Yale University recently announced the creation of a “Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming.” It’s charged with articulating “a set of principles that can guide Yale in decisions about whether to remove a historical name from a building or other prominent structure or space on campus.”
Yale has been embroiled in a huge brouhaha over its Calhoun College, named after the seventh vice president of the United States of America, who also happened to be a slavery advocate. The name, according to hundreds of professors, creates an oppressive and offensive atmosphere. They want it scrubbed. Yale at first said no, now it’s saying maybe.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Roger Kimball cleverly suggests while the Committee on Renaming is at it, they mind as well throw their namesake Yale in the mix:
I have unhappy news for Mr. Salovey. In the great racism sweepstakes, John Calhoun was an amateur. Far more egregious was Elihu Yale, the philanthropist whose benefactions helped found the university. As an administrator in India, he was deeply involved in the slave trade. He always made sure that ships leaving his jurisdiction for Europe carried at least 10 slaves. I propose that the committee on renaming table the issue of Calhoun College and concentrate on the far more flagrant name “Yale.”
Kimball then goes on to liken Salovey’s committee to that of the French Revolution’s Robespierre’s Committee of Public Safety, created in April 1793. “On July 28, 1794, Robespierre, the man who oversaw the murder of so many, was himself guillotined. Thus do revolutions consume their abettors.”