Right Hooks

Yale Seeks to Rewrite History

The grievance industry wants to purge John C. Calhoun's name.

Jordan Candler · Aug. 4, 2016
Calhoun College

Yale University’s Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming has a tough task ahead of it. What task might that be? The group was recently established “to promote greater inclusion and diversity on campus,” a Yale press release declares, by “develop[ing] clearly delineated principles to guide the university’s decisions on proposals to remove a historical name from a building or similarly prominent structure or space on campus.” But not just any name and for any reason. As you’ve probably already conjectured, the student body and some members of the administration are in a frenzy over the honoring — nay, the mere mention — of former slaveholders.

Most of the angst revolves around John C. Calhoun, whose name and legacy are represented at Calhoun College, “one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges,” the university states. Now, assuming the newfound emotional upheaval over centuries-old slave practice spurs action, the days of the building being named after Calhoun are numbered.

As explained by Yale President Peter Salovey, “I have spoken frequently of, and remain deeply committed to, our obligation to confront this country’s — and our university’s — past, including historical currents of exclusion and racism. This commitment informed the announcement I made in April that the name of Calhoun College would remain — a decision that followed a year-long process of extensive conversation with and engagement of the Yale community, both on and off campus.” He continued, “However, in recent months, many faculty, students, alumni, and staff have raised significant and moving concerns about that decision, and it is now clear to me that the community-wide conversation about these issues could have drawn more effectively on campus expertise.”

“After these principles have been articulated and disseminated,” Salovey went on to explain, “we will be able to hold any requests for the removal of a historical name — including that of John C. Calhoun — up to them.”

The obvious question is: What are they trying to accomplish? Jazz Shaw at Hot Air observes, “What’s lost in the conversation is the fact that these institutions represent history, even if portions of America’s story are highly regrettable. You’re not improving the world by attempting to whitewash pages from the country’s origins.” Salovey initially got it right — as did Princeton when it decided Woodrow Wilson can stay — by refusing to purge the university of its past, and it’s unfortunate that he, like so many others holding administrative positions around the country, caved to the demands of the pompous grievance industry. Will they next demand demolishing and reconstructing the White House, which was in part built by slaves?

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