Fewer than 800 of the roughly 10,000 students enrolled at Chapman University in Orange have signed an online petition demanding the removal of busts from the campus “in order to create a safer and more inclusive environment for Chapman’s marginalized students and community” because the busts “do not reflect the ideals of the university.” Just who are these vile people who don’t reflect the school’s ideals and why do they deserve to have their memories erased?
Let’s take a look at this gallery of rogues and some selected quotations that tell us what they stood for:
Ronald Reagan: “The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.”
Margaret Thatcher: “I place a profound belief – indeed a fervent faith – in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence. On these is founded the whole case for the free society, for the assertion that human progress is best achieved by offering the freest possible scope for the development of individual talents, qualified only by a respect for the qualities and the freedom of others.”
Milton Friedman: “The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”
Albert Schweitzer: “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
Ayn Rand: “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
Is there anything in these words that is objectionable, slanderous, threatening, or harmful to others? Of course not. They are inspirational expressions in defense of liberty and independence. They encourage an environment of decency and respect for others. They are appeals to reason and morality.
A single quotation cannot of course characterize the totality of one’s life. But any honest person and informed person knows that these few remarks well summarize what these figures stood for.
Not surprisingly, the petitioners want to replace these busts with shrines to socialists, Marxists, an anti-capitalist, and even a real princess.
But one figure on the list whose memorialization on campus would garner no opposition is the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis. His inclusion is a bit of a surprise, though, because unlike the cancel culture hoping to delete Reagan, Thatcher and the others, division was not his goal. The son of Alabama sharecroppers spent much of his life pursuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal of transforming our society into one that is colorblind. He spoke approvingly of “black and white elected officials working together,” and urged Americans “to create a sense that we are one community, one family.”
Don’t dismiss the Chapman petition because it has been signed by fewer than 1% of the school’s student body. The media are well practiced at manipulating facts in pursuit of an agenda. The New York Times, for instance, recently took a petition that had been signed by roughly 1,500 (out of 330 million Americans) who said they who wanted Trader Joe’s to remove ethnic names such as Trader Jose and Trader Giotto from its international products, and plastered it on its front page as if there were a national uproar. It’s clear evidence that much of the influential press has aligned itself with the mob in our poisonous culture war.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.