“That behavior has no place in civil society – not 35 years ago, not today. It stands in stark opposition to William & Mary’s core values of equity and inclusion, which sustain our mission of learning, teaching, and research.”
—William and Mary president Katherine Rowe, explaining the justification behind the school’s disinvitation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to peak at the school following the revelation that he wore blackface in 1984, when he was a medical student.
This is the quality of thought, logic and fairness being displayed at the highest levels of our education institutions? Bad behavior in 2019 has no place in 2019’s society, and bad behavior in 1984 had no place in 1984 civil society. It may have no place in 2019’s civil society, but since it didn’t occur in that society, that doesn’t matter. What matters in civil society now is what those in that society now they behave now, and how we can trust them to to behave in the future.
There is no reason to believe, now, today, based on his relevant, recent conduct, that Governor Northam is going to engage in the conduct in question now, or that his conduct in 1984 suggests that he is likely to engage in that conduct in the future.
The principle William and Mary is asserting holds that every individual on its faculty and administration should be judged by their worst moments, mistakes and poor judgment whenever they occurred in the past, regardless of whether such acts were anomalies, and without consideration of how experience, personal growth, evolved attitudes or wisdom might have intervened.
Before 1918, women were not permitted to attend William and Mary. Before 1970, blacks were not admitted. Why should we not now judge the college according to its behavior in 1917 and 1969? Well, to do so would be unfair and illogical.
It would be fair, however, to judge the college based on its cowardly, pandering, unjust treatment of Governor Northam now.