by Walter Smith
The Virginia Magazine newsletter recently featured this article on two newly formed commissions: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, the other to pursue recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force regarding the renaming of buildings and memorials.
Regarding the first commission, the fact that an internationally respected institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, perhaps history’s greatest advocate for free speech, finds it necessary to study the issue is damning on its own terms. No further comment needed.
My primary complaint dwells on the naming and renaming commission. To start with, I cannot believe a name of an inanimate building, thing or place is truly “harmful” to any thinking person. You could name the buildings after Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Nebuchadnezzar, Genghis Khan, or any other offensive person you can think of, and I would not be “harmed.” I might think you were stupid, but I wouldn’t be harmed. Continue reading
Thomas M. Neale
Dear President Ryan, Provost Magill, Dean of Students Groves, VP for Advancement Mark Luellen, and the University Board of Visitors:
The signatories below and I are writing you in light of the Friday, September 11, Board of Visitors decision to act on the recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force, among which is a decision to “contextualize” the Thomas Jefferson Statue in front of the Rotunda.
Many universities across America are renaming endowments, removing statues, and eradicating the names of prominent alumni/ae and benefactors whose names adorn university buildings and academic departments. The men and women whose names are being removed do not meet the ethical criteria or
societal norms of our 21st century culture according to the Faculty, Administrative leadership, and governing Boards of these universities. In short, these decisions are made, and judgments decreed, based upon revisionist historical analyses rather than the ethical norms and moral tenets that were
prevalent during these men and women’s lifetimes.
I will cite two of the best known incidents since one is germane to a prominent UVA alumnus and the other is from a nearby respected university undergoing similar internal critical Progressive self-analysis: Continue reading