Rename Yale Now

Some mischievous benefactor of humanity has purchased a full-page ad in today’s New York Times to publish Roger Kimball’s June 22 American Greatness column “Canceling Yale.” The ad with Roger’s column appears in today’s Times under the headline Rename Yale Now. I have posted a screenshot of the text below. I’m sorry it’s not more readable. I just want you to get some idea of the nature of the thing. Roger’s column opens (links omitted):

I see that #CancelYale is trending on Twitter and elsewhere in social media. It’s a development I’d like to encourage—not, to be frank, because I think that canceling things is a good idea. Quite the opposite. But if the Left is going to pursue its dream of destroying every reminder of our past it doesn’t like, and if woke institutions like Yale, bloated with too much money and far too much self-regard, are going to betray their raison d’être and join in the effort to control the present by destroying the past, then I think an example should be made of corrupt institutions like Yale and craven leaders like Peter Salovey, the university’s president.

Besides, if the Left can deface or destroy statues of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, and countless others, shouldn’t we insist that they live up to their own ideals and cancel racially tainted liberal institutions like Yale?

A few years ago, Yale, in a fit of woke panic, decided to change the name of Calhoun College—named for John C. Calhoun, Yale graduate and valedictorian—because his position on slavery was not consonant with the position today advocated by Yale. Henceforth, the college formerly known as Calhoun would be known as Hopper, after Grace Hopper, an early computer scientist and naval officer.

I wrote about that incident at the time in the Wall Street Journal and The New Criterion. As I noted then, no sentient observer of the American academic scene could have been surprised by the move to ditch John C. Calhoun. On the contrary, the unspoken response was “What took them so long?”

Ever since Salovey announced in 2016 that he was convening a Committee to Establish Principles for Renaming (yes, really), the handwriting had been on the wall for Calhoun, a distinguished Yale alumnus who served his country as a congressman, senator, secretary of war, secretary of state, and vice president.

Like Belshazzar before him, Calhoun had been weighed and found wanting. He may have been a brilliant orator and a fierce opponent of encroaching federal power, but he was also a slaveholder. And unlike many of his peers, Calhoun argued that slavery was not merely a necessary evil but a “positive good,” because it provided for slaves better than they could provide for themselves.

You might, like me, think that Calhoun was wrong about that. But if you are Peter Salovey, you have to disparage Calhoun as a “white supremacist” whose legacy—“racism and bigotry,” according to a university statement—was fundamentally “at odds” with the noble aspirations of Yale University (“improving the world today and for future generations . . . through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community”—yes, they published that with a straight face).

Roger concludes with the modest proposal that Yale rename itself Dummer University. Let it be noted that this must be the best thing by far in today’s Times.

Shouldn’t there be an internal revolt at the Times to protest the merciless mockery of a sacred cause? Doesn’t this ad endanger the physical and mental well-being of Times employees ? Shouldn’t the publisher of the Times be cashiered and humiliated? Yes, yes, and yes.

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