RAnn Coulter is pushing a brilliant campaign to compel Yale University to change its name:
How about a bill withholding all federal funds from Yale University until it changes its name? The school’s namesake, Elihu Yale, was not only a slave owner, but a slave trader.
Quite a dilemma for the little snots who attend and teach there! It will be tremendously damaging to their brand. After all, true sublimity for a Social Justice Warrior is virtue signaling and advertising their high SAT scores at the same time.
Elihu Yale was certainly that: a slave trader, and a cruel man. Yale University bears his name because he was an early benefactor of the school.
Yale changed the name of Calhoun College in 2017, because its namesake, 19th century Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, was pro-slavery. So why is Yale not jettisoning its name? Why the hypocrisy?
The answer, of course, is that “Yale” is a global brand of almost matchless prestige. In terms of branding — which is not the same as quality — Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge are among its only competitors. To surrender “Yale” would be a severe blow to the value of a Yale diploma, precisely because of the sense of elite identity Yale has accrued over the centuries.
So, how serious do the leftist Yalies — alumni, faculty, administrators, and students — take their moral commitment? They are very happy to strip other people of their problematic historical identities, in the name of moral purity. How do they justify not applying the same standards to themselves?
Surely it cannot be the case that they want other people to pay a price for historical identity, but don’t want to pay it themselves. Yale was founded as the “Collegiate School,” before changing its name to Yale in honor of a major donor. Why not switch back to Collegiate School? The answer is that to do that would be like Marilyn Monroe at the height of her fame choosing to revert to her birth name, Norma Jeane Baker. Not quite the same thing, is it?
It would mean a tremendous sacrifice for Yale University and its alumni, and a meaningful loss of identity and prestige. But how could they do otherwise, given their moral commitments, and given that Elihu Yale was a slave trader? So what if there might not be a Yale University if not for Elihu Yale? We must be morally perfect.
Of course I don’t believe at all that Yale should do this — but nor do I believe other places should jettison their history because of this contemporary moral panic. Yale lefties, of whom there are many, do not share this view. So what’s their excuse? A Yale by any other name is just as good, right? Right?
Yale’s leftists should put up or shut up. Ann Coulter is right to troll them hard. My guess is that all those campus crusaders would not at all be willing to surrender their identity as Yalies. These culture-war controversies are not about morality, but about power.