Revisionist History Strikes Yale
Yale University has joined the Left’s campaign of historical purges. Not that it was unforeseen or unexpected. We alerted readers to Yale’s disgraceful capitulation to revisionist history back in August, when the school formed a Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming. It’s goal? To “develop 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.”
Six months later, the institution has declared officially that John C. Calhoun will no longer represent Calhoun College, a residential college erected in 1933 whose moniker, we’re haughtily lectured, improperly dignifies the racist ex-politician and Yale alumnus. His replacement will be Grace Hopper, who served in the Navy and became famous for developing the field of computer science. Calhoun, like so many during his time, was a passionate promoter of slave ownership, an admittedly regrettable and indefensible position that, curiously, has culminated into a pivotal sticking point some 167 years after his death. Enter Case No. Umpteen in bizarre selective outrage and double standards.
As Roger Kimball observes in The Wall Street Journal, “Calhoun owned slaves. But so did Timothy Dwight, Calhoun’s mentor at Yale, who has a college named in his honor. So did Benjamin Silliman, who also gives his name to a residential college, and whose mother was the largest slave owner in Fairfield County, Conn. So did Ezra Stiles, John Davenport and even Jonathan Edwards, all of whom have colleges named in their honor at Yale.” Where are the demands to repudiate them and others like Elihu Yale, whose early benevolence not only helped facilitate the development of Yale College but eventually persuaded school officials to name the school after him?
As Kimball explains, “[W]hereas the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica praises Calhoun for his ‘just and kind’ treatment of slaves and the ‘stainless integrity’ of his character, Elihu Yale had slaves flogged, hanged a stable boy for stealing a horse, and was eventually removed from his post in India for corruption. Is all that not ‘fundamentally at odds’ with the mission of Peter Salovey’s Yale?” Apparently, the administration doesn’t have time to contemplate such things. It’s too busy sanctioning parties for the less-than-honorable Black Panthers.