Activist Who Wants to Topple Statues Helping Devise Oxford University Free Speech Guidance

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A woke activist involved in the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ statue-toppling campaign is, ironically enough, helping write ‘free speech’ guidelines for the University of Oxford.

Simukai Chigudu, Associate Professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford, is a co-founder of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement, which has long tried to have a statue of the British imperialist, who served as Prime Minister of Cape Colony, a predecessor state to South Africa, and who founded Rhodesia, a predecessor to Zimbabwe and Zambia, in the 19th century.

Rhodes’s statue recognises his status as one of Oriel College’s great benefactors, but has been a persistent target of woke activists seeking to topple historic statues and monuments associated with Britain’s imperial past, regardless of the achievements or historic importance of the figures they depict and whether or not their actions were and attitudes were within the social norms of their day.

Regardless of his iconoclastic tendencies, however, Chigudu is a key contributor to the so-called Oxford Free Speech Forum, which has been convened to draw up a “framework” for free speech at the ancient University as the government pilots its Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill through Parliament.

This stops well short of granting Britons free speech rights in the style of America’s First Amendment, but will supposedly enhance protections against censorship on university campuses.

Chigudu is reported to have described free speech as “Janus-faced” — a reference to the literally two-faced Roman god Janus — at the forum in recordings heard by The Sunday Telegraph, further claiming that supporting free speech is “not always a sincere expression of trying to expand thoughtful consideration about the world we’ve inherited… and can often act to preserve existing power structures”.

Moreover, the woke academic alleged that “[f]ree speech is marshalled to push back against [the] outpouring of expression around race” following the “unbottling” of minority grievances after the death of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Oxford Free Speech Forum, Worcester College provost Dr David Isaac, complained he “[did not] believe, speaking very personally, that freedom of speech needs to be imposed upon universities.”

A former leader of the far-left Stonewall organisation, Dr Isaac claimed, against all evidence to the contrary, that he did not “recognise” the characterisation of universities as increasingly “left-leaning” institutions where people who go against the establishment grain are no-platformed and contentious debates suppressed.

This is despite far-left ideology on issues such as “whiteness” becoming increasingly entrenched in universities and other public institutions over recent years, and surveys suggesting an overwhelming left-wing bias among academics.

Indeed, recently publicised training for British academics devised by the Open University goes so far as the endorse “cancel culture” as a phenomenon which allows “people or entities” to be held “accountable for immoral or unacceptable behaviour” and “realise benefits” for “racial/social justice”.

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