Yale University has changed a stone carving at Sterling Memorial Library because it depicted a musket in the hands of a puritan.
The original carving featured a Native American holding a bow and a puritan holding a musket, looking away from each other.
Although not an obvious conclusion (the two figures could very well be hunting since they are not facing each other), one of Yale’s head librarians, Susan Gibbons, interprets the carving to be violent, and “not appropriate.”
Apparently, a librarian’s job at Yale is to cover up the past in order to protect people who are better off without knowledge of history.
The Sterling Memorial Library sits at the heart of the Yale University campus, and is Yale’s largest library and one of its most prominent buildings.
The National Review reports:
In their haste to preemptively ward off any sudden triggering episodes by continuing to display a carving that has been visible in the heart of the campus for many decades, Yale’s historical-demolition squad appeared not to notice a few things. For instance: Although the Puritan was holding a weapon, so was the Indian. Only the Puritan’s musket was plastered over, not the Indian’s bow. Now that only one of the two men is armed, does Yale mean to imply that persons of color are irrationally violent or untrustworthy? Troubling, very troubling. A reasonable interpretation of the work now is that an Indian is sneaking up on an unarmed Puritan with intent to do him harm. Why must Yale perpetuate such harmful stereotypes?
Yale’s President Peter Salovey has recently changed his position on the “tough conversations” about the past that have to happen at institutes of higher education.
When a black dishwasher at Calhoun College broke a stained glass window because it depicted slaves, the college fired the employee only to rehire him after weeks of public protest.
Salovey first said that history shouldn’t be hidden from people, but rather talked about and learned from, until public pressure forced him to change his rhetoric.
The National Review continues:
Calhoun College is named for Vice President John C. Calhoun, antebellum America’s most prominent defender of slavery. In April of 2016, Yale President Peter Salovey declared that he wouldn’t give in to critics who had called for it be renamed, saying that, “Universities have to be the places where tough conversations happen. I don’t think that is advanced by hiding our past.” After an outcry, Salovey reversed course within a year, saying Calhoun’s legacy of backing slavery “fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values.” The mission of hosting tough conversations and the value of acknowledging the past were forgotten. All that mattered now was the short-term gratification of the mob.
[…] As Roger Kimball points out, a person intimately associated with Yale was deeply involved in trading slaves. His name? Elihu Yale. He founded the place. Expunging his name from campus will take much more work than merely spackling over an image of a gun.
Protecting people from reminders of any part of history that is unpleasant may be a hard mission for a university named after a slave trader.
Perhaps Yale shouldn’t patronize its students by assuming they are not professional enough to observe the whole of history as it really was and not be overwhelmed by their own education.