Last week, Georgetown University, one of the most prestigious liberal arts institutions in the nation, took a flying leap into full-fledged radical lunacy, basicly announcing that the entire school’s mission, budget, operations and culture must be centered on self-flagellation for the sins of slavery, and inviting the rest of the nation to do likewise.
As first steps, announced by Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, the descendants of the slaves who built and worked at the Jesuit institution will be given the same edge in admission consideration as the children of faculty and alumni. Two buildings on Georgetown’s campus campus will be renamed, one for a slave, the other for a black Catholic educator who founded a local school for black girls. The university will also launch a center to study slavery and commission a memorial to slaves. That’s just the beginning.
What spawned all of this–and there is much more to come, if the report guiding the university is going to have the influence it promises—is the discovery that in 1838, a Georgetown University official, Father Thomas Mulledy, a co-president of the college, sold 272 slaves to a Louisiana plantation in order to keep the college open. Mulledy is being punished for this decision by having his name purged from a campus building and replaced by the name of one of the slaves who was sold. Now, nobody knows anything about “Isaac” other than his name. He could have been a bounder; he might have been a killer, a thief. Never mind. By virtue of simply being a black slave, he is now worthy of honor on the campus, and a priest who devoted himself to the college and his faith is consigned to oblivion.
Thus proceeds the airbrushing of history on our nation’s college campuses and elsewhere, as the leftist theory takes root that the way to control today’s minds is to remake the past to comfortable and politically correct specifications.
The building bearing the name of the other co-president who did not have the foresight to insist that the college dissolve rather than sell off assets in a completely legal and unremarkable transaction for the time will also be renamed, for a black Catholic educator who founded a local school for black girls…in other words, for someone with no connection to Georgetown University or reason to be honored there except her race.
Later, Georgetown is likely to enact other measures recommended in the report, such as mandating new students to take a“Historical Walking Tour of Black Georgetown,” touring the campus and the neighboring area to see sites that were involved with the institution of slavery. The report wants local public schools to collaborate with Georgetown to teach students about the university’s involvement with slavery. The University needs to “invest in diversity” by improving the “racial climate” on the campus through sensitivity training, also known as indoctrination. There will be ongoing studies on the current consequences of the school’s dependency on slave labor, and, of course, much research will be required to determine who the descendants of those 272 slaves are. No doubt about it: this will be the go-to school for those who want four years of concentration on an institution that was abolished in 1865.
The report itself is stunning in its orientation, beginning with its admission that it was greatly influenced by the writings of the articulate and trendy anti-white racist, Ta Nehisi Coates. A Coates’ quote about racial reconsideration is prominent in the report, though not other more ominous quotes, such as this..
“White America’ is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies.”
..or this, his reflections on the police and firefighters who died in the Twin Towers..
“They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”
Coates is a bitter, angry, anti-white demagogue, and Georgetown University used his philosophy to point the way to an overhaul of campus culture and direction based on guilt over a decision made almost 200 years ago.
The over-reaction by a supposedly responsible major educational institution defies easy explanation omitting the word “hysteria.”.Surely the fact that Georgetown, like many, probably most, conceivably all institutions and organizations dating from the slavery era benefited from the practice and to some extent participated or enabled it was not unknown to DeGioia and his colleagues before the slavery sale began being publicized. Were they just waiting for this opportunity to transform the college into a slavery obsessed exercise in white guilt?
How do intelligent people entrusted with a university dedicated to educating today’s young men and women, at a time when the expense of higher education has to be brought down for college to be practical, suddenly decide to divert resources to a symbolic exercise in hindsight bias? What sense does it make now to try to make amends to 272 people who are long dead, for an act that was both legally and culturally approved and accepted when it occurred? “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which began the process of convincing the American public that slavery was wrong and the blacks were human beings with a right to be treated as such, wasn’t published until 1851. We see now that what Georgetown did in 1838 was wrong, but those responsible didn’t and couldn’t know how wrong it was.
Institutions and the nation itself can’t try to retroactively undo such decisions and events without societal carnage. Make Georgetown’s hysterical approach the universal norm, and we would have to tear down every existing civilization and start from scratch. How much if this nation’s success and wealth is owed to the virtual enslavement of women, as non-voting, unpaid housekeepers and baby machines for the majority of our history? Obviously the appropriation of North America from indigenous people was cosmically unjust. It’s especially ironic for the Catholic Church to focus on one episode of commercial slavery to do modern day backflips over in horror, while the subordination of women remains in the Church’s bloodstream. Speaking of diversity, President DeGioia, where are those female priests? When can your gay priests–and as someone who worked at Georgetown, I can vouch for the fact that there are a lot of them—come out? How much simpler it is to focus attention on the failure of a Jesuit priest in 1838 to divine the progress of human rights.
By what principle of ethics does Georgetown think that current day, qualified applicants should be penalized by the fact that they aren’t the descendants of slaves? Like all affirmative action, this just substitutes one wrong for another except it’s worse: it substitutes a current wrong against innocent parties for a past wrong that wasn’t recognized as a wrong at the time, perpetrated against individuals long past helping, based on race. How does the daughter of Vietnamese refugees deserve to have her chances of being admitted to Georgetown reduced because of a slave sale in 1838?
I don’t think students should want to be educated by social justice warriors whose reasoning is that muddled. I don’t think parents should want tp pay $100,000 or more to have such warped ethical reasoning and poor problem solving skills passed on to their offspring.
Of course, the new admissions policy is just a little racially biased: The preferential admission policy places the descendants of slaves on par with legacy applicants, of whom about 25% are admitted, compared with the overall acceptance rate of 16%. So it’s a 9% edge. Then again, if you are a non-black student who loses an admission to Georgetown to a less qualified applicant who can trace his lineage to one of the 272, it might as well be 100%. Apparently, since the policy is to make amends, it won’t matter if that slave descendant is mostly white, or if he comes from a filthy rich family. That sure makes sense. Do they teach chaos at Georgetown? How can anyone know that the sale didn’t end up helping some of those sold, by setting in motion unpredictable events? A lot can happen in 178 years.
Amusingly, legacy favoritism at colleges has long been criticized by civil rights advocates as having disparate impact on minorities, and this being intrinsically unfair. Now Georgetown uses it as the template for time-traveling justice, with disparate negative impact on white applicants.
So it’s fine.
Georgetown isn’t really interested in addressing identifiable wrongs directly linked to the sale, since an idiot could figure out that this is impossible. Indeed, if Georgetown wanted to show it was serious about rejecting Thomas Milledy’s decision, it should dissolve, liquidate, and distribute the funds to various service organizations and charities serving the black community—after all, there might be no Georgetown without that sale. ( This is the time traveling ethics anomaly, isn’t it? If Georgetown diverted funds to invent a time machine and directed student Marty McFly to go back to 1838 and stop the slave sale, he might return to a Georgetown-free D.C., and enrolled at American University.) Ah, but dissolving the school would mean Georgetown’s administrators would have to suffer for Georgetown’s 1838 sins. Can’t have that. How much fairer it is to make white and Asian kids pay for those administrators’ retroactive remorse!
This is, in essence, racial spoils grandstanding, accompanied by an irresponsible diversion of scarce resources away from education and the setting of an irresponsible and destructive precedent. Campus activists elsewhere are sure to use the Georgetown report to try to make every university a permanent machine for the Advancement of Colored People, to the detriment of anyone who isn’t the “right” color, meaning that they might have somehow gained an advantage from that fateful slave sale. How can Georgetown think this will improve racial harmony? It’s a funny thing: I tend to get angry when I’m discriminated against. Aren’t most people like that? Even when it’s well-meaning, sincere, good discrimination?
In addition, as Georgetown alum (like me) and talk show host John Ziegler notes, the process of retroactive grievance-collecting, once begun, has no stop on the slippery slope:
“Specifically, based on our actions of today, I wonder how in the world we Hoyas can possibly still cling to our school colors of blue and gray. You see those colors have a very real and rich history which directly relates to Georgetown’s unique role the Civil War. Effectively, our gray is a way of honoring our students who went to fight for the Confederacy. I can’t wait to see how fast our administration folds once a “Black Lives Matter” protestor, seeing blood in the water, decides to finally make an issue out of that. I’m guessing our sports teams would be dressed in all black by the end of the week.”
Well thanks, John; it they weren’t going to make an issue of it, they sure will now.
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