By Todd Brady
Vice President for University Ministries, Union University
Some of society’s half-baked thinking has been exposed and mocked recently by conservative pundit, Jesse Kelly.
Last week, Kelly tweeted “Yale University was named for Elihu Yale. Not just a man who had slaves. An actual slave trader. I call on @Yale to change it’s [sic] name immediately and strip the name of Yale from every building, piece of paper, and merchandise. Otherwise, they hate black people. #CancelYale.” A mere six hours after he posted this, his tweet had been retweeted some 17,000 times and liked nearly 40,000 times.
Of course, Kelly’s tweet is sarcastic. It came as calls are being made by some who are wanting certain monuments of people who owned slaves to be removed.
Others jumped on his rhetorical bandwagon by saying that anyone with “Yale” in his biography is a racist and that Yale’s faculty is complicit by their participation in this “historically racist institution.” One person said, “Every person with a degree from Yale should be canceled. They should be forced to resign from public office. Resign from all Boards. Be disbarred. Lose their professional certifications. Lose judgeships.”
Kelly is a “conservative,” and is using the logic or reasoning of “progressives” against them. When Hillary Clinton tweeted a picture of four cute black children and said, “Juneteenth is more than a celebration of emancipation. It is a call to continued action for racial justice. We must answer it.” Kelly responded by saying, “Why did you attend @Yale University when it’s named after a slave trader? You’ve even returned to Yale to give speeches. Why do you support the slave trade and treating black people like cattle? Renounce Yale immediately or you’re racist.”
Kelly has utilized satire which uses the same basic type of logic which has been applied to other recent acts in our current cancel culture. His ludicrous statements certainly make his point that much in society is in fact ludicrous.
Many companies are changing their logos for being insensitive. Historical monuments have been torn down by protesters, and even country band Lady Antebellum shortened their name to rid themselves of any connections to the Confederate South.
To this point, I have not been able to find that Yale University has responded to Kelly’s tweets. I am finding that those on the left side of this conversation are eerily silent as the proverbial tables have been turned on them.
Yes, I agree that our society needs to do away with some things. But in a day when many activists are asking, “What are we doing?” I think the first and better question is “What are we thinking?”
James Montgomery Boice, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church from 1968 until his death (and a graduate of another Ivy League School) once said, “The issue is not just where we stand, but why we stand where we do.” In a day when many are quick to take stands (or to take historical statues off stands), perhaps we need to think about why we are taking the stands we take.
The Bible says, that as a person thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Both conservatives and progressives in America would do well to listen to James when he says, “ … let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger …” (James 1:19).
As goes the way a person thinks, so will go what they do. It all starts in the mind. Richard Weaver was spot on in 1948 when he said that ideas have consequences. The consequences we face have emerged from the halls of our thoughts.