The spate of recent protests on college campuses has targeted a broad spectrum of perceived wrongs perpetuated and perpetrated by university administrators and fellow students.
University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loften were forced to step down for failure to combat alleged racial incidents.
Students at Princeton want to erase all reminders of university and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson because of his history of bigotry.
Yale has been embroiled in protest over purportedly culturally insensitive Halloween costumes worn by some students.
A fraternity party invitation roiled Ithaca College because the letter asked students to dress like crooks–then described the recommended wardrobe to include bandanas and baggy pants.
These and other protest across America are understandable although in some instances misguided.
Today’s standards will be wrong tomorrow
If we are honest, we will recognize that many of our denunciations and proposed solutions today will not prevail. They will be viewed by our descendants 100 years in the future as abhorrent by the standards of tomorrow.
Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will wonder with shame about our use of gays, blacks, singlism, metrosexuals, holiday trees, winter break, persons of color, persons with disabilities. All substitutes for yesterday’s language that is considered hurtful today.
Yes, today’s language and proposed corrections will seem just as repugnant to our posterity as is the language of our great-grandparents to us.
We need to be more understanding of the society in which our predecessors lived and the norms that shaped their perspectives.
It is better to learn from the past than to erase it. We can only hope that future Americans will be equally forgiving of our standards.