The shallowness of the Oxford dons’ Rhodes protest

Rhodes must fall. At least, that’s the conclusion of 150 Oxford dons who have joined a boycott of Oriel college over its decision to keep its Cecil Rhodes statue in place. The protest may have made national headlines but who does it really serve? Certainly not the students at Oriel who will feel the brunt of the impact: the rebel dons say they will refuse to give tutorials to Oriel undergraduate students and will not assist the college with its outreach work, including interviewing undergraduates. In short, their chosen form of protest costs them nothing and punishes students who largely support the removal of the statue anyway. The dons’ chosen form

What happens now that Rhodes didn’t fall?

Oriel College, Oxford’s decision to retain the statue of Cecil Rhodes has generated the usual voluminous fury. It has also shown it to be just that: noise. The university’s willingness to face down activists could mark a turning point in proving that when campaigners don’t get their way, the world continues to turn. This might sound obvious but it marks a welcome change to the often depressing cycle of inevitability of protest-social media storm-surrender. All too often, it seems power really does lie with the various campaign groups, charities, and commentators pushing for change. The fact that Rhodes hasn’t fallen, whatever you might think of the man himself, shows that it doesn’t. This is why they are activists

Statue wars: what should we do with controversial monuments?

Robert Jenrick’s pledge to protect monuments and statues from mob iconoclasm with new laws and powers is very welcome. It’s an issue on which the Government has been quiet in terms of legislation, even if the Prime Minister made clear last summer that ‘we cannot try to edit or censor our past’. Now that the initial wave of Black Lives Matter activism has subsided, it’s essential to stop left-wing councils from renaming our streets, removing public monuments or, worse still, hanging a badge of opprobrium on them. There is more going on here than many realise: Policy Exchange’s History Matters Project, which is chaired by Trevor Phillips, has so far