Ethics Heroes Of The Great Stupid: University Of Texas Alumni Donors

Back in October of last year, this Ethics Warm-up related the truly ridiculous story of how the University of Texas’s school song, and a beloved Texas folk song as well, was being called “racist,” and some of the schools football players were calling for it to be “cancelled.” University President Jay Hartzell reacted with Authentic Frontier Gibberish: who knows what he was saying? He outlined steps UT would take to “recruit, attract, retain and support Black students,” while his statement said that he preferred to “acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community.” What he should have said was that there is nothing whatsoever racist about the song, and his university was not going to be bullied and race-baited into changing revered school traditions just so social justice warriors and woke mobs can add another notch to their metaphorical belts.

You see, the claim that the song has “racist undertones” is simply false. You will search for them in the lyrics fruitlessly:

The Eyes of Texas are upon you
All the livelong day
The Eyes of Texas are upon you
You cannot get away!
Do not think you can escape them
At night or early in the morn…
The Eyes of Texas are upon you
Til Gabriel blows his horn

The absurdly attenuated argument for the song being racist is based on the claim that it was freqently sung in blackface in minstrel shows. That would be a ridiculous argument even if it were true, which I doubt. Songs are used in many contexts and version over time, and to the rational and mentally sound, who may have sung or favored a song does not make the song objectionable. Maniac Charles Manson was obsessed with the Beatles’ White Album’s songs. Hitler was inordinately fond of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. But the claim that “The Eyes of Texas” is racist is even worse: from what I can discern, that song was never sung in minstral shows. What was often sung by blackface performers was the song whose melody the Texan anthem appropriated, the “Ive Been Working on the Railroad” section that transitions into “Dinah Won’t you Blow”, then to “Someone’s in the Kitchen With Dinah,” and “Fee Fi Fiddly-Aye-Oh.” Now that song, with references to “strumming on the old banjo” is obviously a minstrel-type song for performing and dancing to. Why would minstrels be singing about Texas? I doubt that they did.

So the complaint is that the melody is racist. Words can be racist, but tunes are not. The offense claimed for “The Eyes of Texas” makes as much sense as objecting to “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” as un-American because the tune is the same as ‘God Save The Queen,” or that the “Star Spangled Banner” encourages alcoholism because its melody was that of a drinking song. [Or, as I discussed in an earlier post, that Good Humor trucks are racist because they play “Turkey in the Straw”] Yet over and over again since The Great Stupid descended on our land like a foul-smelling and poisonous cloud, we have see institutions and their leaders prostrate themselves before equally unjustified and contrived complaints, or worse. Alums of the University of Texas, thankfully, were sufficiently dissatisfied with Hartzell’s weasel words that they took a stand.

Many called on the university to refuse to cater to students and athletes who were protesting the song. Hundreds of angry alumni and donors emailed Hartzell following Texas’ loss to Oklahoma, which ended with the sight of former Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger standing alone on the Cotton Bowl field for the traditional post-game playing of “The Eyes of Texas,” while the UT players boycotted the song. The President of the Longhorn Alumni Band Charitable Fund Board of Trustees, Kent Kostka, wrote that

“[Alumni] are pulling planned gifts, canceling donations, walking away from causes and programs that have been their passion for years, even decades and turning away in disgust. Last night one texted me at 1:00 am, trying to find a way to revoke a 7-figure donation. This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. Real damage is being done every day by the ongoing silence.”

Well, good. A song seems like a trivial matter, but in the Age of The Great Stupid, small things take on important symbolic weight. The increasingly ideological and politically correct environment on college campuses is a part of the attack on American history and culture, as well as an indoctrination process that will have far-reaching effects. College and university alumni have it within their power to force administrators to be responsible, or to replace them with people who are.

21 thoughts on “Ethics Heroes Of The Great Stupid: University Of Texas Alumni Donors

      • Against my better judgment, I’m going to let this comment go through, but I have no idea what it is supposed to mean…like who is “them”?

        But I also don’t know what the comment it responded to means.

        • Over a century and a half of weird traditions.

          The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (today known as Texas A&M) was founded in the middle of nowhere Brazos county in 1876. The nearest town was the tiny Bryan, Texas 4 miles away. A&M becoming the only prominent landmark for miles, the train station took it’s name from the institution becoming “College Station” on the rail maps.

          The vast emptiness of the area and the orientation of the school as being a military academy along with it’s assigned disciplines of Agricultural Sciences and Mechanical Engineering amounted to a couple hundred young men with ALOT of time on their hands.

          So they developed traditions to pass their time away when not focused on military arts and their academics. The traditions were fun and one of the key culture-forming traditions was the complete and utter rivalry with that other school in Austin.

          Over the years the rivalry has been a 100% driving force in A&M competitive motivations (though for the latter part of the 20th century and clearly this century, the rivalry was only halfheartedly returned by those junior college pretenders in Austin as they felt they had bigger fish to fry).

          Needless to say, the rivalry at A&M led to the second verse of the Aggie War Hymn being devoted to mockery of texas university. We don’t have a fight song like all the other ordinary colleges and universities, we have a War Hymn. In fact, only the 2nd verse is sung during games or other traditional times.


          Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!
          Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!

          First verse
          All hail to dear old Texas A&M
          Rally around Maroon and White
          Good luck to dear old Texas Aggies
          They are the boys who show the real old fight
          That good old Aggie spirit thrills us
          And makes us yell and yell and yell
          So let’s fight for dear old Texas A&M
          We’re going to beat you all to
          Rough Tough! Real Stuff! Texas A&M!

          Second verse
          Good-bye to texas university
          So long to the orange and the white
          Good luck to dear old Texas Aggies
          They are the boys that show the real old fight
          “The eyes of Texas are upon you . . .”
          That is the song they sing so well
          So good-bye to texas university
          We’re going to beat you all to Chig-gar-roo-gar-rem
          Rough Tough! Real Stuff! Texas A&M!

          As for the term “gig em”, there are two competing stories for the origin of the phrase.

          The first and less likely, is that back in “Ol Army” (which is how Aggies refer to the earlier days at A&M), when everyone was in the Corps of Cadets, and sophomores were tasked with whipping young fish (freshman) into shape, there was a particularly ruthless sophomore who was noted for being on top of every fish he ran across. A freshman could be guaranteed a full uniform inspection if they ran across this particular cadet and anything wrong with your uniform was a “gig”. So notorious was this sophomore that upperclassmen would see him zero in on a freshman from a distance and begin his zealous move to harass the hapless soul and they would cheer him on “gig em!”.

          The second one, more likely, and the official origin, is that an Ol Ag from class of 1906, P.L. “Pinkie” Downs was at a Yell Practice before the game with TCU back in the 1930s, and he was asked what were we gonna do the Horned Frogs? Well, those who know, understand that frogs are hunted with sticks with one end sharpened, and the act of stabbing them was called “gigging”. So of course Pinkie Downs’ answer was that we’d Gig Em! The phrase has lasted and become a quick way to give a last minute boost to an Aggie’s motivation when diving into a task.

          I don’t discount the 1st theory, because Pinkie Downs could very well have been recalling days past when uniform gigs were part of his daily life as a former member of the corps of cadets AND an appropriate recollection of how TCU Horned Frogs should be handled. But the 2nd theory is on public record.

        • Come to Texas, you’ll find out, Jack!

          Michael has done a superb job of explaining some of the Aggie traditions but, after all, as someone who lived in both Waco and Lubbock, who doesn’t share his righteous opinion of UT.

          Plus the Aggie War Hymn definitely makes my top 10 list of great college fight songs.

        • d_d, Back in the mid ’80s, a friend and client and real estate developer from Oklahoma would make the Hook ’em Horns sign and ask, “What does this mean?” To which he would reply: “Chapter 11.”

  1. Of all the alumni groups to pick a fight with. Hah! The University of Texas? What were these dopes thinking? There’s not a school song more identified with a school than “The Eyes of Texas.” And these alumni are oil and insurance and finance and real estate and tech barons with big egos. Have these jocks and wokester goofballs ever heard of the saying, “Don’t mess with Texas?” Sure, Austin is a lefty bastion, but not the money behind UT. Absolute insanity. If the president of the university doesn’t handle this correctly, he’ll be fired.

        • I had to differentiate them somehow from the flagship school of Texas education found at Texas A&M University.

          But we should give credit where it’s due. texas university down the road in Austin, when it maintains its accreditation such as it did this past year, successfully confers something like 150-200 Associates Degrees annually.

  2. Why don’t they try to cancel these songs first?

    The Beach Boys, Never Learn Not To Love
    Guns N’ Roses, Look At Your Game Girl
    Marilyn Manson, Sick City
    The Lemonheads, Your Home Is Where You’re Happy
    The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Arkansas
    Crispin Glover, Never Say Never To Always

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