Top Scottish historian condemns decision to rename DHT: ‘He was a man of his time’

“The current Principal should hang his head in shame”

Sir Tom Devine, Scotland’s foremost historian and former Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh, has denounced the University’s decision to rename David Hume Tower.

The University renamed the building to 40 George Square amidst the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and at the request of a student-led petition that claimed David Hume “wrote racist epithets not worth repeating.”

Devine said in response to the Uni’s action: “If still employed by the University I would I have fought tooth and nail against this decision.”

Employees were seen changing the name of the building

Devine argued: “The surge of abolitionism and widespread horror at man’s inhumanity to his fellow man only came later… [and] by the criterian of this this stupid decision, the whole of Scotland in that period deserved moral condemnation.”

Devine believes the renaming is a disservice to the memory of David Hume who “was and is the greatest philosophical mind Scotland has every produced.”

He said about the decision: “The current Principal of Edinburgh should hang his head in absolute shame.”

Sir Tom Devine was appointed to the position of  Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh in 2005 and remained at the University until his retirement in 2015.

He is considered Scotland’s principal living historian.

In June, Devine called the renaming of Glasgow slave streets “the nefarious intellectual sin of censorship” and instead claimed: “Scotland and slavery should be embedded firmly in the school curriculum where only the full complexity and impact can be taught to the next generation.”

The University statement surrounding the renaming of David Hume Tower said: “The interim decision has been taken because of the sensitivities around asking students to use a building named after the 18th century philosopher whose comments on matters of race, though not uncommon at the time, rightly cause distress today.”

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