Shakespeare asked: What’s in a name?
The recent toppling of the statues of historical personages suggests the vandals ought to check out the biographies of those whose memories they seek to erase.
For example, California vandals toppled the statue of former President Ulysses S. Grant. Oops! Wrong statue. The great African-American leader, Frederick Douglass, eulogized President Grant as “a man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.”
So, in the interest of providing more accurate targeting data for the rioters, here are some prestigious American universities whose names might merit some historical adjustment.
Harvard: According to Wikipedia: "At Harvard University, slaves ’served Harvard leaders’ and ’slave labor played a vital role in the unprecedented appreciation of wealth by New England merchants that laid the foundation of Harvard.’ Furthermore, ’Harvard students slept in beds and ate meals prepared by slaves, and many grew up to be prominent slave-holders and leaders in early America.’" Suggested renaming: Martin Luther King, Jr., University.
Yale: According to Wikipedia, "Yale University was founded by Elihu Yale (1649-1721) who ’was an American born British merchant slave trader...a benefactor of the Collegiate School....which in 1718 was renamed Yale College in his honor.’" Suggested name: Mahatma Gandhi University.
Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford, often referred to as one of America’s "robber barons." To build 15 tunnels needed for the Central Pacific Railroad, Stanford and his fellow investors forced Chinese laborers to blast the tunnels using black power and nitroglycerin. Hundreds of Chinese workers were blown to bits. Suggested new name: Sun Yat-sen University.
Princeton University glories in its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Wait. Hold the phone. President Woodrow Wilson (D) overturned the advances made by emancipated slaves under the "Reconstruction Era." Wilson re-segregated the federal government. Both the Post Office and the Department of the Treasury introduced, separate lunchrooms, screened off workspace, and separate bathrooms.
In 1913, famed civil-rights leader, W.E.B. DuBois, complained to President Wilson that, "one colored clerk who could not actually be segregated on account of the nature of his work [and who] consequently had a cage built around him to separate him from his white companions of many years." Under President Wilson, black people were "segregated" by putting them in caged work spaces. Suggested renaming: The Nelson Mandela School of Public and International Affairs.
So, "What’s in a name?" Enough prestige that white elites with diplomas from Harvard, Yale, Stanford or Princeton will not allow their almae matres to be renamed.
(c) 2020. William Hamilton.
Suggested reading: Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1940), Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945), and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932).