The (North) front of Oriel College which faces the High Street includes a statue of Cecil Rhodes, who gave an astronomical sum of money to build it.
Until the current agitation for its removal began, I doubt if one among 100,000 who passed it knew whom it represented, and what his significance was. This is because it is very high up indeed; you can't really see it unless you cross the road. Even then, if you look at it for long, you will get neck-ache. If Oriel College (this is one current suggestion) puts an 'interpretative plaque' at eye level to foster historical understanding, it will probably cause many deaths as the tourists step out into the road so as to be able to look up at it. And, of course, millions who would otherwise never have heard of Rhodes ... will have heard of him!!
I am puzzled that it was ever allowed to be built. You see, that Front of Oriel also has statues of two Kings of the Yewkay ... and they are lower down than Rhodes ... pretty well beneath his feet! To a Monarchist, British Imperialist, instinct, this, surely, is plain weird.
Also weird (although a trifle more erudite ... bear with me) is the pair of columns, one on each side of Rhodes. They are what is sometimes called Salomonic, because in the 1630s they were thought to have been the sort of columns which graced the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem (cf e.g. S Peter's Rome ... the Raffaele cartoons ...). So they speak powerfully of God Present; of the Holy Place where the Name of God dwells in power.
And that is why, almost opposite Rhodes, Salomonic columns frame the Porch of the University Church of S Mary. In fact, they are framing a crowned statue of the Theotokos holding in her arms God Incarnate.
So the statue of Rhodes, framed as if he were God, gazes nonchalantly down and across at the statue of Mary and Jesus placed on S Mary's Church in the 1630s ... a gesture which appeared on the Puritan indictment of the Anglican Archbishop Laud, which cost him his neck.
As a Christian devoted to the Dogma that Jesus of Nazareth is God Enfleshed, I rather object to the architectural humiliation inflicted on my God by British Ultra-imperialists who so placed and so glorified a little man as unworthy as Rhodes.
So would I join the campaign to remove Rhodes? On balance, I think not. Once we start hauling down the statues of objectionable persons, there would be no end to it. By keeping such a weird and improper statue in place, perhaps we are providing some sort of protection for the other statues up and down our land which do now, or might in the future, express ideas which a ruling cultural tendency might at any moment decide to find objectionable.
One additional detail. The statue is accompanied by a chronogram. That is, an inscription in Latin in which, if you count up all the letters (C, D, I, L, M, V, X) which in Latin can have a numerical value, you get a total which will, in most cases, turn out to be that of a year.
It would seem massively illogical to remove a statue honouring Rhodes, while leaving an inscription ... honouring Rhodes!!
Unless, of course, the intention would be to demonstrate a repudiation by Modern Oxford of (1) the capacity to read Classical Languages and (2) the capacity to perform simple mathematical addition up to 1,911.
In 1957, a highly Oxoniolatrous writer, Dacre Balsdon, a Mods don, referred to "the horror of the Rhodes Building of Oriel ... Here, without doubt is the ugliest mark which the [twentieth] century has ... left on Oxford architecture."
But, if matters were left to me, I would not vote for its removal or even its 'adjustment'. I would leave Rhodes in place as a risible symbol of the Apotheosis of the Absurd.