“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” has been on a plaque outside the student union at the University of Oregon since 1986. But the meddling of the politically correct culture spreading like wildfire on college campuses put the plaque’s future temporarily at risk.
The university’s student union was under construction when the director of the student union, Laurie Woodward, asked if the quote should be kept or a new one that was more relevant and inclusive to students. One student responded asking: “Does the MLK quote represent us today?” Students on campus had to consider this, and ultimately determine if the plaque would remain. And there was an actual discussion about this; people genuinely didn’t think the quote fit anymore.
Although the plaque lives on, Mia Ashley, a sophomore architecture student at the University of Oregon who felt the plaque wasn’t inclusive enough, said, “Obviously race still plays a big role. But there are people who identify differently in gender and all sorts of things like that.”
I completely agree with that statement above, but this presents a dangerous notion—modifying or censoring history to avoid offending a particular special interest group is not something anybody should be doing, especially institutions of higher learning. Universities were once the breeding ground for revolutionary ideas, places old America and establishment politics genuinely feared. But today, college is very much part of
“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” is a notion that rings true in this case. As great a civilization as America is, it isn’t too far removed from some very dark moments. Our founding fathers have near god-like places in history, but all of them owned slaves. The moment we forget about our past is the moment when the future becomes a lot more bleak.
To those on college campuses who want to remove symbols of the past, rename buildings, or change mascots, I say this: Yes, modifying the present of symbols of the past can be logical in some cases. Removing the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of oppression and racism, is one acceptable case. But in general, instead of trying to fix the past and its imperfections, we need to focus on what the real issue is: the future.
This is the one issue on Donald Trump’s platform that makes rational sense in the real world, and it is, as he says, “yuge.” Political correctness for the sake of trying to not offend anyone isn’t healthy. Political correctness is in fact a form of censorship, and when a population allows themselves to be censored, you start entering a scary realm. Words have meaning and words have power; that’s why this concept is so crucial.
There is an episode of Family Guy where Stewie and Brian are traveling across Europe and at one point, they are on a sightseeing tour in Germany. While skimming a pamphlet, Brian notices that German history from 1939-1945 is blank. Although this is obviously satire, it is reflecting on where society is heading. We have to own our history as Americans, and some of it isn’t pretty. But moments in time where we have genuine good, like Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, shouldn’t be shunned. They should be embraced.
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