Washington Post Op-ed from GW Student Targets George Washington’s Name for Racist Ties

Is “George Washington” an unspeakable name? Has his name become too offensive to use in polite company? In recent years, there has been a campaign targeting America's past. “Out with the old” is its slogan. In the same way that slaveholders and racists of the past have been exiled and a countdown is underway, how long will it take before they begin to aggressively target George Washington?

The name “Washington Redskins” was labeled as offensive, with the second word targeted by the Woke and the first one remaining as an elephant in the room. Perhaps now the wise are taking up their elephant guns.

A case in point is a Washington Post op-ed. In “George Washington University Needs a New Name,” pre-law student Caleb Francois shoots straight. The issue of racism has always been an issue at GW. At the institution's inception in 1821, enrollment was limited to white males. In 1954, the president at the time (Cloyd Heck Marvin) employed numerous strategies to ensure segregation was maintained by arguing for a homogenous group composed of white students.

Caleb identifies the issues: black enrollment is about 10 percent, black students “struggle for community,” there's a shortage of “adequate minority representation,” black professorship remains low, fewer teachers of color plus “a campus culture in which European studies and white perspectives are favored,” there is no teaching of African languages. 

Caleb has pinpointed the source of these problems. The root of these problems is institutional racism, systemic racism, along with white supremacy. It's a fascinating idea. The ill-effects of segregation in the past appear to be a possibility, given that the proposed solution is segregation. What other term can describe a system in which students belonging to the same race can have “community” only if more similar people join?

Whatever the case, he's come up with the following four points in his plan: The university curriculum should be decolonized, increased black enrollment, the selection of an African American president, and, lastly, the university's name changed.

Decolonization is all the rage. “The University Has Ordered Professors to ‘Decolonize’ Math–Beware of Citing ‘White or Male’ Mathematicians,” “The University Provides Students with Antiracist ‘Tips and Tricks’ to Ensure They Are Able to ‘Decolonize’ the Campus,” “Are You Planning to Have Oxford University Remake Its Music Program to Remove the Colonization of Its Curriculum?” “A College Student Writes a Paper About the Racism of Creamer-Colonizing Coffee. His Teacher Loves It.”

In the case of Washington, his name isn't the only one causing trouble by mucking up the GW region. Caleb pointed out that just a few blocks away lies the Mount Vernon Campus, named in honor of George Washington's former slave plantation. Every day, thousands of black students walk around a campus named for the enslaver of men. They also take classes at a place named after the darkest moments of the past. These kinds of sites, as well as others and even buildings, are portrayed as glorified mementos at GW. The injustices and indignities of these sites are not acknowledged. The racist views of James Madison, Winston Churchill, and others are celebrated through the construction of monuments, names, programs, and libraries that pay tribute to their memories.

Caleb insists that the “controversial Winston Churchill Library must go” and “even the university's name, mascot, and motto–’Hail Thee George Washington’–must be replaced.”

This leads to one question. If America eliminates George Washington, what, exactly, will we have left? If the patriarch of the nation is gone, what remains of the history of our orphan republic? There's a lot to get rid of, including Washington State, Washington D.C., the one-dollar bill…eh, the Washington Post?

How do you feel about the name “Washington,” which likely isn't unusual among African Americans? To use a woke term, where does “erasure” stop? In the meantime, Caleb has a suggestion to rebrand the university. Frederick Douglass–a statesman, diplomat, political scientist, feminist, and abolitionist–is an ideal illustration of a possible name to succeed George Washington. His advocacy for social change and equality of justice makes Douglass a perfect candidate to be the name changer. Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X, among many others, changed the United States by fighting for the freedom of black people, both here and around the world. Such heroes must be celebrated and honored on the GW campus. 

Malcolm X is a curious option. If people can be snubbed for racist comments, consider a quote from Malcolm X: “For me, my ‘X' replaced the white slave master name of ‘Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed on my parental forebears.” After a transformative time in the Middle East, Malcolm was transformed. He renounced racism. Strangely, his words later could offend current cultural caretakers. “I saw all races, all colors, blue eyed blonds to black skinned Africans in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshiping as one! No segregationists, no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words. I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.”

Maybe Caleb isn't familiar with The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Perhaps in the future, it'll be mandatory reading at Malcolm X University located in Frederick Douglass, D.C. Oh! And one more that's bound to be a victim: the not-so-self-aware Washington Post.

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