I was a proud graduate of Loyola Academy, a Catholic high school operated by the Jesuits in Chicago’s northern suburbs. I have done my best as a citizen and a soldier to live out the precepts that my school taught me. I was thrilled to be asked by my alma mater to be one of its baseball coaches. And now I find myself the victim of “cancel culture” — “canceled” by my own school—apparently for taking my school’s teachings to heart.
Loyola’s leadership will tell you, as it told me, that it forms “women and men for meaningful lives of leadership and service.”
So, when my country needed soldiers, I did what Loyola taught me to do. I volunteered. I devoted several years to serving my country, under arms, including in the Middle East.
When I was on duty I knew how to do what Loyola taught me to do: I followed lawful orders.
When I came home and became a civilian again, I saw our country adopting what seemed to me to be wrongheaded approaches to the COVID pandemic. So, I did what Loyola told me to do: I spoke up. I offered reasonable criticisms of government policies.
When I did so on social media, I was bashed for being an “alarmist” and a “conspiracy theorist.” So, I did what Loyola taught me to do: I defended myself, respectfully, using arguments of reason based on facts, including historical facts. I pointed out, for example, that when the Nazis began persecuting Jews in Germany, and Jews began to protest, others, including in America, accused them of being “alarmist” and “conspiracy theorists.”
Then I saw that my alma mater needed a baseball coach. I know baseball, have played it, and coached it with some success. So, I did what Loyola taught me to do: I volunteered. I was very happy when the school extended me an offer to coach baseball. I looked forward to returning to my school to teach a new generation of students how to play ball the Loyola way: With honor, sportsmanship, and a sense teamwork that helps prepare one for bigger things.
Someone at Loyola saw my social media posts. Officials at Loyola contacted me and rescinded the offer to coach baseball. The explanation was that the political opinions I voiced did not reflect well on Loyola Academy.
How could that be? I stood up for what I believe was right. How could that not reflect well on Loyola? Is that not precisely what Loyola told me, again and again, to do?
They noted that I spoke out against COVID-19 guidelines. No one claims that I do not dutifully follow them, or that I would not follow them as a coach.
What’s Loyola’s message here? That one should not only follow orders but one should not question them? That’s not what Loyola taught me when I was a student. Then they showed me that throughout history many people who saw possible signs of danger and spoke up were called “troublemakers” and told to get back in line.
During my time in the Army, I lived, trained, and deployed side-by-side with men and women of various backgrounds, most of us having very little in common. One thing we did have in common, though, bound us together: The love of our country and what it stands for.
Regardless of political opinion, America is a country where we all are meant to put our differences aside and strive for the greater good, even if it is something as vast as solving the national debt or as small as improving a high school baseball team’s record.
Had I been given the opportunity to coach at Loyola Academy, I would have followed any and all health and safety guidelines the school prescribed. Even more than that, I would have done my best to help build, not just a strong baseball program, but solid future leaders.
I am saddened that I will not be able to coach this year at Loyola, but am saddened even more that Loyola seems to discourage opinions that question the status quo.
As a third-generation alumnus, I would have enjoyed working for the school to which I had hoped to send a fourth generation of my family. Instead, I worry now that I am seeing Loyola’s true colors, and they may not be the maroon and gold my family and I have been proud to wear. I wonder how many other alumni will be disappointed to hear that their alma mater has caved to the “cancel culture” that is poisoning our country?
George Kemper is a Chicago-area native who served as an Infantry Mortarman in the 101st Airborne Division stationed at Fort Campbell, KY and deployed to Syria for most of 2019. He is currently pursuing a degree in history and hopes to become a history professor.