John Witherspoon: a target for cancellation
The modern dark age: Princeton University is now considering removing from its campus a statue of John Witherspoon, Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the college’s sixth president, because some students have whined about the fact that in his life he also at one time owned two slaves.
A petition, started by three graduate students in the Philosophy Department, states that the “prominent place on campus of the John Witherspoon statue is inappropriate” and calls on the university to “remove it from its pedestal in Firestone Plaza.”
The petition asks that officials replace the statue with an informational plaque that reflects both the “positive and negative aspects of Witherspoon’s legacy.”
In other words, we must denigrate and devalue all of our past history simply because past great Americans were not perfect, as these three philosophy students must surely be.
The statue itself was only unveiled in 2001, and was created by Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddart, who attempted to portray “Witherspoon in vigorous middle age, preaching at a symbolic lectern on which an open Bible rests.”
At his feet are five books. Four have their spines to the front, so that we can see they are the works of Cicero, Principia [by Newton], Locke, and Hume.
Well Lordy-me! It We can’t honor these dead white philosophers as well, can we? I am sure that is the position of these absolutely perfect philosophy students. By removing the statue they will also successfully cancel Cicero, Newton, Locke, and Hume, and get a five for one victory! All that will remain is a small plaque that gives as much if not more space to Witherspoon’s human failures.
Princeton officials have not yet made any decision. Instead, they have asked a council made up of administrators, students, faculty and staff to weigh the issue. Knowing the cowardice and general oppressive culture at most of today’s American colleges, we must not be hopeful that Witherspoon (and Cicero, Newton, Locke, and Hume) will survive this witch hunt.
At the same time, some members of Princeton’s community late last year proved themselves to be a strong defender of free speech, allowing a professor give a speech that had been canceled by MIT because some there had objected to that professor’s firm stance in favor of free speech.
We shall soon see if Princeton really does stand for free speech, or whether it is now willing to kow-tow to those who wish to rewrite history to cancel everything great about America’s past.
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