Why effort to rename Calhoun Honors College is misguided

Stone Washington, a Clemson student, opines in The College Fix about the minor to-do related to some students and faculty petitioning to remove Calhoun’s name from Clemson’s honors college.

When I hear the name Calhoun, or walk by Fort Hill, his home and today a historical site on campus, I feel no sense of hatred or fear. In many ways, I feel a deep sense of gratitude that Calhoun’s mansion has now been repurposed away from something negative (slave plantation) into serving as a positive educational good (Clemson University)…

Whose memory will be erased next? Thomas Jefferson, George Washington? Many of the nation’s Founding Fathers owned slaves. But should the profound good that they made in establishing America be ignored or even erased? How different then is Clemson, or his father-in-law, Calhoun?

This crusade against harmless monuments and names will only create a slippery-slope of hasty revisionism that will lead to the removal of anything remotely connected to racism. That is not only unnecessary, but a mistake. [read more]

We could not agree more.  Calhoun was, of course, a complex man living in a complex time in which the difficult problems and dilemmas that faced the burgeoning nation were not simple “yes/no” propositions.  Every choice, every “solution” had ramifications that were negative.  What makes Calhoun and his legacy so striking are that he, alone among the clamor, saw the future of hasty, rash and emotion-filled solutions. He was a statesman and philosopher among politicians and idealogues born of bad ideology.  He was indeed a giant among men.

On a related observation, Mr. Washington is a history major at Clemson.  This offers some glimmer of hope for the future of that field in that some young students are able to view matters dispassionately and with critical thinking.

About the Author

I am a Southerner, a father, husband, and Christian and retired active duty Army field grade officer; I served for just over thirty years. I spent four years of my youth at The Citadel in Charleston. I am neither a theologian nor a professional historian. I do however ask many questions and endeavor to find answers and I believe, or at least hope, that I think critically and with the understanding that God provides.

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