Britain’s former equalities chief Trevor Phillips has criticised the “woke ultras” who want to destroy symbols of British history, such as statues and names of buildings, warning that a society that damns its past “promises dark days ahead”.
The former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has claimed that the progressive movement “has been captured by ultras”, and “woke revolutionists'” lust for destroying symbols of the past that are remotely considered to be connected to slavery or racism portend the “crushing of dissent in the future”.
“History matters. Every revolution starts with the destruction of the symbols of the past and often the elimination of those who resist abolishing them,” Mr Phillips wrote for The Times on Friday. He gave examples of the French Revolution and Cambodia’s Pol Pot era where history was abolished and time was reset to “Year One” and “Year Zero”, respectively.
Mr Phillips also poured scorn on those “woke anti-imperialists” and their “street theatre”, who despite acting as if they speak for ethnic minorities in Briton and former colonies, likely had their closest encounter with Empire being “an especially hot vindaloo”.
The veteran anti-racism campaigner and son of Caribbean immigrants explained that “Those, like me, whose lives were directly shaped by the legacy of colonialism are far less exercised about the symbols of the past than those who were not.”
“We take a more balanced view,” he said, reflecting that in the West Indies, “it does not seem to bother anyone in the islands that many of the premier educations institutions still carry the names of slave owners”.
The zeal for iconoclasm was headed by the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement, following the death of George Floyd in U.S. police custody. In multiple instances during BLM and far-left Extinction Rebellion protests, the statue of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in London was graffitied with the word, “racist”.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 16, 2020
“As for recent attempts to smear Churchill, I don’t suppose the young, mostly white, middle-class protesters who attacked his statue in Parliament Square would have much in common with the thousands of Caribbean men named after the war leader. Half a century after his death it is still one of the most popular names in Jamaica. I hesitate to repeat what Windrush veterans who were inspired to fight for the Empire by Churchill would say to those who daubed his statue with the word ‘racist’. History is never as simple as the woke anti-imperialists strive to make it,” Mr Phillips wrote.
“Yet nuanced views like this are increasingly unfashionable among the new wave of woke revolutionists. It is not an accident that their principal targets for excoriation are people of colour, who by their very successes challenge the narrative that Britain’s imperial past has created an undiluted ‘structural’ bigotry in society,” Mr Phillips said, naming educators Katharine Birbalsingh and Tony Sewell who have been “denounced by activists as ‘coons’ for challenging the ludicrous proposition that, for example, young black people should not be expected to speak standard English”.
In a recent instance, teacher and campaigner Calvin Robinson faced similar racial attacks on social media for criticising Black Lives Matter and critical race theory. Mr Robinson told Breitbart London earlier this week: “Every time I’ve spoken out against BLM using CRT, they attack me with racially derogatory terms.”
“Apparently, black people must all think the same way. If we go off-script, we’re race-traitors, ‘Bounties’, and ‘coons’. It seems BLM don’t support racial equality after all, because if they did, surely they’d encourage diversity and expect black people to hold many different views across the political spectrum,” he said.
“Today, the effort to erase aspects of our history is a warning,” Mr Phillips wrote, concluding: “The culture that seeks to damn our past and cancel anyone who disagrees promises dark days ahead.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 9, 2020