Closing note: On the thirtieth anniversary of the crash, a memorial was dedicated overlooking the Tenerife airport, honoring those who perished there. The sculpture is in the shape of a helix. “A spiral staircase,” the builders describe it. “a symbol of infinity.” Maybe, but I’m disappointed that the more obvious physical symbolism is ignored: early model 747s, including both of those in the crash, were well known for the set of spiral stairs that connected their main and upper decks. In the minds of millions of international travelers, that stairway is something of a civil aviation icon. How evocative and poetically appropriate for the memorial — even if the artists weren’t thinking that way.
When it comes to the less elite sectors of our society, resistance to the linguistic therapy of the cognitive elite’s newly aggressive niceness takes a different form. Our anti-elite perceives itself as being stripped of the dignity that comes with being responsible citizens and having the wherewithal to raise a family. Their revolt is not only concerned with the compensation, security, and status of “skilled labor.” It also attempts to defend the opinions and beliefs of loving spouses, parents, citizens, and religious believers from corporate scripting. From the perspective of these rebels—Trump voters in our country and Brexit voters in Great Britain—the nice are lacking in real virtue, particularly personal courage and civic commitment. And they have been parasitic for their defense on those who orient their relational lives by God, country, and family.
The first room of the museum covers the origins of the school in the Staats Model School which evolved into the Pretoria College, a school that relocated to the present grounds in 1909 and amalgamated with the Eendracht School to form PBHS. Artefacts, flags, photographs and models are all used to tell the story from the time of the Anglo-Boer War (including the use of the present grounds as a British field hospital) up to the 1950s. A comprehensive collection of school uniforms is displayed together with full size reconstructions of sections of a typical early classroom, science laboratory and woodwork room. The original Danny Swart statue, carved from wood, forms the centrepiece of this room.