Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last summah, after the unpleasantness in Charlottesville, the New Jacobins reckoned the time was ripe for the long knives to come out for Washington & Lee University, Ol’ Robbo’s law school alma mater.  How could a modern institution of liberal learning continue to associate itself with such racist haters?  Huh? Huh? The only “correct” approach was obviously to disappear them from campus altogether.

In response, President Dudley set up a Commission on Institutional History and Community. (This slightly Orwellian-sounding committee was chaired, I might add, by Prof. Brian Murchison of the Law School.  I took a couple courses with Murch back in the day, and spent a summah doing legal research for an article he was writing on libel law.  Good guy.)  The Committee looked into various issues surrounding the historickal relationship of both Washington and Lee to the school, and What It All Means in the modern context.

Personally, when I first heard of all this, I reckoned the school was gone, another victim of the Red Tide and soon to be renamed Patrice Lumumba University, West Campus.

Well, the Committee released its findings this week and President Dudley issued his response.  It is a surprisingly sober, balanced, and most of all mature document.  A sample:

We are Washington and Lee University. The explanation of how George Washington, in 1796, and Robert E. Lee, in 1870, came to be the namesakes of our university is straightforward and remains compelling. Washington and Lee were figures of national significance whose direct impact on this institution was pivotal to its survival and success.

I did not ask the Commission to consider the name of the university, or the names of our buildings, but it is understandable that these issues arose in the course of its examination of the ways that the presentation of our history affects the community.

The Commission recommended that we continue to be Washington and Lee University, and that our nickname continue to be the Generals. The Board of Trustees, which has authority with respect to naming, and of which I am a member, agrees.

The legacies of Washington and Lee, along with those of many prominent Americans from the Revolutionary and Civil War eras, are discussed and debated by every generation of citizens and scholars. Attempting to settle these debates was not the Commission’s assignment, nor is it the university’s role.

As an educational institution, W&L is committed to fostering and conducting meticulous scholarship that carefully assesses the individuals and events that have shaped our university and our nation. Intellectually honest consideration of our namesakes cannot separate the generous benefactor from the slaveholder, or the forward-thinking college president from the Civil War commander. Our aim is neither to deify nor to demonize, but to understand on the basis of well-considered evidence, and to render praise and criticism on the basis of well-justified argument. These are the core practices of liberal arts education. Applying them to our own history advances our mission by developing the intellectual capacities of our students, improves our institution by encouraging constructive self-criticism, and serves the public by contributing to conversations of contemporary importance.

Go read the rest, which has to do with preserving Lee Chapel, maintaining historickal names of various halls, respect for institutional history, and the like.  It also pays respectful tribute to modern sensibilities, with which Ol’ Robbo has no problem so long as these are not used pretextually as clubs by the Cultural Marxists to beat all their enemies into submission.  (And you and I are their enemies.)

I guess I can go on writing checks to the annual fund in good conscience now.

 

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