Ancient History Isn’t Colonialism

Students at Brown nonsensically accuse Roman emperors of ‘white supremacy.’

This article was published on The Wall Street Journal – November 30th, 2020

Main Street: AOC’s support of the Goya boycott speaks to the priorities of the modern progressive. Images: Zuma Press/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

Is there room for ancient history in the Ivy League? A group called Decolonization at Brown doesn’t think so. It demands the university tear down statues of two Roman emperors, Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius, on the ground that they “celebrate ongoing colonialism in the United States and idealize white, Western civilization—both of which continue to cause harm at Brown today,” as four of the decolonizers put it in an op-ed for the student newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald.

That’s nonsense. White supremacy didn’t emerge until the 17th century, when modern science gave rise to theories about human races. The emperors’ legacies represent some of civilization’s greatest virtues.