If Your Institution Is Named After George Washington, Shouldn’t We Be Able To Trust It To Tell The Truth?

The General is not pleased.

The General is not pleased.

Shame on George Washington University (in Washington, D.C.), not only for lying to its students and community, but also for dishonoring the name of the scrupulously ethical American icon which they presumed to expropriate as their own. Such things carry with it some crucial obligations.

For years, the GW admissions and financial aid offices have claimed in printed materials and on the University website that admissions were independent of need. The admissions process does not consider financial need during the first round of screening applications. Before applicants are notified, however the University examines its financial aid budget and decides which students it can actually afford to admit. Wealthier students are accepted, taking the spots of students who would need more financial aid from the University.

Last week, a GW administrator confessed to a student newspaper—one ironically called “The Hatchet” after the apocryphal axe little George used to cop down that cherry tree in Parson Weems’ fable—– that financial resources indeed were considered in the admissions process, and have always been considered despite University statements to the contrary.  As  recently as last weekend, admissions representatives told prospective students that their applications would be judged without consideration of their financial aid profiles. Until it was removed Saturday evening, the newspaper reports, the undergraduate admissions website read, “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.”

That site now confirms a “need-aware” policy that has always been in place. George Washington University just had another policy of lying about it.

There is not much to say about such calculated dishonesty and misinformation by an institution of higher education. It is beyond explanation, defense or excuse. As for engaging in such a lie under the name of George Washington, perhaps the best response is to refer GW’s ethics-challenged administrators to George’s 110 Rules, which he duly committed to memory as a child and which guided his actions and formed his character thereafter. I doubt that the United States would be her today if he had not.

In particular, the University should focus on mastering these, #1, #82, and #110:

1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

82. Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

110. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

In the meantime, I think the Board of Trustees ought to consider changing the President whose name is attached to its school to one with less of a reputation for integrity and honesty. There are still some distinguished names available—it’s not as if they have to embrace Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton. There are plenty of more cosmetic liars to tap: Thomas Jefferson, James K. Polk, JFK, Lyndon Johnson.

George Washington, however, deserves better.



Facts: The Hatchet


40 thoughts on “If Your Institution Is Named After George Washington, Shouldn’t We Be Able To Trust It To Tell The Truth?

  1. For the record, the last three posts have involved glitches, witches, and switches. As I try to maintain this theme, I am currently pondering whether to write the next post about baseball, the World Monetary Fund, scrofula, or Nancy Pelosi….

  2. George Washington, an ethics hero? Ehhh….

    Oney Judge-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oney_Judge

    Oney “Ona” Judge, known as Oney Judge Staines after marriage (c. 1773 – February 25, 1848), was born at Mount Vernon in Virginia as one of the dower slaves of Martha Custis Washington, the wife of the planter and future president George Washington’s plantation.[1] A personal servant to Martha, Judge was taken to Washington’s presidential households beginning in 1789; she escaped to freedom in 1796 in Philadelphia. With the aid of the free black community, she took a ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and lived nearby for the rest of her life.[2]

    Washington’s representatives contacted her twice to try to persuade her to return but, since the president would not guarantee her freedom after his and his wife’s deaths, Judge refused.

    West Ford-http://www.westfordlegacy.com/home.htm

    • I was going to remain quiet and do a silent timer.

      1 hour and 5 minutes before the first “He’s not that virtuous” comment has been posted.

      Got it. Not every good person is 100% good. We understand. But society NEEDS icons who are used to exemplify virtue. Quit tearing down our icons and heroes that we use to personify particular behavior traits that we may use to inspire THOSE particular behavior traits. Societies with no icons of virtue are doomed. Thanks for the help!

      • Agreed, no one is 100% pure… but not everyone tried to demand that their runaway slave come back into slavery, and when they refused, try to kidnap back into it.

        So when I see “110. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” I tend to think that’s particularly hypocritical. Lying about needs based admissions doesn’t even begin to approach George Washington’s misdeeds. Best to have left him out of that conversation altogether.

      • “Lofty standards”, like not conspiring to kidnap people to enslave them? Under your standards, who doesn’t qualify as an ethics hero?

        • Do you view MLK as an ethics hero? JFK? Is every person who lived during the extremely racist, slavery favoring early days of our country and many others automatically disqualified from being considered a hero because they did something which was accepted at the time? I’m not saying that the fact slavery was accepted made it okay, but when evaluating someone on their contributions to the world you should consider both context and a balancing of their virtues and vices, and in Washington’s case I would say that the fact he was a slave owner was a very small part of his contribution to this world.

          • Kidnapping people to re-enslave them was not considered so great, even at the time, which is why he tried to keep the whole thing quiet. Some people might consider adultery and plagiarism the equivalent of such, but I don’t.

            Though, on another note, what unique thing did George Washington contribute to the entire world? If England had won the war, millions of people would have been freed more than 30 years earlier than they would have in the US. If lofty writing and the structure of the government, most of those can be laid at the feet of ethic dunces that Jack has outlined towards the end of the post. Washington was good general, and he stepped down from the presidency instead of becoming a king, but the outsize lionization of the man is somewhat amusing.

            • Your failure to recognize Washington’s unique character, virtues and accomplishments–even regarding slavery, in which he led most of his planter class in rejecting as immoral, even though it dawned late in life, is not amusing, but ignorant and tragic. Are you trying to emulate the exaggerated stereotype of the self-hating American liberal? Apparently.

              A remarkably stupid and offensive post, deery, that has been sufficiently rebutted by history. I don’t intend to waste my time rebutting it while there are World Series games to win (something else we would not have with George) and sock drawers to re-order.

        • Moronic. Ethics is progressive, and we are all imperfect products of the standards of our age. If there were any Virginia planters who thought for more than a second about the humanity of blacks, he was an outlier—like Jefferson, who thought it, but unlike Washington, never mounted the guts to do anything about it, ever. Decades from now, when a future generation of American regards the abortion of fetuses with beating hearts, not for commerce, but for convenience, vanity, or political solidarity as the equivalent of multiple holocausts, the defenders of Roe v Wade may be regarded with as much contempt or more than those who supported Dred Scott. That too will be unfair. Hindsight bias is not the worst of the biases, but easily the most obnoxious. How brilliant you are to judge yourself morally superior to a wise, ethical and incredibly brave man who embraced the beliefs of his time and culture, now that you’ve had the benefit of a free life in the nation he was instrumental and creating, and a 200+ year advantage.

          • Like I pointed out, even at the time Washington’s actions towards Judge were considered beyond the pale. It was great of him to free slaves after he died, and didn’t have to feel the effects. Some couldn’t even do that much. But when he was alive, his actions towards his actual slave(s) was reprehensible, even by the standards of that time. His representative was told that if he went through with his plans towards Judge, there would be riots. So no, there is not a, “but those were the times!” excuse to fall back on. It was a huge moral failure, even by the standards of the time.

            • “Considered beyond the pale” by who? Not a nation and a region that overwhelmingly either supported slavery or shrugged it off. Your argument is essentially, yes, he led a philosophically-based rebellion to establish the principles of democracy and and self-determination, carefully guided the almost impossible precedent of limited executive leadership, set the standard of rejecting power and peaceful transfer, showed wisdom and the capacity for growth, made one of the earliest efforts to reach out to Native Americans and avoid the disaster that he knew was coming, quite literally filled an indispensable role in establishing the nation that has become one of the greatest forces for good and human advancement in the history of the planet, but he took what we now know to be un anti-human rights position in regard to this one slave, so none of that matters, he’s a bounder.

              Again: moronic. And silly.

              • And alarming. I’d like to know from whence comes the sick strain in American higher education that promotes the Zinn-Chomsky US hating slant on history. I think deery is a victim…I’d just like to know of whom or what. Perhaps it is just the freedom to be ungrateful and ridiculous. I still hear the argument that the proportional representation of blacks in the Constitution is proof of the Founders’ racism. People really want to show that the nation was founded by evil men. How did they get this way?

                • Because deep down those academics in higher education are either directly influenced by or themselves believe in the ideas that the American way (which relies on individual liberty and individual initiative to achieve the greater good, not on centralized control) is utterly horrible. It derives from a complete distrust of people to handle their own affairs.

                  Yes, my sentiments will always be laughed of as absurd, but that is quite simply the origin. No one wants to admit that higher education has been completely turned 180 away from the American way because no one wants to face those implications.

                  Since the world-view derives from an utter contempt of the American experiment, then any angle to undermine it, including the derision of its Founders is considered appropriate academic pursuit.

              • Under a dispassionate eye, George Washington was just not that great, nor did he contribute uniquely to the entire world. The world is full of good generals, and decent leaders. His big contribution, helping the US to victory over England in the Revolutionary War, also had the effect of helping to ensure that millions of people remained enslaved for decades longer than they had to be. He also held people personally in bondage, allegedly sired children with some of them, and when one finally managed to break free from the horror that was American chattel slavery, he tried to kidnap her back into it.

                No one denies that Washington contributed to the formation of America as we know it today. But his character, when he thought no one else was watching, is definitely wanting. So perhaps he has more in common with his namesake university than you acknowledge.

                • Clearly, you have never led anyone or anything, or if so, not well.

                  Successfully laying the precedent for an untested political and governmental system in a hostile world with a bankrupt government and a dysfunctional legislature populated by back-stabbing egomaniacs, while holding together culturally diverse states that regarded themselves, in most cases, as sovereign, AND setting the example for all elected leaders to come, may have been the most difficult challenge faced by any President, the only similarly difficult ones arriving under FDR and Lincoln—and both of them acknowledged that George had it worse. And he succeeded. Calling this “not the great” is neither supported by fact, logic, or historical analysis. I know you really aren’t an idiot, so you shouldn’t keep saying something that can’t be supported. The proof is here: that the US exists at all is proof positive that as a leader, in a position of leadership, in fact two, he achieved the near impossible.

                  Please–just say “Thank you, General Washington,” and shut up.

      • I am curious as to who reaches the level of perfection necessary to qualify as an ethics hero under your lofty standards.
        Even Buddha was flawed.

    • I’ve always thought Washington was a pretty good example of someone who
      blundered his way through a couple of things (French and Indian War) but learned from his mistakes and eventually became a great leader. For me, that is part of his allure. Yes, in his earlier years he was imperfect, insecure, impulsive and made some pretty horrible decisions but look at the person he became later in his life. He didn’t start out great but he paid attention…which is more than I can say for many leaders today…and he became great.

    • So what? Under the law of the state, the slave was his wife’s property. Washington’s conduct was consistent with the morals and ethics of the time and place he lived in, and usually superior to them. And eventually, he did free his wife’s slaves. There is evidence that George’s well-developed conscience did bother him regarding slavery, and he was legitimately conflicted. The good GW did by force of his action and character so dwarfs any evidence of wrongdoing that your argument wreaks of gratuitous icon slander. I smile to think how easily George could beat you to a deserving, wimpering pulp, but would be too kind, gentlemanly and ethical to do so.

  3. To state what should be obvious, and in no way to excuse deery’s sick ingratitude and disrespect to one of the greatest of not only Americans. but world history’s leaders, the post was about George’s honesty. Washington, unlike some Presidents I could name, was not a fan of dissembling or spin, and even on the subject of slavery, he was not deceptive about his acts or views, and never ducked responsibility for his own actions.

    I will say that if it had been determined that GWU’s administration was secretly buying and keeping slaves, that would still have offended George and sullied his name, for he was a great believer in following the law. But I probably wouldn’t have made him the focus of the post, since slavery is not one of the areas where George’s ethics shined, though they did eventually prevail.

    I realize the child’s fable about little George telling his father that he “could not tell a lie” may be alien to deery, who, based on his comments here (and elsewhere) was raised in a commune by Eldridge Cleaver, Jerry Rubin and Jane Fonda, where the readings were from Chairman Mao and Ho Chi Minh and the days spent heaping hate on past generations’ racists like Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, but that really was the subtext of the post.

    Not telling lies.

  4. Could it be true that the students most likely to achieve highly in society are more likely to be wealthy? I’m sure that there are exceptions to this: (witness Booker T Washington who wrote *Up From Slavery*) However, I don’t think Collin Powell having served as a Lieutenant Colonel in Vietnam particularly needed a needs scholarship when he attended Washington University to graduate with an MBA. Or Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader of the Senate who is also an alumni.

    • Yes, smart people are less likely to be poor, but the establishment Left has always sneered at this obvious conclusion, because its ideology requires adherence to the myth that the distribution of wealth is only random chance, and there is no correlation between ability, intelligence, diligence, hard work, inspiration, and wealth or success. The first time I encountered someone making this argument—in college, I recall— I couldn’t believe it. Certainly many people have the luck to be “born on third base,” ; many more are born into such dire disadvantages that they almost literally have no chance at anything but a miserable life. But to argue that there is no correlation between wealth and intelligence just boggles the mind.

      More on this topic later. Thanks for reminding me. I think.

  5. sincerely doubt that GW University has the corner on this silent admission policy, or is the only one to deny such a policy. Among all the despicable acts by higher education administrators (like penn state’s), this one is ho hum

    I find the treatment of “student althletes” and the schools’ leveraging these young men for billions in profit a lot more scandalous.. And no one is doing anything about it.

    • You are consistent, I’ll give you that. Pathetic and ethically handicapped, but consistent.

      1. The fact that other universities may do this has no bearing whatsoever on the seriousness of the offense.
      2. Other Universities are no named after an American who was known for being scrupulous about his honesty and trustworthiness.
      3. AS IT SAYS IN THE COMMENT GUIDELINES, “write about this issue that I’m interested in and think is more important, not the issue you wrote about” is an obnoxious, useless, and silly comment, and I don’t want to see it, ever.
      4. If you think lying to ones student applicants for decades is Ho-hum, you are beyond help or instruction.

      • False outrage is the most unethical behavior.. But you already know that.

        And calling the rain wet doesn’t make you more ethical or enlightened than anyone else.

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