Wednesday 9 February 2022

Welby Wades In Again

 I see that the CEO of CofE Inc, Justin Welby, is doubling down on his support of the new iconoclasts who are seeking the removal of monuments to those they see, in their superior 21st-century wisdom, as morally tainted. Welby should not be surprised that it's taking a while to remove Jesus College's memorial plaque to its benefactor Tobias Rustat to a safe space where it can be surrounded by a cordon sanitaire of 'interpretative' material: the Church of England, quite rightly, makes the removal of monuments a long-drawn-out and difficult process, involving much consultation, a 'faculty', and the potential for court action at two levels. 
  Rustat's 'sin' was that he had a small amount of his money invested in the Royal Africa Company, as did just about everyone who had any serious money in those times (either that or the South Sea Company, both of them involved in slave trading). His memorial plaque – a fine piece of work by Grinling Gibbons – celebrates not his remote connection with slavery (why would it?) but his large-scale, public-spirited philanthropy, from which Jesus College benefited on a grand scale. As all the world surely knows, the college is now awash with Chinese money, sourced from a regime that routinely enslaves large numbers of its citizens. This fact apparently counts for nothing against the supposed offence caused to some tender sensibilities by a plaque commemorating a great philanthropist who died more than three centuries ago. 
  Incidentally, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the orphan son of a clergyman, was a beneficiary of a Rustat Scholarship. While at Jesus, he won the Browne gold medal for an ode attacking the slave trade. 

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