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Book burning. Photo supplied

No one spared: Philosopher Kant attacked as ‘co-founder of racism’

The historian Michael Zeuske has spoken out in favor of targeting personalities such as the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) when dealing with historical racism in Germany.

Published: June 15, 2020, 3:39 pm

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    “He co-founded European racism in his writings,” the professor at the University of Bonn told Deutschlandfunk over the weekend.

    The background to this new insanity are the attacks and the destruction of monuments of European and American politicians, the military and entrepreneurs who were slave owners or who were allegedly “racist” even if they had campaigned to end slavery.

    “If you apply the discourse level of racism to monuments, a lot has to be done,” said Zeuske, referring to German history. He praised projects for dealing with slavery in the Holy Roman Empire.

    In view of the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, he expressed hope “that a new chapter in history will be written”. There may be a profound cultural change in our societies. Zeuske spoke of a “cultural revolution”.

    At the beginning of June, rioters in Bristol, England, overturned the statue of the MP and slave trader Edward Colston (1636-1721) and sunk it in the harbor basin. In Richmond, Virginia, demonstrators overturned a statue of the navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506).

    In Hamburg meanwhile, strangers smeared the Bismarck monument in the Altona district with red paint. The 34-meter-high monument to Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) near the Landungsbrücken in Hamburg was the target of anti-white protesters. Bismarck was the founder of the German Empire and its first chancellor. He is accused of his role in German colonial politics.

    Hamburg historian Jürgen Zimmerer advocated a new approach to the monuments. In public broadcaster ARD’s morning magazine, he suggested that the statues be put down or turned upside down, “to challenge our viewing habits. In this way, a confrontation with history is forced”.

    In London, a university library said that they intend to “decolonize and diversify” their collection of books to appeal to the Black Lives Matter movement.

    On Friday, the Royal Holloway University of London Library said that, in an effort combat “structural racism” in British society, it will be removing books from their collection, apologising for not doing so earlier.

    “We’ve taken time to reflect on our role in this and recognize that we must do more to combat systemic racism and support our BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] community. With this in mind, we’ve created a reading list of resources to help you understand the struggle against racism,” the Royal Holloway declared.

    “But we know there is much more we can do. Going forward we will be sharing details on the steps we are taking to decolonize and diversify our collections, make our services more inclusive and tackle racism and discrimination. Now is the time for real and lasting change,” the library said.

    The symbolic book burning by race fanatics, comes amidst similar calls to purge statues, popular historic movies, and television programmes featuring police officers because they are deemed offensive to left-wing sensibilities.

    In the US, the publicly-funded media organisation National Public Radio (NPR) called on Americans to start “decolonizing your bookshelf“.

    The broadcaster claimed that “white voices have dominated what has been considered canon for eons,” adding that so-called decolonisation of bookshelves is “about actively resisting and casting aside the colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature that have pervaded the American psyche for so long”.

    In Rennes, France, race rioting arsonists tried to set the Saint-Pierre cathedral on fire last week. Their attempts at torching the historic monument was foiled by Rennes firefighters.

    The door was damaged, and partially destroyed by the flames while the pediment and stones around the door, were blackened by smoke. The Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) instructed local craftsmen to carry out a temporary repair.

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