A few days ago the British Museum, the cultural institution that has done the most to bring together under one roof the largest number of ancient finds (from the Rosetta stone to the Parthenon friezes, even if many were stolen from their rightful owners), eliminated the bust of its founder, Sir Hans Sloane, guilty of ties to slavery, in homage to Black Lives Matter. The same fate could now happen to the statue of Charles Darwin in the main hall of the Natural History Museum in London.
The naturalist, known for progressive ideas for the time on child rearing, slavery, racism and the exploitation of child labor, in reality was a “racist” and his work is associated with and compromised in the empire.
An investigation by the Sunday Telegraph reveals that the museum is preparing to launch a revision of the section dedicated to Darwin, but not only:
They will target the large collection of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish scientist who introduced the “binomial nomenclature” (Species plantarum, 1753), accused of deeming Africans “indolent”.
Sir Hans Sloane’s flora samples are also targeted, as they come from Jamaica and North America, West Africa and South Asia.
Michael Dixon, the director of the museum, told staff: “The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated that we need to do more and act faster, so as a first step we have commenced an institution-wide review on naming and recognition.”
Miranda Lowe, the museum’s crustacean curator, also said: “Museums must accept that they have taken advantage of slavery.”
Some collections are considered “problematic”, such as those deriving from Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos on the famous ship Beagle, cited now by a curator as one of the many “colonial scientific expeditions” of UK.
There are samples collected by Sir Joseph Banks, since the botanist had sailed with Captain James Cook in the service of the empire. Even the famous ceiling of Hintze Hall, famous for the skeletons of the blue whale and the diplodocus dinosaur, is “problematic” because it contains depictions of cotton, tea and tobacco, “the plants that fueled the economy of the British Empire.”
Museum managers want to get rid of the “legacy of colonies, slavery and empire” by renaming or removing these traces in the institution.
In the name of anti-racism, English past and culture are subjected to a pounding campaign of revisionism. They are all racists now: from Charles Dickens to Winston Churchill, including the medal of one of the highest honors conferred by the Queen. It depicts an Archangel defeating Satan. But it looks like a white man towering over a black man (“remember George Floyd”, activists say).
Even the director of the British Library has just said that “racism is a creation of whites” and has promoted cultural change at the institution.
Liz Jolly approves the reforms proposed by the Working Group on Decolonization, for whom even the British Library building itself is an imperial symbol because it resembles a warship. They recommend reducing the number of European maps, accused of being “instruments of power,” and the revision of the bust of Beethoven, symbol of the “supremacy of Western civilization.” Music collections should also be diversified.
The truth? Darwin taught us that there are racists, but not races. Beethoven set brotherhood and unity among men to music. Explain it to the new anti-racists, who would like to be able to ask to remove the Parthenon Friezes, because the Greeks were great slave- owners.
It would be funny if it weren’t so terribly serious. The goal of this movement, which cloaks itself in words like “justice”, “tolerance” and “anti-racism,” is actually to conduct a great trial and bonfire of Western culture.
Israel should worry. Not because this poses any kind of threat to the Jewish state. But if a culture, like Britain’s, embraces minority worship, historical revisionism, and ideological violence, the next step after the statues will be to ask for what they consider a living symbol of colonialism. And the first answer will be the small state of Israel.