being allowed to beat students because he was beaten and it didn’t do him any harm. 


The case for the defense, then, is that Toby Young did not say that special needs children were troglodytes, or that wheelchair ramps were ghastly. Not quite. What he did say was that schools are run by softies who won’t allow children to fail in case it makes them sad; that the 2010 Equalities Act forces schools to make exams so easy that mentally retarded children can pass them; that white authors are banned from school libraries and black authors are mandated; and that all this is in some way connected with something he calls political correctness. 


Regular readers will have spotted why I found this so interesting. 

Young’s essay utilizes arguments which are remarkably similar to those in Screwtape Proposes a Toast. The Toast was published in 1959.  O Levels were still in full swing; middle-class children went to grammar schools and dummies and dopeys to secondary modern; dyslexia was much less well understood and there was no obligation to make schools wheelchair accessible. Most teachers still had a cane in their cupboard. And yet the complaints are exactly the same. 

Toby Young rails against the Equalities bill and the “all must have prizes” culture; Screwtape thinks that the belief in democracy will lead to a world where everyone is encouraged to say “I’m as good as you”. 

Young thinks that educational sages disapprove of segregated exams because less able children may suffer “an irreparable blow to their self esteem”. Screwtape says that 

“Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma — Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind.”

Young thinks that instead of teaching, teachers nowadays are “are essentially therapists whose job is to correct the harmful effects on children of bourgeois society.” Screwtape says that  

“ the teachers – or should I say, nurses? – (are) far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching.”

Why are the two essays so similar? I can think of three possibilities.

1: Toby Young is the Devil.

2: Toby Young has read Screwtape Proposes a Toast and has unconsciously repurposed some of C.S Lewis’s arguments for his own column.

3: In every decade, regardless of what is really going on in schools, social conservatives always say the same things. They always say that there is too much equality nowadays, that clever people are being held back to help the dunces; that teachers are too busy molleycoddling the kids to do any real reaching. They have always said this kind of thing. And they probably always will do. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

I know I said I was done with this, but this one really is too good to be true.

Further to Mark Burns letter in the Post on December 22 - I'm not sure where you get your information Mark that "The Great majority want the Colston Hall to change its name." 

I assume you mean the great majority of the softly spoken set based around the Southville, Bishopston and Redland areas, etc?

I can assure you that the vast majority of Bristolians are incensed regarding the airbrushing of history  by the vocal left-wing minority (*), and for us the name changes will be irrelevant as whatever the new names are it will always be the Colston Hall and Colston Primary and there will always be a Colston Street, a Whiteladies Road and a Blackboy Hill.(**) 

Congratulations to the Colston's Girl's School for standing their ground against the tide and the scourge of political correctness.

May I suggest that the "airbrushers" all move to towns such as Stevenage and Milton Keynes where there is not as much history to tamper with? (***)

Bob Feltham, Bristol
Evening Post 4th Jan

(*) At the last election, Labour took 60% of the votes in Bristol East and Bristol South, 50% in Bristol North West and a ridiculous 66% in Bristol West.

(**) Blackboy Hill appears to have been named after a pub called The Black Boy, which was a nickname for Charles II. Whiteladies Road seems also to have been named after a pub called The White Lady. No-one is remotely suggesting changing the names of either of them.

(***) Stevenage is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Thoughts on Edward Colston

-- I have listened to you, Mr Smith, but I am none the wiser.
-- Possibly not, m'Lud. But you are, I hope, better informed?

On the 2nd December, the Daily Mail reported that Colston's Primary School, Bristol is going to change its name.

The Daily Mail explicitly frames the story in racial terms. It repeatedly uses the word “pressure” and insinuates that the name change has been forced on the school by unspecified outside forces:

The school...has been under pressure to drop the controversial name over claims it is offensive to ethnic minorities.

But after a consultation and debates, governors decided to cave into pressure and change the name of the school.

However another school in the city has refused to bow down to pressure from within the community.

The online article carries the headline English School Named After 17th Century Slave Change Becomes Latest to Change Its Name. I am afraid it is only too clear why it says "English School" rather than "Bristol School" or indeed "School". (The “latest” bit is also a little misleading: the Primary school is the first school to change its name, although a concert hall and a pub have already done so.)

Some 135 Daily Mail readers took to the keyboard to respond to this story. The responses provide a good insight into how the Colston Cult thinks.

13 of the comments engage in simple abuse, in many cases limiting themselves to single word:

Smg, Edinburgh
Joke and what's next

Talula, London
How utterly ridiculous!

Hermes, Southampton
Stuff and nonsense!

The thinking seems to be that it is self-evident that schools ought to be named after human traffickers (or that no establishment can ever change its name) and that anyone supporting a contrary position is therefore actually unhinged. The school governors were said to be: numpties, dumb, idiots, and loonies ; the decision was a joke, nonsense, outrageous and ridiculous. It will be remembered that “political correctness” is regarded as the opposite of “common sense”; and that the American Alt-right believe that liberals (i.e. anyone who is not a member of the American Alt-right) are literally insane.

23 of the comments attack the school for weakness.

Roy IoW
You mean, by the fragile fluffy-kins, dead set on having things their way, and scream 'hate speech' if you disagree with them.

Tony, Wimbledon
The new school emblem will be a white cross on a white background

Mowdiworp, Huddersfield
But is it the 'ethnic minorities' who are complaining or the mindless little 'snowflakes'?

The most common word used is pathetic (14 comments): indeed 3 comments consist of that single word and nothing else. Others use more creative language such as gutless, wimps, fluffy bunnies, fragile fluffykins, wet wipes and having no cojones. 10 comments specifically use the word snowflake, often in combination with other epithets: pathetic snowflakes, pathetic leftie snowflakes, pathetic SJW snowflakes. Three different commentators independently come up with the incredibly droll idea that the school might take the name Snowflake Primary, Snowflake Academy or Snowflake Appeasers Academy. 

The idea that the change of name is a sign of weakness seems to be falling into line with the editorial text: the people who run the school have bowed down or kowtowed to unspecified external forces who have demanded the change for equally unspecified reasons. 

The term snowflake seems initially to have been part of a backlash against some schools' and colleges' practice of  issuing "trigger warnings" before discussing possibly traumatic subjects like rape or child abuse, and of providing "safe spaces" where marginalized people could talk about their experiences without being shouted down. The very far right (who believe that there is no such thing as PTSD and that rape and abuse victims should just suck it up) saw this as an attack on freedom of speech. Professor Richard Dawkins famously felt that physical and emotional strength were essential to the study of mathematics or biology and that anyone who needed a safe space “should go home, hug their teddy and such their thumb until ready for university.” But the Colstonians do not seem to have anything this specific in mind. Snowflake is simply one more hate word meaning liberal or more specifically anyone we don’t like. But there does seem to an underlying connection between left wing political views and weakness and effeminacy in some of their minds.

No less that 30 of the comments were interested in the politics affiliation of the people who had made the decision. Some used quite creative language:

Alan in France
Another victory for the PC Stazi!

D Lareme, United States
Mao’s Red Guard is a live and well!

Johnboy, Lincoln
We are creating a land fit for mindless Corbynistas

However, the majority went with lefties (10), liberals (14), and loony left (3). No distinction is made between Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn and Pol Pot, or between Red China, East Germany and Bristol City Council: all are irreducibly "the left". However, the word Trot does not occur: it is only now used by members of the Labour Party to describe other members of the Labour Party. 

The British have generally used the word liberal to mean centrist or middle of the road: the Liberal Party is generally considered to be politically somewhere in between the Conservatives and the Labour Party. However the commentators without exception adopt the American usage and use Liberal and Left-Wing interchangeably.

TruffleSniffer, St.Helens,
Just shows how the liberal lefties entrenched in our education system are brainwashing our children.

Richard from Norwich manages a full house in his Slave Trader Bingo game:

Pathetic. Snowflake sandal footed lefties/liberals.

And of course, 10 commentators think that the name change is Political Correctness Gone Mad. Of these 4 use PC as a synonym for communist or left winger; 5 use it simply to mean “bad thing”.

Mustafa Leak, Sin City
History is slowly being sanitised, by the bleeding heart liberals and the commie loving PC brigade

Clearly, some kind of code is being used here: if the words are being used in any normal sense, it is impossible to derive any meaning from the statement whatsoever. ("Moderates who are too concerned about undeserving cases and people who worry too much about using inclusive language and therefore love people who want to distribute income more equally?") 

Only one appears to actually use words as if they meant something: 

Me, Bristol,
Pathetic. They had to change the original name of the new shopping centre in Bristol from Merchants Quarter (which in no way can be linked to slavery because a merchant is a person who sells things, not necessarily slaves) it was just the politically correct brigade reading into it too deeply. It’s now called Cabot’s Circus, probably to relate to all the clowns who wanted to change in the first place.

"One who attaches too much significance too someone else's choice of words" is a perfectly feasible definition of "political correctness", although what this would have to do with the proletariat controlling the means of production and wearing sandals I couldn't say. "Me" is, however, entirely mistaken:  the new Mall has only ever been called Cabot’s Circus although other names, including “Merchants Quarter” and “All Saints” were considered. It is far-fetched to say that the word “Merchant” could in no way be linked to slavery, since the proposed name was very specifically a reference to the Merchant Venturers.

Some of the other commentators attempt to present actual reasons for leaving the schools name as it is. None of them are particularly helpful. 

26 use some version of the “slippery slope” argument: "if we allow X, we will have to allow Y; since Y is obviously silly, we must not do X”. They never establish any particular link between X and Y. (“If we allow men to marry other men, it logically follows that we will have to also allow women to marry garden furniture...”)

Of these, 10 seemed to be under the impression that the school was being closed or demolished, rather than just re-branded:

Richard, Worcester:
Pull down Bristol, it was a leading slave trade port at one time

Glynn Churchill
Better start demolishing large parts of Bristol, then.

OstrogothRome, Newport
We’d better demolish almost every building, stately home, church, castle, palace, cathedral, in Britain dating from before as it was either built with slavery derived funds or with exploited labour

Others had more creative suggestions:
  • Should we not eradicate the name Victoria?
  • Perhaps we should ban everything Italian...
  • We need to stop teaching about Henry VIII.
  • It probably won’t be long before the hymn Amazing Grace is banned.
  • Are we going to drop all references to Jesus?
Again it is very hard to discern any coherent thread in these comments. Does anyone honestly think that Bristol is in danger of being pulled down; or that anyone was going to ban the name Jesus “because he was a convicted felon”? Does anyone actually think that there is a plan to "eradicate", "ban", "stop teaching about" or "drop all references to" Edward Colston, as oppose to simply stop naming public buildings after him? My best guess is that the writers think, or affect to think, that kidnapping black people is a harmless peccadillo that the PC snowflakes have dredged up as a pretext to remove Colston's name from the building. You could equally well have found similarly trivial black marks against any other historical figure. They are like the man who politely says “Look! I’ve got mud on my shoe, I suppose I will have to leave!” when his date spills wine down her dress – a round about way of saying “It’s okay, no-one minds.” Being a slave trader is not a very serious skeleton to have in ones closet.

This brings us to the most common argument (no less than 33 occurrences): that the school is attempting to airbrush (3), rewrite (9), erase (4), sanitize (2), white wash, wipe out or trash something called history. Without exception, these comments appeared to think that the removal of Colston’s name from the school was part of a wider plot to remove all record of Colston from history, which is part of a still wider plot to deny that the slave trade happened at all. 

SensiblePerson, Oxfordshire
Please can someone tell me why these people are determined to make us forget about the slave trade and all the evil it stood for? To stop a repeat of these evils we need to know our past mistakes. This is madness.

10 comments specifically say that the school needs to be named after an enslaver so that children will know how bad slavery was, and at least 2 attempt to paraphrase George Santayana’s remark about forgetting or denying the past:

DefaultAB, Essex ,
If we look to erase history, we're doomed to repeat it. People need to know the origins of slave trading and WHY it ceased... not pretend like it never happened.

FormerPerson, Somewhere In The,
Those who deny history are condemned to repeat it

This seems an exceptionally strange reading of events: why would Commies wish to pretend that the slave trade didn’t happen – why would Lefties want to make the British Empire seem less evil than it in fact was? You can pretty much guarantee that if someone decided to put up a memorial to the 100,000 people Colston kidnapped these exact same letter writers would condemn it as Political Correctness Gone Mad. And if naming schools after criminals is a good way of avoiding the repetition of certain crimes, why are we not agitating for John Profumo Primary School or Jimmy Savile Academy – nay, for Myra Hindley Comprehensive or Peter Sutcliffe Grammar?

The best I can manage is that the Colstonians are attempting some kind of “gotcha!”: “Ha ha you say you are against slavery but if you change the name over the gate to the school no-one will know slavery ever happened and there will be more of it har har liberals are silly.” 

Some of the speakers simply think that “history” itself is somehow under attack, which they connect in a non-specific way with totalitarianism.

Tony, Bristol
This is how dictatorships start, by erasing history and brainwashing children.

Gardeb, United Kingdom,
History will soon cease to exist under the new regime.

Glynn, Churchill,
Didn't Pol Pot try to rewrite history?

There are about one hundred primary schools in Bristol: one is named after a human trafficker; one after an opponent of slavery; one after the first European to set foot on the American mainland; one after the founder of anthroposophy; one after a marine mammal; two after the Christian Messiah and a whopping twenty after Christian saints. (The rest are just named after the district or the street where they happen to be.) How do the kids at the ninety nine schools which aren’t named after slave traders find out about this stuff? By what mechanism does "not having the name of a human enslaver on your school uniform" morph into "being brainwashed"? And who on earth was Nicholas of Tolentine?

Eight commentators resort to moral relativism: slavery would be a bad thing now but it wasn’t a bad thing then, so it is okay to carry on celebrating and commemorating slavers

Ex pat, wellington,
The British Empire was built upon such practices that were perfectly acceptable at that time, why should we be ashamed of our past? The Greeks, Romans, Scandinavians and Spanish are rightfully proud of their ancestors who probably did far worse things........

And two or three seem prepared to say that the slave trade was a good thing, or at any rate, not a bad thing:

Farmer Giles, Truro,
Bristolians, be proud of your great city of seafaring history and don't let the lefties get their way!

RabD, Glasgow, United Kingdom,
We should never be ashamed of our past!

What never? Well, hardly ever. And what do you mean "we", kemosabe?

Finally a few resort to made up facts and “fake news”

Bob , Cheltenham,
Well it will always be known as Colstons school anyway and considering he set it up who cares.

No, he didn’t: it was founded in 1948 and happened to take his name.

Loosehead, Basingstoke
Since Colston paid for Colston Hall, no-one can use it and it has to be knocked down.

If Colston had indeed paid for Colston Hall, there would be no need to knock it down: it was burned to the ground in 1898 and 1945. But he had nothing to do with it. He started a school for white males who believed in the same religion as him in 1710; the street was named after the school and 160 years after he died, the hall was named after the street.

Matt, Hungerford,
As no doubt the school was built from slave trade money, perhaps it should be demolished, the site levelled & the children taught in cold drafty tents

No, it wasn’t. There slave trade had almost completely finished in 1948.

And a handful contain racist dog-whistles

A pensioner, Bristol,
When will this kowtowing to the incomers stop, I'm tired of this PC nonsense.

David Mop, London,
Can we chuck out of this country anyone whose ancestors SOLD the slaves to Colston?

The Colstonians are (I assume) sentient human beings who have made a conscious choice to type comments into their computer: so they must be sincerely concerned about what name Colston’s Primary School goes by. The e-mail comments, like the comments in the Evening Post, show a surprising consistency of language and outlook. A group of people – communists, snowflakes, liberals, or the PC Brigade – have exerted pressure to which the school governors have bowed down, kowtowed  or caved in; resulting in history being changed so that children will be brainwashed into thinking that the slave trade never occurred; which is the first move towards physically destroying large swathes of Bristol and the country at large. One Sea Eagles from the Isle of Mull is quite explicit that this is “Preparation for the take over of our country...” By whom he does not say.

It is impossible that they believe any of this. What is actually happening, right now, in the world, is that some people think that memorials to slave-traders ought to be taken down, and some people think its okay for them to be left up. I suppose it is possible that the reasons for leaving them up (“it was a long a time ago” “slavery was okay in those days” “he also gave money to charity”) are so obviously weak that the “leave them up” faction need to create complex fictions to justify their position. “Taking them down” is a Communist plot to destroy civilization because, for some on the Right, absolutely everything is a Communist plot to destroy civilization. 

But still -- why Colston? Why would anyone get so angry about one school, one pub and one concert venue that they need to make up fantasies about the end of civilization? Suppose the very worst happened and the Awful Statue were in fact moved, as in fact the equally awful statue of Brunel has already been moved. You might conceivably think that this was unnecessary. (Before the Great Kerfuffle, I broadly thought that moving the statue was unnecessary.) But why would you think it crazy and insane and a joke? Why would you create fantasies of pulling down Westminster Abbey and Communist Take Overs? What do the Colstonians really believe? What do they really believe that the rest of us believe?

Some people at the Daily Mail really believe in the Frankfurt Group and Cultural Marxism – they really believe that the media, academia, local government and …. well, everything but the Daily Mail, basically… is secretly controlled by Jewish Marxist Intellectuals. (This is not exegesis on my part, but something that they have stated explicitly in banner headlines.) If you believe in one conspiracy theory, you see conspiracy everywhere. It is obviously impossible that a group of school governors could ever decide to change a school’s name in good faith. It must be pressure from a nefarious vested interest – black people, Islams, experts. And all notorious vested interests ultimately lead to the Cultural Marxists. If the Daily Mail doesn't like it then it literally is part of a communist plot.

But the Colstonians themselves? I see only two options. 

One is simple racism. Black people forced the school to change its name. Black people moved into our town and forced us to let them work on our buses. Black people hold a festival in the summer. We have been forced to accept a black man as our Mayor and a black lady as our MP. So we want a great big statue, right in the middle of town, to remind these black people that they are not real Bristolians (born and bred! born and bred! alive alive oh!). There was a time when we bought and sold you like cattle and don’t you ever forget it. If communist and leftie is understood to mean black person or n***** lover then very many of the under the line comments start to make a frightening amount of sense. 

But the more benign possibility is this.

If you are very old and very stupid, then change, change of any kind, is threatening to you. It is a very small jump from feeling nostalgic for the Epilogue and the Potters Wheel to feeling that the Bolshevic Broadcasting Corporation took those things away to spite you personally because they hate you. I do not think that the Colstonians care about Colston or about slavery. I don’t think they think  there is a communist plot to destroy civilization. I think that they would be equally up in arms if the Daily Mail had told them that the Old Red Lion was going to become The Lionhead Bar. One of the Bristol Evening Post Colstonians literally claimed that the use of parsley in salads was part of a European plot to destroy civilization. Colston is this week’s symbol. But what we are actually raging about is the dying of the light.

See also: Brexit.