When you think of colonial violence — and we all know you do — do Ivy League universities come to mind?
How about, particularly, Yale?
If you’re two-for-two with “Yes,” this story’s for you.
In 1929, a campus building was erected. To the right of an entrance was placed a carving.
Its portrayal: a Puritan with a musket.
Beside him: an American Indian holding a bow and shield.
In 2017, the school issued a press release asserting the musket was “pointed toward the head” of the tribesman.
During renovation of the building to accommodate the Center for Teaching and Learning, the project team in consultation with Yale’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces determined that leaving the depiction in place would have the unintended effect of giving it a place of honor that it does not deserve.
“Faculty and other scholarly experts,” Yale said, had determined “the image depicts a scene of warfare and colonial violence toward local Native American inhabitants.”
But did it?
The university has an obligation not to hide from or destroy reminders of unpleasant history…
As part of “not hiding,” Yale covered the musket with removable stone.
The result: an American Indian with weapons and some white guy…tossing a pizza?
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) August 14, 2017
Yale announced the statue would be moved, at which point the monstrous musket could be uncovered.
The work would be “made available for study and viewing,” with captions offering “historical context.”
As reported by The College Fix, however, the tribute to pizza-tossing remained.
In 2019, Yale covered it with a big blue box.
And now, it’s a whole new sculpture.
From the Fix:
Yale replaced the Native American and Puritan carving with a new stone structure depicting two figures — one wearing a Puritan collar — with what appears to be a book between them…
No word on what happened to the original 1929 installation, but in 2019, former Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman commented on the controversy.
He slammed censorship in The Washington Post:
The university’s treatment of the carving reflects the belief, shared by many schools, that our college campuses should be cleansed of names and artifacts that awkwardly remind their students that others in the past held values different from their own. It is hard to imagine a more compelling illustration of the phrase “safe space.”
According to Anthony, safe spaces “leave…students ill-equipped for the unsafe space of our wonderful but abrasive democracy.”
Another critic of the colonial castigation: George Will.
From his WaPo op-ed, “Yale Saves Fragile Students From a Carving of a Musket“:
Actually, the Native American and the Puritan are looking not hostilely at each other but into the distance. Still, one can’t be too careful, so the musket has been covered with stone. This is unilateral disarmament: The Native American’s weapon, a bow, has not been covered up. Perhaps Yale thinks that armed white men are more “triggering” (this academic-speak means “upsetting to the emotionally brittle”) than armed people of color.
George called Yale the “leader in the silliness sweepstakes.”
Given what’s going on at schools nationwide, I’m not sure there can only be one.
But it’s good that the university took a stand against guns aimed at heads — Yale doesn’t tolerate any foolishness.
Yale Medical School Welcomes Psychiatrist Who Dreams of 'Unloading a Revolver Into the Head of Any White Person' https://t.co/pLlgF7JIYB
— RedState (@RedState) June 5, 2021
Yet, what if George Will is correct? What if the college wrongly labeled something wicked? And what if it’s daftly ditched an artist’s innocuous 92-year-old work?
If so, goodness willing, they’ll get it all figured out.
And who better to throttle a return to sanity than a handful of administrators?
If we’re lucky, the school has enough for the job.
Here’s to hoping:
Sounds About Right: Yale's Administrators Outnumber Its Entire Undergraduate Enrollment https://t.co/OwEyZdAuIa
— RedState (@RedState) November 14, 2021
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