VU taking political correctness too far

How did we get so screwed up in this E Pluribus Unum nation?

The latest evidence of crossed wires � when it comes to the challenges of diversity and the goal of many becoming one � is Vanderbilt University’s decision to remove the word ”Confederate” from the name of a dorm at Peabody College.

Money to help build the dorm and cover the cost of board for prospective teachers came in 1935 from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Peabody was separate from Vandy then. But the intent of Daughters was to lift the South by supporting the education of more teachers.

Somebody educate Vandy officials. The cause of diversity does not mean allowing every minority group to state what’s offensive about another people’s history, values and culture � then eliminate it. Diversity is how we help everyone get along, how we help everyone assimilate to the whole when necessary and make the common desire of meaningful employment and the American Dream possible.

The insanity of political correctness is turning many people off and making them indifferent or enemies to real issues of diversity and fairness in our society. For example, many people don’t believe immigrants want to learn English. Taking a cue from the Vandy example, they believe immigrants want America to conform to them.

Vandy’s decision is infected with political correctness. Last year, this practice of an elite minority dictating right and wrong to everyone else marred planning for a statue to New York firefighters of Sept. 11. It was modeled after the famous picture of three firefighters lifting the flag at ground zero. The firefighters in the picture were white. But the fire department had designers make it one white, one Hispanic and one black firefighter for the statue. Some groups protested this effort to rewrite history. Vandy wants to eliminate it. Based on VU’s rationale, should we now:

� Demolish statues to the black Buffalo soldiers and rip down the plaque in Franklin for Congressional Medal of Honor winner 1st Sgt. George Jordan? Surely the genocide against the Native American is outrageous enough. The Manifest Destiny slaughter of the Native American rivals the Middle Passage atrocity against African-Americans. Yet Washington, D.C., a community that is majority black, continues to sport a team called the Redskins. Native American groups have protested. The name remains.

� Do away with UT’s nickname, the Volunteers, since it was partly popularized for the number of Tennessee fighters during the illegal Mexican-American War? That war, however, is why my ancestors were numerous in the ranks of the Confederacy during the next conflict, the Civil War. They knew what it was like to have the Stars and Stripes lead an invasion of one’s home.

No, these other symbols of our history should remain. Tolerance must be a two-way street. America is not about guaranteeing me that I won’t be made uncomfortable by history. It’s about giving me the freedom to make my own.

In lieu of reversing its act of intolerance, Vanderbilt should determine how much the Daughters’ $50,000 donation would be worth now, if invested in stocks and certificates of deposit the past 67 years, then return the money to the group so it can invest it in another institution.

Vanderbilt’s adherence to political correctness makes it much more difficult for the cause of celebrating diversity. Nothing rightly makes people more angry than to be told their history and their ancestors are not worthy. Diversity becomes a threat, not an asset. And America divides, again, before it ever gets a chance to unite.

Tim Chavez can be reached at 259-8304 or e-mailed at tchavez@tennessean.co

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