07 April 2016

Monument Removing, Confederate Renaming & Academia's Rank Hypocrisy

Great Moral Reformers of the Past
The Marxist inspired practice of removing monuments (especially Confederate ones) and renaming all things connected to the Confederacy has now morphed into a real-life chapter of George Orwell's 1984, with exceptions of course. Those exceptions seem to be anything named or memorialized for a leftist/liberal icon - which reveals to us that all this really is just politics by other means. Remember, it's not history, it's politics: a modern moral reform movement. But, again, a rather selective one.

And much of academia (especially the history-related blogosphere) is complicit. A piece by Professor Victor Davis Hanson is particularly damning and points out much of the same hypocrisy I've noted on this blog for years. Consider some of Hanson's observations:
University students across the country — at Amherst, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UC Berkeley and dozens of other campuses — are caught up in yet another new fad. This time, the latest college craze is a frenzied attempt to rename campus buildings and streets. Apparently some of those names from the past do not fit students’ present litmus tests on race, class and gender correctness.
And . . .
For students, politically incorrect actions in politically incorrect eras mean that otherwise generous historical figures have to be judged as bad in all aspects — at least by 21st century standards. But why the sudden nationwide renaming frenzy — and how is it any different from other campus fads?
Ah, yes, but Dr. Hanson leaves out an important fact in regards to the students' "new fad." And that is the fact that academic historians are providing motivation and cover for these puritan-like absurdities. And as I've noted many times in recent months,  Professor Gordon S. Wood's recent comments reveals who's really behind this latest "fad":
. . . the new generation of historians has devoted itself to isolating and recovering stories of the dispossessed: the women kept in dependence; the American Indians shorn of their lands; the black slaves brought in chains from Africa. Consequently, much of their history is fragmentary and essentially anachronistic—condemning the past for not being more like the present. It has no real interest in the pastness of the past. These historians see themselves as moral critics obligated to denounce the values of the past in order to somehow reform our present.
Yes, that's right. "The new generation of historians" are enablers for this renaming and monument removing frenzy. Are we really to believe these students just decided, in a vacuum, to start this moral crusade? They're being taught by the moral reformers that their country was founded and built by evil oppressors. We're being lectured to about our nation's past sins by Church-Lady-like puritans.

But Hanson does get to the crux of all this, even if he fails to include the moral critic posing as historian crowd:
The renaming craze is not really about race, class and gender correctness at all. If it were, there would be no Warren Hall at UC Berkeley. Before liberal Earl Warren became chief justice of the Supreme Court, he was the California attorney general who instigated the wartime internment of tens of thousands of Japanese-American citizens. There also would be no Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. President Wilson was a man of dubious racial attitudes who infamously re-segregated the federal workforce.

Instead, the “Animal Farm” rules of the current campus bullies go something like this: Some incorrect people from centuries ago are bad, but other politically incorrect people from the recent past are not quite so bad if they were at least sometimes liberal.
Every time you read about another monument being moved or a building being renamed, just remind yourself of academia's hypocrisy and that it's not at all about history, it's about a political agenda driven, in large part, by "the new generation of historians."

You can read all of Professor Hanson's piece titled, "The Hypocrisy Behind the Student Renaming Craze" here.


Jubilo said...

Dear Old Dom.,
Another consideration is the fact that so many of the students are foreign or recent arrivals/first generation. What is American Heritage to them?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

David - I get your point, but my answer is the same as it is for the behavior of those who do have ancestral roots here:

"They're being taught by the moral reformers that their country was founded and built by evil oppressors."

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Academia not respecting the past....



Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon - thanks for sharing. This comment in the first article is especially spot on:

"In today’s academia there are many scholars against scholarship, including historians hostile to history — postmodernists who think the past is merely a social construct reflecting the present’s preoccupations, or power structures, or something. They partake of academia’s preference for a multicultural future of diluted, if not extinguished, nationhood, and they dislike commemorating history made by white men with guns. The IAS engaged a historian who wrote a report clotted with today’s impenetrable academic patois. He says we should not “fetishize space,” and he drapes disparaging quotation marks around the words “hallowed ground.”

I believe I'll be posting a more detailed commentary about that comment very soon.

Thanks for sharing this.