Students at a top Australian University are fighting to have a statue of a renowned explorer removed as they claim he was a ‘known racist’.
The students say they are trying to ‘decolonise’ the University of Sydney and have launched a campaign to pull down the 2.4m marble statue of Australian explorer William Wentworth.
Himath Siriniwasa and Georgia Mantle claim the campaign is a ‘process of historical rediscovery’.
Photo from the Daily Mail. Also, the University of Sydney Union Wentworth Building on campus is named after William Wentworth.
‘We seek to decolonise at large, and platform the colonialism Wentworth represented,’ they wrote in student newspaper Honi Soit.
‘The immediate aims are symbolic -– but there is power in symbolism.’
The ‘Wentworth Must Fall’ campaign also calls for the Wentworth building to be renamed after an Indigenous Warrior.
Geoffrey Blainey, historian:
Historian Geoffrey Blainey told the Daily Telegraph Mr Wentworth was one of the main founders of the university and was one of the crucial promoters of civil liberties in 19th century Australia.
‘There is a chance of only one in 100 million that any of these Sydney University students will do as much as Wentworth did for Australia.’
The two students who cooked it up, in their own words, by Himath Siriniwasa and Georgia Mantle.
William Charles Wentworth was a politician, journalist and very notably, a coloniser. In 1813 he rose from his aristocratic upbringing to popular prominence by discovering a crossing over the Blue Mountains. This route into central and western New South Wales ignited the flames of settler-colonial violence, facilitating the frontier conflicts that led to the death of tens of thousands of First Nations people. The ‘discovery’ as expected was fraud — the path was used by Wiradjuri, Gundungura and Dharug people for tens of thousands of years preceding it. For Wentworth, this actualised in personal wealth and political power — an influence which helped establish The University of Sydney.
What results is the Wentworth Must Fall Campaign. Our immediate goals are simple: rename the Wentworth building and tear down the Wentworth statue in the Great Hall. We seek to decolonise at large, and platform the colonialism Wentworth represented. It’s a process of historical rediscovery.
A Sinhalese man and a Koori woman walked into a bar. The following conversation is an attempt to document what the Wentworth Must Fall movement hopes to unravel.
Georgia: “We started this campaign in 2017 when a friend of mine was reading a book on him [Wentworth] and came to me saying “Georgia – this guy is fucked”.
I think this University could turn around and name [the building] after an Indigenous Warrior and think that they’re doing good stuff — but nothing will have changed. The immediate aims are symbolic — but there is power in symbolism. That was what was so exciting about the Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa. It began with ‘fuck this guy let’s get him off our campus’ and went further to Fees Must Fall because the colonial legacy he instated is immanent in things like African access to tertiary education, wealth disparity and so on. And that’s decolonisation. It is something to get people talking about colonisation and colonies… but it’s never a means to an end. There’s work to be done.” …
Georgia: “Everybody knows Wentworth’s name, but knows nothing about what he actually did. To me, that’s rewriting history. Surely it’s more historically accurate than putting someone up on a pedestal when they don’t deserve it. ” …
Himath: “In the wake of the Christchurch shooting, there’s so much to reflect on –- especially with with the shooter being an Australian. In his manifesto, although claiming that nationalism and fascism acknowledge the sovereignty of different people over their nation-state –- he completely overlooks that the white ethnostate he admires requires/d the destruction of national sovereignty of the non-white world. To him, Australia always was white land. To me, that’s why decolonisation plays a necessary role in the struggle against fascism. How do you see the decolonisation movement mixing in with the fight against the alt-right?” …
In his email, [University of Sydney’s (USyd) Vice Chancellor, Michael Spence] quoted USyd’s founder, William Charles Wentworth, who told NSW Parliament in 1850 that USyd needed to be a place “whose gates are open to the disciples of Moses, of Jesus, of Mohammed, of Bishnu, of the Buddha.” The Vice Chancellor added that “his vision of a diverse University is one to which we remain strongly committed.”
However, whilst Wentworth may have spoke of religious freedom in Parliament, he also spoke against a bill introduced to the NSW Legislative Council to give Aboriginal witnesses in a case the ability to testify in court. In his speech, he described Aboriginal people as “wild men” and compared their testimony to “the chatterings of the orang-utans.” …
The demand to change the name of the Wentworth building has attracted broad support, with USU Board Directors of various political affiliations supporting the renaming of the building.
Oh how trendy! Yet another tendentious whine of curated spin that carefully omits much that any reasonable person would consider relevant, married with the usual left-wing nonsense about “fascism,” “racism,” etc.
The latest chapter in the culture war. White men are being torn down for political gain, while merit and historical relevance can take a flying leap.
Any two students can launch an attack against any identity, just by demanding that their side of politics take notice of the imagined “crimes”. Will all thought crime ever be stomped out? Will our two students ever feel virtuous enough and get good taxpayer-funded jobs? Or maybe even paid jobs as activists?
It’s all about political power in the present. Despite their attitude about not being “racist”, this is self-evidently all about race.
Finally, will the “Wentworth Report” be renamed after some aboriginal “warrior,” should they succeed in de-Wentworthing Sydney University? Not bloody likely.
UPDATE: Weak video treatment, but people are talking.