We Catholics can only plead guilty to giving our own encouragement to the practice of destroying the statues of those who have, er, gone out of fashion. There is a statue of S Peter in S Peter's in Rome which is said to have been made from the metal secured when Capitoline Juppiter was melted down. (I think there is a replica of it in the Brompton Oratory, and possibly yet another copy in the Victoria Railway Station Chapel, the large red-brick building nearby that looks like a late-Victorian Marshalling Yard with a minaret added. One of the feet is worn away by the lips of the Faithful. I expect Mr Johnson during his recent visit paused to add his oral tribute ...)
It's natural human instinct to eliminate the out-of-date. About a decade ago, somebody identified a statue which had been smashed in its head and then used as building rubble in the first century palazzo at Fishbourne in Sussex: it is probably of the young Nero, deliberately defaced after the end of his artistic career.
Moi, I think the equestrian statue of Oliver Cromwell in Parliament Square should be deftly adjusted. The head could be removed, and replaced with a newly-cast head of our late Sovereign Liege Lord King James III and VIII, Hapsburg lip and all. The nearby statue of a member of the Churchill family ... nasty man, nasty statue ... could be melted down and recast as a statue of the Horse of Hannover, prostrate beneath the trampling hooves of King James's noble steed. OOPS I was in error; Cromwell's statue is not equestrian. Sorry. It is something I have always hurried past, eyes averted ... the whole thing will need to be melted down ... Sorry ...
So I don't want to be 'dogmatic' about agalmatophobia. I confess "Me Too", as is fashionable. But I did bridle recently when somebody called, I think, Elgot, appearing on the Beeb, said how sorry she felt for black students in Oxford who are forced ... "literally", she said ... with some emphasis ... to go through an archway on top of which is a statue of Cecil Rhodes ... nasty man, indeed; nasty statue ...
I am nervous about any but the literal use of the adverb literally. Apart from that ...
Elgot has clearly neither visited Oxford nor deigned even to research its Oriel College on her computer (and I bet she's not a Tab, or Palatinate Purple). Students, of any colour, would have a lot of trouble getting into Oriel College by going underneath its statue of Rhodes. Regular entry ... for students of whatever subtle tint ... is "literally" secured by walking a few hundred yards round a corner and down a side-street. The essence of Oxford lies in the dominance of its side-streets.
It is a good practice to verify one's references ... was it Dr Routh who said something like that?
But the Beeb, and its slipshod minions, are far above such pedantries. Our Media also rose stratispherically beyond mere fact in attacking the Prime Minister of Hungary, a Mr Orban, when he visited us recently. (I hope you had a happy birthday yesterday, Victor.) They tried to savage him for having spoken some time or other about an Islamic Attack on his own country. He explained robustly that a lot of Moslems had battered down a frontier fence and illegally invaded his country. Is his plaint not fair enough?
In our mealy-mouthed land, we would be expected to use a careful periphrasis such as "illegal immigrants". But by what law are visiting foreign politicians required, when wantonly attacked, to share our nervous passion for being periphrastic when we are in a minefield?
And it didn't sound to me that the Meejah were aware of the centuries-long tale of Islamic aggressiion in Eastern Europe ... I rather think the Hungarians didn't succeed in getting rid of Ottoman garrisons until the eighteenth century. Why is Johnny Foreigner not allowed to possess ... and, indeed, to have been formed by ... his own History? And who promoted us to such global supremacy that we experience no need to find out about Distant Lands before we publicly demonstrate once again that We Know Nothing about them?
Orban, incidentally, is an alumnus of Pembroke College in this University. I haven't heard this fact mentioned; nor have the Media let drop any hint that Mrs Vice-Chancellor, or the Master of Pembroke, issued a gracious invitation to him to drop in for a quick noggin and to have a look over Pembroke's fine new quadrangle. (I must declare an interest: Senior Grand-daughter was at Pembroke.)
Could it be that he is ex officio a Cancellato?