A new breed of ‘offence archaeologists’ waging war on anyone holding dissenting views, says Ruth Dudley Edwards
Published: 15 June 2020
What sort of decrepit rock did you climb from under you absolutely hideous harridan?” tweeted one of my critics last week. “You’re in favour of all things wrong in society (statues of horrible b*****ds of history).”
This chap is a member of the Shinnerbot army that stalks its enemies with the aim of intimidating them off social media.
They are finding me particularly annoying at the moment, for these days they are fanatically “progressive” on almost all issues — and to my usual crimes of being in favour of free speech and opposed to political violence and the bullying of people with unfashionable views. I applaud the writer JK Rowling for endorsing the truth that there is a difference between a biological woman and anyone who just self-identifies as female.
Oh, and I deplore Black Lives Matter, which is run by the hard-Left and revolutionaries who want to destroy western civilisation and has bamboozled millions of gullible people into believing that brutality from ill-trained American police is experienced exclusively by blacks and dished out only by whites, and that to say otherwise means you’re a racist.
Scared politicians and corporates are giving their allegiance to an outfit which declares: “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.”
Oh, and they wish to defund the police and hand law and order over to “the community”.
Watch senior BLM activist Gary McFarlane of the Socialist Workers Party explain it on YouTube and then cheer yourselves up by watching the wise, funny and straight-talking Hodgetwins (self-declared as black American, not African-American) on their video ‘Black Lives Matter is a Leftist Lie’.
So, naturally, I’m against mobs in a democratic society tearing down statues of which they disapprove.
I admit that I raised a celebratory glass in 2004 when the statue of Sean Russell, IRA chief of staff, was beheaded by anti-fascists who could not bear that Dublin was the only city in Europe that still had a statue honouring a Nazi collaborator.
But I plead mitigation: IRA freelancers blew up Nelson’s Pillar in 1966, thus dishonouring someone without whom we might all have been enslaved by Napoleon.
I disagree with myself in retrospect, though. I am an historian who believes our job is to search for truth and therefore believe in the preservation of records of all kinds.
It’s been bad enough watching Sinn Fein’s shameless and unscrupulous rewriting of history, but now you have well-educated people joining the bandwagon driven by bigoted ignoramuses that demand we suppress the ideas and history we don’t like.
They are part of a new breed known as “offence archaeologists”, who wage ruthless war on anyone who expresses a view they dislike and try to expel them from society.
Nigel Farage is the latest victim, disgracefully sacked from his very popular radio show by his craven employers in LBS because he criticised Black Lives Matter.
Now, dramatically, the war has been extended to include all historical figures, and all of a sudden it is becoming a given that you judge Winston Churchill by the standards of an 18-year-old who never heard of him until yesterday when he was denounced as a racist. The BBC, which seems to have utterly lost the plot, told us yesterday that the statue of the country’s greatest hero, who saved the West from the Nazis, is “controversial”.
There are rational and sometimes overdue discussions to be held, though. For a long time I’ve been in favour of putting explanatory plaques beside statues about which there are strong disagreements.
Think of the historical and ethical debates that could be raised in schools and elsewhere by having beside Bristolian Edward Colston an explanation that he was the city’s outstanding philanthropist who had made all the money to finance his good deeds from the terrible slave trade.
Closer to home I’d be fine about keeping in Newry the statue of John Mitchel, that great hero of Irish nationalist revolutionaries, if the public is also given the information that he was an enthusiast for slavery in the Confederate cause.
And in Belfast, the opposition of rabble-rousing Presbyterian clergyman Dr Henry Cooke to Catholic emancipation would be on the prosecution side of his plaque.
Accept the culling of statues on ideological grounds and George Orwell’s 1984 beckons: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists.”