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Black UVA trustee rips cancel culture as board strips president’s name off library

A black University of Virginia trustee ripped into cancel culture during a recent debate and vote that ended with stripping the first president’s name from a library.

The Board of Visitors voted last Friday to strip Edwin Alderman’s name off Alderman Library due to his views on race and eugenics. The public university in Charlottesville will keep a “dedication plaque” to Alderman, former president of the University of Virginia.

UVA will rename the building after Edgar Shannon, a former university president who sought to recruit black students to the school in the 1970s.

The proposal drew criticism from board member Paul Harris, who is black. The former Republican state legislator said that racial minorities or women should have been considered for the new name. But he also criticized the canceling of Alderman. He abstained from voting.

“This vote is yet another sad reminder of the graceless world in which we live,” Harris said. “I find it amazing that people can be so confident in their own rectitude.”

“All of the time and energy spent on this issue is an unfortunate reminder that we live in an unforgiving culture, where literally anything goes, but no one is forgiven,” he said.

He said further:

Renaming buildings is a discouraging reflection of our culture, a culture that is no friend to grace. Amid all the rancor, unrest, and uncertainty in our world today, I find it deeply disappointing that the naming and memorials committee expended so much effort looking backward into time, examining the character flaws of past leaders, and in the end, rendering its superior decision on historical figures they deemed too compromised, or too flawed.

Left unchecked, many fear this committee will continue down this path and leave no stone unturned. And that is what has people of goodwill asking the same question in total exasperation.

“When will this end? We are locked in a destructive culture war over our shared history, what to remember, how to remember it, and how to interpret it,” he said.

“This is where we need educational institutions the most,” Harris said.

He said further:

I would like to see this university devote its resources to building bridges across the issues that divide us, rather than searching through stacks in the library to find human imperfections of past leaders for the sole purpose of condemning those who did not and cannot meet unforgiving and impossible standards. We can never contextualize history or rectify the unpleasant parts of the university’s past by renaming building. I truly hope that we all agree that when we look into our past we should do so with humility, rather than sanctimony.

“We should look into our complex history to learn to imitate the virtues of past leaders,” he said. “Courage. Justice. Forgiveness. Temperance. And generosity. While avoiding their vices.”

He called UVA and “amazing university” that has both “virtues and blessings” as well as “serious flaws.”

“Of course we should denounce racism, sexism, antisemitism, and every other shortcoming, as everyone on this board has done,” Harris said. “And we should aim always to do better as we live out in the gospel of grace in our role as leaders.”

Listen to the full speech

MORE: Check out the Campus Cancel Culture Database

IMAGE: The Jefferson Council/YouTube

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