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27 Oct, 2021 10:40

Woke academics tell top London uni to bin statue of anthropologist & slavery abolitionist because he ‘might now be called racist’

Woke academics tell top London uni to bin statue of anthropologist & slavery abolitionist because he ‘might now be called racist’

Academics have recommended Imperial College rename several buildings and lecture rooms bearing the names of influential figures, as well as remove a number of statues, in order to build a “fully inclusive organisation.”

In a final report published on Tuesday, 21 academics from the Imperial History Group – a body formed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter unrest – called on Imperial College London to cancel its colonial heritage and any manifest links to the slave trade.  

The Russell Group university was told that a bust depicting Thomas Henry Huxley, a 19th century anthropologist who opposed slavery and was an ardent supporter of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, should be removed for the purpose of “preservation.”

The report notes that Huxley, who was born after the UK abolished slavery, was an abolitionist himself but claims his works, including his 1865 essay ‘Emancipation – Black and White’ “espouses a racial hierarchy of intelligence, a belief system of ‘scientific racism.’”

Dubbed “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his defence of the naturalist’s theory that all species of life have descended from common ancestors, the academics contend he “fed the dangerous and false ideology of eugenics; legacies of which are still felt today.”

The report also recommends that a building named in Huxley’s honour on the Kensington campus be renamed. “An explanation of the renaming process should be visible as outlined in the general recommendations,” the report adds.

Nilay Shah, a professor of process systems engineering at Imperial, who chairs the historical investigation, claimed Huxley “might now be called ‘racist’ in as much as he used racial divisions and hierarchical categorisation in his attempt to understand their origins in his studies of human evolution.”

The report also recommends the renaming of the Beit Hall and Beit Quad, as the college benefactors Alfred and Otto Beit made their fortune from diamond and gold mining in South Africa, “which opressed [sic] a largely black migrant labour force.” 

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Two statues in front of the college’s Grade II listed Royal School of Mines building of Beit and Julius Wernher – who also made his money in mining – were recommended for removal or to be retained with an explanatory plaque.

However, the report and its findings have not been well received, at least on social media. Save Our Statues campaigner Robert Poll claimed that there is a value lesson from the report, which is “don’t achieve anything,” and “if you do, don’t help anyone, unless you want to be judged by some future mediocrity with hurt feelings.”

Others concurred, focusing on Huxley. One person claimed the “world has gone mad,” questioning how someone who opposed slavery is being condemned as a racist. “The easiest thing in the world is to criticise the past for not complying with the values of today,” another person chimed in, suggesting the academic’s work had been “pointless.”

“Why do we listen to this woke idiocy?” another Twitter user asked, while a former student said he was ashamed to be a graduate of that “once great institution.” 

Questioning when will this “nonsense stop,” one person said “Imperial” College might have to change its name if things continue. Others reminded the institution that they had a right to reject “far-left activists.”

There were few people who shared the academics’ views, although one person did recognise that there is “extraordinary racism” in Huxley’s writings 

This is not the first time British universities have infuriated Brits with new “woke” measures. In September, students at the University of Kent were told that wearing second-hand clothes was an example of white privilege. “I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race” is also noted as a proponent of white privilege. 

In August, the University of Cambridge announced it would be adding explanatory plaques to statues in an archaeology museum to inform viewers that white plaster casts didn’t reflect the diversity of the ancient world. 

On Monday, the three major British museums, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Museum of the Home, backed a report condemning “the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process.” The report calls for more consideration before removing statues and renaming places. 

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