Further to the latest woke-driven faux-outrage about a Boer War Memorial in Newcastle, there was a good article on the subject in the Telegraph today:
Statues aren’t in the news as much these days. A year has passed since Colston was torn down and two weeks ago the government finally updated national planning policy to incorporate their Retain and Explain guidance. You’d be forgiven for thinking the threat had passed and that our heritage and history is now safe. Or, indeed, that the threat was never there and that it was all part of a fabricated right-wing culture war.
Sadly, you would be mistaken on both counts. And two developments yesterday illustrate how quietly, as the news agenda has moved on, the war on statues and memorials has moved up a gear.
First, it was reported that Newcastle City Council will install a board to “reinterpret” the city’s Boer War memorial following their assessment of that conflict as a “colonialist enterprise”. And then I also received notice that Edinburgh Castle has updated the information board beside a memorial to soldiers of the 1857 Indian Mutiny. The description of these men as heroes has now been relegated to inverted commas, alongside an acknowledgment of the uprising as “a symbol of resolve against colonial rule”.
Of course no other context is proffered in either case, whether that be the far more oppressive colonialism of our Boer adversaries, or the shocking atrocities committed against English women and children by the Indian mutineers. In their selective contextualisation of history, these signs follow the lead of Edinburgh’s Melville Monument, where a new plaque claims a similar authority over history and similarly uses it to reinforce an anti-British narrative.
The targeting of war memorials represents the sad but inevitable next step in the rush to apologise for our history that Retain and Explain is unwittingly facilitating. Until now, war memorials have been off-limits because – as had previously been considered obvious – they commemorate the sacrifice of ordinary men, not the politics behind the war. But we have now crossed that line. Even winning the Victoria Cross cannot protect your heroism from inverted commas or spare you from the judgement of woke activists.
And it isn’t stopping there. When it comes to plaques and road names there is little to prevent the woke from indulging their virtue signalling at the expense and inconvenience of local residents. Just last week we saw reviews launched in Sheffield and Stroud. Many others are ongoing, most notably London’s ‘Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm’ as well as Edinburgh’s top ‘Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group’.
The real danger is that the attacks on history now move back underground, back into the shadows and the darkness where they thrive, away from the public eye. Activists have been desperately trying to dismiss the culture war because they know that, when fought in the open, the majority will reject their nonsense out of hand. The best thing we can do is to keep exposing what is happening. Wokeness dies in light.