One of the Thatcher régime's more forgettable flunkeys has ordered
Oxford students campaigning against the glorification of Cecil Rhodes to shut up and have a bit more respect for free speech. Chris Patten was minister for something or other while the old bag was doing all she could to help Rhodes' beleaguered intellectual heir, that nice Mr Botha; now, as chancellor of Oxford University, Patten has told the bolshie students to stop shouting about racism and imperialism because it isn't what Nelson Mandela would have wanted. British values and British universities are not about tolerating intolerance, except from those who can afford considerably more than £9000 in tuition fees; and anyone who thinks otherwise can go and study somewhere else. British values mean facing up to history, which no doubt explains why we hear so much about the Malayan Emergency, the Mau Mau uprising, the 1943 Bengal famine, and so forth; what facing up to history does not
mean is getting rid of statues, although it is unclear how much shouting Chris Patten has done in favour of aiding Europe's Vergangenheitsbewältigung
by restoring all those effigies of Hitler and Stalin.
Had the combatants in Oxford but the vision to realise it, the answer to the Cecil Rhodes dilemma is simple enough, and could in fact be applied to all of our most worshipped historical criminals. Most statues stand on a rectangular plinth, of which the three sides not occupied by names, dates and sententious mottoes generally go to waste. Historical balance can be restored quite easily by engraving the case for the prosecution and the case for the defence, in not more than ten lines each, on the left and right sides of the plinth, while the back may be used for the bibliography.