Yale creates a “renaming committee” to sanitize history

Yes, it’s the conservative Wall Street Journal, but who else is going to report on the Authoritarian Leftist shenanigans of American universities? The author is Roger Kimball, and his article is aptly titled, “The college formerly known as Yale.” I swear this could be from either The Onion or Soviet Pravda, but it’s in America, and it’s true:

On Aug. 1, Yale University president Peter Salovey announced that he is creating a Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming. There has been a craze for renaming things on college campuses the last couple of years—a common passion in unsettled times.

. . . A point of contention at Yale has been the residential college named for John C. Calhoun, a congressman, senator, secretary of war and vice president. Alas, Calhoun was also an avid supporter of slavery.

Mr. Salovey is also perhaps still reeling from the Halloween Horror, the uproar last year over whether Ivy League students can be trusted to pick their own holiday costumes, which made Yale’s crybullies a national laughing stock. In the wake of that he earmarked $50 million for such initiatives as the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.

He then announced that Calhoun College would not change its name. Apparently, he has reconsidered. After the Committee on Renaming has done its work to develop “clearly delineated principles,” he wrote, “we will be able to hold requests for the removal of a historical name—including that of John C. Calhoun—up to them.”

Another name for this censorious group might be the Committee for the Expurgation of History. Yes, ’tis true, and you can find the President’s announcement here. The problem is in this bit from the Committee’s charge:

The charge of the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming is to articulate a set of principles that can guide Yale in decisions about whether to remove a historical name from a building or other prominent structure or space on campus—principles that are enduring rather than specific to particular controversies. The committee will review the experience both at Yale and in other institutions and communities that have addressed the question of renaming. In doing so, it will consult with experts, communicate and coordinate with other universities that are addressing similar issues, and collaborate with other groups at Yale that have been charged with related work, such as the Committee on Art in Public Spaces. After the committee’s recommendations have been articulated, approved, and disseminated, Yale will be able to apply these principles to requests for the removal of a name.

The only criteria that can be applied here are these: how many people are offended by an existing name, who they are, and why. If 10 people are offended, should the name be changed? If someone had 20 slaves rather than 100, is it okay to keep his name?  Ultimately the debate will come down to an exercise in virtue signaling, since there are not even quasi-objective standards here. And since someone whose name is on a building, or whose portrait hangs in a dining room, obviously did something considered good, we now have to weigh good versus bad.

Of course there are no-brainer cases. We wouldn’t want a picture of Hitler, Pol Pot, or Father Coughlin, hanging in a dining hall. But most cases involve judging the past by the different moral standards of today. Many of the Founding Fathers had slaves, and those include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin (all of these have been on American currency). So did John Hancock, Patrick Henry, and James Madison.   That’s about the worst offense conceivable in modern society, and rightly so. And most men from a century or more ago were sexists as well, not even conceiving that women should have the right to vote.

As Steve Pinker has shown convincingly in The Better Angels of our Nature, morality in the West has improved over time, with reviled and oppressed minorities losing opprobrium and gaining rights. Who, two hundred years ago, could stand up to the scrutiny of modern moralizers? Even Charles Darwin, though an abolitionist, viewed blacks as an inferior group.

Who are we to discard? Surely the Founding Fathers must be expelled, so Mount Rushmore must go the way of the Bamiayan Buddhas. And we have to purge all currency of the visages of slaveholders. The Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorials, since they can’t be renamed, must be destroyed. Even Darwin should have a trigger warning pasted in his books: “Content note: written by a patriarchal bigot.”

But Yale has a bigger problem than Calhoun. It’s Elihu Yale, the man after whom the college is named. As Kimball writes:

I have unhappy news for Mr. Salovey. In the great racism sweepstakes, John Calhoun was an amateur. Far more egregious was Elihu Yale, the philanthropist whose benefactions helped found the university. As an administrator in India, he was deeply involved in the slave trade. He always made sure that ships leaving his jurisdiction for Europe carried at least 10 slaves. I propose that the committee on renaming table the issue of Calhoun College and concentrate on the far more flagrant name “Yale.”

See this article at Yale’s Digital Histories for more details on Elihu’s slave-trading.

Here’s another case. Henry Ford, who founded the philanthropic Ford Foundation with his son Edsel, was a notorious anti-Semite. He bought a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, to run Ford’s anti-Semitic columns, fully worthy in their vile Jew-hatred of publication in Der Stürmer. Should we then change the name of the Ford Foundation, or even rename the company? I’m an atheistic Jew, have been taunted for a religion I don’t even accept, and I should be offended, right? But I’m not; I couldn’t care less. Ford was an odious anti-Semite but also a philanthropist and a talented industrialist; let’s move on.

The solution to this problem is not to constantly change names to keep up with current morality, but recognize that our forebears were imperfect and, by modern lights, sometimes deeply immoral. What is acceptable behavior in one century changes in the next. Even our own descendants will see us as immoral.

By all means publicize our history. But do not sanitize it by effacing names, for by so doing we’re effacing the history as well, wiping out of existence the very episodes that made us who we are. This makes us no better than those Communists who airbrushed Trotsky out of their photographs.

Those who censor the past are doomed to forget it. But maybe that’s what they want.


  1. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think Alexander Hamilton ever owned slaves. He was a fervent abolitionist.

    Other than that, I completely agree with Jerry’s sentiments on this issue.

  2. George
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I think it is OK to change names and withdraw honors. In Chicago, there is a very short street called Balbo Drive – in the heart of the city, running through Grant Park into Michigan Avenue. It is known as the site of the Battle of Balbo during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

    The street was named after a (literal) fascist, Italo Balbo.
    There has been a movement to rename the street but could not get past the opposition of Italian-American groups – even when the suggestions are that the street be renamed after Enrico Fermi or Ron Santo (Chicago Cubs baseball player). I prefer Santo – Fermi has many things named after him.

    This is a case where a street SHOULD be renamed and it has not been.

    Many want to see the Columbus Day holiday dropped. That is also opposed by Italian American groups. I object to anything honoring Andrew Jackson although I do use the $20 bill. I am happy that Harriet Tubman will take his place.

    Reconsidering who we honor and why is legitimate. In Illinois we have a Casimir Pulaski Day. I hate this holiday (and I am first generation Polish American). It is a sop to try to get Polish American votes – even though that is not a coherent voting bloc. And Pulaski did not do much during the Reolutionary War other than get killed at the Battle of Savannah.

    I think that Pulaski is honored because his name is easier to pronounce than Tadeusz Kościuszko, a true hero of the American Revolution. I find the entire Pulaski Day to be condescending.

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I live in NYC where I hear about “The Pulaski Skyway” and “The Kosciuszko Bridge” anytime I turn on the radio (traffic report). I had no idea who they were named after until now.

      • George
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        At the start of the Revolution, the Colonists had no real engineering knowledge. Kosciuszko’s knowledge kept the Revolution from collapsing in 1777. After Arthur St. Clair ignored his advice, Fort Ticonderoga was lost to the British. Kosciuszko organized the retreat which prevented the British from destroying the fledgling colonial army. He then organized the defenses at West Point to prevent the British from sailing down the Hudson and taking New York. It was his skill that led to victory at the Battle of Saratoga. And he kept at it until the Revolution succeeded.

        Kosciuszko was the greatest Pole in history – both in Poland and the US. Not the Polish Pope. Without him and another foreigner (take that Donald Trump), Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (who was gay), the American Revolution would have failed. Von Steuben turned the colonial army from a rag tag militia into a viable military organization at Valley Forge.

        Without these two men, the American Revolution would have failed before the French got heavily involved. That put the colonists over the top.

        So all those who hate foreigners, without a Pole, a gay Prussian and the French, no USA.

        If you want yet another reason to dislike Thomas Jefferson, read about what he did with Kosciuszko’s will.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      You should have a Benedict Arnold Day 🙂 !

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Once, on Canada Day, my dad told his Republican friend in Arizona that it was “Benedict Arnold Day” in Canada because Canadians saw him as a hero. He believed it for all of 30 seconds before he realized my dad was having him on.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Walt Disney was a notorious anti-semite. I guess that means no more Disney films. Also, just about everyone in power in the past saw women as inferior so I guess they are all gone too.

    • W.Benson
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      . . . and no more Ford automobiles. Oh me; oh my.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink

        Bugger. I’ll just have to use my Mazda instead. Oh, wait, has anyone evaluated the Japanese attitude to women when the company was founded. (Googles: Toyo Kogyo produced weapons for the Japanese military throughout the Second World War. So that’s them ruled out.
        My BMW? No, wait….


  4. Zado
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Who are we to discard? Surely the Founding Fathers must be expelled, so Mount Rushmore must go the way of the Bamiayan Buddhas.

    Did PCC really just draw a link between progressives and the Taliban? I think he did. Oh well. I can roll with it.

    Like the Taliban, progressives (please notice my tongue-bulged cheek) don’t care about the past, except to emphasize how much worse the people in it were, and how vital it is that we not act like them.

    Ironically, these are the same people most likely to scoff at Pinker’s central claim in Better Angels, that we are currently living in the most peaceful era of human history. I’ve read quite a few of their incredulous reviews of his book, and they’re quite baffling. One would think the people most opposed to violence would rejoice the most to learn that it has declined. But very often they do not.

    I’m still trying to understand why.

    • Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      The link between Bamiyan and Rushmore was hyperbole, mostly jocular, but impossible to resist.

      There are a whole lot of people ideologically wedded to the idea that society does not progress, at least morally (and sometimes even scientifically!); that’s the only way I can understand the opposition to Pinker’s well-documented thesis.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        (Mostly for future reference) Are there examples of Native American / First Nation sacred sites which have been destroyed by target practice in the extensive military ‘live fire’ ranges in the US SW?
        Almost certainly, yes. Deliberately? Less likely in the last century. But last century … well, there is a question.

      • George
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        The answer to Mount Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:10 am | Permalink

          What was Crazy Horse’s attitude to women?


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

            Oh that never matters!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

              I was, of course, just stirring.



    • Sastra
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m also trying to understand why people who are so in favor of peace can react so belligerently to evidence that our efforts in that direction have had some effect. I was told “that’s not what we believe.” Now stop.

      I suspect the Noble Savage trope — combined with the view that only a Spiritual Awakening will work — may be partially responsible, at least in that situation. Religious/Spiritual narratives only work if reason and modern methods fail and the world needs some other fix.

  5. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorials, since they can’t be renamed,

    From a non-American perspective, why are these names unchangeable?
    A few years ago there was a move to rename a (local, to me, then) residential street from commemorating a local Trotskyist (who fought against the Fascists in Spain). TTBOMK the move was defeated.
    Why are the names of these successful terrorists / freedom fighters (choose your telescope end to view through) specifically immune from rebranding?

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Because they’re not generic objects that just happen to be named after those people. They are monuments whose sole purpose is to memorialize the specific people they’re named after, with words integrally carved in their stonework proclaiming the fact.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        … which makes them different to the Calhoun Halls (or whatever the original source of dissension was), how?

    • darrelle
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I can’t think of why, off hand, the Washington Monument couldn’t be renamed but the reason the Jefferson Memorial can’t simply be renamed is because a major feature of it is a large statue of Jefferson.

      I suppose you could merely rename it and after several generations most people wouldn’t have a clue who the statue actually was. But it would probably make better sense to remove the statue, a central and major feature of the Memorial, and deface all of the written words which just happen to be specifically about Jefferson and which mention him by name, and then rename it something else. But by then you’ve pretty much destroyed it.

      • jeremy pereira
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 5:58 am | Permalink

        I can’t think of why, off hand, the Washington Monument couldn’t be renamed
        What? Apart from the fact that it was built to commemorate George Washington? If George Washington is persona non grata all of a sudden, you should be demolishing it.

        Two things that could be renamed though are the Federal capital and the state in the top left corner just below Canada.

        • jeremy pereira
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

          Apologies, messed up the block quotes again.

          The first sentence should have been a quote and the rest not.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 6:44 am | Permalink

          What I meant by that is that I don’t know of any likeness of George, such as a large statue, that is a central feature of the monument that would have to be removed as is the case with the Jefferson Memorial.

          And to clarify further I am saying I don’t know so the specific argument I am making RE the Jefferson Memorial may not apply to the Washington Monument, not I can’t think of any good reasons not to rename the Washington Monument.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

          Those of us who live in Washington State wouldn’t mind if “the other Washington” were renamed. In fact it has another name already; we here in the top left corner mostly call it DC.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          As for the Washington Monument, if Denzel is OK with it, who am I to complain?

  6. GBJames
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    This doesn’t seem all that straight-forward to me. I don’t think that “deciding who we honor” (in various ways) is the same thing as “expunging history”.

    I have no problem with removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill.

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Apples and oranges. Money is regularly renewed and, in most countries, the people depicted on currency notes changes with each new re-design (the US was unusual until now in this regard). So there is a natural opportunity every few years to honour someone new without having to specifically dis-honour someone old.

      For single objects/institutions like buildings and universities, there is no equivalent opportunity. That’s why the distinction between honouring someone in a *new* building and changing the name of an *old* building is important — a distinction lost on those who claim that retaining a name means we are “honouring” someone who shouldn’t be. Naming a new building after Calhoun would be honouring him. Allowing an old building to retain his name is not.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        I still don’t think it is all that obvious.

        What about flying Confederate battle flags on state houses? Should statues of Jefferson Davis adorn public parks?

        Tradition for the sake of tradition doesn’t impress me very much.

        • Jonathan Dore
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure why this distinction is hard to grasp: flying a flag is obviously a decision that is current, renewed and renewable even more frequently than changing currency, so of course it should reflect what is acceptable for us to honour to fly it in public settings as a matter of public policy. But imagine that a confederate flag carved in stone forms part of a tableau that’s an integral part of an otherwise treasured public building. Do you efface it, like the protestant reformers systematically chiselling off the faces of all statues in English churches in the 1530s? Of course not. You acknowledge it as part of the past, not try to pretend it was never there.

          I’m not sure that “tradition” is an issue here. Tradition is usually to do with customary practices. What we’re talking about here is not practices but names, and the psychology of names is such that names very quickly lose any semantic or associative content of their constituent elements … unless awareness of that content is artificially revived. I suspect that most Yale students for the past fifty years have quite happily referred to the Calhoun building not because they were happy about John Calhoun but because the dissociation inherent in naming meant they could refer to the building without ever thinking about the man at all.

          • Historian
            Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

            I couldn’t disagree more. Under your view, millions of swastikas would still be publicly displayed on buildings, etc. in Germany. Such symbols on public buildings are associated with something vaguely “good,” particularly if people have little understanding what these symbols stand for. Confederate flags, like swastikas, should be removed. Or, perhaps, you would support having a little signed placed under every swastika saying: “This was the symbol of some of the greatest mass murders in history, but we haven’t removed it because we are acknowledging the past (whatever that means).”

            • Jonathan Dore
              Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:27 am | Permalink

              Historian– again, you are confusing current and past events. Swastikas were destroyed and banned as part of the war to defeat fascism, within months of the end of that war, and any attempt to revive them *now* would be inexcusable. The same thing should probably have been done with the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the Civil War, and for the life of me I can’t think why it wasn’t. Flying such a flag today from a flagpole is, as I think I made clear, a deliberate provocation that should have no place in modern society. But imagine a sculptural tableau created in the late 19th century by a famous sculptor, similar to, say, the St Gaudens monument on Boston Common, but featuring a line of men and horses carrying a Confederate Flag. How much of it would you destroy? Just the stone flag? Why stop there? Why not chisel out the faces of the men too?

          • GBJames
            Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            Oh, horrors! The building’s name has changed!

            Those students who for fifty (?) years haven’t known who the building was named for probably don’t really care much if the building’s name was changed. I know that I wouldn’t care much if the names of the buildings I occupied forty years back changed.

            In my city (and probably in most cities) the names of streets have changed from time to time. We make these changes because the things we care about change over time. We have Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. now on a street that previously had a different name. We now have James Lovell Street because City leadership decided to publicly honor the astronaut. It isn’t hard for people to adapt to such changes. If Lovell turned out to have been a secret serial murderer, I would expect the street name to be changed again. It wouldn’t be “erasing history”, it would be “acknowledging history”.

    • Historian
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you that it is not whitewashing history by removing the names of people from buildings, streets, etc. who are now generally viewed as morally offensive. It must be remembered that these honorifics are not intended as history lessons; they exist to honor people. History should be learned from history books. If it is generally agreed that when what a person was honored for in the past is no longer honorable then that person should no longer be honored. Such is the case with John C. Calhoun, a southern politician in the first half of the 19th century, whose only real claim to enduring fame is that he was ardent and articulate defender of slavery. The renowned historian Richard Hofstadter referred to him as “the Marx of the master class.” I am in total agreement with those who want is name to be removed from a Yale building.

      What to do with those founding fathers who owned slaves or were somehow complicit in the institution raises difficult questions. Most had moral qualms about an institution that they and their families greatly profited them, including leading lavish lifestyles. As I commented on a previous post, they must have mentally suffered terribly trying to reconcile keeping humans in bondage while continually pontificating about freedom and liberty. Perhaps they were engaged in what we would now call virtue signaling. So, I am torn as to whether I think these people should still be honored. At the very least, by actually studying history, I would hope that people will realize that the good the founders did is offset by some degree by the lives they actually lived. While it is true they were trapped in a system that existed long before they were born, in my opinion they did not do as much as they could of to end a system they knew was morally wrong and contradicted the ideals the country was supposedly founded upon.

      • Jonathan Dore
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        “If it is generally agreed that when what a person was honored for in the past is no longer honorable then that person should no longer be honored.”

        But is it generally agreed? No. Otherwise there would be a clamour to rename all the cities Alexander the Great named after himself, since today leading an army on a war of conquest across half the known world would be frowned on. The Calhoun case is no different in principle — only his relative proximity in time seems to make it so.

        • GBJames
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          Proximity is important. Nobody cares about Alexander the Great because his impact on our daily lives is exceedingly diffuse.

          We, on the other hand, are still affected by the decisions and actions of John Calhoun and such characters from the more recent past. The Civil War is still being fought, so it matters who’s sitting atop that bronze horse in the park. If it Nathan Bedford Forrest, it should be replaced.

        • Robert Bray
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          I’m with Historian on this one. Calhoun graduated from Yale (as valedictorian) in 1804) and began a political career in South Carolina that prepared the ground for that state’s secession in 1860 and the Civil War’s commencement in April, 1861. Everything he said and did politically showed plainly that he was always ready to act extremely to protect chattel slavery from all northern interference. The ‘Nullification’ crisis of 1832 was, indeed, a sort of prequel to secession (though not carried through), and though Calhoun did not live to see the ‘War Between the States,’ as southerners often called the conflict–and still do, it was, historically speaking, a war partly of his making.

          Lincoln: ‘If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.’
          Lincoln/Seward/Pinker: ‘the Better Angels of our nature.’

  7. Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I agree that one should not just remove things and names in general. However, I think some principles have to be worked out to decide what sorts of names are acceptable and why. For example, there are a fair number of people who would find https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalingrad_(Paris_M%C3%A9tro) awkward. Yet it commemorates an important battle for the Allies in WWII. So …

    Amherst, who we talked about earlier, is regarded by some Native Americans as being like Hitler. This is objectively false – Amherst was not in the position to order the deaths of millions. However, subjectively, as a symbol of genocide, the comparison is made.

    And then down the slope we go …

    • Tom
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      And then the clocks strike thirteen.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      I changed trains at Stalingrad a couple of weeks ago. Interesting station, part-underground, part eleveated. Why on earth would anyone ever find that name – for a railway station – offensive? It’s the name of a city and a battle. Paris is chock-full of locations (streets, squares etc) named after historical identities. Doubtless some of them would have adverse connotations for some people today but so what. Should the British rename Waterloo Station?


      • Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        For some, remembering *anything* Soviet (or Nazi, or whatever) is awkward.

        The “how much of this do you endorse?” question is always difficult.

        I found it very interesting seeing a monument to *all* WWII victims of bombing in London, for example. There are a lot of people who would have trouble with that. (I don’t.)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Well, Stalingrad station commemorates the battle, not the city, and not Josef Stalin, so any people’s upset-ness is surely two or three times removed. I don’t see any move on the part of historians to rename it the Battle of Petrograd, either.

          I’d have no problems with that London monument to *all* bombing victims.

          There’s also a monument in London to that barbarian terrorist / patriotic hero Boadicea. (Probably the people who regard her as a hero have as much Roman blood as celtic, and probably more norman-french than either…) How far do you go back?

          P.S. The Celts kept slaves, according to Roman sources (if you believe them). So did Romans, of course.


  8. jacoxnet
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I think your argument confuses two things that ought to remain separate. The first is that historical figures ought to be remembered, and appreciated, in the context of their times. Don’t ignore or forget that George Washington owned slaves; put it in context and honor him for the remarkable historical figure that he was. The second, however, is that our choices today about whom we choose to honor when naming our valued buildings and institutions (or continuing to use names chosen in the past) do reflect, and ought to reflect, modern views about the worthiness of such an honor for a historical figure.

    Take John C. Calhoun as an example. I don’t want to expurgate from history the many fine political skills he displayed. But I also want to remember that he devoted his life and used those skills to perpetuate the institution of slavery in the South – a cause that in the words of Grant was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought.” Furthermore, as a descendant of enslaved people, I personally wouldn’t enjoy the idea of studying in a college named for Calhoun.

    We ought to name, or rename, our institutions in ways that make sense to us now, with proper regard for historical context but with due consideration of the present-day views as well.

  9. j
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Yale is toast. Too bad.

  10. Joe
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    These are good points and the “no brainer” examples are excellent, but it’s not clear to me how or where the line is obviously drawn.

    Take for example the usage of Confederate symbols and figures in the United States. The Confederates were traitors who killed or supported the killing of others, in the name of slavery. I think the monuments to those people, on public property, should be torn down. Confederate symbols should not fly from our public buildings. Public schools, buildings and highways that were named after Confederate figures (like Jeff Davis, Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson, etc), should be renamed. It was a mistake to honor them in the first place. Let’s not perpetuate that mistake.

    In the instant case, let’s not forget that Calhoun, even though he died before the Civil War, provided the political arguments for nullification and secession. I’m not sure that’s enough of a case for renaming a building named after him. However, I would oppose naming a new building or renaming a building with his name to recognize him.

    In any case, to the main point, I tend to fall on the side that the living (and not past or dead generations) should chose what to name their buildings and what they want to honor from history. I think people are being melodramatic by saying we’re sanitizing history by changing the name on a building. Come on. Yale isn’t censoring the teaching or discussion of Calhoun on campus, are they? That would be too much.

    And I for one sincerely hope that our descendants would consider renaming Trump tower if we don’t get around to it.

    • John Harshman
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Each state is allowed to honor two residents with statues in the Capitol. Both Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stevens are there, as are a number of Confederate generals. Perhaps it’s time to swap them out.

      • George
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Statues have been swapped out in the Capitol – including Reagan and Ford being added in place of 19th century politicians. Iowa replaced Senator James Harlan with Norman Borlaug.

        My home state, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln (right there on our license plates), does not have a statue of Lincoln – although he is honored throughout the Capitol. Illinois has James Shields, Civil War general and politiciam, and Frances Willard, pro-women’s vote and anti-booze.

        Official site of Statuary Hall –

        • John Harshman
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          Statues are always being swapped out. But so far, not Davis or Stevens. The Lost Cause lives, apparently.

    • Historian
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Let us not forget that several U.S. Army military bases are named after Confederate generals. I find this totally bizarre. What other country would name military bases after traitors?

      • Posted August 12, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I don’t know, but Canada has at least one school named for someone *hanged for treason*: there’s a secondary school in Montreal named for Louis Riel.

        Of course, for once the Quebec nationalists are right: Riel’s execution was a travesty in part due to language tensions, but …

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

          ‘La trahison est une question de dates.’


  11. Taz
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always felt there’s something arrogant about these incidents. It’s like people are judging themselves morally superior for having the intestinal fortitude to not own slaves in 2016.

    • W.Benson
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t have said it better.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:05 am | Permalink



  12. John Harshman
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I see some distinctions here. Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Calhoun devoted his career largely to a fanatical defense of slavery. It doesn’t seem like that slippery a slope.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    John C. Calhoun was part of the “great triumvirate,” along with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, that triple-handedly kept the Union intact during the administrations of several of the eight low-energy presidents between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln in the run-up to the Civil War. An “avid supporter of slavery,” he was, as Mr. Kimball notes. But he was also an avid patriot (something that can’t be said of many of his South Carolinian successors to the statehouse and Senate). And that alone ought to be enough to earn his name its keep on a residential college at Yale.

    After all, as Joe E. Brown averred upon discovering that his fiancé was actually Jack Lemmon-in-drag in the closing scene of Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot: “Nobody’s perfect.”

    • Historian
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      All three were dead prior to the last two presidents before Lincoln (Pierce and Buchanan).

      Per Wikipedia, Calhoun opposed the Compromise of 1850. While he was a nationalist in his early years in public service, in the last decades of his life he became an ardent sectionalist (for the South). Calhoun’s primary concern was defending slavery. Everything else was secondary.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Sure, Calhoun was a sectionalist; but he was never (to my knowledge) a secessionist. With statesmen like him (and like his counterweight in the Senate, Daniel Webster, and the “Great Compromiser,” Henry Clay) the Union staved off insurrection for decades. With more like them, it might have made it clear of the thicket of slavery without the carnage of Antietam and Gettysburg and Cold Harbor.

        Or maybe not. Maybe “every drop of blood drawn with the lash,” as Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural, had to “be paid by another drawn with the sword.”

        • Historian
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          Take a look at John C. Calhoun’s speech of March 4, 1850 in which he justified secession. Calhoun may not have desired secession, but it is certainly something he would have accepted if the “slavery agitation” did not cease. When he died in 1850 most Southern leaders did not call for secession. That is why the Compromise of 1850 ultimately passed. I think it safe to say that if Calhoun had lived to 1860 that he would have supported the secession of South Carolina.


  14. jay
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    This is the inevitable direction of the left. What is valued above all is consensus (or the appearance of consensus) and when the reality of human nature interferes, the consensus becomes more coercive until it comes down to virtual (or real) force. Disunity is major unacceptable condition in lefty world.

    What is VERY disturbing is that the anti-speech advocates view themselves as being on the ‘arc of history’ the concept that history has a direction (doesn’t really).

    With the same confidence that we point out that slavery and sexism are no longer accepted, these SJWs are looking to a time when dis-harmonious speech is looked at in the same perspective. And these are the ‘leaders’ of tomorrow.

    • jay
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      In their eyes, at least, we are tomorrow’s Calhouns.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      “This is the inevitable direction of the left.”

      Why is it then that it’s been The Right that’s been wrong on every major policy battle in American history over for the last hundred years — from women’s suffrage to collective-bargaining rights to Social Security to civil rights to Medicare (or we can take it back even further, all the way to Emancipation and the American Revolution)?

      You can “stand athwart history yelling ‘Stop!'” all you want. Progress marches on.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        And let’s add reproductive rights and same-sex marriage to the list of issues The Right has been wrong about, to bring it more up-to-date.

      • jay
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        communism, … or look at what ‘modern progressive socialism, as the Guardian glowingly described it’ did to Venezuela

        Some historic things like slavery were not ‘left and right’ in the modern sense, there were slavers and anti slavers, but neither can be legitimately associated with the modern style labels.

        But even so there is a tendency for people to assume that their current values are the correct ones. The Victorians had their own set of taboos which eventually looked pretty bizarre. Perhaps the taboos of today are destined for the same fate.

        But even now, the selective freedoms that the left endorses are far from the concept of freedom as an over arching principle as viewed by many libertarians. It’s freedom to do the things and think the thoughts that we approve of.

        Too many lefties don’t really seem able to see beyond their own blinders.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Come one, man, you’re slipping; you left “because Pol Pot” out of your comment. You wanna play whataboutery with foreign despots, what about Mussolini and Pinochet and the Argentinian junta during the “Dirty War” — or have they all been transmogrified into leftists, too?

          Still waiting to hear issue #1 that The American Right has been right about.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          But of course there are good examples of communism: the kibutz. There are many good examples of socialism: Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand (especially NZ; they are über socialist).

      • jay
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        One might add that prohibition was STRONGLY supported by the women’s rights groups (liberal more or less by today’s dictionary), but it was a disastrous experiment.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Yes, some first-wave feminists supported prohibition, and they were wrong. But the thrust of that movement came from the Puritanical Right. Care to try again?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          Similarly, some second- and third-wave American feminists have made strange bedfellows of rightwing anti-obscenity crusaders. They are wrong, too.

          Across US history there has been a torrent of censorship from the Right — from the bans on Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Joyce’s Ulysses, to the Palmer Raids, to McCarthyism. In comparison, there has been a trickle of effete censorship efforts, most of recent vintage, from the ultra-egalitarian self-styled “left.” They are sorely misguided, but it is as a drop in the rightwing reservoir (which continues apace today, especially from the hardline Religious Right).

          The fight for free speech has traditionally been waged by the Left. I invite you to check out SCOTUS’s landmark free-expression decisions, to see for yourself.

      • jay
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        If your prediction holds, then, free speech is doomed

      • Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        The left were wrong many times about the economy (some of them wanted even to replace capitalism with socialism). Some economists do not think that collective-bargaining rights are a good thing. In my country, these rights were abolished without any visible negative change.
        The left were also wrong about defense (they seemed to have the idea that the West must disarm unilaterally and be friends with the Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea).
        I think the left were and are wrong about affirmative action, too.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, Maya, but we’ve got a “citation needed” situation here on a couple of your points: as to the economists who hold that collective bargaining is an evil per se, and as to the leftists who ever favored unilateral disarmament.

          I can’t speak to labor relations in Bulgaria (which sadly, I know, is a very typical and ethnocentrically American thing to say), but without the 20th century labor movement in the US, there would be no 40-hour work-week or overtime pay, no paid vacations or holidays, no employer-paid hospitalization or pensions, no minimum wage, no child-labor laws, and no occupational-safety regulations. Hell, without organized labor, there would be no “Labor Day.” The plight of the American working class, absent a labor movement, would have been essentially Dickensian, like that which befell Bob Cratchit or the chimney-sweeps in Oliver Twist.

          Also, although there were policy disagreements (which often broke along lines left and right) during the Cold War concerning the wisdom of entering mutual disarmament treaties and of pursuing military adventurism against indigenous, third-world communist uprisings, there was a broad-based, bipartisan foreign-policy establishment consensus in the US concerning the containment policy the nation pursued against the Soviet Union. Only at the far fringes of the US political spectrum did anyone call for the type of functional surrender you propose.

          • Richard
            Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:34 am | Permalink

            Well, I don’t know what it was like in the US at the time, but in the UK much of the Left was greatly in favour of unilateral disarmament (“functional surrender” as you called it). In fact, it was the primary goal of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), about three-quarters of whom were Labour voters, and many of whose early executive committee were Labour Party members.

            In fact, CND is still active (though much smaller than it used to be); from Wikpedia:

            “CND campaigns against the Trident missile. In March 2007 it organised a rally in Parliament Square to coincide with the Commons motion to renew the weapons system. The rally was attended by over 1,000 people. It was addressed by Labour MPs Jon Trickett, Emily Thornberry, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, and Elfyn Llwyd of Plaid Cymru and Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party. In the House of Commons, 161 MPs (88 of them Labour) voted against the renewal of Trident and the Government motion was carried only with the support of Conservatives.”

            Michael Foot, leader of the Labour Pary 1980-83, was a committed unilateralist, and the party’s 1983 election manifesto (since described as “the longest suicide note in history”) advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament; and the current leader of the party, the odious Jeremy Corbin, is a long-time unilateralist and supporter (and now vice-chairman) of CND.

          • Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

            Here is a citation:
            My impression and experience is that pay and labor conditions depend mostly on per capita GDP and the demand & supply of labor.

            I disagree with most of your points. I agree that without the US labor movement, we would have no Labor Day, but I do not find it needed. I disagree that “the plight of the American working class, absent a labor movement, would have been essentially Dickensian”. All countries I know that have stepped on the path of industrialization, urbanization, universal education and demographic transition have improved greatly pay and conditions of labor. It seems that, to counter this process, the employers in some countries press for mass immigration, including illegal immigration. They know that, with the increase of supply of labor, its price will inevitably go down.

            Indeed, in a given economic situation, the exact degree and type of this improvement depends on the culture. It is shocking to me that maternity leaves are so short in the USA. This literally takes lives:
            Unfortunately, from debating this issue on another thread here, it seems to me that too many US voters are against the children’s best interest. My guess: unions will not help.

            • Filippo
              Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

              “It is shocking to me that maternity leaves are so short in the USA. This literally takes lives.”

              I wonder what the economists’ take on it is. Would they speak of the shortness of maternity leaves as “economically rational” and “maximally cost-effective”? (By the way, are economists considered part of the “working class”?)Would they speak in terms of the pool of “labor” or “human resources” or “human capital” being depleted and not sufficiently replenished, as opposed to speaking of flesh-and-blood human beings?

              • Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                The health and human aspects aside, I do not think that keeping at work the mother of a 3-month-old infant is economically rational or cost-effective. Her mind will be elsewhere, she will be sleep-deprived, and she will take leaves when the infant is sick.

                It is wrong to force employers to pay maternity leaves. A businessman cannot be penalized because an employee of his has decided to give birth. Maternity leave should be paid from an insurance fund. Once this is managed, and once maternity leave is extended to 6 months, employers do not care whether it will extend further to 1 or 2 years – they hire a replacement employee with a temporary contract.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      “… the concept that history has a direction (doesn’t really).”

      If you can’t see that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” as MLK said, then maybe you should consult more closely with Steven Pinker’s Better Angels.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe you could just seek out the take of someone who isn’t white, or isn’t male, or isn’t straight, see if they want to go back to the way things were 50 or 100 years ago (or at any other point in history).

        See if any of ’em want to help you guys make America great again, while you’re at it.

        • Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Prof. Coyne recently reported on some gay student and then on another female student of color being “reformed” for what they dared to tweet.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Mr. Kukec,
        I very much want to agree with you and Pinker on this matter of human moral progress. But what stops me from full acceptance is the lovely phrase ‘arc of the moral universe. . .’ itself. Is this a metaphor? If so, beautiful poetry. Or is it a transcendental claim? If so, I must demur. For no transcendental claims are allowed in human affairs. We may have been doing progressively better in ameliorating human well-being over the past few centuries or so, and we’re all glad this has happened. But it may be nothing but a kind of ‘local equilibrium’ within our chaotic social universe. Regressions are certainly possible, perhaps even likely, given environmental and political crises.

        So I guess I’m inclined to assent to Rosenberg’s dismissal of history as ‘bunk.’ No known direction, no predictive power. Not science, not productive of knowledge.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

          “Arc of the moral universe” is certainly metaphorical (and a lovely turn of phrase). I can’t speak to precisely what Dr. King had in mind when he used it in his <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Long,_Not_Long"<"How long, not long" speech, but — given that he was both the leader of a secular civil-rights movement and a man of the cloth — I suspect that he meant it as both secular metaphor and as a call for spiritual transcendence.

          I, as a non-believer, was quoting it strictly in its metaphorical sense. While I eschew man’s perfectibility, I nonetheless believe that accumulated human learning over time gives us greater insight into how to cabin and direct man’s negative impulses and instincts — not in a straight line, of course, hence the metaphor of a bending arc. And I believe that this general directionality is amply supported by the evidence adduced in Dr. Pinker’s book.

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I find the concept of removing names from structures, statues from parks, nothing more than a great work of hypocrisy. My advice, if this is what you get from a piece of history you have learned about, then find something else to study or work in. Using your standards and morals to judge people who lived in another time even sounds wrong and we should be better than that. It’s no better than self appointed censors who will decide what we read and even what we think. It also shows in many ways that people do not really learn from history many of the things that are there to learn because they become blinded by their own judgments.

    I have been told that science done in this way is bad science – get results you don’t like so throw them out and do another. We often wonder how can a scientist of evolution also be a Creationist. How can a person living in 2016 make judgment about someone’s attitude on slavery in the 1700s? And why should you because you are not changing anything. Get on the Bus in the 1960s and march for civil rights, that would be doing something.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      “Using your standards and morals to judge people who lived in another time…”

      I think this misses the point. It isn’t a question of judging people in the past. It’s a question of deciding who we, here and now, want to hold as leadership models. Why should we, now, be held subject to the role model decisions of our grandparents?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Sorry but I don’t see it that way at all. By your practice of saying, oh, we today know that slavery is bad and we should, it was outlawed in America in 1864. We have had plenty of time to let it sink in. Now, we should stop calling that Washington DC and give it some other name. Why, because Washington had slaves…very bad.

        Let’s change the name to AC/DC, just for laughs. Now, don’t you feel better? We probably would not be in a country called The United States of America today if it had not been for this guy but forget that. We know that slavery is bad. He was the father of our country but sorry, he had slaves, he has to go.

        • GBJames
          Posted August 10, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

          You don’t get extra points for going after a cardboard caricature of the position.

          I don’t think there are many people calling for a change to the capital’s name. Pretty much all of us honor Washington for his role in founding of the country. We still agree that he is a role model. So the name remains unchallenged.

          John C. Calhoun, not so much. He is notable primarily for rather ugly things. There is no reason to keep him on our list of heroes even if our great grandparents thought otherwise. We are not slaves to ancestral hero-designations.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            I ask you, Judge and Jury of the long dead, what have you done in your life? John Calhoun was a Congressman from South Carolina, served in the senate and the house, was Secretary of War and seventh Vice President. He was born in South Carolina – home of secession. Find one person you know from South Carolina in his time that was against slavery. You don’t get points for knowing nothing about this man. He had a few slaves, Washington had hundreds. What you are slave to, are your own prejudices.

            • GBJames
              Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

              “Judge and Jury of the long dead”

              Are you purposefully ignoring what I said before? It isn’t about judging the long dead. It is about deciding for ourselves who we wish to hold up as models.

              As for people in South Carolina opposed to slavery at the time, I might suggest you consider the many people who were slaves.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                My last try. You say – not judging “deciding who we wish to hold up as models.” So not too many models on slavery back in the 1700s anyway.

                If you wipe people’s names off of building and take down statues you aren’t judging, just looking for models. There is no argument for saying the same thing with different words.

                Consider unmodeling all those representatives in Philly who signed that Constitution because they incorporated it right into that document. We all know that slavery was the worst but throwing out generations of people because you know this is false understanding of history and the people who made it.

              • GBJames
                Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

                I think I understand the issue here. You’re confusing history with honors.

                Erasing history is a process by which people and events are erased from memory. Removing honors happens when society changes and things/people who were once honored no longer are.

                Those aren’t the same thing. The former is a process of intellectual falsification. The latter is a reflection of current social mores.

                Do you think we need to honor people/events in the past simply because our grandparents did so? Why?

    • Filippo
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      “How can a person living in 2016 make judgment about someone’s attitude on slavery in the 1700s?”

      I reasonably assume that abolitionists existed in the 1700’s. How do you view 18th and 19th century abolitionists’ views and attitudes on slavery (which I assume reasonably enough more or less conform to early 21st century notions)? Or is it that one living in 2016 is no more allowed to praise the abolitionist than he is to condemn the slaver?

  16. Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    It is double plus-good goodthink to sanitize history. NU ideas always plus-good, old are ungood. Is it also crimethink to want to preserve and read words in books, too? Let us all have goodthink together.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Exactly. 🙂

  17. Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    New doublethink: Islamic State is not Islamic.

  18. Lars
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I guess that we’ll have to rename Woody Guthrie then.

  19. Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    In my country, names of institutions and landmarks were changed after the communist takeover in 1944 and then after the abandonment of communism in 1989. Such undertakings are expensive and uncomfortable, so they are done exclusively at times of major changes in the society, a revolution or a counter-revolution. Do you have the impression that there is some revolution underway in the USA?

    • GBJames
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      “Do you have the impression that there is some revolution underway in the USA?”

      Are we in the US constrained by the patterns in your country?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      That’s actually an interesting question. I’m sure some would say that there is a revolution but I bet many would argue exactly what that revolution is. I think it’s probably a continuation of the culture wars which of course makes it really hard to tell which statues to take down since there is no sudden regime change. It’s almost like the Cold War happening just in America.

  20. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    They should rename the building for Algonquin J. Calhoun of the great Amos ‘n’ Andy TV show in the 50s. It would save on stone-cutting. /s

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like the kind of corner-cutting scheme the “Kingfish” would come up with.

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Surely an especially complex case is Abraham Lincoln, who while ensuring a victory for abolition of slavery, certainly regarded whites as inferior to blacks, opposed racial intermarriage (known then as miscegenation) and opposed blacks serving as jurors.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      … certainly regarded whites as inferior to blacks …

      Even the most militant brothers don’t believe Abe was quite that honest. 🙂

    • Robert Bray
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I’ll add only that although he was anti-slavery almost from the age of reason, and he did have the typical upland southerner’s sense of white superiority, this he gradually softened as he educated himself and began to know the world more widely. By the time he was murdered, Lincoln (it is my belief) was on the moral path toward granting freedmen full citizenship. As to the other signs of equality you mention, such as intermarriage, we’ll never know.

  22. Posted August 10, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I predict that a hundred years from now, all the currently accepted heroes of these students – people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, will also fall from grace and have their names removed from the streets and buildings – for the 22nd century crime of eating animals and using oil-powered transportation.

  23. BigBamboo
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    In a poll to rename some school with a PC name a while back I liked the “Hypothetically Perfect Person School” entry.

  24. dd
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    “Of course there are no-brainer cases. We wouldn’t want a picture of Hitler, Pol Pot, or Father Coughlin, hanging in a dining hall.”

    On the other hand, we do have Andy Warhol’s Mao hanging all over the place. And Mao was likely the biggest mass murderer ever

    • Richard
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      And let’s not forget that iconic image of Che Gueverra, so popular on T shirts; and he was Castro’s chief executioner.

  25. keith cook + / -
    Posted August 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you Prof (E)and although the post is dealing with specific people in American history the above stands true around the the globe. There are some from history you would want to hang and not on your wall… but, ‘lets move on’ is a voice of reason.

  26. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Has anyone considered the possibility that this committee is a sly bit of misdirection meant to distract student activists from specific renaming controversies by inviting them into a pointless meta-debate about what the “enduring principles of renaming” ought to be? Then a year or so from now, after everyone has lost interest, the committee thanks them all for their input and announces a set of principles that let them keep the names just as they are.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Please make it so.

  27. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    In general, I’m against naming landmarks after people, no matter how distinguished they may appear at the time. Would the Golden Gate Bridge be better named the Angelo J Rossi Memorial Bridge?

    But having given it a name, they should leave the damn name alone. Otherwise it just begs confusion. I deplore the renaming of Cape Canaveral as Cape Kennedy (even though I generally approve of JFK). And the Hoover Dam should have stayed the Boulder Dam, but now it’s been the Hoover Dam for decades I would not want it to be renamed even though most people probably think it commemorates the thug who set up his own secret police, aka FBI.


    • Filippo
      Posted August 21, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      “I deplore the renaming of Cape Canaveral as Cape Kennedy . . . .”

      Do I correctly recall that it was named Cape Kennedy for only a few years (providing a rather narrow window of opportunity for deploring), and quietly went back to the moniker Cape Canaveral (perhaps after a new complex was built there and named the Kennedy Space Center)?

  28. Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    What the ‘crybullies’ are missing out on is an opportunity to tell history. Calhoun could hold a required class for freshers that tells the history of the college and the way Calhoun supported slavery.

    I read that the Trolley Night is a tradition which celebrates the removal of the noisy trolley system. It’s not uncommon to display trophies of a defeat of an enemy.

    A Calhoun Night could celebrate the end of slavery, while at the same time exposing how inhumane views are easy to hold and support, and how critical thinking students are (or should be, ironically) guardians of the future.

    Holocaust museums are not required to be renamed, because they don’t celebrate the Holocaust but expose it, and warn against horrors that seem so easily aligned with.

    Calhoun’s legacy could be the exposing of his own racist views that have been shared by so many ‘good’ people.

  29. chrism
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    May we organise a campaign that might make Yale think twice when this nonsense gets really expensive? A few carefully placed articles on, say, Buzzfeed or the HuffPo suggesting that renaming these morally contaminated buildings is simply whitewashing their truly evil nature. This cheap act of cynicism will let the underlying offensiveness remain, insidiously harming all snowflakes who enter them. No, all right-thinking (or should that be left?) students must rise up and demand the offending buildings be torn down, their very bricks mocked and degraded before being flown into the heart of the sun. A multi-cultural healing ceremony will then cleanse the ground of its sin, but nonetheless, that ground must lie fallow as a mark of respect to the offended students who were forced to enact this hard labour of correcting such terrible wrongs. A period of 100 years should do, with the land then being given to disabled black transgender lesbians.
    New land must be bought and new buildings constructed. Naturally they will be designed by committees of communication major students, whilst teams of gender studies majors will direct crews of rapists (ie any men they can catch) to work off their crimes by doing the construction. This they will do freely, donating their time in return for half a bowl of organic brown rice and a cabbage leaf each day. Murals depicting critical race theory and deconstructionist principles will be inscribed on them (no, no – on the new walls, not the cabbage leaves!) and the world will have become perfect. At least, until you leave university and enter the real world…

    • Richard
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink


      But I think you missed out a few “-isms”: should that not have been “vertically-challenged old working-class Marxist vegan disabled black Muslim transgender lesbians with learning difficulties” ? 🙂

  30. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    As has been mentioned here before, the far left is becoming ever more like the far right. The horseshoe tips curving around to meet, as it were. The far right has been sanitizing history textbooks to eliminate mention of slavery, while the left removes the names of those who owned slaves.

    Perhaps the left has run into too much push back in their purity testing of people today, so are now purity testing those in history. The dead can’t stand up for themselves so are a considerably easier target.

    I wonder how many of us came into the world with all our opinions and beliefs fully formed and completely in line with the expected norms of today’s far left? Whatever those ‘expected norms’ are. It seems to me they are constantly evolving, an ever moving target, and not even agreed on.

    While I agree slavery is wrong, I don’t agree the names of things need be changed because the person owned or supported slavery in the past. Unless they are naming the building after me.
    Jeremy Tarone University.
    I think it lends a certain dignity.

  31. Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    this is our modern 1984

    people are becoming Unpersons, Ministry of Truth determines what is doubleplusgood, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia

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