100 students marched today in favour of decolonisation and to protest Oriel College’s recent decision not to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from its grounds. The statue of the racist mining magnate who colonised parts of Africa and laid the foundations for apartheid was targeted by RhodesMustFall Oxford, as part of the global Rhodes Must Fall call for decolonising higher education. After wealthy donors warned that removing the statue would see a withdrawal of around £100 million of donations, Oriel College announced its decision not to remove the statue.
However difficult it is to talk about our colonial past, the sneering attitude of various media outlets (the Independent is particularly patronising) constitutes a rejection of the very point of decolonisation – whatever your thoughts on the removal of the statue, we can only begin to decolonise ourselves by prioritizing the narratives not of the colonisers but of their victims. The legacy of colonialism is far-reaching, debates around how to deal with that legacy are undoubtedly complex. Until we can respond considerately to the lived experience of BME students, our claims to understand their message of decolonisation are quite simply delusional. And that means taking RhodesMustFallseriously. The action being taken in Oxford is revolutionary – it is BME students and allies attempting to hold to account one of the most definitively white institutions of the country. We should respect that attempt. We should certainly not belittle it.
N.B. The Oxford Union debate on #RhodesMustFall is worth watching.
The third 48-hour junior doctors’ strike has seen over 5000 operations and treatments cancelled, but polling suggests that support for the strike remains high (65%) amongst the public. The Department of Health has condemned the British Medical Association’s first 48-hour strike action (commenced at 8am Wednesday) as “irresponsible and unjustified”: but junior doctors are striking precisely because the government’s proposals are irresponsible, putting patient care at risk and promising to deliver a “7-days-a-week” NHS service they simply refuse to fund. As far as justification goes, of the 75% junior doctors who voted on strike action, 98% voted in favour of it – that’s one hell of a mandate.
While some members of the public have expressed frustration at the striking doctors on social media, most seem to blame the government for its undemocratic imposition of an unfair and unsafe contract. The video below is one moving example:
An upcoming cabinet reshuffle could see Jeremy Hunt removed as Health Secretary, which would be a victory for the BMA if dialogue was subsequently re-opened on the new contract. In the meantime, two more 48-hour strikes are scheduled for April – exactly how many more lives is the government willing to put at risk?
Outsourcing Humanity – The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal
Slovenia has closed its borders to migrants without valid EU entry visas; Hungary has extended its nationwide “state of emergency” and deployed further troops across the border with Serbia, where gangs prey on the vulnerable refugees neither state will allow in; 14000 refugees are stranded at the Greece-Macedonia border;the French central government that contributed nothing to the new camp at Dunkirk has reportedly tried to halt its opening; and now a new deal being negotiated between Turkey and the EU has proposed the outsourcing of refugees to Turkey on a major scale.
The deal, which would see Europe accepting a Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian accepted by Turkey from Europe, would aim to discourage refugees from attempting to reach Europe in the first place. In return, Turkey would receive money and negotiations on its entry into the EU and the rights of Turks to travel visa-free in the Schengen zone would be sped up. Organisations from Amnesty International to Doctors Without Borders have condemned the proposals, and the UN has raised concerns that the mass removal of refugees from one nation to another could constitute a human rights abuse, and be illegal under International Law.
It is astounding that Europe’s most prosperous nations have done the least to accommodate refugees – despite their dire financial situations, the people of Greece have continued to feed, clothe and house the stream of vulnerable people fleeing persecution and conflict. The uncomfortable fact that we will have to face in considering the global refugee crisis is that, ultimately, it is our ability to dehumanize and dissociate ourselves from the black and brown bodies fleeing conflicts we have armed, that allows us as Europeans to simply close our borders.
The pensioners behind the audacious heist on Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter, have been convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison. Last year’s raid of safety deposit boxes containing an estimated 14 million pounds was the “one last job” they almost got away with, and has been dubbed “Britain's’ biggest burglary”. After sentencing, each ringleader thanked the judge. The bad guys got caught, but there are two more morals here – it’s never too late to make a name for yourself,and there’s no excuse for bad manners.
(Note from editor: See also Conor McGregor's humble reaction to losing against Nate Diaz. McGregor spent the whole pre match slamming and insulting Diaz, trying to get in his head, but at the end of the day when the chips were down and Diaz emerged victorious, McGregor acted with grace and humility)
What are your views on these topics? What are your thoughts and opinions?
Written by Amardeep Singh Dhillon