Danny Tyree, 8/17/2016 [Archive]

Another Confederate Symbol Bites The Dust

Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

According to the Washington Post, prestigious Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee is finally going to act on its long-held desire to delete the word "Confederate" from the inscription atop the columned entrance to Confederate Memorial Hall dormitory.

(Under the terms of a 2005 court ruling, Vanderbilt is required to pay $1.2 million to the Tennessee division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who had donated money in 1933 for the dorm's construction and naming rights.)

I'm sure a lot of you are sighing, "It's about time" or "Welcome to the 21st century" or "Now minority students and white-guilt sufferers and people who are mint julep-intolerant can live to a ripe old age without ever being traumatized about anything ever again"; but some aspects of the decision don't ring true.

Why no honorary degrees for students who WOULD'VE attended Vandy if not for the dorm name?

Why no Vanderbilt-sponsored campaign to close Nashville's Parthenon replica, that tribute to slavery, prostitution and state-sponsored religion?

The change to the bland, generic "Memorial Hall" seems like a "no win" situation. Either freshmen will ask "WHAT exactly does the hall memorialize?" and someone will have to dredge up the past and tell them about the Confederacy anyway, OR freshmen will totally ignore the enigmatic name, showing just how uninquisitive the young scholars are.

Maybe I'm still leery of the recent "not a ransom" cash transfer to Iran; but it sounds as if the university (or "anonymous donors" who are making the payoff on behalf of the university) is really paying a pretty hefty RANSOM for the name of the dorm, and setting a bad precedent.

("Thanks for recruiting my football standout son for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Right before school started, I had his name legally changed to 'James Earl Ray.' For $1.2 million I could have it changed back. His even more athletic younger brothers, Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan, will be available next year.")

Someone please explain the logic of making this expensive name change. The stone-etched name on the building was a rather low-tech, non-flashy nod to the Southern cause.

But now the United Daughters of the Confederacy (who APPARENTLY are plotting a return to secession and slavery!) have more than a million dollars to spend on statues, pamphlets and targeted social media campaigns!No wonder the press release credited the money to "anonymous donors" instead of "anonymous alumni." Vanderbilt doesn't want to take credit for such brilliant strategists!

(I know: "Standing on principle is priceless." But Vanderbilt COULD'VE been standing on $1.2 million worth of scholarship money!)

My great-great grandfathers suffered the deprivations of war, the deprivations of Reconstruction and umpteen posthumous bad-mouthings by Hollywood. Could the university be magnanimous and extend its no-bullying policy to include kicking deceased veterans while they're down?

Inclusiveness, diversity and the "sweep history under the rug" philosophy have won the day. But will the victory and harmony be long-lasting?

Now that the school has set a conciliatory tone, activists will inevitably get bored and start raising a stink about Cornelius Vanderbilt, who endowed the university. There will be all sorts of debates about the carbon footprint of his coal-devouring railroads, the land formerly owned by Native Americans that his railroads crossed, the (ugh!) livestock hauled on the trains, etc.

Just watch: someday students will be flocking to Nashville to attend prestigious (bland, generic) University.

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©2016 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades." Danny's weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.



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