Stu­dents scrubbed Rud­yard Ki­pling’s ‘If’ off a univer­sity wall, say­ing he was “racist”. Is it ever right to erase work when a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure’s rep­u­ta­tion is re­vised by mod­ern stan­dards?

BBC History Magazine - - Letters -

@Diane_­toller I don’t think their work should be erased. It’s his­tory. We need to learn from it. Ki­pling came from a dif­fer­ent era. Places of learn­ing should stop putting the writ­ten word, by any­one, on walls.

@ ShahidMohmand79 Ki­pling, like all of us, was a prod­uct of his time. Try­ing to re-in­vent him or his work as per to­day’s re­quire­ments would be atro­cious and an ut­ter trav­esty. @hu­man­isthob­bit It is im­pos­si­ble to take any artist, sci­en­tist, writer and leader out of their time to choose what we find palat­able with­out deal­ing with their gen­er­a­tion’s prej­u­dices, racism and gen­der stereo­types. We must see them in their his­tor­i­cal con­text.

@ mad­die_ fos­ter98 It isn’t eras­ing his­tory. The poem still ex­ists. There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween ac­knowl­edge­ment/rep­re­sen­ta­tion and cel­e­bra­tion. Stu­dents have a right to choose what cel­e­brates their com­mu­nal val­ues. It’s about time that BAME ( black, Asian and mi­nor­ity eth­nic) art was cel­e­brated.

@ Gabe55Gabe It is wrong to try to re­move his­tor­i­cal work be­cause its au­thor or con­struc­tor of­fends our mod­ern views but there should be more ed­u­ca­tion about the darker side of our past ‘ idols’ and ‘ he­roes’.

@RobAKemp1966 No, the past is the past and we must learn from it. Oth­er­wise, how are we to evolve? Learn about Ki­pling, the times and lo­ca­tions of his life. He also wrote

The Jun­gle Book – would you erase that and his other great works?

@katy­did_ alot Erase? No. But wiser heads should have pre­vailed be­fore putting it up. Such works should be con­signed to his­tor­i­cal study and we ought not cling to an in­glo­ri­ous past.

@ dol­l­i­d­ancer The im­por­tant thing is to study why peo­ple thought that way at the time so that stu­dents, or any­one, can un­der­stand how and why views change.

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