The motto of King’s College London is Sancte et sapienter (‘With holiness and wisdom’). Sadly, it appears to have abandoned both. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton has been removed from a ‘wall of fame’ of distinguished alumni at its building in The Strand. His crime? Allegedly holding ‘anti-gay’ views (Lord Carey opposes same-sex marriage, which is the total extent of his ‘anti-gay’ or ‘homophobic’ views). The defenestration is being claimed as a victory by the College’s LGBT group, following years of attrition:
The move marks a landmark victory for LGBT Liberation groups who fought tirelessly since the alum told a Tory Party fringe audience that gay relationships “should not be put on the same level” as straight ones.
The Principal Ed ‘Babe’ Byrne met with tenacious leader of the KCL LGBT Liberation Association Ben Hunt on Tuesday morning and agreed there was a need to refresh the windows.
Ben said the changing the windows “will also mean the removal of Lord Carey and the inclusion of minorities in the discussions for new alumni.”
“The Principal has asked me to compile a list of new alumni for the window in suggestions,” he added, saying a committee will be formed to decide on the new alums.
KCL are framing the removal of Lord Carey’s picture as part of a necessary (and long-planned) redevelopment, but it’s quite clear to anyone with half a brain cell what’s going on here. Pale, heterosexual Christian alumni – no matter how distinguished – must give way to greater LGBT and BME representation, no matter how relatively undistinguished. “The Principal has asked me to compile a list of new alumni for the window..” It is subjective minority hero-elevation; exaltation by student petition (or persistent criminal damage, since Lord Carey’s picture is repeatedly defaced with graffiti) .
It is also the suppression of Christianity; the censorship of history; the bowdlerisation of once-prominent individuals who are deemed by some newly-privileged minority agitators to be no longer worthy of any prominence at all. We saw it with the Rhodes Must Fall (unsuccessful) campaign at Oxford University, and then the (successful) removal of plaques commemorating the visit of King Leopold II of Belgium to Queen Mary University. Of course, falling statues and lifting plaques doesn’t change history: a genocidal colonialist remains a genocidal colonialist, and he certainly set foot where snowflake students now mince and pussyfoot. Nothing can change that. But academic censorship is a form of reputational whitewashing: it hands prissy victories to hissy students who think nothing matters but their hurt feelings and subjective sense of well-being. They are the incarnation of the new enlightened secular tolerance – not by any objective assessment, but because they feel they are. As one academic observes:
Only by Orwellian “doublethink” can the LGBT activists who attacked Carey carry the baton of tolerance. Their world is framed by identity politics, with positive discrimination for those of favoured status, while any unfavourable attributes (as arbitrarily determined) are open to attack.
But King’s College London has a Christian foundation. In its stated values and purposes we read:
The 1829 Royal Charter states that the purposes of King’s College are to maintain the connection between ‘sound religion and useful learning’ and to teach the ‘doctrines and duties of Christianity’. The AKC remains faithful to this commitment to the importance of religion, and aims to promote intelligent, open-minded reflection on religious, philosophical and ethical issues.
What is sound religion if it may no longer even express orthodox belief, biblical doctrine or traditional moral theology? What intelligent, open-minded reflection is possible if academics just cave in to the latest ethical fad, and obligingly expunge all ‘offensive’ material from sight for fear of bad publicity? What reasoned debate is possible if one side is so ‘deeply offended’ by another’s religious or philosophical beliefs that they run screaming to the principal instead of arguing their case?
What can we do?
Except to observe the comments of the Dean following the visit of Archbishop Rowan Williams to KCL in 2006:
‘King’s College London was founded by the then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1829 and we are proud of our continuing relationship with the Church of England and Lambeth Palace. We were delighted to welcome Dr Williams here today in his capacity as College Visitor and world class academic, and do all we can to support him in his important international role.’
Perhaps, as ex officio Visitor to the College, Justin Welby might intercede for the restoration of Lord Carey, or, failing that, reconsider the relationship KCL clearly enjoys with the Church of England and Lambeth Palace.