What’s in a name change?

The Falls Church School Board has voted to rename Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School. The vote was unanimous. The new names apparently haven’t been selected yet.

School Board chair Greg Anderson explained:

Our schools must be places where all students, staff, and community members feel safe, supported, and inspired.

In the early 1980s, I coached youth basketball games at George Mason High. All of the Black players on my teams felt inspired, the school’s name notwithstanding. One of them averaged 40 points per game.

None of the Black players on my teams felt unsafe or even uncomfortable at George Mason. If anyone felt uncomfortable, it was the White players who had to guard some of them.

Changing the name of these schools will have no impact on any student who attends them. No one’s performance will improve. No one will experience less malevolent conduct.

Parents’ conduct won’t change either, and that’s what is required if student performance is to improve. Parents will be no more inclined to support and inspire their kids even with the banishment of Thomas Jefferson and George Mason.

The name changes aren’t about safety, support, inspiration, or performance. What are they about?

It’s easy to say they are about virtue signaling and that’s true as far as it goes. But just how do the name changes signal virtue? No one supposes that members of the school board approve of slavery or whatever other evil practices Jefferson and Mason might have indulged in.

The name changes are really about appeasement. Radicals want to topple the American system. They claim, ridiculously, that it is “White supremacist.”

As guilty as some White liberals may feel, they aren’t on board with overthrowing our system. Neither are most Blacks. I doubt that the Falls Church School Board wants to topple the system.

But to appease the militants, liberals are more than happy to topple symbolically the founders of the American system. When those statues fall and those names change, it’s a pretend toppling.

One is tempted to laugh it off. But symbols aren’t meaningless. Symbolically throwing overboard the author of one of America’s two foundational documents isn’t
a revolution, but it is an erosion. For the American left, that’s the next best thing.

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