Fry the Elgin Marbles! Let’s get rid of them completely (which is what would have happened, if they’d been left where they were). King of Luvviedom – Stephen Fry concurs with liberal views urging the British public to repatriate the sculptures. Permanently on show at the British Museum (BM), the Elgin Marbles (or Parthenon sculptures as repatriationists call them), symbolise our attachment to Classical values, which we like to think underpin our ‘democracy’.
But, as noted before on this blog and during the Durham Union debate; once the soft waters of liberalism begin to wash away the sins of our collective past, through acts of cultural atonement, we will soon be without the entire museum and it’s collections; except for a few artefacts ‘which we own’. Everyone else will assert their right to have their goods back and the BM and the British government won’t have a leg to stand on.
The powers overseeing London’s future might want this. The footprint of the British Museum probably doesn’t earn as much as luxury flats, shopping malls or a new religious centre might. However, the BM is a symbol of our empirical past; we (the people) own it and it’s contents. Getting rid of it wont make a scrap of difference to those who were offended by the British in previous centuries. How long will it take before Wokerati seek to fell Nelson’s Column because it represents white male phallocentrism, to make way for some new ‘emblem of freedom and democracy’?
Attempting to salve our collective conscience by getting rid of all that is judged distasteful in hindsight is stupid. Britain and it’s past aren’t always great, but nor are those of Egypt, Italy, Greece or any ancient civilisation. Our ancestors were enslaved by the Roman empire, what good would it do shaking the tin of compensation at the Italians right now?
The fault in Stephen Fry’s argument is this: Mr. Fry is a cultural by-product of ‘the British class system’, if it can be called that. From a privileged back-ground of private education and Cambridge, of course he will urge readers of the Times newspaper to ‘be classy and return the Elgin Marbles’.
Once we Fry the Elgin Marbles, we might as well do the same with Stephen’s plummy accent ….. hall-mark of class and social standing in British society. Remove that from the man and what would he amount to? So many Brits who depend on this symbol of privilege (and it’s assumed right to deferential treatment), consist of little else but their confounded accents. The values inherent in plummy parlance are entwined with those of Empire. It is not un-classy, or populist etc to think the Elgin Marbles and the British Museum should remain as they are.
Returning the Elgin Marbles would be a significant step towards ….. the dissolution of the British Museum; further reducing Albion and all who sail in her. Mr. Fry’s appetite for the Classics including Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egyptian God of ‘pudding’) is mooted from a position of alright Jack-ness. Stephen Fry has done well for himself out of licence payer’s fees and white male privilege. Let him find some other cause to champion before he throws the baby out with the bath water and does just what the developers want him to.