Academics at the University of York removed a depiction of the three wise monkeys from their website after they determined it could be seen as an insult to ethnic minorities.
The Three Wise Monkeys, which embody the Japanese proverb “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” and are often used to describe those turning a blind eye to wrongdoing, have become the latest victims of the Black Lives Matter iconoclastic movement in the United Kingdom.
The organisers of an upcoming art history conference at the University of York in England have apologised for their use of the three monkeys in their call for submissions and removed it from their website.
“Upon reflection, we strongly believe that our first poster is not appropriate as its iconology promulgates a longstanding visual legacy of oppression and exploits racist stereotypes,” the organisers wrote in comments reported by The Times.
“We bring this to your attention, so that we may be held accountable for our actions and, in our privileges, do and be better.”
Experts in Japanese history and culture were shocked by the academics insistence on likening the three monkeys to racist iconography.
The former curator of the British Museum’s Japanese collections, Tim Clark, said that he had “no idea” why they would be seen as offensive.