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The former BBC Radio 4 presenter suggested the UK should teach the British Empire in a similar way to how Germans learn about Nazism.
However, her remarks were blasted as “historically illiterate” by a prominent historian. Writing in Saga Magazine, Dame Murray said: “The debate around colonialism must be had in full – the good and the bad.
“We sang ‘Rule, Britannia’ with gusto and never thought to question how some of the revered local heroes whose statues stood in our towns and cities had made their money.
“Nazi monuments have been put in context, and commemorative ‘stumbling stones’ – small brass plates inscribed with the names of victims of the regime have been installed in pavements 1,200 locations.
“Police cadets are taught the history of Nazi policing and are made to visit a concentration camp.
“It’s time now for us to dampen down the nostalgia and look to our future as a multicultural society with shame understood and acknowledged by everyone, never to be repeated.”
“The debate around colonialism must be had in full”
The British empire was the biggest in human history
At its peak, shortly after the First World War, the British Empire controlled around a quarter of the Earth’s landmass with a similar proportion of its population.
However, it fell apart in the decades after the Second World War with former colonies achieving their independence.
The last sizable UK colony by population, Hong Kong, was returned to Chinese control in 1997 and many consider this the end of the British Empire.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph historian Dr Zareer Masani described Dame Murray’s comments as “completely historically illiterate”.
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He argued: “It is an outrageous comparison.
“It is a fashion in some parts of the liberal left to equate the two things as part of a post-colonial guilt syndrome that they suffer from.
“But I think it is quite insulting to people like me who grew up under the Empire and have a very positive experience of it.”
The comments were also criticised by Robert Poll, founder of the ‘Save our Statues’ campaign which campaigns to protect what it sees as Britain’s heritage.
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The statue of Churchill in Parliament Square was vandalised in summer 2020
A statue of Edward Colston was dumped in Bristol Harbour last summer
On Twitter, he commented: “To put the British Empire on a level with the Third Reich is, frankly, disgusting.
“An insult both to the victims of the Nazi regime, and to the men of Britain and the Empire who fought and gave their lives to help those victims.”
Along with the USA and the Soviet Union the British Empire led the effort to defeat Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945.
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India became independent in 1947 along with the new Muslim majority nation of Pakistan.
In the summer of 2020 the Black Lives Matter movement grew after George Floyd, a black man, was killed during an interaction with police in Minneapolis.
Under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests erupted across the world including the UK.
Protesters in Oxford call for the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue
Some of these focused on statues which demonstrators argued serve as celebrations of imperialism.
In Bristol, the statue of Edward Colston, a merchant involved in the Atlantic slave trade, was torn down and thrown in the harbour.
Protestors in Oxford called for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a businessman who played a key role in the British colonisation of southern Africa.