The Right Coast

July 16, 2005
Oxford Diary
By Maimon Schwarzschild

I've been teaching this week at our Law School's summer program in Oxford. (The sun never sets on the University of San Diego.) Our program is at Christ Church college this year, probably the grandest of all the Oxford colleges architecturally, and the college with the most aristocratic undergraduates over the centuries. Roy Jenkins, who was Chancellor of Oxford University in addition to his political and literary careers -- a very English combination -- once described Christ Church as a "luxury liner docked at the edge" of the rest of Oxford.

The glorious architecture may be better burnished than ever, since the Oxford colleges, which used to be somewhat unworldly, now market themselves agressively for foreign and corporate programs and conferences, which gives them more money to spend on keeping up the buildings and grounds.

The college gates are closely guarded, though. Within, all is honey-coloured stone, putting-green lawns, and imaginatively landscaped gardens. Beyond the gates, there is a rowdier Oxford of chip shops, fast food, pubs, "townie" kids, and backpackers from everywhere in Europe and around the world. It's a scene.

The bomb attacks on London last week haven't overtly interfered too much with any of this, I'm glad to report. Civilisation, or at least pub service on warm summer evenings, contrives to carry on. The priest officiating at evensong at Christ Church last night -- the Christ Church college chapel is also the Anglican cathedral for the Oxford diocese -- was an American woman of grim, leftist visage. She offered an "intercession" against "demonising" the "young people" who bombed London. ("Perhaps we can never know what their reasons were...") If she had been doing a deliberate parody of earnest p.c. idiocy, it would have been a good performance. But there are other, saner, views in Britain. And there may actually be some effort now to rein in the incitement that has lately been pouring out of the mosques and Islamist institutions of Londonistan.