• Martin van den Bergh

What to do with the statues?

I abhor discrimination and the oppression of anyone. Indeed my parents taught me to respect any human being, this coming from their experiences as Jews in the Second World War and the Holocaust. Yet, I am also very concerned at the campaign to bring down statues of characters who have shaped history, yet may have in their past questionable behaviour. While I agree that certain characters who wrought huge destruction on humanity such as Hitler should never be honoured, nevertheless, there is no person who can be so perfect as to be without sin as the Book of Ecclesiastes teaches us.

Many years ago I had the privilege of addressing all the students at Manchester Grammar School. Afterwards, I had a drink with the High Master and we got on to the subject of people who had inspired us, and yet had done things which had disappointed us, and how we should regard them. We came to the conclusion that while we should not excuse their behaviour, what they taught us and gave us is still valid, and for that reason we can still have for them even if they have disappointed us.

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