Goodbye Columbus was the title of a collection of stories by Philip Roth, his first published work.  The title story was later made into a movie of the same name. [Columbus references the Ohio city.]
The work dealt with problems of 2nd and 3rd generation assimilated American Jews.
It was a critical success winning the 1960 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.
And it has nothing to do with the subject matter of this post!
No, the issue title refers rather to the banishment of Christopher Columbus and other historical figures from American life. They do not measure up to current cultural values. What to do? What to do?  Ahh, easy answer for the Left  – “Get rid of them”.
Yes, “our?” young people petition and march and sit-in with “demands.” Where do they find the time? “Demonstrations” apparently are part of the curriculum.
What do they demonstrate about? The killings by Islamic terrorists? The 20 trillion dollars of debt saddling them and future generations?  Giving taxpayer dollars to people known to be breaking the law? The woeful state of higher education where mickey mouse courses are served up in place of the philosophy, the literature, the advanced sciences of Western civilization?
NO to all of the above.
Well, not to worry. The administrators of our educational system, the professors, keepers of the flames of knowledge, will set these  young people straight, point out the illogic of their positions,  discuss the lessons of history, put the here-and-now into perspective. These are the- yearned-for “teachable moments”, right?
NO AGAIN.  Administrators and professors do not take a stand. They consider, they stall, but too often they take the easy way out and cave. “No vegetables, just ice cream?  OK, kids, just please stop yelling.”
The historical figures include:
Christopher Columbus, Junipero Serra, Pierre-Jean De Smet, Isaac Royall, Jr.[a benefactor of Harvard University 300 years ago,] Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John Calhoun, Robert E. Lee,  and Woodrow Wilson.   All had involvement with slavery except for Serra, who started nine missions in the 18th century, laying the foundation for the state of California,  and DeSmet who also was a missionary to Native Americans.  Serra and DeSmet are now characterized by student demonstrators as “exploiters.”
The schools include: Harvard,  Georgetown, Missouri, Oxford, Pepperdine, Princeton, William and Mary, Stanford, St. Louis U., UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Yale.
Here are 18 sites detailing student “demonstrations” and “demands.” Google can deliver scads more.
Forgive my warped sense of humor, but one of the successful demonstrations had a result I found amusing. A university agreed to remove a statue of Columbus from its U.S. campus and ship it to its campus in Italy. Is that not a blatant case of deporting an illegal immigrant without due process?!
Other demonstrations and demands were far from funny. They were sad, revealing arrogance and ignorance.
 Photo by Madison Harwell
Please note the sign “we will not tolerate racism.”
In today’s PC world, “racist” is an all embracing perjorative. To allow a statue or image of someone who owned slaves or who is claimed to have been an “exploiter” is, to these students, a racist act. The students demanded not only the removal of a Serra mural but cultural sensitivity and diversity training for all students, faculty and staff, and a General Education requirement course on diversity and inclusion.
Really?- “diversity” an education requirement?  Martin Luther King’s dream was not: I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the diversity of their associates. Admitting people to university because of color or ethnicity – is that not racist?
No, Martin Luther King powerfully said the truth that dispenses with racism:
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. [Emphasis added.]
And consider Georgetown, which removed the names of two past university presidents from campus buildings because, during their tenure, slaves were sold to avoid impending bankruptcy of the school. This occurred 180 years ago. There were still further demands.
For descendants [of the slaves estimated to be more than 2500] who go on to attend Georgetown, the university must offer scholarships, not just a leg up in admissions. The foundation we partner with Georgetown to create will support the educational aspirations of descendants regardless of where they go to college. Our ancestors’ lives propped up the university generations ago at a time when most students didn’t pay tuition. If Georgetown is going to atone for its part in slavery, descendants shouldn’t have to pay, either….Our goal is to unshackle the hearts and minds of those who were never physically in bondage but who still live and work today under that terrible system’s vestiges.
[Emphasis added.]
We can agree with that earlier demand for more education, but not as to “diversity.” How about as to history!
Still terrible vestiges? For the past 8 years, we have had a black president and 2 black attorney generals. We have seen 2 black Secretaries of State, and numerous cabinet members. For decades, there have been a Black Congressional Caucus, at least one black Supreme Court Justice, black cabinet members, black four star generals and at least ten major United States cities under black political control.
And demonstrating students apparently are ignorant of the fact thatnearly all the slaves shipped to the new world were enslaved by Africans. No less an authority than Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. attests to that. [Yes, the same Professor Gates of police- incident-Obama fame].
…… race played essentially no part in establishing the transatlantic slave trade or in bringing millions of Africans to the Americas…. Europeans (and Americans) did not engage in the slave trade out of any sense that it was particularly appropriate to enslave black people,and … Africans were full partners in the slave trade,without any sense on their part, either, that race was relevant to what they were doing….The reality is that nearly all who were sent across the Atlantic in chains were enslaved by Africans….made for a highly profitable business for many African societies… slaves were theprimary export of many kingdoms in western and central Africa, including the Asante in Ghana, Dahomey in Benin, Ndongo in Angola, and Kongo in the modern Congo. [Emphasis added.]
[citing Gates]
Now, should not the students be protesting in front of African countries’ embassies and consulates? Should they not be urging those countries to pay reparations?
Were they consistent, of course, they should.  But this is playacting, spoiled children making themselves feel important. And the adults let them get away with it.
George Washington was a slaveholder. To date, my research has not discovered any demonstrations or demands that his images and statues be taken down and his name removed from public places.
Why not? How I wish I could believe it is because even these PC students realize how great a man Washington was. I fear, however, the answer is more pragmatic. They realize that to suggest it would be the reductio ad absurdum which would bring down their house of grievance cards.
Think about it. All the the cities and a state bearing his name and Washington,  D.C.
What would we call our capital? I suggested Columbia but a friend was quick to point out that Columbia derived from Columbus and so was verboten. What’s left – District? The PC folks would probably suggest it be “FLAWED, D.S. [District of the Sensitive]”
Back to the man himself. IMO,  the greatest figure in American history. Author and historian Brion McClanahan recently summed it up:
Washington was a man among men and a man of action in a time that demanded action. He was a self-reliant frontiersman who braved indescribable hardships as a teenager on surveying missions to the west and as a young officer in the early days of the French and Indian War. Washington understood survival. Without Washington, [the French and Indian War] 1755 Battle of the Monongahela would have ended in the annihilation of British forces [by the French.]
He accepted command of the Continental Army without pay in 1775 and led what was mostly a rag-tag militia for much of the war to victory. He called it “almost a miracle.” The United States do not gain their independence without Washington….He resigned his commission and refused all political appointments for several years after the end of the war. This was a magnanimous gesture almost unheard of in Western Civilization…He came out of retirement only when firmly cajoled and thought becoming president was like going to his execution. …
But Washington the statesman cannot be separated from Washington the man. Washington was a gentleman’s gentleman.He was the best athlete in Virginia, an excellent conversationalist…Washington respected women, including a deep love for his wife Martha, and was an enlightened man who encouraged religious toleration for all religious sects…Everyone wanted to be like Washington, and even those who disagreed with his positions never impugned his character…
He was the glue that held the Union together, the American that represented the best of its society, the honest and trustworthy head of state. His leadership secured independence and saved the Union from crumbling…Our modern heroes do not measure up to Washington. Not many men in history can.
[Emphasis added.]
Washington was physically imposing as well. His height has been reported as 6’1” to  6’ 31/2”. Most commonly accepted is 6’2”. Given that average height  for a man in the 18th century was 5’5”, he would have towered over his contemporaries
Ronald Reagan, in his first state of the union address, noted that President Washington had begun the tradition in 1790,
reminding the Nation that the destiny of self-government and the ‘preservation of the sacred fire of liberty’ is ‘finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.’ For our friends in the press, who place a high premium on accuracy, let me say: I did not actually hear George Washington say that. But it is a matter of historic record.
Reagan’s humor did not obscure his admiration of our first president and the need to heed the principles for which Washington stood:
George Washington believed that religion, morality, and brotherhood were the pillars of society. He said you couldn’t have morality without religion.
President Reagan referenced Washington initiating the state of the union address. More lasting was George Washington’s Farewell address – an amazing statement of American political values warning of dangers  which have occurred:
…that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; …, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all…it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts….. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember …that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion… Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian…Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle… It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. [Emphasis added.]
In 1879, Congress made Washington’s Birthday a federal holiday for government offices in Washington; in 1885, it was expanded to include all federal offices.. The States joined in designating the holiday which, until 1971,  was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22.’s_Birthday
A modest proposal: let’s trade in the holidays for Presidents’ Day and Columbus Day and revert back to the February 22 holiday Washington’s Birthday. And celebrate it on whatever day it falls  –  an annual reminder of what our county owes to the man and an inspiration for us to return to his vision.
Some Hope?
There are signs folks are getting fed up with the P.C. Brigades. Here is a welcome development.
The University of Chicago wrote incoming students:
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own…
And it is past time to utilize “teachable moments” and educate the demonstrating students. Daniel J. Flynn made the point:
Is it not possible that figures like Wilson and Rhodes are simultaneously capable of being great men and bigots? Can we not regard these men as such? Can we not accept such contradictions? Is it not possible to recall that Woodrow Wilson and Cecil Rhodes made significant contributions to humanity, but were also prejudiced? Can we not admire their achievements but despise their beliefs? Why can we no longer hold two opposing opinions? This makes me despair of humanity. Let the statues remain. Let us recall the full extent of their legacies, stained as they may be. Let us honor their achievements and recall these men as flawed heroes. After all, centuries from now, humanity may regard our generation as the uncivilized bigots that we truly are. [Emphasis added.]
 …a University is a place where ancient tradition thrives alongside the most revolutionary of ideas. Perhaps as no other institution, the University is simultaneously committed to the day before yesterday and the day after tomorrow. Here, too, one soon learns that so long as books are kept open, then minds can never be closed. …the heroic struggles of ideas …the sharpest weapons  are a razor-sharp wit  and well-honed disdain for what we in America call political correctness. I consider it a tragedy that some campuses in my own country, those who hold unfashionable ideas are hooted off the stage or denied them in the first place. What a perversion… of …democracy.
– Ronald Reagan


Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018